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For The Home

Modern Southwest Home

Author: Maria Matson
Issue: September, 2013, Page 118
Photos by Karen Shell

In addition to artwork, the homeowners brought a pair of black chairs, the sofa and a bench from their Contemporary Midwest home. Interior designer Janet Kauffman reupholstered the once “really sleek” sofa in a warm, textured fabric and added feet so that it would better blend with its new Southwest surroundings. Motorized shades disappear when not in use, leaving unobstructed views. The large painting is by Richard Hambleton.

Contemporary Meets Southwest in a Home Filled With Art and Architectural Details

Midwesterners who move out this way often cannot help but embrace the Southwest and all of its trappings. However, the couple who bought this house in north Scottsdale admit to having “at heart, a more Contemporary sense.”

Art collectors for “30 years, maybe 40,” they have American Contemporary pieces, as well as works from other places and eras they have collected along the way. “We have art that represents a little bit of who we’ve been and how we’ve transitioned,” they say. When they moved to Arizona in early 2012, some of their art came with them.

“Everything started with the art,” says interior designer Janet Kauffman of the Scottsdale home’s interiors. “We put the art up first; then layered from there. It was tricky but so much fun.”

The difficult part was integrating the art and pieces of the couple’s sleek, Contemporary furniture into a home that has distinct Southwestern architectural details, including Saltillo tile floors, vigas, rounded plaster walls, wood ceilings and kiva fireplaces.

“The foundation of the house is Southwest,” Kauffman says. “But I love to mix styles, textures and colors; it keeps a house exciting. They like clean lines and wanted wide-open spaces without a lot of accessories. So everything I added had to have visual impact; everything had to be important.”

In the dining area, reupholstered host and hostess chairs are paired with Spanish side chairs and a rustic wood bench. A colorful piece by painter Jean-Michel Basquiat adorns the wall.
One of the pieces that has become most important to the homeowners happens to be the one they initially questioned. Kauffman, who had staged the house for sale before the current owners bought it, also was living in it at the time, which meant that many of her own furnishings were on display. She was sure her rustic dining table was the right piece for the space, so early in the design process, she convinced the couple to live with it for a while. They did, and it’s still there.

“The dining table was so different from what we had been accustomed to because we were inherently more Modern,” the couple says. “But it’s become one of our favorite pieces. When our grandkids come over, they can’t ruin it, and we have had many family dinners there.”

They also liked Kauffman’s intricately carved bed so much that they offered to buy it from her. No sale. Instead, the designer ordered them one of their own.

“We didn’t want this house to be whips and spurs. We didn’t want it to be just Western or just Southwestern. We wanted it to be us,” the homeowners say. “We feel like the house is just a little different, which is what we love. The only thing we told Janet—other than don’t spend too much money on this thing—is we want it to reflect who we are. And it does.”

To add a focal point to a center island “the size of Rhode Island,” Janet Kauffman designed a perforated-metal overlay for the face of the structure’s elevated dining bar.

Interior designer Janet Kauffman infused the master bedroom with touches of glamour by incorporating a metal nightstand and beaded bed pillows. “I wanted to add a bit of glimmer, but it needed to be subdued and sophisticated,” she says.
The homeowners’ figurine collection provided a perfect way to accessorize the powder room. “The figurines have the same primary colors as their Contemporary art, so I used them to carry the flow of color into this room,” Kauffman notes.

Layer muted colors, a variety of textures, and worn, faded patinas to soften strong, modern art and furnishings.

Janet Kauffman calls this the “queen guest room” because of the size of its bed. Except for a small papier-mâché animal, no artwork was designated for this room. With that in mind, the designer chose sculptural bedside lamps. “They became the art,” she says. “They are extremely interesting, and they’re Contemporary because of their size and the rectilinear shape of the shades.” The nightstand has a crank underneath for adjusting its height. A hair-on-hide rug tops the wood plank floor.

Photos - Clock-wise from top left: Everything in the family room except the black wooden side chair was brought from the homeowners’ residence in the Midwest. “The challenge was to make the low, Contemporary sofa more welcoming, warmer,” the designer points out. “I brought in pillows made from vintage Navajo rugs to help integrate the piece into the Southwest and give it some pow.” The artwork above the fireplace is by Paul Jenkins. • In the so-called “king guest room” everything but the bedding was repurposed. However, these pieces had never been married before, Kauffman notes. “The art posters dictated the color palette of neutral gray with a pop of pretty tangerine.” • Both the viga-roofed dining ramada and the pool patio benefit from the drama provided by a boulder-strewn mountain at the base of the property. “When we bought the house, the backyard was all overgrown with brush,” the homeowner recalls. “We spent months with the landscapers clearing it out and lighting it. We wanted the natural feeling of the mountain behind us. When we’re out there at night, we feel like we’re living at a resort.”

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