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Design Your Dream Home One Room at a Time

Your perfect home doesn’t have to exist only in daydreams. We picked our favorite designs to spark inspiration for creating your ideal abode—one room at a time.

By Carly Scholl

Grandeur in the Great Room

Functioning as the central gathering spot in a home, a great room often connects living spaces with kitchen and dining areas. Due to the high-traffic nature of this hub, it requires functional furnishings and a cozy sense of style that welcomes any and all. At this Arcadia home, interior designer Jaimee Rose used a mix of modern and traditional elements to create that perfect balance in the family’s common space.

“In a great room, I always start with light,” she asserts. “I try to bring in as much natural illumination as possible by opening up walls, vaulting ceilings, expanding doorways or adding dormer windows. Anything you can do to make it an airy and bright space will increase your desire to spend time there.”

Rose also notes that it can be helpful to pick a strong focal point in your great room, and let the rest of the space flow from that statement piece. “We started with the grande dame of a fireplace, custom made for our project from Nero

Photo by Isaac Bailey

Marquina marble. Everything radiated from there,” she says. “I really yearned for something besides the standard built-in bookcases we always see on either side of a fireplace, so we brought in the metal-and-glass inset armoires, which tied in the windows from the front of the house and instantly made the space feel fresh. We kept furnishings neutral but elegant, using them as an opportunity to layer textures of hide, horn and woven grasses. Keeping the color palette quiet let us have a lot of leeway with everything else.”

The Suite Life

Before it was remodeled, this master suite felt dark, dated and lacking a unified sense of style. But interior designer Kirsten Holmstedt was able to turn the bedroom and bathroom spaces around with an infusion of Spanish modern aesthetic, expressive patterns and a mix of warm and cool tones. “Given how much time the homeowners spend in this room, it was very important to curate an environment where they were excited to unwind after a long day—a retreat that felt welcoming while also cohesive with the rest of the home,” she explains.

For the bedroom and sitting areas, Holmstedt carefully chose furnishings that were an appropriate scale for the room. “An upholstered bed frame flanked by dressers creates symmetry, while sconce fixtures add a modern pop of brass against the blue shiplap walls,” the designer continues. “The rug and textiles bring warmth, pattern and color, and the ceiling beams accentuate the room’s soaring volume.”

In the master bathroom, the designer opened up the room by creating a luxurious walk-in shower. “We wrapped the entire

Photos by Stephanie Studer

area in tile and contrasted it with a faux-pebble floor tile in matte black to provide a spa-like experience,” Holmstedt notes. “The Spanish Saltillo was selected as a beautiful transition from the graphic tile pattern on the vanity wall to the shower surfaces, and it also flowed seamlessly into the wood flooring installed in the primary bedroom suite.”

Posh Powder Room

No matter the style of your home, a powder room is a chance to be bold and exciting with unexpected aesthetics. “It is the one place homeowners can really play with their personalities,” notes interior designer Sandy Black. When tasked with revamping this petite restroom, Black saw an opportunity to express an eye-catching sense of style. 

Centered around an heirloom Baroque-inspired mirror, this powder room’s design is all about juxtaposition. “The ornate, antique accent is paired with new custom cabinetry and flanked by the simple, clean lines of the contemporary-styled spherical pendants and the geometric patterns of the wallpaper,” the designer explains. “The warm gold tones bring visual interest to the otherwise black-and-white color scheme, giving this space an overall sense of impact.”

Though small in square footage, this powder room pops with big, bold personality that enchants anyone who visits.

Photo by Scott Sandler

Cooking with Class

Updating a kitchen can be an overwhelming undertaking, but when done right, the room holds its value and can give your home new life. While working on a remodel of this Paradise Valley abode, interior designer Tanya Shively recalls that the homeowners were looking for an updated traditional look that was light and bright. “They liked the clean feeling of fresh white cabinets and countertops and incorporating timeless fixtures that make the space feel more current, not stuck in the past or holding too tightly to any one style.”

Photos by Joe Cotitta

The success of this redesign seems to lie in the deft balance of contemporary and classic details. The kitchen’s centerpiece is a cobalt blue range with mixed-metal accents, which ties together the stainless steel refrigerator that the husband wanted and the satin brass elements the wife loved so much. “We carried this theme further with the hammered steel farmhouse sink coupled with a brass faucet,” notes Shively. “It’s unexpected but it works nicely in the overall scheme.”

Contrasting countertops—butcher block on the islands and quartzite on the surrounding surfaces—were chosen to withstand the wear and tear of the couple’s young sons, while barstools with high backs ensure no wiggly kids will tip over while seated.

Shively’s best advice when tackling a new kitchen design is to stay away from trends. “This is a frequently used and expensive space, so a timeless style will most likely make the investment a better one,” she says. “However, not everything is about resale, and you can make the mistake of becoming too vanilla if you ignore your personal taste.”

Play On

Amenity-centric rooms, such as offices, home gyms, art studios or theaters, can seem like attributes of palatial dream abodes rather than attainable spaces for the everyday homeowner. But interior designer and Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award winner Donna Vallone insists that even the smallest dwelling typically have a room that can be retrofitted to accommodate your interests.

Photo by Dino Tonn

In a Paradise Valley home, Vallone created a vibrant recreation room for a family that needed a designated space to enjoy their pastimes. “The husband and wife wanted a family hub for watching TV, playing games and relaxing together,” she recalls. “We thought a luxurious, deep sectional would be the best choice to accommodate a family of five, and the colorful, abstract rug was the perfect accent to anchor the room.” An extra-large TV was a given, and Vallone selected a shuffleboard table that is suitable for all ages.  Technicolor superhero art adds just the right note of playfulness.”

The Great Outdoors

As we approach cooler fall weather, functional and fun backyards and patios are going to be back in demand. Designer Tony Williams shares his insights on how to transform your existing exterior spaces into your home’s hot spots. “If your main objective is to energize your outdoor area or just make it more aesthetically pleasing, then starting with landscape is the way to go. Then the furniture follows suit,” he explains. “If it’s more of a functionality revamp—you want more seating or better use of the space—then start by creating a “map” of the area and seek out the individual pieces that achieve your goals. Follow with landscaping to pull it all together.”

Photo by Sharp Visuals

At this downtown Phoenix house, Williams infused a small backyard with a ton of personality. “The owners wanted their yard to be a high-energy space that reflected the street art scene present in the neighborhood—a colorful mural seemed like the perfect fit.” The image of a graceful octopus set against a Sonoran sunrise-inspired wash of hues is the bold focal point of the space, and is in perfect view of swimmers and loungers alike.

“Given that the exterior was mostly hardscape, the homeowners wanted as many plants as possible without creating a cleaning nightmare for the pool,” Williams notes. “We used planters and low-shed species to liven up the space. They are also very social people so we tried to create as much covered seating as possible, while still having space to move around.”


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