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See a Dated Home Transform into a Modern Dream Getaway

To connect the kitchen and main living space, interior designer Amy Klosterman suggested a unique amenity. “Since the couple didn’t want a TV in the living room,” she notes, “we repurposed the main dividing wall into a glass wine room where you can peek through into the kitchen.”

A modern couple refreshes their home while paying tribute to its architectural integrity.

By Carly Scholl | Photography by Eric Kruk

Emerging from the desert floor in a flourish of glass, stone and angular metal, a contemporary work of architectural art immediately caught the eye of one couple looking for a vacation home. “We loved the location and how the house was tucked into a hill backing up to the natural environment,” recalls the wife. “Walking in the front door is like walking into a work of art. Glass doors and windows span the entire back wall of the great room, inviting the surrounding desert in.” Though their first impressions were positive, the couple recognized that the main living areas and master suite would need an update.

“Each home has a story—the setting, the materials, and how it evolves to meet the needs of the families that live there over the years,” explains Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award-winning interior designer Amy Klosterman, who had previously worked with the couple on another house and whom they brought in to breathe new life into their next abode. “This home was a custom build designed by Bing Hu (also a Master of the Southwest) in 2004 for a client who enjoyed it for many years. When the current owners bought it, they wanted to update it with respect for the architecture and the setting. We decided it just needed a fresh look and the benefits of current technology paired with custom features unique to the new owners’ lifestyle.”

With excellent architectural bones and pre-existing high-end finishes to work with, Klosterman guided the couple through the initial remodeling vision. “The homeowners wanted more of a natural desert palette for the home and less of the reds and oranges that were there originally,” she says. “They also wanted a lighter and more open kitchen and a more functional and luxurious master bedroom and bathroom.” Significant structural changes were made to these spaces, giving the owners the desired effect of openness and flow but still managed to honor the spirit of the architecture. 

“Amy, like us, appreciated the artistry of the original build, so it really came down to selecting finishes that enhanced the existing stone columns and quartz flooring,” the husband notes. “The original owners had installed high-end cabinetry, so whenever we could, we worked with it, or we modified the finish to coexist with a more monochromatic color scheme.”

1. Originally designed by local architect Bing Hu in 2004, the North Scottsdale home immediately appealed to the new owners, who were captivated by its contemporary edge and the surrounding natural environment. 2. “The tub wall tile is such a simple but graphic element, and its sister tile has a vertical, ribbed texture that was used throughout the rest of the bathroom,” Klosterman says. 3. The master suite was one of the main targets of the remodel. “The primary bath originally didn’t have a view of the canyon and had split vanities with a corner tub,” remarks the interior designer. “We added windows for a new stunning view, hung mirrors from the ceiling and lifted the vanity off the floor for a more expansive feel.

With a blend of muted, soothing colors and a materials palette of stone, tile, wood and soft textured fabrics informed and inspired by the desert setting, the home evolved into the modern getaway the owners dreamed of when they first saw it. “My husband and I have been together since high school and are pretty simpatico when it comes to likes and dislikes,” says the wife. “Our last home was sold furnished, so we were starting with a clean slate. Although we actively participated in the selection of furniture and finishes with Amy, it was the original styling of Bing Hu’s architecture that drove the design choices.” By enhancing the best features of the home and making mindful design updates along the way, Klosterman and the couple achieved true harmony between the past and present. 

“In a vacation home, I want the client to feel that it is a calm retreat from a busy life,” remarks Klosterman. “I prefer less visual clutter and formality in favor of the warmth of a carefully layered and relaxing home. The winding drive up to the house is relaxing in and of itself. And then you enter through a glass pivot door and look through the great room to the open canyon, up close and undisturbed. Calmness and quietude define the natural setting and now defines the home itself.”

INTERIOR DESIGNER: Amy Klosterman, AB Design Elements. ORIGINAL ARCHITECT: Bing Hu, H&S International.

1 &2. Though the kitchen had originally been built with premium materials and finishes, the new homeowners felt it needed a more modern makeover and better functionality. The original island was replaced with a clean-lined rectangular island with and integrated sink, eating area and ample storage. 3. Klosterman describes the home’s aesthetic as “desert contemporary” and cites texture, comfort and casual elegance as the main tenets of the look. These qualities are exemplified in the living room. “The ‘desert’ part of that description is represented by the Arizona-mined quartzite tile floors, expansive views of the canyon and the original stacked stone with natural earthy tones,” she says. 4. Originally designed by local architect Bing Hu in 2004, the North Scottsdale home immediately appealed to the new owners, who were captivated by its contemporary edge and the surrounding natural environment. 5. In the media room, a dynamic wall mural is one of the favorite features of both the homeowners and the designer. “This space could have been dark and hidden away,” says Klosterman, “but with the wall mural, it commands attention and creates a visual surprise.”  6. A sophisticated office space continues the home’s motifs of warm, monochromatic tones, inviting textures and clean lines. 7. A slatted walnut wood wall allows a view from the bedroom through the bathroom to the mountain.” 8. “Neither of us likes fussy, cluttered or dark spaces,” the husband asserts. “Wherever we could, we prioritized simplicity, function and brightness.”

SOURCES

Interior designer: Amy Klosterman, AB Design Elements, Scottsdale, abdesignelements.com. General contractor: Tim Larson, La Casa Builders, Scottsdale, lacasabuilders.com. Original architect: Bing Hu, H&S International, Scottsdale, handsinternational.com.

Pendant light (“Slide”): hubbardtonforge.com. Cabinetry (custom): F1 Cabinets, Phoenix, f1cabinets.us. Induction cooktop and appliances: monogramappliances.com. Faucet: newportbrass.com. Backsplash tile (by Porcelanosa): facingsofamerica.com. Stools (by Costantini Pietro): Alexander Sinclair Showroom, Scottsdale, alexandersinclairshowroom.com.

Chairs: thayercoggin.com. Sofa (custom, by Adriana Hoyos): alexandersinclairshowroom.com. Coffee table (custom): Peter Thomas Designs, Phoenix, peterthomasdesigns.com.
Sculpture at front door (by Gedion Nyanhongo): Gedion Galleries, Phoenix, gediongalleries.com.

Wall mural (by Area Environments): Loop Architectural Materials, Phoenix, looparch.com. Seating: americanleather.com. Wallcovering (“Tide”): innovationsusa.com.
Wall tile: (by Porcelanosa): facingsofamerica.com. Tub (custom colored): vandabaths.com. Plumbing fixtures (by Graff): Studio 41 Home Design Showroom, Scottsdale, shopstudio41.com. Cabinetry (custom) and slatted wall (custom): f1cabinets.us. Rug: Alyshaan Fine Rugs, Scottsdale, alyshaan.com. Chair (by Verellen): The Collector’s House, Scottsdale, thecollectorshouse.biz. Ottoman (custom upholstery): abdesignelements.com.

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