Modern Purveyors of Intelligent Design

Meet a New Generation of Mod Shopkeepers…

Steven Hempel. Photography Jenny Antill & Jack Thompson
November 30, 2012

Meet a New Generation of Mod Shopkeepers — a half-dozen cutting-edge creatives in the fields of design, antiques, small-batch fashion, contemporary art and java + cocktails, all with an exacting design credo and intelligent positions on global community. Steven Hempel peers inside their inspiring domiciles, and chats up the influencers whose homes serve up a perfect reflection of their working life.

Art direction Michelle Aviña. Interior photography for Matt Reeves by Chris Nguyen. Hair Ashley Scroggins for Cutloose. Makeup Teri Sullivan.

Jenny Schlief Morgan and Gene Morgan

Co-owners, Settlement Goods & Design

Jenny Schlief Morgan and Gene Morgan opened Settlement in 2011 as a showcase for heirloom American brands and designers. The shop stocks a thoughtfully curated selection of goods ranging from men’s and women’s fashion, jewelry and accessories to home furnishings and accents. In addition to running Settlement, Schlief Morgan is a practicing artist with an upcoming exhibition at Lawndale Art Center. Husband Gene is a poet and founder of the online literature blog  HTMLGiant.

JSM: We’re focused on growing our design business, using Settlement as a model to help steer clients in the right direction, from an end user’s point of view. We’re also working on a number of collaborations with our designers; we’re launching a limited-edition tee by local artist Selven O’Keef Jarmon, as well as a necklace by jeweler Susan Domelsmith of the Dirty Librarian collection. And we’re looking forward to launching a pop-up shop in Aspen in summer 2013.

Stats: Jenny, 32; Gene, 31.

Personal design. JSM: We mix antiques with mid-century and contemporary designers. We tend to lean towards works that have a story or a sentimental value.  A lot of the antiques have personal family history, and the newer brands and objects come from people we know and respect.

Architect/age/neighborhood. JSM: 1920. Neighborhood: Cherryhurst in Montrose. A one-story bungalow that we’ve recently renovated. I don’t know much about the history of the house, since we moved in kind of a hurry. I was pregnant with my first child and so we moved out of our 1/1 condo in the old DePelchin orphanage that used to be Emo’s. That place was lovely, just not for babies or a growing family.

On translating Settlement to your bungalow. JSM: We live with some of the same work you can find in the shop. Alicia Redman, the home buyer and interior designer for Settlement, created some of our furnishings, designed finishes and helped refurbish some of our antiques. [Redman is a partner at Settlement, with a masters in interior design from Pratt.]

On the subject of home life: GM: We break the work into shifts, so someone is always at the shop while the other is at home with the kids. And we try to simplify things where we can. Life is about taking time and noticing the little things. We purposely have only one car, which means we often walk together or ride our bikes to work, which makes a big difference. JSM: And we play together. We’re active with the kids. We get out in our neighborhood; we go to the park. Life is hectic, but you’ve got to take time to appreciate the things that matter.

Redux advice. JSM: Never leave town when you are remodeling! Everyone has really different ideas of good design, and sometimes your contractor is not the best designer … Other than that, trust your friends because they know you best, and hire a contractor that listens and is easy to get hold of. God, I love our contractor, Ron Carr — detailed oriented, attentive, and he listens.

Inspiration. JSM: Gene and I are big fans of Marfa. It’s such a quiet and beautiful place with big open spaces and sky. We’ve spent a lot of time in Aspen, too, and one of the gems there is the Aspen Institute, largely designed by Herbert Bayer. He is truly one of the most inspiring people — he incorporated art and design into all aspects of life and was never afraid to try something new.

On organs and Cory Arcangel. JSM: We have an organ in the living room, given to us by a friend when they left town. The thing weighs a ton, and at first just kind of sat there. When our kids got to be a little older, it was a major focus of the household. Friends come over and play on it, and we have dance parties with the kids. I also love this Cory Arcangel poster that Gene bought that’s a scene from a Nintendo driving game that has been recolored. And our kids have a craft area where they draw and paint. We choose pieces each month to put on display, and I swear, it is some of the best art I’ve ever seen.

