Fabulous clients – turned great friends – bought a good-sized townhome in Phoenix. It was plain vanilla inside with wall-to-wall broadloom and everything painted the same creamy neutral. They stood in the center of this bland slate and called me saying we think we want to clean this up and go with a mission-style simplicity.
They saw the ornate cream-painted wrought iron ascending the curved staircase and wanted it gone!
I flew over and saw for myself this dated interior with very good bones. Layout had great flow, nice lines, handsome coffered ceiling and other interesting features. I pondered the elements and the context of the exterior architecture. It was stucco with red clay tile roof, and iron railing details. Sure, we could slick it up, remove the embellishments…but should we?
The desert heat can be oppressive. Some choose to embrace the glories of the sunshine and design bright airy interiors with plenty of refrigerated air to compensate for nature’s blistering temperatures. This approach we were about to take was to be quite different, in that it offered a shady reprieve from the elements.
Therefore, despite the initial suggestion, for the style of the remodel, by my clients I offered another design direction . Why not spice it up with Spanish? Here we are in Phoenix, with architecture suggesting this genre. Knowing their bent for traditional interiors, from two past residences that we had designed together, and with a detailed discussion of the possibilities and evaluation of the elements, we agreed on the Spanish theme and began the transformation.
This is a perfect example of isolating the existing features and determining what to salvage and what to remove. Of the things to be salvaged, how can they be revitalized? So, with that in mind, the staircase was stripped of its carpeting and solid wood treads were added with custom-designed glazed ceramic tile, for the risers. A Moorish influence was the basis for the geometric motif. The staircase’s semi-ornate railing was painted a dark, nearly black, charcoal. The result was startling.
Throughout the home, colors changed, stone columns and fireplace details were added, a wet bar was abandoned in favor of opening into the kitchen. Travertine stone floors were installed throughout the lower level with hardwood upstairs.
An open loft area was compartmentalized into a narrow gallery-bookcase with isolated and fully closed office beyond. Bold colors over-lap and contrast on layers of interior planes.
The result is a cozy retreat from the desert heat incorporating design elements suggestive of Spanish Colonial, transitioning to other modern elements complementing the overall design. To begin a remodel, look at the existing elements, the style of the architecture, the context of the structure and see if you can find a story.
This house now tells a story of intentional decisions, cohesive finishes, a directional theme and a finished product that represents the owners’ giving personal identity to their home.