While helping a friend look online for real estate, George Marrone and Michael Nocera stumbled upon a listing for an artist-built 1959 house set on just over an acre of land with lush gardens and a creek. In a neighborhood filled with colonials, capes and Tudors, the Mid Century Modern home stood out, embodying artist-built architecture and captivating the couple. The home was perfectly poised to house their unique vintage mid century style.
Seeing beyond its shag carpets and heavy window coverings to the beautiful bones underneath, George and Michael had found a well-preserved home where they could infuse their style with iconic mid century elements. For George, the home told a story he’d loved since childhood: “As a kid growing up in the ’70s, I really loved the Brady Bunch house,” he says. “I feel I found one with those same sensibilities.”
The Beauty of Natural Light
As they fit their home to their aesthetic, George and Michael balanced new changes with the house’s existing beauty. “It was in need of light, light and more light! I wanted to really let the outdoors in and embrace the landscape,” George says.
In the living room, the heavy window valances were removed, allowing natural light to filter into the space and creating a seamless transition between the house and outdoors. They added oak hardwood floors to the room and painted the walls and trim white while leaving the original flagstone fireplace in its natural beauty.
The Hunt for Vintage Mid Century Finds
When it came to decorating, George—who scours flea markets, auctions, and boutiques while he travels—envisioned a style that was not “kitschy Mid Century Modern” but instead “sophisticated, elegant and modern.” He set a Finn Juhl Japan chair, Mitchell Gold sofa, and Paul McCobb coffee table atop a patterned Pottery Barn rug. He placed a Jonathan Adler horse on the hearth alongside some punchy red cubes. The areas represent his decorating inspirations: a mix of old and new pieces that are imbued with the history and elegant vibe of Mid Century Modern designs.
For the glass-walled den, George and Michael left the slate stairs that brought guests around to the other side of the fireplace. The den features the house’s original walnut bookcase, working indoor grill and lighting fixtures. In lieu of making major renovations to the space, the couple opted for cosmetic changes instead to enhance its Mid Century Modern look.
George hung a red George Nelson clock on the wall and placed white pottery on the bookshelf, citing his love for the look of white pottery against the walnut. He also mixed in the vintage pieces and books that he had collected over the years.
Comfortable and Bold
The seating area was inspired by the colors of the vintage Bitossi lamp that George placed near the Mitchell Gold sofa. He chose a Jonathan Adler screen to pop against the walnut walls and add dimension to the sleek room. He thoughtfully chose a range of unique seating options, including a vintage Pierre Jeanneret for Knoll scissor chair (which George nicely accented with a vintage Zebra print pillow) and a luxurious vintage Knoll Barcelona daybed positioned against the den’s windowed wall. “Relaxing on the daybed is wonderful year-round,” George says. “The rock walls surround you just beyond the windows.”
For the upstairs den, George placed multiple art pieces on the white walls. The effortless, gallery-inspired hanging let the wall art be the focal point of the room. “I just pulled together various pieces and spaced them out until it felt right,” he says of his organic process.
Unafraid of bold décor moves, George even placed a framed art print on the ground, leaning it against the wall. “Mixing various sources, old and new, high and low creates the most interesting spaces,” he says. To tie everything together, he anchored the space with a tulip chair and vintage desk. For a touch of edgy whimsy, he painted a faux turtle shell and gardening stool in bright yellow.
In the end, George’s design philosophy—“surround yourself with things you love and don’t worry about pedigree”—is evidenced throughout his and Michael’s home, where the past and present mingle in an artistic expression of a Mid Century Modern house. It’s living proof that, as George puts it, “you can have a modern home that is curated yet practical and comfortable for everyone.”
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