Midcentury comeback

A 1960s home casts off its fussy flourishes for a timeless makeover
Kathryn Harris

Lessons from this remodel

Full of lush details and patterned geometry, Guy and Jennifer Genis's home is nonetheless a study in effective restraint. Here are four ways to create a rich environment without visual overload.

Balance opposing elements. "The entire house is a play between light and dark, texture and pattern," says Bryan Wark, who studied sculpture before becoming a designer. The contrast is introduced early on with the graphic agave and phormium plantings at the front entrance, accentuating the simplicity and clean lines of the exterior white stucco.

Provide textural interest without overwhelming the eye. In the bar area, white-on-white wallpaper leads to tobacco-colored hemp cloth (Kneedler-Fauchère, 310/855-1313) on the den walls. A white shag rug and Wark's chocolate suede sectional provide subtle visual stimulation and a soothing backdrop. "Whether it was wallpaper, textiles, ceramics, or accessories, our choices were always guided by the principle that less is more," Wark says.

Think along different lines. In the den, the dark brown Heath Ceramics tiles chosen by Guy pack a bold punch when laid vertically to emphasize the height of the fireplace. They also make a pleasing juxtaposition to the surrounding horizontal wall tiles and custom cabinetry.

Unify collections by grouping similar colors and forms. "Repetition creates cohesion and a calming effect," Wark says. The display shelf of white Jonathan Adler ceramic figurines and vases in the den strike a whimsical note with the addition nearby of a pair of white coral-inspired sconces ( Thomas Lavin, 310/278-2456). In the living room, the black altar table ( Out of Asia) picks up the pattern on the lamp bases.

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