While some people agonize over paint swatches and Pinterest boards when planning their interior decor, the process has always been simple for Sam Malvaney.
“I look for something that makes me laugh,” he said. “The uglier, the more hideous, the better.”
Malvaney’s “addiction” to kitsch started 40 years ago, when he spotted a circa-1950s Harlequin lamp with a spinning base and gaudy gold column. Since then, he’s amassed hundreds of kooky collectibles in his French Quarter apartment, which he dubbed The Museum of Bad Taste. Some items were gifts; some he found out in the wild, and others were inherited.
“Any time a relative died, I’d get all the hideous stuff. I welcomed the shabby stuff everyone hated,” said Malvaney, a Mississippi native. “Individually, it’s hideous, but if you look at (the items) as a group, it’s fabulous.”
When a friend told Malvaney about the Weird Homes Tour, he knew it was right up his alley. This year, The Museum of Bad Taste joins seven other homes on the 2nd Annual New Orleans Weird Home Tour. A self-guided driving tour, the Weird Home Tour was launched in Austin in 2014 and now has tours in Portland, Detroit, Houston, and New Orleans. Tickets are $35, and 10 percent of proceeds benefits Housing NOLA, an affordable housing nonprofit.
“We started the Weird Homes Tour because reality TV would have you believe that every house needs a farm sink and boring shiplap on the walls,” co-founder David J. Neff stated in a press release. “We want to fight that trend. People come to our tours to be inspired—to go home and paint a wall yellow, instead of Eggshell No. 09864.”
Malvaney’s Museum of Bad Taste shares a balcony with another home on the tour, which belongs to French artist Isabelle Jacopin and serves as her studio. Malvaney has dubbed Jacobin’s home the Gallery of Good Taste.
“You start in my place, the Museum of Bad Taste, and go to the Gallery of Good Taste at Isabelle’s place,” Malvaney said. “It’s like stepping into an artist’s studio from the 1960s.“
Other residences on the New Orleans Weird Homes Tour include one made of shipping containers, one that’s a grain silo, and one that’s a former jail.
“They’re all really different,” Malvaney said. “Each is odd in its own peculiar way.”
The Weird Homes Tour takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, November 10. Scroll down for a glimpse into its uniquely odd homes.