IT HAPPENS EVERY TIME. Friends enter Kyla Fairchild’s vacation home on Camano Island and immediately point to something: the shimmering metallic wallpaper, the very Brady, wood-paneled television set, a stretch of high-pile carpet. “Oh, my God,” they always exclaim. “We had that in the house I grew up in!” It’s no surprise that the house, with its groovy ceramic mushroom molds and plush furniture, belongs to Fairchild. The publisher of roots-music zine No Depression, one of the most respected music publications in the country—the one the musicians themselves read—she is also the owner of cool-kid kitschfest Hattie’s Hat bar in Ballard. Fact is, Fairchild would have decked her place out in one-of-a-kind thrift-store and antique-mall finds no matter what, but she did not start from scratch. The previous owner—the widow of a south Seattle grocer—had built and furnished the house in 1979, then left it alone. When she sold it, she left behind every Danish end table, standing ashtray, and dimpled-glass vase. Fairchild couldn’t believe her luck.
“I love feeling that these things had a life before me,” she says, standing in the long, sunken living room. She points out a brass sculpture of a fish in midleap and two burl wood coffee tables. “These were all here when we moved in,” she says. Even the magazines—among them a 1978 Newsweek with Jimmy Carter on the cover and the headline “Can He Lift the Economy?”—she found after purchasing the property five years ago with husband Ron Wilkowski, a senior vice president at a bank. “Isn’t it amazing?” marvels Fairchild.
It is, and not only because it functions as a sort of aesthetic altar to a Generation X childhood. In many homes, old Atari game systems and psychedelic plaid pillows would look like tacky clutter, but here an open-floor plan and modern, vaulted ceilings have a flattering effect on the massive amber-hued glass lamps and burgundy wall-to-wall. Still, it’s a testament to Fairchild’s exceptional eye that the decor feels always just on the verge of kitsch, but never unsophisticated; nostalgic, but not outdated.