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For The Home

Casual Contemporary Home

Author: Terri Feder
Issue: September, 2013, Page 94
Photos by Art Holeman

Shadows dance on the pavered auto court that leads to this hacienda-style home. Nestled into the mountain and surrounded by a plethora of cacti and canopied trees, the property offers much in the way of tranquil views and design opportunities.



Family Heirlooms Cohabit With Contemporary Stylings in an Interior Designer’s Mountainside Sanctuary

The drive to this home takes you up winding roads and lands you smack on the side of the mountain, where boulders hold court and javelinas and other wildlife wander regularly into the landscape. Walk through rustic iron gates toward a set of substantial arched wood doors, and it’s apparent that something special awaits on the other side. Nestled on this peaceful 2.5-acre lot is the home of interior designer Mary Meinz, ASID, and her husband, Al.

Born in Michigan and having lived in numerous homes and states over the years, Meinz believes in “blooming where you are planted,” and that’s just what she and her husband did after purchasing this 3,850-square-foot hacienda in north Scottsdale in 2005. “We must have looked at 100 or so houses before we found this one, and most of them were lacking that ‘homey’ feeling. This one had great bones and a wonderful personality. It felt like it could so easily be home; I could see my family here. We also loved the privacy and tranquility of the location,” notes Meinz. Other features that caught the couple’s attention: large Saltillo tiles gracing most of the home, log vigas adorning ceilings, and a rambling floor plan.

Although Mary and Al both loved the home’s structure, they knew they wanted to recast its interiors. The style they opted for was casual Contemporary, or as Mary puts it, “No fuss, no muss.” They began by lightening things up. “This house was very dark when we bought it, so we added a multitude of skylights and painted all the walls a warm, buttery white,” notes the designer. Existing carpeting was removed and replaced with the same Saltillo tile used in the rest of the home. “I like to keep the floors uniform throughout my houses,” explains Meinz.

As soon as Mary Meinz spotted the antique wine rack from France, she knew it would make the perfect floating vanity for her powder room. Instead of using a traditional wall mirror, the designer opted for a smaller scissor version because the area in front of the sink is so narrow. An old fringed horse blanket hangs from an animal skull, lending raw Western charm to the space. Rugs are layered on the Saltillo-tile floor.
When it came to furnishing the spaces, she found the task challenging despite her vast design background, which includes a bachelor’s degree in fine art from Mount Mary College, where she majored in interior design. Meinz also has more than 40 years of experience designing interior residential spaces of all sizes and styles. She explains, “When it comes to decorating their own homes, interior designers are notoriously fickle. We go to market and fall in love with one sofa and then we see another one that we also love. There are too many good choices to pick from.” It was by returning to her own design credo—live with what you love—that Meinz was able to make the right choices for the spaces under her roof. “People are innately gifted about what works for them. If you go with what you love naturally, the design will happen without duress. It’s also important to ask yourself, ‘What belongs under this roof’ and stay true to that,” the designer asserts.

Meinz made a point of combining new furnishings with ones inherited from earlier generations. “I enjoy mixing something old with something new,” she comments. “I would describe my home’s interiors as ‘collected.’ I have acquired so many artifacts throughout my lifetime. In the master bedroom, for example, is a chair that once belonged to her maternal grandfather—a man she never had a chance to meet. “The only way I know my grandfather is through that chair,” she shares.

The home’s color palette was kept neutral. “When you have a backdrop from nature, with panoramic desert views and such beautiful architecture, you have to be careful. I actually prefer texture over color. Although I like to wear color, I don’t really like to live with it,” states Meinz.

For the textiles used on draperies and upholstery, the designer chose organic natural fibers—100-percent linen, wool, cotton and flax. “I prefer natural materials for their durability, comfort and esthetic,” she adds.

Says Meinz of her Arizona homestead, “Our home embodies family traditions, love of nature and, we hope, a karma that welcomes. We truly feel blessed to live in such a peaceful place.”

The home’s entrance is made memorable with rustic iron gates and a pathway leading to massive arched wooden entry doors boasting custom pewter hardware and decorative clavos.

In the great room, matching shelter sofas upholstered in ivory linen flank a simple square coffee table designed by Mary Meinz and crafted from rift-cut oak. On the far wall, a wood canoe sits atop a large white cabinet that has traveled with the couple from home to home and room to room, serving different purposes along the way. The custom dining table was made from reclaimed wood and is surrounded by Italian leather directors’ chairs coupled with wing chairs. Banner-style drapes made of banana cloth were placed on tracks for easy movability.
Due to a curve in the master bedroom’s fireplace wall, it was impossible to attach a mantel. Interior designer Mary Meinz, ASID, crafted a faux one by hanging an Asian wood carving from the ceiling with clear fishing line. The painting is by Arizona artist Dupré. The circular table is a replica of an Asian watering vessel; a sisal rug adds texture underneath.


With its floating tub and honey onyx countertops and shower, the newly added master bath was designed for luxuriating. Antique Ming vases bought at an auction adorn a set of bookshelves used for towel and accessory display. The woven chair is from Italy. Mary Meinz had the alderwood cabinets stained to match those in other rooms in the home.

Photos - Clock-wise from top left: Dressed in white, the master bedroom’s upholstered bed was designed by Meinz. An antique chest under the window is the perfect perch on which to display a “giant desert coral,” also known as tumbleweed. Next to it, the designer has “layered” paintings and other cherished objects inherited from family members. Linens are stowed inside the chest. • Honed Calcutta marble clads the kitchen countertops, backsplash and dining peninsula. Cozied up to the peninsula is a pair of classic Mid-Century Bertoia bar stools. A stainless steel center island contains warming drawers and wine storage. Sandblasted glass cabinets shelter dishware. • Rosemary cascades over the serpentine walls behind the pool. A bouldered water feature carved into the hillside is reminiscent of a mountain stream. The upper patio features a kiva fireplace and cushioned seating. • The back patio offers myriad seating areas, including this one, which features a reclaimed-wood coffee table, a pair of French cafe chairs, and armless woven lounge chairs placed together to create a sofa. The layered table base in the back was designed by Meinz, who then added a concrete top to it.

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