When Dallyn Pavey moved to Radnor’s Rebel Hill two years ago, she knew exactly what she wanted for a housewarming gift: an Eero Saarinen Womb Chair. It had to be red—just like the one her parents owned when she was a little girl. Now, the pod-shaped piece and its matching ottoman command a prominent space in the living room of Pavey’s townhouse.
Next to the chair is another Saarinen original—a pedestal side table with a marble top. On it, a two- sided picture frame shows Pavey as a baby perched in her beloved chair. On the flip side: an image of her mom as a young woman, sitting on the same piece.
Growing up in Narberth, Pavey was surrounded by work from the likes of Saarinen, Charles and Ray Eames, and Harry Bertoia. All are showcased in her new home. “My last place was mid-century modern,” she says. “So my mother started passing pieces of furniture down to me.”
Pavey wanted to maintain that clean, contemporary aesthetic in Rebel Hill. “The furniture from this period is more like pieces of art or sculpture, rather than just tables and chairs,” says Pavey. “Some are displayed at the Museum of Modern Art.”
Among the holdovers from Pavey’s childhood: a surfboard table designed by the Eames in the early 1950s. The books neatly stacked on it reflect the three loves of her life: food, music and architecture.
Pavey runs Dish Public Relations, representing chefs and restaurants in the area. Before that, she was in music industry management, with such clients as the Hooters and KISS. “Working with rock stars and bands is the same as working with chefs and restaurants,” says Pavey. “It’s the same skill set.”
Another of Pavey’s living room highlights is a Bertoia Wire Diamond chair, its mesh construction hailed as a classic mid-20th-century design. Hanging above the Italian Cassina couch are two Andy Warhol lithographs. A Mirro Medallion collection of vintage 1950s aluminum serving pieces is displayed on a contemporary open shelving unit not far from a bubble-top Sears Silvertone turntable from the same era.
Soaring 20-foot ceilings make the living room feel larger than it is, and three levels of windows on either side of the fireplace allow for plenty of natural light. The openness grabbed Pavey’s attention when she first toured the house. “I didn’t want to move into something that felt like a box,” she says. “This is very loft-like for the suburbs.”
Pavey’s townhouse is one of only a few in the development with a kitchen that opens to the living room, the two separated by a breakfast bar. Taking it a step further, Pavey added a horizontal pass-through between the kitchen and the dining room. “I love to cook and entertain,” she says. “No matter how many people are here, they’re always hanging out by the kitchen.”
The kitchen features cherry wood cabinetry and sleek, silver hardware accented with stainless steel appliances. Red is used throughout the home—even in the vintage Dansk pots atop the stove.
A George Nelson clock is among the many mid-century modern pieces that enliven the kitchen. Made in the late 1940s, the whimsical timepiece—with its 12 balls representing numbers—is one of Nelson’s most iconic designs. In lieu of bar stools, Pavey chose high-top chairs similar to the Saarinen Tulip chairs in the dining room.
To supplement the pieces from her family, Pavey has collected many things while traveling. She’s also had some success on eBay. “It’s fun having a house decorated in a certain era, because you’re always on a search for cool stuff from that time,” she says.
Pavey followed through on her love of minimalist dÃ©cor in the dining room. “I wanted it to be really cozy and intimate,” she says. “I wanted it to feel like you were in a romantic nook at a restaurant.”
First, Pavey warmed things up with a mustard paint on the walls—two of which are lined with 10 small wooden boxes. Tea lights sitting atop the boxes give the space a dramatic look at night. A round, white Saarinen pedestal table passed down by Pavey’s mother is a perfect fit for the square room, and the four matching white Tulip chairs were an eBay find. Repainted and outfitted with new cushions, the chairs are like new. A George Nelson Bubble Lamp over the table rounds out the space.
Pavey’s master bedroom features more mid-century modern influences, including an Eames lounger and ottoman, both in white leather. Pavey curls up in the chair to read or watch the flat-screen television on the facing wall. Above a platform bed with leather headboard are two John Lennon serigraphs—one with the phrase “Why me?” and the other, “Why not?” “I’m a Beatles fan, and I love the sentiments,” she says.
A makeover in the master bathroom includes contemporary Italian tiles around the bathtub and a new vanity with a large, oval vessel sink.
Pavey works from home, so she needed space for an office. Hence the finished lower level, with its French doors that lead outside, bringing in plenty of natural light. “My office is separate enough that I don’t feel like I’m working from home,” she says. “And when I come upstairs, I’m done with the office.”
Pavey went mainstream modern with her office furniture—as in, IKEA. Her desk mimics the shape of the Eames table in the living room, and the neutral work area is accented by pops of red from an Anthropologie oval bread box (that she uses to store press clippings that need filing), a swivel desk chair and a small waste can. Priceless mementos—like the framed plaque with pictures from the night Pavey was pulled on stage by Bruce Springsteen during a 1988 performance of “Dancing in the Dark”—personalize the space. “I’ve been a fan of Bruce forever,” she says. “I saw him at the Main Point in 1973. So I waited a long time for that dance.”
Pavey also set up a lounge area with two sofas and a coffee table. “If I had a meeting in my office, I wanted a place where we could sit and relax,” she says.
As it turns out, Springsteen and the Beatles aren’t the only targets of her adulation. “These mid-century modern furniture designers were the rock stars of that era,” says Pavey. “Decades later, their work is still appreciated and collected. I feel so lucky to be surrounded by their designs.”