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Masters of the Southwest
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Home Sweeter Home
Sally J. Clasen
March, 2017, Page 130
Photos by Karen Shell
The dining room and adjacent seating area glow after their recent remodeling. Updates include incorporating a light and airy cream-and-ivory color scheme expressed in natural-fiber fabrics and neutral paint choices, trading out dark mahogany for wide-plank French oak flooring, and freshening an existing chandelier with a warm gold finish.
A Love of House and Neighborhood Compels a Phoenix Couple to Remodel Rather Than Move
When renovating a home, it’s Crucial to have a well-laid plan in place. And it doesn’t hurt to have a professional interior designer on board to pull the vision together. That became crystal clear to homeowner Michelle Tasset as she stood in the middle of tile store a few years ago and realized she was sinking under the weight of all the decisions that still needed to made to complete an overhaul of her family’s North Central 1950s ranch.
Dining under the stars is special thanks to a metal-and-wood table paired with a bench and metal chairs, canopied by a pergola outfitted with string lights. A master suite window looks out on the scene.
At the time, the Tassets were in the midst of transforming their traditional ranch abode and expanding its floor plan from 2,500 square feet to 4,100 square feet. It was an endeavor that took three years and included raising the roofline of the original structure and adding a master bedroom and bath.
The No. 1 question posed to Michelle about the large-scale renovation was, “Why don’t you just move to a bigger house?” The answer was simple. “We like our house, our neighbors and our neighborhood. It’s the kind of place where people pass by and say hello,” she says. “Unless we built a brand new one, no matter where we moved there would be something we wouldn’t like about the house. We had room to make the changes, and so in the end we built an addition.”
Recognizing that she needed help to make her family’s dream a reality, Michelle phoned interior designer Amy Bubier. “I didn’t realize the importance of having Amy’s insight and advice from the beginning,” says Michelle. “But after that day in the tile store, I didn’t proceed with any following decision without her input.”
Outdoor living is important to the homeowners, so interior designer Bubier and project team transformed the backyard into a multipurpose living area ready for entertaining, grilling and dining, and relaxing poolside dips.
Bubier not only provided design direction, she helped connect the dots between the big and small picture so that everyone, including the homeowner and the contractor, were on the same page.
“I think after the Tassets had an initial layout and basic plans they felt they needed to transition to an interior designer to drill down into the details,” says Bubier, who developed detailed specs and elevations for the general contractor.
A major elevation consideration was the roof, which was raised, transforming the home’s standard 8-foot ceiling into a 13-foot pitched, beamed focal point in the kitchen and family area that overlooks the pool and backyard patio. The major design change also facilitated the addition of a wall of windows and accordion door to bring more natural light into the living spaces and create a seamless indoor-outdoor transition.
“I wanted to have the ability to integrate the inside and outside,” says Michelle of the change that also includes a pass-through window for entertaining ease. “My favorite places in Phoenix are where you can sit inside but feel like you are outside.”
As part of the remodel, the home’s entry courtyard, with built-in fireplace and comfy outdoor seating, now connects to the dining room through French doors.
Because the open kitchen and family area is where the homeowners spend the most time, it was important that the spaces be comfortable and functional. “I like to cook, so I wanted a bigger cooking area and stovetop. We also host a lot of family events and holidays, and everyone ends up in the kitchen. I wanted an area that had ample storage and counter space so people could set their things down without being crowded.”
The overall look, which Bubier describes as “clean traditional that’s classic but also fresh and current,” was inspired by Michelle’s upbringing. “I grew up on the East Coast. I like the look of traditional with a little bit of a twist; a little more nuanced and a bit less formal,” says the homeowner. “I wanted something timeless so that in 10 years I wouldn’t look at it and wish I had done something differently. I wanted to create something that always feels like home. Not too overdressed or over-styled but one that is comfortable and reminds me of being at home in New England.”
The great room was always the focal point of the renovation, but with Bubier’s help the space takes on timeless ambiance. Her guidance in mixing three difference pendant light fixtures ensured that the final look is cohesive, but eclectic. The interior designer’s subtle touches of yellow moved the popular grey-and-cream color combo past trendy. And she lent casual ease to transitional-style seating with matte-finished, natural linen and cotton upholstery.
