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Classic Meets Contemporary

Author: Rebecca L. Rhoades
Issue: March, 2018, Page 122
Photos by Art Holeman

Opening up a back wall that separated the family room from what is now a well-utilized reading room and replacing a built-in niche with custom wood shelves resulted in a bright, airy, livable space. The breakfast table is a Daniel Germani original, while the large, curved coffee table is the designer’s first furniture creation.
A Modern Update Filled With Bespoke Furnishings Breathes New Life Into a Traditional Home

hen designer Daniel Germani was asked to renovate a Santa Barbara-style home in Paradise Valley, his initial impression of the property was that “it had beautiful bones,” he recalls. Archetypal details abounded, including red Spanish roof tiles, wood ceiling beams, intricate ironwork, Saltillo floors throughout and tall windows that overlooked a spacious backyard and pool patio and brought copious natural light indoors. But many of the decorative elements, such as salmon-colored walls, busy granite countertops and traditional furnishings, were giving the home an overly formal and dated feel.

The home features classic Santa Barbara-style architecture, which Germani loved. He updated the exterior by painting the walls white and adding clean-lined furniture to the patio and pool deck.
“The reality was that this house needed a reset,” says Germani. The homeowners agree, adding, “After living in the home for 15 years, we felt that it needed a face-lift, and we were ready for a more contemporary look.”

Mindful of the owners’ budget and the home’s architectural features, Germani sought ways to increase functionality of the rooms, showcase the couple’s extensive art collection and update both the interior and exterior spaces without making major structural changes or destroying the overall aesthetics.

“One thing you’ll notice is that we didn’t touch the floors. When we began, the owners couldn’t see the connection between Saltillo tile and modern design,” he explains. “But Saltillo can be modern. It doesn’t always have to be traditional. And this type of house with Saltillo flooring is the perfect match made in heaven.”

Germani turned the former home gym into a chic, cozy reading room, complete with matching, snug Womb chairs.
One of the first things guests saw when entering the residence was a formal living room. Isolated to the right of the front door from the rest of the living areas, it housed the couple’s 100-year-old heirloom piano and a pair of settees with matching Chinese lacquered side tables. “I asked the owners, ‘How many times do you sit in this room?’” Germani recalls. “Like 99 percent of the people to whom you ask this question, their answer was ‘never.’ But this was too beautiful of a home to have a room like this that they don’t use.”

He decided to turn the space into a formal dining area that the couple could use for large family gatherings and for entertaining friends. The piano was moved to a small room at the opposing end of the entry hall, closer to the main living spaces, from where it can to be viewed and enjoyed.

Germani turned the unused formal living room into an elegant space for family gatherings. The black-and-white palette is enhanced by brass accents, including a vintage chandelier. The husband commissioned Germani to create the custom table as a gift for his wife’s 70th birthday. For a whimsical touch, the designer repurposed an outdoor sculpture, painting it white and adding lights for a shadow effect. Its playful silhouette reflects in the oversized mirror.
Small changes had big results in the large L-shaped kitchen with dual islands. Germani kept the original cabinets, choosing instead to refinish them and add new hardware for a fresh look. He also replaced the granite counters and backsplash with sleek quartz and removed a raised breakfast bar on the outer island. “There is no reason to have a bar,” he says. “It obstructs the flow of the room.”

For the wife, eliminating the feature was less about maximizing sightlines and more about enhancing hospitality. “I hadn’t realized it until he said it, but that raised counter served as a barrier between us and our guests,” she says.

Another barrier—this time a wall—separated the adjacent family room from a small sunroom that the family used as a gym. Germani added a pass-through in the wall, banished the treadmills to a spare bedroom in the guest house, and turned the space into a cozy, light-filled reading nook, complete with matching red Womb chairs. “We use that area a lot now. It’s so private—such a great reading space,” says the wife. A wall of windows overlooks the couple’s citrus grove and tennis court. “The reason we moved to Arizona was to see the sunlight and the outside,” the wife adds. “This house lends itself to that, and that room just accentuates bringing the outside in to us. It’s a very important space.”

The family’s heirloom piano was moved to a small room at the bottom of the stairs near the main living areas. Germani designed a sapele game table and console that complement the classic lines of the piano. Grouping the homeowners’ contemporary art gives the room a fresh feel by playing on the juxtaposition of vintage with modern.
While these changes add fresh flair to the house and allow its owners to better utilize every inch of the square footage, it is Germani’s one-of-a-kind furniture creations that give it that extra-special touch.

