Professor Ramzi's Playful Madison Home

Professor Ramzi's Playful Madison Home

Marcia Prentice
Apr 28, 2014
Professor sitting at school desk in his living room
(Image credit: Allison Welch)

Name: Ramzi Fawaz
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Size: 1,200 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year

If you imagine that a professor's home must be very scholarly and serious, Ramzi Fawaz's place may surprise you. Instead of textbooks, he has shelves and shelves of comic books. This home has a very vintage and playful feel, and you can see inspiration from his stylish designer brother, Samer Fawaz.

(Image credit: Allison Welch)

Ramzi wanted to make sure we noticed his original Keith Haring robe, which his closest friend Michael Horka gave to him. Another sentimental favorite is the photo of Razi and his brother as kids. His style influences are diverse — southwestern cabins, 60s and 70s culture, the Jetsons — but everything comes together in a harmonious and comfortable way. A few illustrations displayed keep the vibe from being too serious, and photos and mementos from friends add a personal touch.

(Image credit: Allison Welch)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Mid-century with dashes of southwestern and Moroccan. The 1970s make guest appearances.

Inspiration: The idea of an English professor's home circa 1958 (so... carefully curated bookshelves, furniture arranged for groups to talk, places to read); southwestern lodges and cabins; the 1960s and 1970s counterculture; the impeccable style of my brother Samer Fawaz and my close friend Matthew Tinkcom; retro American science fiction — think the Jetsons or the Fantastic Four.

Favorite Element: This is a tie between my huge living room window and the textured, vintage hallway wallpaper.

Biggest Challenge: Finding the right sofa for the den that could accommodate visitors without looking like a sleeper sofa.

What Friends Say: "It feels like art and home." They love that it's streamlined and elegant but very comfortable and welcoming at the same time. I throw lots of cocktail parties, and the space feels like it was made for guests and ice cubes clinking as people talk. I decided to keep nearly all my scholarly books at my office and maintain one bookshelf of comics and graphic novels in the den. This allowed me to separate work and home and spotlight a different kind of book collection. I try to display things I love — pictures of family and friends, comics, and movie posters — in unexpected ways. The metal cabinet in the den from GoodWood, a DC based vintage furniture store, fits my comic collection perfectly, but doesn't look like any comic book storage unit a collector would use.

Biggest Embarrassment: The venetian blinds and the ceiling fans. Yikes! They are holdovers from the 1980s.

Proudest DIY: Arranging prints and posters around each room, not too few, not too many.

Biggest Indulgence: The TV and TV cabinet. I wanted a huge screen that was sleek and modern to indulge in my love of movies. I love that it looks like it's floating on air.

Best Advice: To avoid getting a traditional sleeper or pull-out for the den/guest bedroom.

Dream Sources: Room&Board, Iconi Interiors (amazing vintage furniture in Madison), GoodWood (Washington DC based vintage furniture),, West Elm (for rugs).

(Image credit: Allison Welch)

Resources of Note:


  • 1970s orange school chair - Wisconsin SWAP
  • Persian rug - family heirloom


  • Furniture and pillows - Room&Board
  • Moroccan inspired floor rug - West Elm
  • Moroccan pillow - Objects of Matter (gifted by my brother for my 30th)
  • Vintage Fantastic Four print - (framed at Monroe Street Framing)
  • Deco magazine rack, wrought iron jacks, and 1970s fabric canvas print - Iconi Interiors
  • Arc lamp - CB2
  • Ceramic "Kryptonite" on coffee table - Ben Medansky Ceramics
  • As my friend Nedda reminded me when I moved to Madison: in the Midwest, hardwood floors have to be covered in rugs. It gets too cold in the winter for your feet to stand the wood uncovered. I found amazing rugs at West Elm, which has stepped up its design game. I mixed and matched with a variety of Persian rugs that are family heirlooms. Serious gratitude to my mom who pulled them out of storage and lugged them across the country to protect my feet.



  • Vintage 70s ceramic bowls and glassware - Iconi Interiors
  • 1980s Mickey Mouse touch tone phone (I picked this up from a vintage sidewalk sale here in Madison)
  • Roy Lichtenstein and Keith Haring prints -
  • Original "doodle" on cardboard by Samer Fawaz (my brother)
  • Vintage Rolling Stone Magazine issue from 1971 with an expose on Marvel Comics (picked this up at one of the many fantastic curated bookshops in Austin, Texas)


  • Wood bed frame - CB2
  • Bedding - Coyuchi with Hudson's Bay Point blanket
  • Hugo Guinness framed "Brain" print - John Derian (gifted from my brother)
  • Nightstand -
  • Lamps - CB2 (clear base nightstand lamp) and Iconi Interiors (1970s ceramic lamp and vintage metal task lamp)
  • Deco dresser - Iconi Interiors
  • Movie prints - (framed at Monroe Street Framing)
  • Persian rugs - family heirlooms
  • My bedroom coffee table features a copy of the first published issue of GLQ (Gay and Lesbian Quarterly), the premiere academic journal in my field and a hardcover of George Eliot's Middlemarch, gifted to me by one of my greatest academic mentors and friends, Melani McAlister, when I received my PhD. I like looking at things in the morning that remind me why I love what I do.


  • Floor rug - West Elm
  • Oxford pop-up sofa and pillows - Room&Board (southwestern blanket from Woolrich)
  • Vintage metal cabinet with baskets - GoodWood
  • Turquoise 1970s school desk and chair - Wisconsin SWAP
  • White Formica desk and bookshelf - CB2
  • Zardoz print - (framed at Monroe Street Framing)
  • The University of Wisconsin SWAP (Surplus with a purpose) is a treasure trove. An entire warehouse in Verona, Wisconsin, filled with old furniture and school supplies from the University of Wisconsin. I found the extraordinary turquoise school desk that sits in my den there, as well as the old map of California and the orange school chair at my entryway. The chairs and desks were $3/piece.
(Image credit: Allison Welch)

Thanks, Ramzi!

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