Mid century covered deck with trees in the background and mid century style outdoor seating
Styling by Michelle of Michelle Faith Design, photography by Matthew Gallant

For some of us, mid century style wasn’t our first love, but it’s become our only love. Michelle Golay of Michelle Faith Design is a stylist and interior designer, and has worked all over the Seattle area to decorate, stage and style homes. In fact, you may recognize her work from this 1950s Emerald City rambler.

But she didn’t begin as a mid century enthusiast, or even as a designer. “I started in journalism, with marketing and PR for non-profits,” Michelle says. “I taught myself graphic design, and once I learned that, I knew wanted to translate that back into home spaces, because I’d always loved interior design.”

Mid century living room with exposed ceiling beams, pendant lights and credenza
A variety of mid-tone wood finishes add warmth to the living room area, contrasting the room’s cool neutrals. The wall of windows flood the space with natural light, and offer stunning views to the vibrant scene outside.

In 2011, Michelle started her own company, Michelle Faith Design. “I was a painter, doing murals, trying to see what would stick,” she says. “When I had to sell my own home, I thought, maybe I want to stage houses for a living.”

It’s hard to start a new career or business from scratch, but Michelle took it one step at a time, starting with research about the styling industry. “I started meeting with stagers to learn about it, and opportunities just opened up,” she says. “In the Seattle market, the housing market is nuts, so I mostly do staging for real estate agents.” But she’s also worked with publications such as Atomic Ranch, and on TV networks such as HGTV and DIY. “I love all of it because of my journalism and graphic design background,” she says. “I love publishing.”

Q&A With Michelle of Michelle Faith Designs

Q. You do both styling and interior design. How do those two inform each other?

A. Staging is implementing design ideas in a practical and tactile sense. The types of projects I do are so different. For example, my interior design clients either know me or find me on the Internet, but staging clients are often repeats.

I used to think interior design and styling were similar, but the process is very different for the two. Staging is quick and showcases the home, and interior decorating is to live in. I have one client who started with me over a year ago and we’re still not done. It takes time to make the decisions, but with staging you have to work quickly.

Backyard pergola with mid century style furniture in orange and modern firepit
The sharp geometry of a square pergola centers the Japanese-inspired landscape. The bold orange hue of the Malm fireplace is repeated in the chairs and pillow cushions as a shock of color.

Q. How is styling for mid century design different from other types of homes?

A. With staging, you do need to appeal to a larger audience, but I love to find pieces and accessories that fit mid century style. I rent some of my big pieces, and then I go purchase some of the accessories. I get some of my accessories from thrift stores. For mid century, it’s usually a resale shop. It takes some time to go searching for the pieces, and true mid century furniture is not cheap. I may keep the pieces afterward, or I may donate them.

I want every place I style to look different, and I do a broad range of décor styles. But there’s definitely a strong leaning toward MCM in Seattle.

Kitchen countertop with black walls, hexagon backsplash and ceramic vases.
Playing with contrasts, several spaces throughout the home pair very dark and very light neutrals in foundational design elements, letting color present itself in plant life. 

Q. Do you see a lot of mid century style in the Seattle housing market?

A. Especially in Seattle, mid century is very popular. It has a younger demographic, people in their 30s really love it. If the home is mid century, clients want that style for interiors.

Q. What drew you to mid century style personally?

A. I partly grew up with that style because I’m a child of the ‘70s, but I didn’t really realized the style was still so popular. Now I’m wishing I kept my grandma’s furniture, because they were true mid century. I keep my eye out for certain pieces whenever I’m shopping for furniture. I’ve embraced the style a lot more because of my work with Atomic Ranch.

Dining area in mid century style home with brick fireplace, starburst chandelier and window seat
The dining area contains subtle mid century nods, like the table and chairs featuring sleek lines and light woods. A vintage teak Danish hutch was discovered at a thrift store and fittingly houses upcycled finds. 

Q. What advice would you give homeowners who want to style their own homes for pictures or a party?

A. Ensure that your personality always comes through. One mid century house is going to look very different from another. What I love about working with Atomic Ranch is that the homeowner’s personalities come through. Anything I’m styling, even if it’s for someone else, I want my own flavor to show through.

For a party, I want the styling geared toward the guests, so I ask myself: What’s going to make other people feel invited? I do that throughout any of my staging. What will make other people feel comfortable? Do we have conversation pieces sitting out? That’s what’s cool about mid century style, there are always cool conversation pieces.

For more, visit Michelle Faith Design’s website!