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A Home for Art - Lynda Martin

Author: Linda J. Barkman
Issue: March, 2016, Page 91
Photo by Mark Lipzynski

Interior designer Lynda Martin removed a hallway closet to create a light-filled gallery area near the
home’s entry. Art includes “Tip,” a rusted-iron figure by Antony Gormley, a trio of small paintings by Richard Pousette-Dart and a large abstract in primary tones (foreground) by Jenny Holzer.
A Simple Interior Redo Turned Total Remodel Creates the Perfect Canvas for a World-Class Art Collection

When called on to transform a ’70s-era Phoenix residence with dated interiors into an inviting, contemporary home that showcases a fluid collection of fine art, many designers would find the challenge daunting. But interior designer Lynda Martin, a seasoned professional with a cornucopia of both design and construction knowledge, took the task in stride.

“My goal was to create strong interiors that help focus on the art rather than compete with it,” Martin
says. “That was the basis for all the decisions.”

At first the homeowners, who are highly involved in the Phoenix Art Museum and Desert Botanical Garden, only wanted a fresh look for a couple areas. “They decided to test drive me with the dining room,” Martin recalls with a grin. “Then we moved on to the master bedroom.” The initial changes were primarily cosmetic in nature. But over time, as her clients got a taste of the impact that additional modifications might bring, and the resulting influence on their growing collection of art, the simple redo became the little project that grew.

Formerly stucco, the living room’s fireplace wall is now dressed in book-matched travertine. The large “Red Poppies” painting is by Donald Sultan. The metal sculpture on the plinth-style hearth is by William Turnbull. The horse, made of bronze pieces, is by Deborah Butterfield.
"My goal was to create strong interiors that focus on the art rather than compete with it."

When given the go-ahead to revamp the living room, Martin had to factor a significant piece of art into her plans. “The owners had commissioned a painting for this room that was to be 8 feet tall by 12 feet wide,” she explains. “It was important for the art to stand on its own, so we remodeled the room to accommodate it, as well as other pieces.”

In addition to annexing a former Arizona room and visually opening the space to the adjacent sculpture garden with expanses of glass, Martin designed a new fireplace that is clad in silver travertine and flanked by tall windows. Along with the large commissioned work, several sculptures were strategically placed in the larger, light-filled room.Here and throughout, new and custom as well as existing and revamped furnishings were used.
Art is primary to every space in the lovely home. In the living room opposite the fireplace, for instance, a painting by Liliane Tomasko picks up the multitude of muted tones in the sofa’s upholstery. To its left is a rolled-steel sculpture by Bernar Venet; the small iron sculpture on the side table is by Lynn Chadwick.

For example, Martin turned a living room sectional into two sofas, reupholstering them in a textural, iridescent fabric; and resized dining room draperies—which were replaced with Roman shades—for use in the guest room. “Not everything has to be new,” she says.

Martin envisioned an expansive living room with direct visual connection to the outdoor garden and pool, so she cleverly incorporated a former sunroom and replaced walls with glass.
Once the designer had completed a gut redo of the home office a few months later, a domino effect had set in, and aesthetic as well as structural changes to other spaces were soon underway. An area of particular importance was the front entry.

“The homeowners were actively collecting significant art, so as you approached the entry it needed to give you a sense of what was coming,”  the interior designer explains.
To that end, walls in the dining room and guest hallway, located on either side of the foyer, were opened to the entry courtyard with large floor-to-ceiling glass doors, and a chandelier that hung over the dining table was replaced with ceiling cams so as not to compete with a room’s large painting.

The rug in the dining room was chosen to underscore the color scheme of the large painting by Sean Scully. It hangs on a plastered and painted wall that was formerly mirrored. The ceramic sculpture on the console is by Roger Capron.
Martin notes that it was essential during the course of the project to be mindful of the need to create appropriate backdrops for the client’s art, much of which had been in storage. “What drove a lot of my design was being cognizant of the scale of the art, pieces that needed to command a space, pieces that needed to be a counterfoil to them. You have to be led to things,” she says. “You don’t want everything competing for your attention at the exact same time.”

In order to streamline and unify spaces, and further the goal of allowing the art to shine, Martin made many substantial changes. Among these, painted raised-panel doors throughout the house were replaced with flat rift-sawn white oak doors; ceiling beams and planks were removed; steel-framed windows, recessed ceiling lights and linear air-supply vents were installed; sliding glass doors were enlarged; ceilings were raised and all interior walls were painted a pale, creamy beige.

The last phase of the remodel was the most significant, says Martin. “Every time we redid a space, the rest lagged behind. The last phase pulled it all together.”

“It was a radical transformation,” the owners note. “Now we use the whole house more. It’s so airy, comfortable, and a pleasure to live in; and we finally have a place to showcase our art.”


New taller and wider sliding-glass doors opening to an outdoor sitting area bring light and views to the library. Created by Paul Feeley, the vivid yellow floor sculpture at the end of the room is made of wood. Martin had a base built for the piece. The family’s golden retriever, Tassie, enjoys the space.

When Ludwig Mies van der Rohe famously said “God is in the details,” he could have been talking about Lynda Martin, owner and principal of Camelback Interior Design. Precise, patient, passionate and personable, Lynda loves and lives every part of her design projects.

With more than 20 years’ experience in the residential and commercial design business, her attention to detail is grounded in a deep understanding of interiors and a hands-on knowledge of construction. While she focuses on high-end interiors, Lynda worked with well-known Valley builders and developers in the early 1990s.

Lynda has mantras of her own, including “Live your life with style, surrounded by great design.” Her work rises to that level of quality, authenticity and livability, thanks to a keen ability to design furniture, fixtures and textiles as superbly and uniquely as she does living spaces.

When she was recently asked if she was thinking of retiring, the high-energy, native Phoenician laughed and said, “What? Are you crazy?”

Even before we named her a Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award winner, she called 2016 her “Sweet 16 Year” and added, “It’s going to be great!”We agree, Lynda! And congratulations!

Once dark and uninviting, the TV room is now a light, airy, art-filled space that is both comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. The fireplace sports a new plaster front accented with a brushed-steel panel and toe kick and a granite hearth. Displayed above the fireplace is a painting by Paul Feeley. The sculpture on the hearth is by Sophie Ryder. Colorful textile art by Sheila Hicks puddles on the floor near an entrace to the library. The hanging wire sculpture on the shelf above the TV is by Ruth Asawa. A grouping of abstract panels by Jack Whitten  is at home above the sectional custom-designed by Martin. The artist’s study for the “Red Poppies” painting in the home’s living room hangs on the wall opposite the textile art.

Displayed on a wall of the master bedroom’s sitting area is a colorful painting by Sean Scully. The ceramic sculpture on the console is by Roger Capron. On the wall above the console is a sculpture by Brad Durham. The wood table between the two chairs features a pull-out metal laptop table.

A picture of serenity, the master bedroom features a new window wall and larger glass patio door dressed in floor-to-ceiling draperies. The cornices and crown are brushed steel. The bed rests against a wall upholstered in a cotton/linen blend. A painting by Roland Peterson adds a fun, colorful touch to the room. 

The sculpture garden is enhanced with a shimmering pool, assorted desert plantings and outdoor art. Displayed beyond the pool are a tile tryptych by Elizabeth MacDonald and a tall bronze sculpture by Sophie Ryder. Both have a sense of fun and whimsy.

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