At Home with: Nannette Maciejunes
Her house is the medium through which Nannette Maciejunes, Executive Director, Columbus Museum of Art, expresses herself.
Photos by Tessa Berg
Or so it would seem—from the widely varied artwork dressing her walls to the multiple modifications made to update her circa 1909 Victorian in Granville.
“We deliberately made our home a place of refuge for us,” says Maciejunes, executive director of the Columbus Museum of Art.
After all, she doesn’t get to spend much time at home between her demanding schedule at the museum and her long commute, so the time she does get, she wants to enjoy.
“Monday through Friday I have a vague awareness of my house,” she says, noting it’s often 8 or 9 p.m. before she can start to unwind.
But when she does, her four feline friends and cozy surroundings help her relax.
“We just find our house is just so wonderfully comfortable,” she says. “It’s warm and embracing. I really do love it.”
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Since purchasing the home with her husband in 1983—the year before Maciejunes began working at the museum—she’s renovated, redesigned, added on and otherwise enhanced the home to its present size of 3,420 square feet.
Getting there, however, was a long and sometimes frustrating journey.
The first big project was modernizing the exterior.
“It used to be covered in this awful asbestos siding,” Maciejunes says. “It was very popular around the teens and ’20s.” Not so much, however, in the mid-to-late ’80s, so the exterior was converted to wood and painted in Pratt & Lambert’s Winslow Grey.
Then came the porch overhaul.
“It had an original wrap-around porch,” she says. “Someone had replaced it with this horrible concrete porch. I dreamed of ripping that off and putting a wooden porch on, which was more money than you can imagine … so instead, we tiled the porch and restored the railing.”
They also restored the beadboard ceiling, which had been covered and painted.
“That was a project in and of itself,” she says.
Once the dust settled, the porch became Maciejunes’ favorite place to relax and unwind on warm-weather weekends—most often with a good book.
“I’m a big reader,” she says, noting a recent favorite is “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. “Reading is very relaxing.”
Not that she has much time for that—especially when maintenance projects are calling.
“Our backyard was below grade so it was a swamp back there,” Maciejunes says of her next undertaking. “We ended up laying a patio pad that was slightly peaked in the middle. Now when it rains, the water runs off of it and we planted all these water ferns around it so the rain waters the ferns.”
With the exterior finally looking picture perfect, it was time for Maciejunes to turn her artistic eye inward.
“We were working our way up to the big project,” she says. That involved hiring Ketron Builders to tear down an elevated screened-in porch along the rear of the house and, in its place, build a 1,000-square-foot, two-story addition, designed by Urban Order Architects.
Now, instead of what Maciejunes calls a “small, railroad car” kitchen tacked on to the house, she has an expansive, modern kitchen that spans the entire width of her home with an equally spacious family room behind it.
The second story of the addition allowed her to create a master bedroom suite complete with a walk-in closet, spacious master bath and small library.
“We didn’t do it as a period renovation so it’s a very eclectic home,” Maciejunes says. “It merges the best, I think, of the old house with the new house.”
A COLLECTIVE EFFORT
Eclectic also describes Maciejunes’ varied collections displayed around her house.
“We collect a little bit of folk art, contemporary photography, a little bit of contemporary art,” she says. “We also collect commercial photography from the late 19th century.”
Then there’s the staircase lined with panoramic photos.
“I really do love photography,” Maciejunes says. “My husband is a gifted amateur photographer and my daughter is a professional photographer, so I guess we come by it that way.”
Works in Maciejunes’ art collection come from painters such as Aminah Robinson, Lucius Kutchin and Charles Burchfield as well as photographers Lalla Essaydi, Christian Faur and Tony Mendoza.
“We do own a lot of art,” she admits. “It’s an occupational hazard.”
When it comes to naming favorites, however, Maciejunes simply can’t.
“Picking a work of art is like picking one of your children,” she says.
In addition to her ever-growing cache of art, Maciejunes’ collects some more surprising items: small wind-up toys and floater pens.
“When I was a young curator, I decided to collect something I could afford, and I could afford $2 pens,” she explains. “I would collect them from different places. But they’ve stopped making them. Which is why I’ve moved on to the wind-ups.”
Surprisingly, Maciejunes’ most-treasured household item does not come from an antique shop—or one of her collections.
“I really love our bed,” she says. “We have a beautiful Amish-made bed that we had made when we redid the house. It’s a quartersawn oak bed. I had a waterbed for years … but I’m really fond of that bed. It’s one of my favorite pieces in the house.”
TOMORROW’S ANOTHER DAY
Although the list of house projects may be significantly shorter these days for Maciejunes, there’s still one renovation she eagerly awaits: the sloped-roof attic area.
“I have a feeling that once I get that third floor done, it will become another wonderful hideaway,” she says. “I can’t wait to redo that.”
Still, basic maintenance, like replacing roof tiles and installing new windows, may have to take priority.
“Old houses are really wonderful, but they do take a lot of care,” she says.
And life’s too short to spend it always playing handyman.
“I took a trip about six or seven years ago with a university group and I realized at that moment that I have a very skewed view of age,” says Maciejunes, now 59. “I have this view that I have plenty of time left. But I went on this trip with people mostly in their 60s, and a number of them had a hard time walking very far or had hearing issues. I suddenly realized, ‘That may be me.’ ”
“I hope I’m that person traveling at 85,” she says. “I’m counting on it. But you never know. I don’t want to wait too long and miss my opportunity to visit places I really, really want to go.”
Since having that revelation, Maciejunes has visited both Egypt and Easter Island.
“But I want to do more traveling,” she says. “I want to spend my 50s and early 60s getting out in the world and seeing more of the world.”
And play more with her 1-year-old granddaughter.
“She’s just starting to walk,” Maciejunes says, whipping out her phone to share photos. “She’s amazing.”
Nancy Byron is a freelance writer, editor and publicity consultant living in the Dublin area.