Odile's 'Only in New York'

Odile's 'Only in New York'

Jill Slater
Mar 15, 2010

Name: Odile
Location: Upper West Side, Manhattan
Size: 2,200 square feet, 7 rooms
Years lived in: 48 years

As a collector who has had almost half a century to curate and amass, it's best to think of Odile's sprawling pre-war apartment as a museum. Clearly, this is not your average house tour, but it may invoke memories of her daughter's apartment — Caroline's In/Animate Collection.

While New York has been her home for quite a while now, Odile was born in Normandy — a descendant of Joan of Arc on her brother's side — and survived D-day as one of 5 children to a widowed mom. In 1949, while on a Fulbright to the United States, she met her future husband, a jewish New York dentist-in-training. Not too much later, but after a necessary dispensation from the Vatican, Odile and the dentist-to-be were married.

Odile has dedicated a lifetime of passion and creativity to mineralogy, travel, penguins, painting, and of course absorbing and arranging an incredible breath of objects and memories.

"Everything here we picked because we loved it. So, I keep it," explains Odile referring to an interest in the oddities of life shared with her late husband. But Odile knows that it's more complicated than that. When asked why she likes to collect, Odile responds, "It is a disease." She believes that her need to hoard is tied closely to growing up during WWII in a large family with a mother who practiced a zero waste policy out of necessity rather than choice. Odile knows the value of re-use and recycling first hand.

Odile has a sense of humor and a command of the surreal that informs her habit. Her acute sensibility and artistic tilt transform collections into installations. And as a naturalist who volunteers at the Museum of Natural History, her 'history of the earth' collection — rocks, minerals, shells, and sands — is carefully labeled and arranged in scientific cabinets.

This way of life is not one known to many Apartment Therapy readers, but it is a wonder to behold. I'm honored to have had the opportunity to be a guest of this incredible woman, eat her delicious home made quiche and get a personal tour of her home — a deeply honest reflection of her rich life and her strong beliefs.

Apartment Therapy Survey
Style: Eclectic

Inspiration: Art, Nature, Recycling, and Technology

Biggest Challenge: Keeping track of collections

What Friends Say: This is a Museum

Biggest Embarrassment: Dust

Biggest Indulgence: Artwork

Best Advice: Follow your muse.

Dream Source: The World

Images: Jill Slater

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