Wish list/next acquisition. JSM: Eric Zimmerman. (We have a lot of his work currently but it’s always good.) I’ve always wanted a Chuck Ramirez print, and I’ve always been a fan of Jason Villegas — his videos and sculptures especially. Lane Hagood has been working on some pretty interesting 2-D pieces lately. If I could just have Lynne McCabe constantly coming up with projects in my home, I would die. It would be so amazing.

On theme parties and wearing a toga.  JSM: We are big fans of spending time with our friends one at time. We do a lot of entertaining at home because of our kids (three and four years old who turn in early), and I’m not good with big groups. We’ve also been known to throw some pretty fun themed parties. We had a toga/boner party (the marriage of two of the worst party themes ever, the bachelorette and frat party) for a going-away party for a friend. My 30th birthday party was Japanese-Pop themed, and we hosted a romance novel-themed party for a close friend’s birthday.

Jenny, with all the work going into Settlement, as a practicing artist, are you continuing to make and show work? JSM: Yes, I have a video installation that will be part of a group exhibition titled “Staring at the Wall: The Art of Boredom,” curated by Katia Zavistovski. The exhibition opened November 30 at Lawndale Art Center [through January 12] and examines what goes on when supposedly nothing is going on. There will be a video and perhaps a performance as well. 

Robin Berwick

Co-owner, Double Trouble  Caffeine and Cocktails

Robin Berwick, co-proprietor of Midtown bar and coffee shop Double Trouble, always dreamed of opening a place of her own. Having worked for years with Robin Whalan at the well-established Montrose bar Poison Girl, the two, who frequently tended bar together, became known as Double Trouble. During their dual shifts, they dreamed of creating a place of their own. After a lengthy search and renovation process, Double Trouble opened its doors in November 2011.

Stats: Robin, 33.

Your home: Architect/age/neighborhood. About 100 years old. I live on the ground floor of the two-story duplex in Montrose. The original owner of the home was Gordon Tex Beneke, a saxophonist from Houston, who played in the Glenn Miller Orchestra; architect Jack Heemer later purchased and updated the home.

Decorating style. Bright and beachy, with a little kitsch.

Designer/architect. Just me and partner Peter Zama. [Zama is hard at work perfecting a new line of ice creams, which he often pairs with cocktails that Berwick creates.]

Remodeling stories to share? Painting was fun. The color in our living room, Sea Treasure by Valspar (from Lowe’s) has been used in my last three apartments. I took out the built-in ironing board since we don’t iron, and Peter installed a spice rack.

Design inspiration. The island [Galveston], Andy Warhol and Golden Girls.

Top treasures or curated collections. Vintage bottles of booze, sketchbooks and notepads full of drawings and recipes.

Go-to galleries and sources to collect art. I’m not a big gallery shopper. I went to painting school and befriended many artists who have given me their creations. I have works by David McGee, Cheyenne Ramos and Jermaine Rogers. Also finds from the DiverseWorks Luck of the Draw Auction, alongside acquisitions from the Printers’ Ball at Spring Street.

Wish list and next acquisition. I don’t make a list. Things just kind of find their way here. A Tomi Ungerer print from the 1960s is my top request.

Saturday night supper. Pot luck. Light the grill in the back … I make dips, Peter makes dessert [ice cream], and everyone else is in charge of everything else. Very casual. For music, we play records from the collection so that you can change the mood with each record.

Double Trouble vibe. We wanted to create something that was a little different from other bars. Something cool but unpretentious. A place where people can hang out and enjoy themselves, have a conversation or a drink at the bar and really connect with the people they are with. We hired our staff with that in mind. In fact, many had no bartending experience prior to working for us.

