back to top
Homepage / Architecture  / 3 Common Reader Questions Answered by Local Design Pros

3 Common Reader Questions Answered by Local Design Pros

Your architecture, building, interior design and landscape questions answered by Valley pros.

This 4,600-square-foot transitional Mediterranean-style home by architect Erik Peterson offers indoor/outdoor livability and an open concept with a contemporary feel.; Photo by John Woodcock


Erik Peterson, AIA, NCARB, PHX Architecture
In architectural terms, what is meant by ‘transitional’?
Architecturally, ‘transitional’ means different things to different people. I believe the term started popping up in the real estate community around 2012, after we had come out of the recession. At that time, people started moving away from the Tuscan aesthetic, looking for something more open, airy and light. Real estate agents were reluctant to label something as ‘contemporary,’ ‘modern’ or ‘traditional’ because any of those terms could scare away potential clients. To most people, contemporary means hard—glass, steel, concrete. Modern often tends to connote Palm Springs style. And traditional wasn’t what a lot of people were looking for post-recession. 

Everybody started using the label transitional because it was a positive word, and it’s difficult to find someone who is averse to it. For some, it could mean modern, a Tuscan, Spanish Colonial or a farmhouse that was repainted all white. When clients tell me they like the transitional look, I have to stop and clarify: What is it transitioning from and to what style? To me, transitional is really how you can take something that was already done and move it into something more of today. It could be an old contemporary home that has been made to something new. It’s now transitional.

Interior Designer

Jaimee Rose, Jaimee Rose Interiors
There must be thousands of different shades of white paint on the market. How do I know which to choose?
Selecting the best white paint is our most-asked question and a science long-perfected. We are passionate about our creamiest, dreamiest shades, and they each have their own role to play. Interior and exterior whites are very different. Let’s start with interiors.

The first step is to have a little self-chat. Do you want your home to feel warm and cozy or more crisp and fresh? Our traditionalist clients lean warmer and soft for interiors, and Dunn Edwards Whisper (DEW340) is our forever go-to here. It reads classic white without any coldness or yellow tones. (Note: Don’t try color-matching with another brand, as they always pull yellow.) Benjamin Moore’s Simply White (OC-117) is another great option here.

When we’re looking for something with even more tone—a comforting and very cozy white that feels European and aged—Dunn Edwards Antique Paper (DE6218) is the move. Also try Sherwin Williams Eider White (SW 2014) or Benjamin Moore Calm (OC-22). For an ideal classic cream, Benjamin Moore’s Swiss Coffee (OC-45) is legend and with good cause. I also like it mixed half-strength for more subtlety.

White paint is available in an almost infinite variety of shades and tones, from bright and crisp to cozy and comforting.; Photo by Isaac Bailey

On the crisper side—or if the home gets little natural light—we love Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace (OC-65). For the most modern, clean white with zero yellow or blue undertones, it’s always Dunn Edwards Warm White (DEW380). Note that they changed the name. It used to be just called “white,” which was more accurate. 

A quick exterior lesson: In the strong Arizona sun, stark whites tend to look blue and off. We lean hard on Dunn Edwards Whisper (DEW340), which reads as true white, and Antique Paper (DE6218) which has a little more shading.

Happy white-paint hunting—and don’t forget to always test a patch of the actual paint on your actual walls.

When planning a backyard, start with the perimeter and work your way in, says landscape architect Kirk Bianchi. “In this sequence the pool will define its size, shape and location precisely because you’ve told it where it cannot go.”; Photo by Michael Woodall

Pool and Landscape Designer

Kirk Bianchi, Bianchi Design
We know we want a pool and outdoor kitchen in our backyard, but how do we make sense of where to start with the design?
Many times, clients have all the pieces they want for a total outdoor living environment—pool, outdoor kitchen, lawn/turf, fire pits, living spaces, dining areas—but they don’t know how to fit them together. Ninety percent of backyards are orchestrated around the pool being placed first, which is counterproductive to the best design.

It’s kind of like peeling an onion—you work from the outer layers in. Begin with the backdrop. What are your favorable views that you want to keep? What do you want to hide? Do you have distractions that you need to screen? Do you have open view corridors to something beautiful, such as a mountain, that you want to preserve? This helps to precisely position trees around the perimeter of the space. 

Now, consider your outdoor kitchen, which is a big, congesting element that should be close and convenient, but not in your view corridor. Next up is your circulation flow. Where do you need to walk in this yard? That tells you where your pathways need to be. Then plan your furniture so you know where you’ll sit, dine, lounge and converse, and at what time of day you will do those things. When you’re inside your home looking out windows, compose each view like it’s a canvas. Through one window you may want to see a sculpture, water feature or a beautifully composed landscape arrangement. 

If you start with a blank slate and design everything around the yard first, in this sequence the pool will define its size, shape and location precisely because you’ve told it where it cannot go. You will end up with a backyard that is both pleasing and functional.

Is there something you’ve always wanted to ask an architect, builder, interior designer or other professional? Send us your questions at ‌phgmag.‌com/ask-‌the-experts.


Architect: Erik Peterson, AIA, NCARB, PHX Architecture, Scottsdale, designer: Jaimee Rose, Jaimee Rose, Jaimee Rose Interiors, Phoenix, Landscape architect: Kirk Bianchi, Bianchi Design, Scottsdale,


Sign up for the Phoenix Home & Garden Newsletter

Stay up to date with everything Phoenix Home & Garden!

Our newsletter subscribers will have early access to things like:

  • Upcoming Events & Pre-Sales
  • Special Promotions
  • Exclusive Giveaways!