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For The Home

European-Style House

Author: Judy Harper
Issue: November, 2013, Page 106
Photos by Michael Woodall

Chairbacks covered in Aubusson rugs and a nearly 7-foot-tall, 400-pound terra-cotta warrior from China command attention in the living room. The Spanish Colonial painting titled Madonna and Child With Angels is from South America. Two 19th-century glazed earthenware toupins (soup pots) from Provence grace the coffee table.

A Quiet Palette and European Elegance Define a Reimagined Arizona Home

Step inside this Paradise Valley home and you know immediately that its inhabitants have respect, even a reverence, for the past and that art is important in their lives. Every room is thoughtfully styled, with original artworks and European antiques that seem to have settled in and become part of the architecture. This is a home where beauty and tradition reign, but where down-to-earth occupants live comfortably with days gone by.

“Our home reflects a Contemporary interpretation of an Italian country house in Le Marche or Umbria, where much of my family still lives,” comments the owner. “It’s a simple, comfortable space where we enjoy spending time with family and friends.”

The owners discovered the 1970s-era home in 2003 and didn’t flinch at the fact that it had been sitting empty for nearly a year. “It was presented as a tear-down or an extensive remodel, and we chose the latter—it was a beautiful home and had a lot of character, even though the roof leaked. We were literally running around with buckets the first time it rained.”

Unruffled, the couple thoughtfully set out to update, renovate and make the home more functional, warm and intimate—a place that reflected their appreciation for design and history, with an interesting mix of pieces to add drama and comfort.

Working directly with a cadre of craftsmen, the owners did much of the work themselves, from staining a fireplace and applying Venetian plaster to walls, to repopulating the desert landscape one cactus at a time. Then they called upon Paige Bailey and Laura Richie Smith, both Allied ASID, to refine the look. Today, the 3,500-square-foot residence fits them so well, it seems it has always been theirs, they say.

In the dining room, Contemporary chairs surround a traditional table. Behind it, an early 20th-century Spanish Colonial painting titled Virgin and Child on Crescent Moon hangs above a Spanish Colonial buffet table. The three drawings by Erik Rudans are studies of Saint Sebastian, the early Christian martyr.
Bailey balanced comfort and style in the sunken living room, and in other spaces as well. “Paige explained that furnishings are so oversized today compared to what was traditional in the past,” notes the owner. “We scaled down, making the home more manageable, yet still beautiful and dramatic. We wanted it to be comfortable and have an intelligent, not decorated, look. Paige was so instrumental in tying the house together, combining what we already had with some new things.”

Treasured pieces are artfully displayed throughout in a way that looks curated, not cluttered. “The owners have so many collections—I didn’t do much shopping for them, just tapped into their creativity,” Bailey comments. “I thought it would be nice to have a musical instrument in the family room, for instance, and they produced a handmade clarinet that the owner, his mother and grandmother all played. Because each piece was thoughtfully chosen, the home reflects their personality beautifully.”

The kitchen is filled with amenities, including three pantries and chef-worthy appliances. “We love to cook and entertain,” explains the homeowner. “We have several stations so that everyone can be in here working together, including my 90-year-old mom, who is Italian and loves to cook when she visits.”

A door from the kitchen, which once led straight down to an arroyo, now opens to an intimate patio. “We come out here every evening to watch the javelinas as they cross through the arroyo on their way up the mountain to forage. Even though they eat our flowers, we don’t get upset because it’s such fun to watch them.”

With lush plantings, garden beds to putter in, a raised spa, wind sculptures that dance in the breeze and an unheated diving pool that is used year-round, the backyard is equally appealing  “It’s never too cold for us,” the homeowner insists. “We jump in every morning before coffee—it’s a great shock and makes us feel that it’s going to be a terrific day.

“We really enjoy traveling, especially to Italy and France, where we have acquired so many pieces for our collection,” he adds. “But the best part is returning to the home we created over the years.”

A collected look prevails in the family room, where art, glassware and other treasures appear to be effortlessly arranged. The art wall centers around an antique Navajo Ganado textile with a tobacco-finished frame.

Open shelves in the kitchen put plates, glasses and favorite objects on display and within easy reach. Painted cabinets pop against dark floors and countertops. A custom bistro table in the adjacent breakfast area is a welcoming spot for friends and family to gather.

Photos - Clock-wise from top left: An armoire serves as a bar in another part of the kitchen, which is anchored by a second island. “We installed the armoire ourselves,” the homeowner recalls, pointing out a nick on the wall as proof of the challenge. “We literally had one millimeter of extra space, so it looks like it’s a custom piece.” • A fireplace and fountain draw guests to an intimate patio just outside the kitchen. “I designed the patio and fountain myself,” says the proud homeowner. • Spanning a natural wash and leading to the front door is a footbridge that once sported red planks and turquoise ironwork. The home’s facade—formerly painted a pinkish hue—was softened with neutral colors, cantera trim and creeping fig vines. The owners added sweat equity, replacing the creosote landscape with river rocks and native vegetation. • A patio off the master bedroom is one of many stylish outdoor spaces at this residence, where the glass is always half full. “We were lucky a few years back and had a microburst in our backyard,” the owner enthuses. “We lost three huge trees, but it opened the view and that led to us redoing the yard.”

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