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Mid-Century Modern Crush

By Blake Miller | Photography by Justin Smith

Posted: Wednesday, Jul. 16, 2014

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The space called for mid-century modern. Or at least that’s exactly the first thing that came to James Fedele’s mind when he walked into the 800-square-foot flat overlooking East Boulevard in the heart of Dilworth. “The space has such great character, interesting archways,” he says. “But it has to be designed a certain way. If you design it the wrong way, you lose all of the space.”

One of four apartments in the circa-1940s building, Fedele’s home—a shotgun-style apartment in which the area is usually no wider than 12 feet and the rooms are arranged one behind the other at each end of the house—lent itself to the minimalistic mid-century modern aesthetic Fedele has become smitten with.

For years, though, the former professional DJ and businessman, who owns his eponymous visual branding company, had skewed towards modern baroque—an eclectic mix of antique and mid-century modern with ornate floral patterns and lines. “But it started to get too heavy for me,” says Fedele, whose client roster includes Charlotte Running Company and One80 Vodka. For his new space he steered away from modern baroque and dove into mid-century modern full force furnishing his entire flat with furniture, décor, and accessories—even down to the dishware and glassware—that are true to the era.

“I’m starting to be more of a purist with mid-century modern design,” explains Fedele, who admits that his living room sofa—a sleek, modern gray couch from City Supply Co.—though mid-century modern in style is not from the 1950s or 60s. However, the remainder of the home—from the oversize credenzas to the collection of vintage cameras neatly arranged like artwork installations—is 100 percent mid-century modern. Scouring local spots like Sleepy Poet, Mid-Century Salvage, Century Vintage, and the Metrolina Antiques show each month has resulted in a home that feels like it could truly be from the fifties. “I hit a lot of yard sales and estate sales,” says Fedele, whose mid-century modern obsession was first ignited by a Mad Men-esque hotel in Madrid he visited when he was a child.

The space—with its clean lines and small furnishings—also lends itself to entertaining, which Fedele does nearly every weekend, he says. “In this tiny flat I can seat six for dinner very comfortably or I can have a dozen people over cocktailing and be super comfortable,” he says. “We can walk to restaurants, Freedom Park. I’m a big entertainer so it’s a great space for us all to start and end the night.”

And to live fulltime. “When I saw the space it was one of those things that even if you’re a mediocre designer, you know it is going to be a fun space to work with,” he says. “I knew it.”

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