In the early to mid-1900s, this historic Mill Valley, California, building served as a social-club lodge where members of various Bay Area Swiss organizations gathered for dinners, games and hiking. The Swiss Club Tell, named after the legendary folk hero William Tell of Switzerland, regularly held activities here until the 1980s, when membership declined, the four-building property was sold, and the lodge was turned into a private residence.
When the current owners purchased the property, they hired interior designer Suzanne Childress to help update the lackluster colors and dated carpet. Also at the top of their agenda: a stylish new living room where they could relax and, well, be social.
BEFORE: When the owners bought the property, the existing 300-square-foot living room was downplayed with light-toned walls, a carpeted floor and subdued colors.
“After” photos by Jeff Zaruba
AFTER: High-gloss red walls act as a strong backdrop for the new space. The bold color was partially inspired by the red found in the preserved stained glass windows, which still bear the club’s initials. Black trim around the fireplace, bookcases and cabinet adds contrast. A collection of antiques, eclectic art, comfortable furniture, rich textures and a hidden TV make the room more attractive and functional. “We wanted to give it a sense of presence and history,” says Childress. “We wanted to create a statement for the house.”
The TV is hidden inside the large black cabinet seen here on the left, and swings out on an arm when needed. “I love that this living room has a practical aspect to it with the TV, but it also has a formal feel,” says Childress.
Wall paint: Diva, C2 Paint; black trim paint: custom; ceiling: Simply White, Benjamin Moore; cabinet: Kneedler Fauchere; floor: refinished maple
With such bold walls, Childress and the homeowners chose a durable blue mohair and nailhead-trimmed sofa to help ground the room. They then reupholstered the two antique side chairs with curved walnut arms in a striped fabric with red accents. The coffee table is an antique from the 1920s the homeowners already had.
Childress suggested that the homeowners’ place a large artwork they already owned behind the sofa. “I loved the colors, and I thought the scale of it provided a nice balance for the red walls,” she says.
The French door leads to a large deck that wraps around the entire house.
Sofa: custom, Kroll Furniture, with Holland & Sherry mohair fabric; area rug: antique, Aga John
A decorative custom built-in bookcase to the right of the fireplace replaced a small nonstained glass window that didn’t provide a good view. It adds storage and balances out the bookcase on the other side of
Wallpaper: Lee Jofa;lighting: Boyd Lighting, Donghia
Childress applied a glaze product from Ralph Lauren Home to the paisley wallpaper that backs the bookcase to give it a vintage feel.
She introduced a leather chair for a masculine element and combined it with a touch of leopard print for fun. A giant piece of petrified wood serves as a side table; its tone adds to the richness of the space. “I think we were able to use color to create a mood, feeling and presence in this room,” Childress says.
via Room of the Day: Connecting With Style in a Former Social-Club Lodge