On DT’s decor. It’s really a reflection of who we are. Robin [Whalan] studied interior design and has a fantastic eye. I was born in Galveston and feel a connection to the island and the sea. With DT, you can see and feel that influence. There’s a bit of an island vibe going on, but it’s not too literal. We’ve built a place that’s welcoming, relaxing, but we’ve stayed honest to who we are.

Taking the bar home: Blue hues, bamboo, Texas art plus tchotchkes. Yes, it’s really a great place to relax, listen to music and unwind. Most everything here comes out of my love of “thrifting.” I’ve bought almost everything at thrift shops (favorite haunts: The Guild Shop, DAV Thrift and Value Village). Much of the art comes from Peter’s collection which includes a number of prints by Pittsburgh-based artist Mike Budai.

What’s in the cocktail shaker next? I offer bartending to parties of 25 or less through my side business Service Belle ( Also, at Double Trouble, we often host guest bartenders on Monday nights with 25 percent of sales going to various local charities. On December 3, Justin Burrow, formerly of Anvil, will tend bar with Brad Moore, owner of Pearl and Grand Prize; with proceeds benefitting The Periwinkle Foundation. On December 10, DT hosts Rebecca Masson, owner of Fluff Bake Bar while Richard Knight of Feast will serve cocktails on December 17 benefitting Lucky Dog Animal Rescue.

Matt Reeves 

Second-Generation Owner, Reeves Antiques

Opened by Paul Reeves in 1969, Reeves Antiques began as a space for clothing and home goods, but by the mid-’80s, it was a treasure trove of antiques and a go-to source for collectors and designers. Now headed by his son Matt Reeves, who led a transition from antiques to mid-century furnishings, the store features works from Charles and Ray Eames, Herman Miller, Eero Saarinen and others. The acquisition of Cool Stuff, located in the heart of the Westheimer corridor, has only furthered growth of the long-time Houston institution.

Stats: Matt, 26.

Your home: architect/age/neighborhood. I live, literally, above the store (at Taft and Fairview) which was built in the 20s. Inside, it’s an Arts and Crafts-styled loft space.

Personal decorating style. Modern with organic elements.

Designer/architect. Chris Nguyen, interior designer and store patron.

Remodeling tales. I did it by myself — lots of blood, sweat and tears. It was a two-year process.

Design inspirations. Charles and Ray Eames’ home [Pacific Palisades, California].

Top treasure or curated collections. Ben Culwell painting, from around 1956.

Wish list/next acquisition. Papa Bear chair designed by Hans Wegner.

An evening at home. A party on the roof at night, with close friends and cocktails.

Barrister to antiquarian. Actually, I never thought I would take over the business. I literally grew up here, but
I never felt a connection to antiques. I initially wanted to practice law. But I felt that studying law was a longer road than I wanted to take, so I transferred to University of Houston and enrolled in the Bauer School of Business, and received a degree in entrepreneurship and marketing.

How you turned Reeves Antiques on its head. Transitioning from antiques, which we had dealt in for 30 years, was a huge decision and something we didn’t take lightly. It was scary, honestly. We literally took 10,000 square feet of antiques, put huge markdowns on them and sold everything in less than one month. With the proceeds, we began to build up stock in mid-century modern pieces, and we’ve grown from there. The work we carry now is similar to what we once stocked, in that we remain focused on American-made pieces. We source furniture that is of the highest quality, with solid construction and a history behind it.

American made and locally sourced. We don’t shop Europe; we don’t buy out of state. We have an amazing group of people that sell to us in Houston, which means we always have new work that we turn quickly. 

On why you’re loving Taft and Fairview. When I grew up here, you felt uneasy if you went out after dark. But there has been such a huge change, especially in the last three years. It’s quite lively at night and easy to walk around. Cuchara (the restaurant profiled in the October issue of PaperCity) is across the street. Boheme and Pinot’s Palette have really changed the culture of the neighborhood. It’s a great place to be and I’m happy I live here.

