Homeowner Sabrina Libertty is not a mere fan of the Midcentury style, she is a rapt student. Items in her home come with a middle-of-the-previous-century pedigree.
SABRINA LIBERTTY couldn’t be more excited to show off her thoroughly authentic Midcentury modern house in West Seattle. She leaps from the front door, wearing a smart pink dress, white high heels and, best of all, a frilly little apron, and lands with a Mary Tyler Moore flourish.
“Hiii! Whaddya think of the outfit?” she hollers.
I think it’s swell.
Inside, the mental-wayback machine lurches to 1957. The travertine, the black slate, the sparkly lava-rock wall, the dinette set, the Formica, the bar. Frank Sinatra’s “Ring a Ding, Ding” on the record player, “Better Homes & Gardens Decorating Book” on the coffee table. Paneling, ironwork. From the art to the ashtrays, everything is one big blast from the atomic ranch past.
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“I have an innate distrust of anything contemporary,” Libertty says.
“Swanky” and “zing” are words she uses often to discuss the home that she and her husband, James Landy, bought in 2000 and have worked meticulously ever since to restore and glorify the era.
“It looked like a bad rental when we saw it. Sad,” she says. You can tell it pains her to remember it so, this custom home designed, built and lived-in by Martin Ollas. Looking around now, though, there is just primped and pampered. Lime and tangerine, olive green and pink.
“I grew up this way. A lot of it is from my parents’ house,” she says with a gracious sweep of her hand. “It’s like I’m still living in my folks’ house!”
Libertty is not a mere fan of the Midcentury style, she is a rapt student, combing the Internet, Craigslist, garage and estate sales for treasures. Her home has evolved past “kitsch.” Things here come with a middle-of-the-previous-century pedigree.
“The dinette is Burke. They’re out of Texas,” Libertty says. “My dishes, which are from my childhood, are Temporama. And that painting over there? Acrylic and glitter on panel? That’s a real Chris Reccardi. It’s called ‘Vortix.’ “
She sits on the one new piece of furniture in the 2,100-square-foot home, a soft green Della Robia sofa she bought through Kasala. Overhead and anchored to the wall is “Raindrops,” an orbital metal affair. “It’s by C. Jeré, highly collectible,” Libertty says. “It belonged to my aunt, and she wanted me to have it.”
Downstairs is crazy cool and comfortable. The Shagalicious Suite: daylight basement turned rental, a moneymaker for an iffy economy. It comes with a kitchenette, wood-burning fireplace, patio and a white rotary-dial “courtesy” phone.
Libertty is all about the fun. In their other life, Libertty and Landy were two-thirds of Cookie, the rock/punk band of some renown and where she was known as Sabrina RockArena. Ms. RockArena has been described as, “If Joey Ramone and Patsy Cline had an illegitimate love child, Cookie’s fiery front woman would be it.”
But she is also a level-headed person. And Landy an engineer at Adobe.
“I started reading these Robert Kerasaki books on investment and real-estate investing,” Libertty says. “He said to look around to see if there’s income potential from something you already have.
“We were wild and over the top, but we’re also solid.”
And now their home, thanks to designer Ollas, works for them.
“Because Martin built it for himself, the house has this extra use of nicer materials.
“It’s the ka-ching, baby!”
Rebecca Teagarden writes about architecture and design for Pacific NW magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is the magazine staff photographer.