Room of the Day: A Breezy Midcentury Style That Travels Well

By Mary Jo Bowling
Photos by David Duncan Livingston

Blye Faust wanted some of Southern California's relaxed, beach-centric style to migrate north with her when she moved from Santa Barbara to Belvedere, a small island in Marin County, California. She and her family (husband Aaron and a 2-year-old son) found a Midcentury ranch-style home to rent that was perfect for them at the moment. Although a move could be in the future, Faust gave the home a dose of style for the here and now.

Contemporary Living Room by San Francisco Interior Designers & DecoratorsByBlye Interiors

"We love this house," says Faust, of ByBlye Interiors. "And although we don't own it, we wanted to make it our own."

Located at the front door, the long, narrow living room is the hub of the household, and this is where family and friends gather. "We have 10 chairs in the dining room off this space, so we wanted to put seating for that many people in this room," says Faust. "After dinner people just migrate to the living room."

The sun-filled space has an atomic-era vibe that reminded Faust of her life in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, and she wanted to play up that style. First step: Paint the pastel yellow walls white. "I love white walls; they are the nicest clean slate to work with," she says. "My idea was to make a neutral base and add color in the furnishings and art."

Paint: Coconut, C2

A bouquet of color comes from a vivid floral painting by her great-grandmother Katherine Dunne Pagon. The rug's watery hues pick up the blue in the painting.

"We were on a budget, so on a whim I searched Etsy for a rug," she says. "That's where I found this piece."

Faust chose to invest in the chairs, sofa and coffee table -- pieces she plans to take with her should the family outgrow this space.

"We love this architecture and this neighborhood, and there are several homes like this one nearby," she says. "It's not inconceivable that we would end up in something similar. Regardless, I think I'd like the furniture anywhere."

(Chairs: Lawson-Fenning; coffee table base: James Devlin Studio; coffee table top: Fox Marble.)

The blue and white palette takes an edgy turn with dashes of black -- such as the black leather sofa Faust designed for the space. "I love these colors together in fashion," says the designer. "If these shades were in an outfit, I'd be delighted to wear it."

Wanting to add some design diversity to the room, Faust created the sofa in a style that's more contemporary than pure Midcentury. The black leather fabric has a rock 'n' roll look but a family-friendly attitude. "I think that kids can jump and play on it, and it will weather nicely," she says. "And the dark color hides a lot of marks and stains."

When it came to the art, Faust wanted something that would make a big impact in the room but a little dent in the wallet. She searched for "black and white art" on Etsy and discovered Cindy Robinson.

The striking table, smooth on the outside and jagged on the inside, came with its "teeth" painted white. Faust had it stripped and refinished in a natural wood color. Now the white wall allows the table's lines to shine.

The rattan chairs are vintage. Faust liked their California-in-the-1960s look and their portability, a plus for gatherings.

(Table: Noir; art: Cindy Robinson>)

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