A CCAD Professor’s Love of Collecting is Reflected in Her Home Décor


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Jun 12, 2023

A CCAD Professor’s Love of Collecting is Reflected in Her Home Décor

Suzanne Cotton is a collector at heart and has been since childhood. As a custom

Suzanne Cotton is a collector at heart and has been since childhood. As a custom dress designer and chair of the Columbus College of Art & Design Fashion Department, Cotton's eye for style is impeccable. She's a regular at antique shows and tag sales, and takes annual road trips to Vermont to visit antique shops along the way. Her Facebook Marketplace searches are endless, and she's a top contributor to the Facebook Maximalist Design and Décor group.

Her collections are varied, ranging from travel hankies and tea towels to punk rock memorabilia, vintage buttons and fezzes. So when she stepped inside her 1963 1,800-square-foot Westgate house for the first time, she knew she had found the venue to showcase her lifelong curations of beloved belongings.

Tour the Home

Suzanne Cotton's midcentury home will be featured in the Westgate Home and Garden Tour, scheduled for 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 10. westgateneighbors.org

Cotton was looking for a new place to call home after 14 years in a Hidden Lake condo at the Quarry, which she shared with her late husband. "I’d driven through [Westgate] a few times, liked the homes, and the price was right," Cotton says. "I really wanted a house that I could make my own, put work into, and get everything fixed up just the way I wanted it. The affordability of the neighborhood made that very doable for me."

What Cotton didn't expect was such a welcoming community. "I have never lived somewhere where the neighbors are so supportive," she says. "It's a tightknit neighborhood. We all kind of stick together over here." Cotton has enjoyed events like the farmers market, breakfasts at the Westgate Masonic Lodge and Mugs & Muffins at Westgate Park.

One of the neighborhood events is the Westgate Home and Garden Tour, which will feature Cotton's home as one of its seven stops on Saturday, June 10. Committee member Kate Futty, who has lived in Westgate for close to 30 years, adores Cotton's home. "When I’m in there, it feels like I’m in a genie's bottle. A lot of people try to do midcentury modern, but they’re missing the mark. Suzanne is hitting the nail on the head." And Futty admires Cotton's skill in incorporating her collections into her design. "She just knew that this was her style. What she wanted to fill her childhood bedroom with has blossomed to her entire house," Futty says.

Before moving into her home in August 2018, Cotton completed a five-month, DIY remodel. Making the place her own was no small feat, as every room had wallpaper and she changed the flooring in the majority of the house.

The kitchen required the most work, with a wall removal, doubling of countertop space, removal of a second entrance to a restroom, and the addition of a bar and floating shelves. For the kitchen, she worked with Justin Collamore from Collamore Built. But she remained in charge of the project, selecting the lights, quartz countertops and matching backsplash, and even the perfect kitchen door handles from Etsy. Collamore helped her source her Wellborn cabinets, and they worked on the layout together.

"She was more involved than most [clients] because she had a specific vision for what she wanted. Because she's in the design profession, it was fun to work with her because we speak the same design language. She was able to make some choices that others may shy away from without that vision," Collamore says.

Cotton's style can be best described as maximalist, with attention to detail and a love for colors that pop. Space is important to her. "I love to be able to see all four corners of a room," she says. "I like to see under my furniture." The living room, with its granite fireplace, was the starting point for her remodel. She used that and a set of green chairs to inspire a cohesive color palette that works throughout her home, with shades of blues, greens and turquoises taking center stage. Downstairs, she opted for a navy palette that gives the area a more intimate and relaxed feel.

Cotton's midcentury swung glass collection is the visual focal point of the living room (and perhaps the entire home). The collection—composed mostly of Viking, Smith and Empoli—envelops the fireplace, bringing the room to life. Cotton prefers the multicolor, clear glass that was sold in midrange department stores like Sears during the 1960s and ’70s, but also values her Italian Empoli pieces. Her love for this type of glass began in her teenage years and only has grown stronger over time. She continues to search out pieces in thrift shops and antique shows.

"I don't mind [having] a lot of something," Cotton says. "Like the glass. I love the fact that it's a ton of glass." As such, the living room is her favorite in the house.

Seeing her items displayed throughout her home has reenergized Cotton's passion for collecting. "It's made me start collecting stuff again. For years, I didn't. But I really enjoy it now. I love being surrounded by things I love. It just has to be done in a way that's thoughtful. I don't just buy anything. If I see something, I really think about it: Will it fit? Is there a space for it? Will it add to my collection?"

This story is from the June 2023 issue of Columbus Monthly.

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