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Puttin’ on the Glitz

An interior remodel results in a forward-looking home with deference to its surroundings’ storied past.

By Shannon Severson | Photography by David B. Moore

When suburbia first reached the citrus groves of Phoenix’s Arcadia neighborhood in the 1950s, residents built large ranch-style homes on ample, lushly manicured lots. While the farmlands are long gone, the verdant yards and palm-tree lined streets remain. As new homeowners move in and remodel or raze and rebuild the midcentury dwellings, retaining the historic aesthetic of the community while catering to modern tastes can be challenging. Such was the case for a spec house that presents a classic farmhouse exterior yet features a contemporary interior with plenty of glitz and glam.

“The concept was quintessential Arcadia,” says builder Austin King. “The home is very traditional in context and in place.” Adds architect Milos Minic, “Arcadia has an agrarian history, and the farmhouse is part of that. We wanted to take that concept and expand it to a ranch—to recreate the charm of that style but with a twist that would meet today’s standard with lots of natural light.”

The 5,040-square-foot abode, which sits on a nearly half-acre plot, features muted red brick dormers and a wood shake roof. Inside, wide-plank white oak floors run throughout the interiors, and the great room’s vaulted ceilings are trussed by rustic beams.

“There are a lot of conventional aspects to the home that stay true to the exterior,” says interior designer Shea Ryan. “You shouldn’t walk into a house and feel shocked.

The breakfast room encapsulates the home’s “Arcadia farmhouse with flair” design. A dazzling custom chandelier and sequined curtains combine effortlessly with a minimalistic oak dining table in a contemporary design and low-profile upholstered chairs. The blend of old and new, sparkly and understated, makes this one of the most cheerful spots in the house.

It should be a comfort thing.” While the homeowners love the fact that the abode fits into its surroundings, they wanted to give it a fresh look that better suited their tastes. “You have to design for the homeowner,” adds Ryan. “I’ve worked with these clients for a long time. We had to step out of the husband’s comfort zone a little bit, but this really represents the wife’s personality.”

Light—natural, electric and reflective—is the star of the home. Large windows and multiple glass entry doors that open to the front and rear yards illuminate the interiors. Sparkling fixtures—each unique in design but crafted of crystal or mirror—play off each other and act as jewelry for a look that blends understated, neutral elegance with Hollywood flash.

Oversized, ornate mirrors and simple white sheer draperies in the great room and master bedroom combine for a light, airy vibe, while low-profile furnishings preserve sight lines.

The mix of neutral colors, reflected light and jeweled glamour is perhaps most evident in the breakfast nook, which is lined with floor-to-ceiling sequined curtains. “I’d never expect the sequined curtains to work in this spot,” says the wife, “but they absolutely do.”

The adjacent great room—an important area for the couple who loves to cook and entertain—is always a hub of activity. “We are both big home chefs,” says the wife. “The kitchen and living room are my favorite spaces in the house. I always do my morning rituals here. I like to enjoy my tea and watch the light beginning to stream in through the windows as the sun rises. I love opening the sliding doors and sitting out in the front yard, too. We hang out there quite a bit.”

Landscape designer Jeremy McVicars added privacy to the front yard by replacing an odd slope with retaining walls and a hedge of verdant sour orange and Texas ebony trees. White glacier limestone pavers, a fireplace seating arrangement and a traditional fountain surrounded by triple-ball topiaries lend a decidedly formal appearance.

1. A padded bench adds a note of casual comfort to the formal dining room. Traditional French Empire-style beaded chandeliers and an oversized antique gilded mirror hold court against the soft gray and cream color palette. The wallcovering is made of individual strips of silver-hued tree bark, each wrapped in metallic thread for an organic feel. 2. Arcadia has a tradition of neighborliness, and the home’s engaging front porch invites visitors to sit and stay awhile. “We added fig vines to the existing fireplace,” says landscape designer Jeremy McVicars. “As they grow, they will soften its appearance.”

Inside, Ryan balanced the heaviness of the kitchen millwork and marble work surface with delicate, faceted-mirror drum shade pendants above the island and, at the far end of the great room, an 18-foot-high floor-to-ceiling fireplace cloaked in mirrored glass tile—another daring move that paid off. “Designers should always be willing to try something a bit adventurous and different,” says Ryan.

