Some Midcentury Modern homes are like pristine museums, each room filled with vintage furnishings and paraphernalia that look like new. The homeowners act as caretakers of history, and fit their lifestyle to the décor to keep things in mint condition. Other midcentury houses are eminently livable spaces, where quirky vintage finds meld with modern pieces, offering a tip of the hat to a bygone era without becoming stuck in time.
The Seattle home of George and Mary Campbell falls into the latter category. Built in 1957, the two-story house retains its original footprint and has had only minor structural modifications. The interior design, however, showcases the couple’s affinity for blending authentic midcentury wares with affordable reproductions and practical contemporary furniture. The result is a cozy and inviting abode with plenty of eye candy for the retro enthusiast.
“We both value visual art and design, and an appreciation of each other’s style was definitely one of the things that drew us together,” says Mary, who met her husband after relocating to Seattle from Big Sky Country. “Since we’ve been married, we have developed a specific passion for midcentury style.”
Suited to Their Taste
After toughing it out in a Tudor house for several years, the couple finally were able to move their vintage furnishings into midcentury abode when they discovered a friend was selling her 1950s rambler in Seattle’s coveted Blue Ridge neighborhood.
“We sought out this style of house because we love the distinctive architectural style of the midcentury period,” Mary says. “We also wanted a home that had more light and an open floor plan, versus the small rooms and chopped up layouts that are so common in Seattle,” she adds.
The house measures about 1,700 square feet, not including a full basement of equal size, and combines a midcentury design aesthetic with architectural elements typical of the Pacific Northwest. The couple closed on the property in late 2007 and over time have designed the interior to their own taste. Accent walls are painted in shades of Majestic Blue and Cypress Green, inspired by a multi-color George Nelson sunburst clock.
In the living room, a pair of Nelson Bubble Saucer wall sconces flanks a gray velvet couch and original Haywood Wakefield coffee table. Nearby, a stately teak wall unit houses various books and vintage knickknacks collected over the years at antique shops and thrift stores around Seattle and in Mary’s home state of Montana. In the dining area, red metal mesh chairs surround a vintage Danish teak dining table— an eye-catching contrast to the pistachio green walls.
Modified for Modern Living
The exterior looks much the same as when the home was built, with only minor modifications. The previously floor-to-ceiling dining room windows were replaced with more energy efficient Milgard double-paned aluminum frames, and the Campbells painted the dark brown cedar siding a period-perfect slate blue.
The only significant change to the original interior came when the couple decided to open up the kitchen, which was closed off from the main living area by a wall and small pocket door.
“When we remodeled, we really just knocked that wall out and added the peninsula,” Mary explains, noting that the new design was more conducive to entertaining. In addition to removing the original appliances, the couple contracted local remodeling company Fivedot to replace the original cabinets with custom-built Kerf cabinetry that was in keeping with the style of the home.
Two years ago, they also redid the master bath, which had been previously gutted, swapping out modern fixtures for a walnut veneer Europly vanity, also from Kerf, and midcentury inspired wall sconces. The master bedroom has retro flair, as well, with vintage Heywood Wakefield nightstands nestled against a low profile V-leg bed and plastic deer heads from the 1950s mounted on the wall above. The guest room is a mostly vintage-free zone, however, as is their daughter Molly’s room, save for a kitschy triad of faux mounted deer heads on one wall.
The Campbells aren’t hardcore about staying true to the era in which the house was built, but instead want family and friends to simply feel at home in their midcentury space. “We have always had a love for vintage things from all different periods,” Mary says, “and making a home that is stylish, functional, warm and inviting has always been important to both of us.”