A Designer Turned Her Childhood Friend's Home into a Masterful Mash-Up of '70s and '80s Decor Hits
Burnt orange, lava lamps and disco. The 1970s get a bad rap. But it's also an era that hustled in well-traveled boho, textural rattan and cane, sultry brass, global pattern and bold abstract art. These style stalwarts decorate today's most au courant homes—and the childhood memories of two friends who pulled from the past to shape a new home.
"We go way back," says interior designer Rebekah Zaveloff of her friend Lorie FitzGibbon. "We grew up together in Ohio. My mom owned a store that sold the latest fashions; Lorie's mom was an art dealer. We were both heavily influenced by the style of the late '70s and early '80s—boho hippy meets disco and glam."
So when Lorie and her husband, John, built a new home in the Chicago suburbs, Lorie knew where to find her style muse.
"First, I told her what I didn't want," Lorie says with a laugh."I didn't want a kitschy lake house—even though the property is on a lake—or a house that looked brand-new and didn't fit with the 50-year-old houses in this little neighborhood."
Zaveloff was already on the same page. "My firm has primarily done remodels—in fact, this was our first new home from the ground up," she says. "I love the character that comes with old houses, and I wanted to give that aesthetic to Lorie in a home with casual elegance." The key, the friends agreed, was bringing elements from past eras into the new interiors.
"When others zig, Lorie and I zag," Zaveloff says. "We have an almost visceral reaction to anything that feels too trendy." Instead, the friends turned to vintage furnishings and rugs, along with other elements that nod to their younger days. The result infuses rooms with an old soul while juxtaposing contemporary ingredients in a sophisticated mix.
It all starts in the entry, where Zaveloff paired two pieces that Lorie already owned—an 18th-century carved cabinet and a painting by Colombian American artist Oscar Murillo—with textural porcelain tile and a vintage rug.
In the great room, a newly purchased linen sofa—and a well- loved leather counterpart that Zaveloff had restuffed—join in a multi-era repertoire with brass Design Institute America chairs and a lacquered goatskin coffee table from the 1970s.
Lorie says she spotted the sprawling 60×60-inch table on Chairish. "I fell in love with it, and Rebekah said, 'Buy it—it's fabulous!'" But her husband wasn't so sure about purchasing used furniture. "I said, 'It's pre-owned. It just has a few scratches, and we have teenagers. If this table made it through 40 years, it's going to make it through our children.'"
An envelope of white walls and neutral upholstery provides an ideal canvas for Lorie's collected art pieces and a trove of throw pillows covered in patterns that evoke exotic travels. "At first glance, it might look like a lot of beige, but it's not," Zaveloff says. "The palette, with its faded pinks and purples, was inspired by a dream trip I took to Marrakech."
The melding of influences continues in the kitchen, where Zaveloff contrasted white-painted cabinetry with rift-cut white oak. Traditional moldings and paneled doors play off the farmhouse simplicity of a shiplap-covered range hood. White quartzite countertops politely turn the spotlight on backsplash materials: marble-look porcelain behind the range, terra-cotta tile with a geometric bronze inlay behind the sink. Contemporary black accents marry with timeless unlacquered brass. Cane-back, tubular-steel counter stools—a 1970s favorite descended from Marcel Breuer's 1928 "Cesca" design—provide seating.
"There is no one style, no one era," Zaveloff says. "It's about how materials interact. I learned that during my time as a collage artist, and it's just as important in interior design."
A main-level suite features rich texture in the bedroom, where Zaveloff reupholstered Lorie and John's existing headboard and flanked their bed with vintage burl maple side tables. A light-filled bath offers generous spans of white oak cabinetry, replated vintage mirrors and a floor clad in trellis-inspired tile.
The kids' rooms—plus a family room and second kitchen—reside in the ranch home's walkout basement, where French doors open to the backyard and lake beyond.
"Being on the lake provides immediate serenity," Zaveloff says. "You don't need to travel. Here, you feel like you're on vacation all the time. It's a place you never want to leave."
Lorie agrees. "I love this house. There's so much of me—and Rebekah—in here," she says. "We filled this home with things from the '70s and '80s that I love. It makes it feel good—it feels like our childhood. And that's a really happy feeling."