The first piece the artisan designed for the couple was a glass-topped dining table that sits between the kitchen and family room and is now used for casual breakfasts. Known as the Zig Zag table, its base comprises multiple sapele beams capped with walnut. Each piece is slightly offset from the next, creating a spiral effect.

In the formal dining room is another Germani-designed table, as well as a custom black-lacquered walnut console. “My husband commissioned Daniel to create the table for my 70th birthday,” says the wife. “Daniel knew how our family worked and how important gathering for meals is to us.” The 74-inch diameter circular table that seats eight features a rectangular plinth-style base made from an ultracompact quartz material that is typically used for countertops. “I like to develop outside-of-the-box solutions for materials that are usually considered very utilitarian,” Germani notes. Six brass-colored, powder-coated stainless-steel legs extend from the top and bottom of the base, branching out like offshoots of an architectural tree.

On the outer island, Germani removed a raised bar that was boxing the room in. Tall bar chairs were cut down to counter height and given a fresh finish.
“The two tables are exquisite,” says the wife. “There’s something very distinctive about Daniel’s furniture pieces. They are works of art. They don’t need much around them because they are so beautiful.”

The Amoeba table in the family room is the first table Germani ever built. He designed it more than a decade ago for one of his neighbors in the midcentury enclave of Marlen Grove in midtown Phoenix. When circumstances resulted in her offering it back to Germani, he knew exactly where its oversized, undulating shape would fit. “I put it here by surprise; they had no idea what it looked like,” he says with a smile. “It’s a super special piece, and it’s in a special place.”

Even the master bedroom got a sprinkling of Germani’s design magic. Crafted of sapele with clean lines and unadorned surfaces, a custom bed with an integrated headboard and nightstands features a hidden element intended to simplify the couple’s evening routine. “You know how nightstands always have the drawers facing the front? If you want something, you have to lean out of bed and pull them out,” Germani points out. “I designed these drawers to open toward the bed so they’re easier to access. Sometimes the simplest and most basic solutions are right in front of you.”

The updated master bath features a custom vanity topped with an ultracompact quartz surface and a shower for two. A bespoke angled settee, designed by Germani, replaced the unused tub.

The centerpiece of the master bedroom is this custom-design bed with an integrated headboard and nightstands. Made of sapele to match existing cabinetry, it has clean lines; an oversized, angled crown; and drawers that open toward the bed.

The same can be said of this home’s renovations, in which simple—and smart—changes had major effects. “The bones of the house were always really great,” says the husband, reinforcing Germani’s first impression. But after 15 years, even the most beautiful abodes can use a little modernization. “I wanted to bring a more timeless and current feel to this house without destroying its architectural integrity, and that’s what I did,” says Germani. “My job is to help the owners enjoy their home in the best way possible. That’s my mission. It’s not my house; it’s their house, and I think they love it. It’s a perfect match.”

Daniel Germani
2018 Masters of the Southwest Award Winner


The past year has been a banner one for Daniel Germani. The Phoenix-based architect and designer has been amassing accolades at every turn, thanks in part to his role as spokesperson/designer for Dekton and Cosentino Group. In spring 2017, his modular outdoor kitchen design, ASA-D2, was recognized by the International Furnishings and Design Association as Best in Show and named a finalist in the prestigious NYCxDESIGN Awards. Recently, his latest collaboration with the surfaces company received a Silver Award at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show. DeKauri (shown left) is a freestanding enclosed bathroom vanity crafted from 50,000-year-old wood. "It’s simple, elegant and outside the box," says Daniel. "But it’s also functional, and that is what I like to create as a designer. Form must follow function."

Valentin Tierjas Garcia, product and R&D corporate director for Cosentino Group, couldn’t be more thrilled with their work relationship. "Daniel is an incredibly talented architect and designer," he says. "He sees white space in the design world—something that has gone unchanged for a number of years—and reinvents it, and creates something that both captivates and inspires the entire industry.

"His passion and enthusiasm are catching," Garcia adds. We agree. His always-positive persona lit up our photo shoot. We couldn't be happier to name him a 2018 Masters of the Southwest award winner. Congratulations, Daniel!
-The Editors
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