Cate Stewart & Will Henry

Buyer at Leap and registrar at Inman Gallery, respectively
Dynamic couple Cate Stewart and Will Henry represent the perfect pairing of art and fashion. Stewart is currently buyer at Leap boutique, while Will is an artist represented by Hiram Butler Gallery and preparator at Inman Gallery. Henry was one of three finalists for the prestigious 2012 Texas Prize,a program highlighting professional artists workingin our state.

Stats: Cate, 33; Will, 43. 

Your home: architect/age/neighborhood. CS: 1920s bungalow in the Heights. 

Decorating style. CS: Eclectic, modern with a little southwestern and vintage Americana thrown in.

Designer/architect. CS: None … although, fortunately for me, my mother is an interior decorator. She has an amazing eye, and while our taste might be different, she understands what Will and I like, and I seek her input often. My younger sister just married an interior designer from Dallas, Breck Woolsey. Between my mother and brother-in-law, I can always get an opinion … or two!

Top treasures or curated collections. CS: My great aunt Dodie was an artist who attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in the 1940s. I have a small portrait of her, painted by a classmate.

Galleries and sources to collect art. CS: There are so many great galleries in Houston. Of course, I put Hiram Butler Gallery and Inman at the top of my list. Devin Borden’s new gallery in Isabella Court is showing some exciting new artists, including Geoff Hippenstiel.

Wish list/next acquisitions. CS: This is a hard question, because there are so many artists whose work I would love to own. On the list would have to be Yuko Murata, a Japanese painter whose work is at Inman. She makes serene, luscious and yet almost minimalist paintings of natural things — a rock, a deer, a bird. For fashion — Boy by Band of Outsiders Shibori Dye Quilted Shawl Collar Jacket is my big splurge for Spring 2013. I would also buy every pair of shoes from LD Tuttle’s spring collection if I could.

Classic dinner party. CS: Having friends over for very casual dinners. I tend to make rich, non-diet-friendly dishes when I entertain: lamb bolognese, homemade pizza or roasted pork shoulder. I’ve made braised short ribs a few times, but I haven’t mastered the sauce yet. I love to serve red wine or Prosecco and cheeses before dinner — the selection at Houston Dairymaids is amazing. Music depends — Frankie Rose, Beach House.

Trend-spotting. CS: My favorites, which are exclusives to Leap in Houston, include Isabel Marant, Rachel Comey, Zero + Maria Cornejo, Girl by Band of Outsiders, and LD Tuttle. We’re also adding Boy by Band of Outsiders.

Downtime. CS: I love to garden, to cook and to read. I have a small vegetable garden that I’d like to expand, and an herb garden. I’m also a magazine junkie (Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle Decor, Bullett, Russh). And I like spending time with family and at the family farm in New Ulm, near Round Top.

The art map: New York, L.A. or Houston. WH: Houston is very strong and a force to be reckoned with. We are not New York or L.A., but we have great diversity, a good quality of life for artists and great opportunities to show work. While the collector base may be smaller here, there is a greater opportunity for artists to make friendships that would be less likely in larger markets.

First brush. WH: I grew up in a rural area outside of Austin, and there weren’t a lot of other kids around. As a child, I was always drawing.

Process and challenges. WH: The current series of paintings tend to inform one other. As the works develop, they play off each another in a sort of evolution. The paintings, landscapes, become a stage for my work, with different elements and layers serving as action. As an artist, I am self-conscious about the work I create. I want to know how each painting is looking, what needs to be done and how the work can continue to grow without repeating itself.

On why 2012 was a banner year. WH: I was one of three finalists for the Texas Prize in 2012, which included an exhibition at AMOA [Austin Museum of Art]-Arthouse in Austin that coincided with the nomination. I also recently participated in a group show at James Harris Gallery in Seattle, which received critical acclaim from New American Paintings [online] and I had a solo show at The Old Jail Art Center in Albany, Texas.

Away from the easel. WH: When I’m not making art, I like to spend time at home … to cook and take trips with Cate to her family’s farm. I’ve really grown to love being part of the family we have. Cate has a large extended family that serves as a base for our family life, and they are genuinely caring, helpful and loving. It’s something special that I truly appreciate.