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Let the Sunshine In: A Dark Townhome Becomes a Bright, Happy Haven

“The room is not very large, so the owner wanted to maximize seating,” says interior designer Mary Meinz, who incorporated a backless daybed, sofa and chairs into the great room, along with sheer drapery mounted on a ceiling track around the room for a seamless transition between full and filtered sunlight. Above the fireplace hangs a vintage travel poster for Air France, one of the owner’s favorite airlines (and destinations). Her miniature sheepadoodle, Cornelia, also might have influenced the use of black and white in the color palette, jokes the owner. Pops of green are a nod to the foliage outside.

This light, airy townhome proves that even smaller spaces can feel expansive.

By Lauren Tyda | Photography by Austin LaRue Baker

A dramatic makeover often starts with the Valley’s most ample resource—light. That may involve adding more windows or getting creative with the existing layout. 

In the case of a 2,200-square-foot, two-story home in Gainey Ranch, it was the latter. “The property has a lush backyard with tall windows surrounded by foliage,” says interior designer Mary Meinz. “The owner wanted to brighten the space and create a more cohesive atmosphere.”

To take the dwelling from traditional to transitional, Meinz replaced dark wood flooring with French oak, whitewashed the rooms with “the whitest shade of paint on the market,” and specified unlined, billowy draperies for an open, breezy feel. “It was about sun filtering in, so the weightless textile was almost like a marshmallow,” she comments.

Accents of black and grass green add color and contrast. “I’ve always advocated not challenging what you see out the window, whether it is the desert or, in this case, the abundant greenery of the Valley,” Meinz states. “Black, white and green are always a beautiful palette. And together, they make the space live larger.”

As the founder of Charmed Avenue boutique in Scottsdale, the owner drew on her vast knowledge of styling and accessorizing—especially in the dining room, where elegant baubles hang like jewelry from the wood chandelier and a button-down detail on the chairs resembles those on couture. “Fashion and interior design are very similar,” she says. “Mary and I are used to selecting things based on fabrics, textures, colors and the scale of the prints, so we had a lot of fun together.”

Meinz also carefully incorporated the owner’s cherished family heirlooms and antiques, including a vintage armoire that now serves as storage in the home office, a reupholstered green damask chair in the kitchen, and a collection of china that sits elegantly in the breakfast room hutch. “It is important to allow items like these to be seen, always reminding us of those we love,” says the designer.

1. The dining room reflects the owner’s fashion-forward style. The wood chandelier showcases jewel-like embellishments, while the dining room chairs have a button-down feature. “She is very savvy about fashion and accessorizing, so this works for her,” Meinz says. “When I showed her that exquisite chair detail, I remember her lighting up because it’s not just a plain back.” 2. Meinz moved an antique armoire from the primary bedroom down to the office, making an ideal place for storage near the desk. The chair was remastered. “It’s always fun when designers can utilize pieces, move them to a different place or give them a new complexion by staining, painting and recovering them,” she says. 3. Cornelia shows off the second-floor loft, which features a coral-pink Queen Anne chair as a statement piece. Meinz used rough and rugged fabrics wherever possible to accommodate the pooch. “She enjoys every piece of furniture,” laughs the owner. “She doesn’t have a lot of boundaries. But she’s very proud of the space and thrilled with the results.” 4. A hutch in the breakfast room holds family artifacts, including antique china, crystal and silver. The chair and table are also inherited treasures. Meinz reupholstered the latter in a vintage-looking green fabric. “It was the perfect color,” she notes.

The resulting abode is not only awash in natural light but also at once elegant, comfortable and reflective of the owner’s stylish sensibility. “When we painted the space, it opened it up and allowed the volume and the tall windows to create an indoor/outdoor feeling,” Meinz reflects. “I love that this home is mostly white with touches of black, green and coral because it’s not a lot of color, and yet it is very interesting. The hues keep repeating and undulating back and forth. It shows you don’t need an ever-changing palette in every room for a house to be memorable and interesting.”

Dark granite countertops were replaced with porcelain for a clean, white look with black, green and red accents.

Interior designer: Mary Meinz, ASID, Mary Meinz Design, Scottsdale,
BREAKFAST ROOM—Green chair (by Lee Jofa; restored by


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