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An Interior Designer and Feng Shui Expert Bring Good Energy to a Rio Verde Home

A Rio Verde home incorporates feng shui and rustic, refined elements into its interior design.

By Teresa K. Traverse | Photography by Nick Sorensen

When a former horse property owner decided to downsize, the goal was dichotomy—between light and dark, rustic and modern, past and present, old and new. To achieve this, she recruited interior designer Jenny Slingerland and Ohio-based feng shui master Diana Garber. “We had to be sure we were hitting these points to bring it all together,” Slingerland says of the 4,000-square-foot, four-bedroom Rio Verde dwelling. Not only did the home need to incorporate subtle nods to the owner’s horseback riding lifestyle—but it also needed be comfortable for hosting grandchildren and guests.

Dining Room

Feng shui is about achieving harmony between the five elements—water, metal, wood, earth and fire. Slingerland decided to offset the robust shades in the dining room with metallic elements. “Metal is what the house needed to balance the energy,” says Garber, a longtime consultant for the owner. The team commissioned an artist to create a textured, gold- and brass-colored ceiling using layers of paint. Slingerland incorporated striped curtains with metallic fibers and a dark brown, espresso table with a gold base. Custom leather captain’s chairs impart a masculine vibe, while lighter-hued dining seats add a bright note to the space. “I really love mixing wood tones,” Slingerland explains. “It changes it up a little.” 

Kitchen and Great Room

In keeping with the resident’s wish to employ low-maintenance materials, Slingerland chose durable quartz countertops for the island, paired with easy-to-clean faux leather chairs. Dusky-hued cabinets complement Arizona’s bright sunshine without making the kitchen appear too dark. “The beauty is you’re able to play with deeper, richer tones here because we have our beautiful sunlight year-round,” Slingerland explains. The adjoining great room also features bolder tones in the wood trim and ceiling beams. The designer brought lightness by adding an off-white sectional made with performance fabric outfitted in 4-inch-wide cowhide trim along the base. “Balancing the light and dark gives it a visual interest,” Slingerland says. Custom-made glass shelves let the natural light shine on cherished personal objects—including a photo of the owner with her late husband and a basket given to her by a tribal leader in Africa. “It was really important to us to make sure that the artwork and the artifacts and mementos that she had gotten from her travels around the world took center stage,” the designer recalls.


The designer chose a narrow desk to maximize space in the already small office. Wall cabinets give ample storage, and French doors invite fresh air in while showcasing the courtyard and neighboring golf course. “We wanted to keep the room very simple,” Slingerland states. To bring a contemporary element in, the designer added a chandelier made of tiny pieces of cut antique mirror with a brass chain and canopy. The leather-upholstered office chair with nail-head trim incorporates the modern yet down-to-earth vibe reflected throughout the house. 

Master Suite

Slingerland describes the master suite as rustic and elegant. The custom headboard was made with faux snakeskin and textured linen so that “when you walk into the room, you see this really beautiful pattern,” Slingerland notes. “Because the ceilings are so high, we wanted to bridge that gap.” Bedside table lamps echo the gray-blue hue found in the headboard. Star-shaped lanterns over chaise lounges by the windows create a cozy reading area and help fill the spacious bedroom. Cool colors add continuity from the bedroom to the bathroom. The gray, metallic shades in the wool silk-blend rug are also reflected in the white marble with gray veining found throughout the master bathroom. Smoky gray cabinets with brown undertones and brass fixtures warm up the bathroom and balance out the cooler notes. “Overall, it’s a very elegant space,” says Slingerland, of the entire abode. “But not too serious and not too refined.” Garber echoes the sentiment: “Everybody who comes into this home, within a few minutes, says, ‘Oh my gosh. I just love it here.’ They’re so comfortable.”

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