This Vintage Furniture Dealer Loves Her Mies van der Rohe Armchairs

What makes a purchase “worth it”? The answer is different for everyone, so we’re asking some of the coolest, most shopping-savvy people we know—from small-business owners to designers, artists, and actors—to tell us the story behind one of their most prized possessions.


After living in New York City for seven years, Cat Ward Carothers decided to leave the bustling metropolis and settle down with her husband in Dallas. She was ready for a slower-paced life and a career change from her role in designing corporate spaces for WeWork. But once she arrived in Texas and tried her hand at residential interior design, she realized that it wasn’t quite right for her either. “I wanted to go back to the decorative arts,” she recalls. “I found that I was way more passionate about objects and furniture than all of the other things that go into interior design.”

Paint leans on one of her MR20 armchairs, with plaster artwork by Alan McCollum behind her.

Cat Ward Carothers

Cat turned this epiphany into her dream job by founding The Selby House, a vintage furniture studio that is bringing New York’s eclectic design sensibility to the South. Named for Cat’s great great grandfather, George D. Selby, and the shoe company he founded in 1880, the studio sources and restores iconic and one of a kind 20th-century pieces. “I like to call my style a mindful mix,” Cat describes. “I like things that are French farmhouses but also postmodern or Italian. I mix different times, styles, and origins. It’s not just one specific style, which I found was missing in the Dallas area.”


Of course, Cat’s own home is filled to the brim with vintage gems. Her most beloved find is a pair of MR20 cantilever cane armchairs by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Designed in 1927 for an exhibition, the sculptural tubular steel seat was the first of its kind. The chair was then mass-produced in Germany in the early 1930s, before production stopped during World War II. But the model was so popular that it reemerged after the war and was eventually manufactured by Knoll in the 1950s, which is likely when Cat’s pair was crafted.

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