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For The Home

Desert Contemporary Residence

Author: Terri Feder
Issue: February, 2013, Page 86
Photos by David B. Moore

Proving that nothing trumps a good view, interior designer Mary Meinz kept the coffee tables, daybed, armless chairs (combined to create love seats) and sofa low so as not to block the desert vista outside the living room windows. A sculpture of petrified wood and agave leaves displayed in a vase blur the line between the interior and the exterior.



A Contemporary Home Embraces Nature Indoors and Out

With its myriad floor-to-ceiling glass walls, tongue-and-groove white oak ceilings, verdant interior courtyard with pool and spa, and epic 10-foot-tall sunburst bronze entry doors, this residence nestled in the hills of the Sonoran Desert is a vision to behold. Graced with timeless architecture and panoramic views in every direction, the 7,300-square-foot home was easy for its new owners to love. There was just one problem–its white-walled interiors were, in a word, sterile. “We bought the home knowing we could bring it alive,” says the lady of the house. “We loved the structure and the views, but the interiors were so bland.”

Enter interior designer Mary Meinz, ASID. Her mission, per the homeowners’ request, was “to make the home warm, relaxing and functional.” Their only admonition: “No rust, red or brown walls.” Hailing from Oklahoma, with a traditional home in Tulsa bathed in reds and yellows, and a log cabin à la Ralph Lauren in northern Wisconsin, the couple wanted a “bloom-where-you-are-planted interior for their Arizona abode,” says Meinz.

The interior designer then did something she rarely does; she went to the home alone. “I came out here, spending several hours with color charts and just walking around and letting the dwelling speak to me. Allowing the outside in, and so as not to compete with the stellar views, chocolate brown was the only color that resonated,” says Meinz. “The wood ceilings are so exquisite, and they were not being showcased. High contrast was needed on many levels.”

The home’s junior master suite boasts a taupe and chartreuse color palette and this inviting sitting room, replete with a stone fireplace. A cut-pile rug with a leaf motif makes for an artistic ground cover.
Meinz waited, pondered and then embarked upon breaking the news to the homeowners, whom she describes as “brave.” And though there was a moment of silence on the other end of the phone when she named her color of choice, the couple quickly agreed, trusting in the designer’s 38-plus years in the industry. It was a pivotal decision. When the owners finally met Meinz in person and saw their freshly painted chocolate-brown interiors, they were enchanted. “Watching the home transform with this palette was an amazing and satisfying experience,” they note.

Over a nine-month period, landscape designer Mark Wdowiak of Desert Foothills Landscaping revamped the grounds; Slovakian painter Peter Valovic painted every inch of the house both inside and out; and, along with design assistant, Gina DeCosse, Meinz thoroughly recast the home in what she describes as a “soft Contemporary style with an organic twist.” Every piece of furniture, work of art, textile and lighting application in the home was born out of the veteran designer’s creative vision coupled with the homeowners’ careful consideration. “Mary made our long-distance project so easy as she painted a mental picture for us every step of the way,” exclaims the lady of the house.

The result is a sumptuously comfortable residence that glows with warmth, night and day, thanks to a bold color decision, the softest of textiles and beautiful, organic artwork.

In the motorcourt, pavers laid in a circular arrangement around a bed of cacti echo the sunburst pattern of the home’s bronze entry doors.

In the family room, interior designer Mary Meinz’s earthy sensibility is omnipresent in the hand-carved wood “cluster” coffee table and chocolate-brown, ivory and orange color palette. The arm chairs swivel, allowing visitors to drink in the wide-ranging view. An industrial floor lamp directs the eye to the desert, while two pumpkin leather poufs add a splash of color and more seating.
The natural world rules in the dining room, where the table, designed by Meinz, has a tree-trunk pedestal base and birdlike pendant lights above it that appear to be in flight. Atop the table, a large wood vessel is filled with dried organic florals that are indigenous to the area. A mixed-media mosaic and hand-carved pears are displayed above a mirrored china cabinet.


The master suite’s sitting area defines relaxation, thanks to the downy linen fabric used on the chaise lounge, a mostly monochromatic ivory color scheme and ultra-cushy brown shag carpet underfoot. In this cozy space, the homeowners enjoy sitting and looking out over the tranquil desert scene. An orchid plant, two small sand sculptures and a clay elephant add interest on the glass-topped coffee table.

Photos - Clock-wise from top left: The warmth of the home’s chocolate-brown walls is most evident in the master bedroom, where it literally glows when coupled with ivory. Simple white vases are displayed above a secretary next to the canopy bed. Pulling the eye across the room are four framed drawings chosen for the contrast they provide against the richly hued background. • Texture takes center stage in the study with grass-cloth covering the walls, a wool broadloom carpet on the floor and old, worn books artfully framed and displayed on the wall behind a leather sofa. Rows of ivory zodiac figurines stand out against mahogany book shelves. The coffee table is actually a cluster of butterfly side tables grouped together, making for easy mobility and greater functionality. In keeping with the masculine flavor of the room, Meinz added adjustable stage lamps. The orange and black boa leather on the wood-spindle side chair is in honor of the homeowners’ passion for the Oklahoma State University Cowboys. • A sprawling “slice-of-a-tree-root” cocktail table serves as the focal point for this patio—one of many on the property. Cushioned chairs covered in an outdoor fabric make for soft fireside seating with the fire courtesy of a linear feature embedded at the foot of a trickling water feature. • In the powder room, underlit, polished travertine countertops, a bronze vessel sink and basket-weave tile flooring are all original to the house, which was built in 2002. A bold floral wallpaper, selected by the man of the house, creates drama. Floating in framed plexiglass is a piece of white tree bark wallpaper—a work created by Meinz specifically for this space. Fittingly, a grouping of geodes on stands accents the countertop.

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