After living in parsonages provided by the Methodist church for decades, artist and avid collector Monteigne Mathison at long last built a home that suits her sensibilities in every respect. “I’ve been mentally designing this house for our whole married life,” says Monteigne, whose husband, George, is a retired Methodist minister in Auburn, Alabama. “The house is very symmetrical and is basically a square,” she says. “There were specific things I wanted, such as a long entry hallway to showcase my art collection—sort of a gallery space.” And Monteigne was not interested in the popular open floor plan, preferring to have dedicated rooms for dining and relaxing. The small galley kitchen was very intentional as well. “I wanted it to be a creative space, like my art studio,” says Monteigne. “I love to cook, and I approach it the same way I do my art and my flower arranging—as another opportunity to be imaginative.”
When it came to the interiors, Monteigne worked with daughter Mallory Mathison Glenn, an interior designer in Atlanta, to imbue the home with authenticity and personality. Everything in the house speaks to Monteigne’s love of art, with pieces placed in each nook and cranny—hung over the picture molding, layered atop a glass-front china cabinet, propped up on the floor. No room is overlooked; even the kitchen features 18 pieces of art. “Eventually I will run out of wall space,” Monteigne laughs.
Her taste in art is eclectic with a variety of realistic and abstract works in oil, along with chinoiserie panels, photography, and pen-and-ink pieces. The provenance of the art is of no concern to Monteigne. “While I have some pieces from well-known artists, others are totally obscure,” she says. “I only buy ones that speak to me in some way.” Her vast collection includes works by international artists, as well as by notable Southern artists such as William McLure, Joe Turner, Barbara Gallagher, and Adrian Alsobrook. She also displays pieces from art professors and faculty members at Auburn University.
In addition, the home highlights Monteigne’s other extensive collections. “I love the thrill of the hunt more than anything,” she says. “And just like with my art, I only buy things that bring me joy. I will always find a place for them to fit in.”
Monteigne’s collecting has increased over the years. “I started with a ‘consideration closet’ that grew to a ‘consideration room’ and then into a ‘consideration basement,’ ” she says. Her items include Blanc de Chine porcelain geishas and other export porcelain in blue and white and in celadon, as well as silver in all forms and an array of china. “I certainly didn’t need any more china, but when I discovered a discontinued Royal Doulton collection named ‘Monteigne,’ I couldn’t resist!” says the artist, who was able to source a service for 12.
“My mother can find anything,” Mallory says. “Sometimes when I’m pushed for time on a project and I’m looking for something in particular, I’ll put my mother on the case, and she always delivers.” And Monteigne’s collecting goes beyond décor. She searches for old hardware, plumbing fixtures, and reclaimed wood doors. The light fixtures in her home are vintage finds, as are the kitchen and bathroom sinks. All had been waiting in the “consideration” space before finding a home.
The mother/daughter collaboration was a joy for both as they share similar tastes, including a passion for the high-low approach to decorating. “I love working with my mother. She is a fearless risk taker,” says Mallory. “She doesn’t shy away from the imperfect, and she knows the story behind every piece in the house. Some people might feel a bit overwhelmed when they first come in this house—there’s a lot to take in, and so many things catch your eye. But that’s what makes it so beautiful.”
Never one to sit still, Monteigne is always changing things in the house—swapping around art, adding new finds, and mixing up paint colors. “I’ll never be truly finished,” she says. “As a creative, I’ll always be inspired by something else.”
By Alice Welsh Doyle | Photography by Laurey W. Glenn