Juniper topiaries and handmade limestone water features are a formal welcome to the home’s gracious entrance. Architect Milos Minic sought to recreate the charm of a farmhouse with a twist that would meet today’s standard. The core of the home’s design is its triple-dormer muted brick, stucco and board and batten facade, capped with a wood shake roof.

The homeowner admits she had her doubts about the showstopping feature. “I knew what Shea was trying to do, but I couldn’t envision how it would look,” she says. “Now it’s a stunner. Everybody loves it. At night, we have a light that shines down from above, and the fireplace takes on another look.”

“The home is very traditional in context and in place.”

—Austin King, builder

When they’re not hosting guests, the family snuggles up together in the cozy TV room, where a pair of large French limestone dog statues watches over the activities from their perch behind the plush linen sofa. “They had to be brought in by tractor,” says Ryan. “They’re awesome. These types of art pieces are nearly impossible to find.” A nod to their love of the species—the couple have a chow, Leo—canine-themed artworks are on display throughout the home and garden.

While the master bedroom showcases a soothing mix of neutral hues and traditional elements, such as rustic wood ceiling beams and a large area rug in rich shades of rust, beige and blue, Ryan added a soupçon of shimmer with a crystal globe chandelier and a large mirror that reflects a glimpse of the sparkling pool outside. He saved the biggest splash of glitz for the master bathroom and the wife’s closet. Large swaths of Carrara marble on the floor, countertops, shower and tub surround combine with glittering light fixtures and a metallic wallcovering for a look that is elegant and luxurious. In the boutique-style closet, which was created from an existing bedroom, custom illuminated cabinets display an enviable collection of shoes, hats and bags. Shiny drawer pulls, glass shelves and metallic wallpaper on the ceiling reflect the glow from recessed spotlights and a crystal chandelier.

From its brick facade and dormered roofline to its glistening design elements, the house melds the neighborhood’s bucolic history and aesthetic with the homeowner’s contemporary style. “It’s the perfect balance of masculine and feminine energy,” says the wife. “It’s where I feel my best, and that’s what home should be.”

Architect: Milos Minic, Integrated Design. Builder: Austin King, Rafterhouse LLC. Interior Designer: Shea Ryan, Shea Ryan Interiors. Landscape Architect: Jeremy McVicars, Refined Gardens.

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1. Designed for entertaining or a quiet family meal, the traditional kitchen is accented with a luxurious marble-topped island and mirrored drum pendants. A contemporary glass-enclosed wine cellar artfully displays the homeowners’ vintages. 2. The show-stopping mirrored brick fireplace takes center stage in the home’s great room, where wood beams keep the farmhouse vibe. Interior designer Shea Ryan chose comfortable furnishings in neutral tones with rich wood accents that complement the architectural details. He anchored the seating area to the center of the large space with a hair-on-hide rug. 3. The backyard and its pool fit for a pro lap swimmer are surrounded by a living wall that enhances the intimacy of individual gathering areas. The ramada on the left was added in the style of the home’s exterior architecture and features a wood-fired pizza oven and Argentine grill. The low hedge of compact myrtle lends a formal feel to the property. “We brought in citrus and roses to keep it true to Arcadia’s history,” says landscape designer Jeremy McVicars.
1. While farmhouses of the past were typically compartmentalized and dark, this modern version features large, open rooms that are filled with natural light. The kitchen and great room allow the owners to cook and visit with kids or guests at the same time. “The trusses really bring down the scale of the room, taking it back to that level of comfort and charm,” says Minic. 2. Ryan kicked up the color scheme a bit in the TV room by adding pops of deep blue with an area rug and throw pillows. The limestone dog statues are a nod to the homeowners’ love of canines. 3. The wife’s enviably glamorous dressing room, accented with a wallpapered ceiling and glass chandelier, has a place for every element of her wardrobe. 4. The master bedroom is a serene blend of classic and contemporary finishes. The white lacquered bed frame’s gold trim, set against a palette of white and gray, adds a pop of glam. The large mirror magnifies the light from the room’s outdoor patio. 5. Ryan used metallic wallpaper and a vanity light fixture crafted from individual mercury glass-style tubes to add shimmer to the marble-cloaked master bathroom.


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