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Step Inside an Interior Designer’s Quirky, Colorful Home

A porcelain bust, affectionately named “Elvira,” dons a vibrant pom-pom crown and watches over designer Julia Buckingham’s house from her perch atop an indoor grill.
Filled to the brim with color, pattern, texture and personality, interior designer Julia Buckingham’s home transcends time and place in favor of the here and now.

An interior designer orchestrates the technicolor metamorphosis of a dated Scottsdale property.

By Carly Scholl | Photography by Austin Baker

After renovating 16 different houses across four states with her husband, Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award-winning interior designer Julia Buckingham has more experience in home transformations than most people could gain in a lifetime. “I am always on the search for something different,” she explains. “I ask myself, ‘What was missing in the last house?” For her 17th project, the designer decided to depart from the more muted desert tones of her previous residence (featured in the October 2018 edition of Phoenix Home & Garden) and go bold with hues. “This home has three times the color,” she notes. “There isn’t even a palette—it just has every single color.”

Located in a historical neighborhood of Scottsdale replete with horse properties, the Buckinghams’ new home was not always as charming as it is today. “People really expected it to be torn down,” she recalls of the midcentury modern structure that had suffered an unfortunate DIY makeover in the 1980s. But the bones were solid and the unique Haveresque attributes of the house—including clerestory windows and a low-slung roofline—were enough to enchant the couple. “We’re not sure who the home’s original architect was, but the renovations made throughout its history were pretty bad,” she laughs. “But I love historic properties, and it really felt like a diamond in the rough.”

After a few structural renovations, including gutting all three bathrooms and opening up the kitchen, Buckingham took her interior design inspiration from a color now prominently featured in nearly every room: pink. “Several years ago, I went on a girls’ trip to Morocco, and we visited a friend in Marrakech who owned a concrete tile company,” she remembers. “I fell in love with a tile that had shades of blush, coral and rose, which I eventually installed as our kitchen backsplash. I just felt like I needed to go pink in this house.”

From fuchsia-hued, lacquered parquet floors and splashy headboards to Flintstone-themed wallpapers and pop art decorations, one glimpse at the new and improved Buckingham palace is guaranteed to elicit a smile. There’s a fearlessness implicit in the design that soundly declares Buckingham is not concerned with following trends or matching her area rugs to her wallcoverings. Instead, she is only concerned with fun, life and vibrancy. Per her signature style that blends modern and vintage, classic and camp, the interiors are deftly filled with wholly unique pieces from all eras, influences and, of course, colors.

1. A traffic jam of toy cars, a Lego bouquet and a fuzzy pink lamp set an undeniably playful mood at Buckingham’s abode. 2. A vintage table created by Design Institute of America in the 1980s anchors the dining room, while shocking pink lacquered floors, pop art and original 1970s “Oryk” bar add fantastical elements to the space. 3. By removing the inset shelves from the original built-in dining room cabinetry, Buckingham created a whimsical niche to show off her love of wild wallpaper. 4. In her office/closet, Buckingham’s love of fashion inspires her design work. Her favorite bags and purses mingle with the furnishings and finishes in a tangle of good taste. 5. A guest bedroom marries nearly all the colors of the rainbow with fresh white walls and a seashell chandelier. 6. A girl can never have too many shoes, and this collection of colorful high-fashion heels is right at home in Buckingham’s office.
In the technicolor living room, quirky vintage finds and neon hues contrast and complement the original midcentury architecture. “We are obsessed with the wooden slat ceiling, which we heard was specially sourced from California by the builders of the home in 1963,” notes the designer.

But for all the homes she has inhabited and all the fantastical furnishings and irresistible objets d’art she has collected over the years, the designer is hard-pressed to name an item in her new abode that came with her from the house before. “I usually have huge estate sales whenever we move because I don’t want to take everything with me,” she says. “I don’t get overly attached to anything—they’re just things. Discovering an amazing piece is fun, and I like to enjoy it for a season. But eventually I like to let these things move on and find a new owner to delight.”

1 & 2. Though she remodeled the kitchen to be more open and airy, Buckingham maintained a midcentury sensibility in the space through the use of retro-inspired appliances and bubbly lighting fixtures. The pink hues in the backsplash over the sink were a major inspiration for the colorways throughout the home. 3. “The Flintstones paper is in our grandson’s nursery,” she notes. “He adores waking up to all of the colors and is now identifying each of the characters and dinosaurs. He also digs the huge leather-wrapped cheetah next to his crib.” 4. The design for this wallpaper was sourced from an original mural of “Bar Hounds” by Constance Depler Coleman, circa 1950. 5. Beyond the kitchen, a hallway is dressed in a vintage cowboy wallpaper featuring original watercolor artwork by Walter Jardine.


Interior designer: Julia Buckingham, Julia Buckingham Interiors, Scottsdale,
Chandelier and alabaster grape sculpture (by Julia Buckingham for Global Views): Artwork over fireplace (by Julie Blackmon): Recycled flip-flop ottoman: Vintage cat tail chairs (custom): Art next to fireplace: Vintage crayon and pencil sculpture: Coffee table: Rug:

Fuzzy lamp: Modern on Melrose, Phoenix, (602) 264-4183. Lego flowers: Vase: Purple fabric-wrapped console: Modern Fix, Phoenix.
Vintage floating “Oryk” bar (by Vittorio and Nani Parigi for Molteni) and floor lamp: Modern on Melrose, (602) 264-4183. Photograph (by Gray Malin): Car sculpture (by Howard Finster): Floors lacquer (“Exuberant Pink”):

Wallpaper (“Plates and Platters” by Johnson Hartig for Libertine): Vintage glass bottles:
Refrigerator (custom, colored in Benjamin Moore “Orange Burst”): Backsplash tile (“Pod”): Candy pendants: Countertops (“White Diamond” by Eco):

Leather-wrapped cheetah figure: Vintage cowboy wallpaper (art by Walter Jardine for Architectural Anarchy):
Wallpaper (“Beau Monde” by Pierre Frey) Custom-covered vintage lamps: Chairs (by Milo Baughman; custom upholstery: Red Modern, Phoenix,

Headboard and lamps: Fine Line Modern, Phoenix. Chandelier: Coverlet (by Justina Blakeney):


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