The home’s original two-sided fireplace, which also services the dining room, was retained in the renovation and provides a natural focal point for the new great room. Its red brick-and-white mortar facade is repeated in the home’s entry courtyard.
The blue-gray paint used on the kitchen island, which is topped with marble from Vermont, set the color palette for the entire house. Near the secondary sink, Bubier added a pass-through window for easy access to the outdoor grill and dining area.
To recreate that mood, shades of whites, ivories, grays and steely blues are sprinkled throughout the home, which includes a formal dining room to the left of the entry that opens to a small seating area. Two bedrooms with bathrooms are situated on the opposite side of the home while the kitchen and family room overlook the backyard pool and patio. The master bedroom and a separate master bath addition are accessible via a hallway off the kitchen where a powder room also is located.
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2017 Masters of the Southwest Award Winner
The accolades she’s received from peers are considerable, including garnering the ASID Design Excellence Best in Show award in 2015. The media coverage she’s received is consistent; we’ve featured her work in Phoenix Home & Garden more than six times in the past three years. But none of these major accomplishments is as important to Amy Bubier, principal and owner of AB Design Elements, as her connections with and praise from her clients.
With a great eye for space planning, materials and color, and a seasoned grasp of residential and commercial design—both of which are grounded in her degree in interior architecture—Amy has the talent and the credentials for award-winning work. But it’s how she listens to clients, collaborates with other team members—including colleague Michelle Robinson at her firm—and solves problems along the way that endears Amy to her customers. As homeowner Michelle Tasset shared during our photography session for this month’s feature, “I counted on Amy every step of the way.”
Life is good for Amy. Including being named a Phoenix Home & Garden 2017 Masters of the Southwest award winner. Congratulations!
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“We wanted a natural, organic feel with a traditional balance—not fussy or formal, but rather, relaxed and decidedly grown-up,” explains Bubier of the aesthetic. “Now it has even more charm and functionality.”
The collaboration between Michelle and Bubier was key when it came to choosing materials and furnishings that fit the Tassets’ lifestyle and sense of style, an approach that led to many customized features like the refrigerator designed with a smaller freezer and a marble countertop sourced from Vermont.
Furnishings in the breakfast nook combine a plethora of finishes and fabrics: the table has a whitewashed base and zinc top; bistro chairs sport gray paint; and plump pillows are pretty in florals and prints.
“I obviously have a soft spot for New England,” says Michelle. “I don’t necessarily have a specific look, but even though it’s on the traditional side it’s one where we had a little bit of fun.”
For builder Paul “Howie” Haynie, Bubier’s presence was a renovation life-saver. “Amy came into the project as we were already doing some interior design work. Michelle was steering the project, but she was overwhelmed. Amy helped take the load off her hands, and they worked well together because they have similar tastes,” he says.
Almost every square inch of the Tasset home was renovated, which included taking 75 percent of the walls down to the studs. And while it nearly doubled in size, the house still maintains its cozy, ranch character throughout. “It’s a great example of how a ranch can be transformed,” say Bubier.
A grouping of framed graphics and family photos, mixed with cherished antiques, personalizes the hallway connecting the master suite to the great room
An abundant use of light and architectural trim details that are balanced with more contemporary tile and fabric patterns breathe new life into the classic footprint, according to Bubier, as did the fresh, airy feeling of the vaulted kitchen and family room, her favorite aspect of the renovation project.
“The floorplan just opens up as you enter through a smaller, more intimate entry space and then discover the heart of the home with its beamed ceiling and back wall of glass windows. I also love the finishing touches, including the family art wall and accessories that took us over the finish line as we transitioned from house to home.”
The new powder room glistens with elegance. Dressed in softly shimmering wallpaper that sets off the marble-top vanity, framed mirror and shaded wall sconces, the space is small, but exquisite.
Furnishings in the master suite, including two plush lounge chairs, typify the unbuttoned classic aesthetic woven throughout the home. Bubier suggested warm plum fabric accents to enliven the existing grey-toned color scheme.
The refined master bath features a walk-in closet, herringbone-patterned tile floor and a chandelier above the freestanding tub.
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