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Designing A Comeback

A classic 1950s split-level in Riverside gets an update that celebrates its past

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The living room holds a well-edited mix of furnishings, from mid-century chrome chairs and a salvaged coffee table to custom-upholstered Alvar Aalto C chairs. Photo Gallery »

How does a modernism-loving married couple with a young daughter transition from an edgy South Loop neighborhood to suburban living? For Bob and Sally Faust, a husband-and-wife graphic design/ writing team, it was simple. “Bob lured me by saying, ‘Let’s look at a house with a pool,’” Sally says.

Built in 1955, the split-level Riverside house that would become their home and studio had been on the market for nearly nine months when the couple first saw it in 2004. They immediately responded to its mid-century aesthetic—flat roof, large eaves, long lines, and dramatic interior flow. The previous owner had kept certain elements that date-stamped the house: Air-King built-in exhaust fans, built-in electric wall heaters, and Carrara glass walls and sills in the bathroom. “Perhaps other people just found those things old,” says Sally. “But they sold us.”

Sally and her daughter relax on a Room & Board sofa in the family room. The 1950s rug is from Wright Auctions. Bob designed and built the coffee table from reclaimed oak and industrial casters. Photo Gallery »

That sensibility served them well in assembling and editing an offbeat collection of inherited and salvaged objects. Bob’s Italian heritage reveals itself in a number of prized family pieces, from a Capo-di-Monte lamp to a cast-plaster Jesus statue handed down from his grandmother. The Fausts are equally content pulling something from the trash (a living-room coffee table was plucked from a Dumpster, the poolside LOUNGE sign rescued from a hotel demolition) as they are making a purchase from Luminaire.

Stripping the home of window coverings, wallpaper, and flooring, the Fausts set about “back-dating” (as opposed to updating) the interior to bring it more in line with the era in which the house was built and with their own taste. A contractor rehabbed two bathrooms and an architect has drawn plans for a yet-to-be-built addition, but the Fausts did the interior design themselves.

Co-owners of the eponymous graphic-design firm Faust, they applied to their home the same creativity they bring to clients’ projects. Professionally and personally, Sally says, “our mission is simple—just create great design. Our style has always been very informal.”

While the house may be all business in the front (the studio faces the street), it’s all party in the back, with an inviting pool and yard. The Fausts are highly in favor of fun. For their firm’s tenth-anniversary Ditch Day pool party, the theme was Homecoming, complete with class photos of guests and stretch-terry wristband “corsages.”

They have more plans for recapturing the original character of their residence, including a pool house designed by architect Elva Rubio. But while it may forever be a work in progress, they point out, their house has already come a long way home.


Party On

Photo Gallery»

Entertaining reigns supreme, particularly in summer, when the Fausts (above) throw their annual Ditch Day poolside party for clients. The LOUNGE sign (above) was salvaged from the Roosevelt Hotel on Michigan Avenue. With a holler to the foreman on the demolition crew and some tricky maneuvering onto a truck, Sally secured the sign, now graced with ivy and home to a gaggle of suburban birds. Deejays, a beanbag toss, badminton, class photos, and a spread catered by Big Delicious Planet round out the festivities.

To see a video tour and hear the homeowners talk about how they designed their home, click here.


Photography: Nathan Kirkman
Styling: Arden Nelson

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