Name: Andy Corbin and Matt Mirarchi
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Size: 1,100 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years (Matt), 7 months (Andy); Rent
I first visited Matt's Eclectic Park Avenue Pad in Raleigh, North Carolina back in October of 2011. At the time I was completely blown away by his ability to turn his 1901 duplex rental into a visually stunning respite filled with a hodgepodge of hand-painted art, vintage furniture, and personal photographs. His unique Art Deco and Mid Century finds blended effortlessly with the space's 100-year-old wood floors and glass doorknobs.
So when he told me he'd asked his partner to move in and suggested I stop by for a re-visit, I couldn't wait to see what kind of drama might have unfolded over the ever-challenging act of combining household goods. After all, Andy is from New York and Matt is from Alabama. I figured there was no way they would both share the same love of collecting and reviving pieces borne across the ages. Matt even told me they'd had a huge apartment sale to make room for Andy's belongings, and while I was terrified I might arrive to discover Matt had sold some of my favorite items — especially without giving me first dibs — I was excited to see what these two stylish individuals were able to create together.
I wasn't disappointed.
I was relieved to see that old skis still moonlight as shelves in the guest bedroom, and the quirky orange hexagonal chair still resides next to the gorgeous, weathered dining room hutch. (Seriously, dibs.) But where it once housed an array of fine crystal glasses, its doors now frame an impressive collection of colorful Fiestaware. And while the artwork throughout is still personal and bold, the colors are more calming and true to the space. Oh, and now they have a lot more shoes.
It turns out even though Matt and Andy grew up worlds apart, they still somehow managed to meet in the middle — literally, about halfway up the eastern seaboard — to combine their love of all things tattered and weathered with a hint of whimsy. The new style is brighter, more relaxed, and a more perfect union than I could ever have imagined.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Worn Eclectic-Modern.
Inspiration: Matt: Clean MCM lines and our historic space. While we both lean a bit to one aesthetic extreme, Andy's MCM bent counterbalances my slightly haphazard, Deco-centric eclecticism. Andy: For me, the inspiration was more about how I could add value to the existing decor. I like to think that I added some casual practicality, comfort AND a splash of color — taking some of the seriousness and museum-esque qualities out of the apartment. For me, the inspiration for this apartment was considering Matt's perfect eye for aesthetic splendor, where everything had (and was always in) its perfect place, and balancing it against my love of casual MCM craziness and Northeastern practicality. I love a space that has fun with itself, and it's very important to both of us that decor be functional. We are vigilant in decorating our home with what we use daily, including everything in the glass-fronted cabinet. Once something stops being used, it's passed along to someone else who can enjoy it.
Additional inspiration would be a recent cross country road trip from North Carolina to California, which spurred us to purge and pare down our possessions to what we absolutely love and use. That's been pretty cathartic.
Favorite Element: Both: Our Fiestaware collection. While our furniture is great and comfy, we love that we're building on Matt's paternal grandmother's collection.
Biggest Challenge: Both: Keeping up the momentum during the "What stays and what goes?" discussions, and trying not to shed too many tears in the process.
Kidding! The culling process itself was exhausting, but the end result is incredibly gratifying. We both love seeing items go to people we know will enjoy and use them. Double points if we like you too.
What Friends Say: Matt: "Don't call me when y'all move. Get professionals." Andy: "Call me whenever you want to get rid of ___."
Biggest Embarrassment: Matt: Other than the things we can't change as renters (bad lighting, drop-down ceiling in the back room, bad paint job): the bedding. It almost always gets short shrift relative to furniture. (But it's next on the list. Really.) Andy: I have to agree with Matt on that one. From an architectural standpoint, there are so many things I'd love to take a sledgehammer to (but we'd like to get our security deposit back when we move). For now, though, I guess I'll just have to envision channeling that pent-up energy for remedying tragic decorative faux pas previous owners may have exacted on our adorable future historic home.
Proudest DIY: Both: Fitting the sofa into a hatchback. Sure, Andy had to ride in the floorboard, and I would've been impaled by a leg had we hit something on I-40, but it was worth getting it here when we did. (I was on the verge of a design-centric meltdown.)
Overall, blending two households together without wanting to slash each other's tires afterward has been an accomplishment.
Biggest Indulgence: Matt: Andy's Borge Mogensen sofa and chair. The worn leather on both is pretty amazing. Andy: Agreed. It was the most gratifying (and most expensive) impulse buy of my life — but a few clicks on 1stdibs.com reinforced what a smart purchase it was, and what a great deal we got. (MCM deals are one of the many reasons I love living in the south.) It was also one of the first times I went to an antique store with Matt, and I knew I had to score some points with a good buy!
Best Advice: Both: Be willing to compromise on design. It's one thing we never thought we'd have to learn, but we're glad we did.
Dream Sources: Both: Thrift stores, flea markets, antique malls (gems are hidden everywhere), and vendors who don't know the value of what they have.
Resources of Note:
• Modern chairs: Father & Son Antiques
• Sofa, Lafer loveseat, bookshelf, secretary - Father & Son Antiques
• TV stand, sideboard - Greensboro Flea Market (Alabama)
• Soapbox DVD stand - Sanford Antique Mall
• Modern chair - Father & Son Antiques
• Art Deco cabinet - Roadside find
• Beekman 1802 bag - Beekman 1802
• Holly Aiken bag - Holly Aiken
Thanks, Matt and Andy! You can read more about Matt and Andy's adventures on Matt's blog, Yellow Brick Missives.
(Images: Katie Gard)
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