The Best Decision
An interior makeover gives a North Scottsdale family the home of their dreams.
By Ben Ikenson | Photography by Courtney Lively
When North Phoenix natives Kevin and Jessica Rondeau were exploring the market for a new home last year, the couple was torn between the Arcadia District and North Scottsdale. Also, they wrestled with the choice of buying a new home or remodeling an older one. Ultimately, the desire to be closer to friends and family and live in an established neighborhood that their two young daughters would enjoy influenced their decision to pursue the more challenging option of renovating in North Scottsdale.
“We looked at new build opportunities, but the available homes just didn’t really have the neighborhood feel we wanted for our daughters to grow up in,” says Kevin, who owns a local pool construction company.
The Rondeaus’ search quickly targeted homes in the gated residential community of Grayhawk. They found themselves smitten with a contemporary Mediterranean-style abode with backyard views of the golf course.
“When we first toured the property, we fell in love with its unique floor plan, the center courtyard and all the natural light it provided,” says Jessica.
However, the existing interior was all too reminiscent of the dark Tuscan confines, styling and decor of the home they were eager to move away from.
“The only drawback with this new house was that it became apparent that almost every space and surface would need to be addressed,” says Kevin, who stoically tallied the mounting costs in his head as the couple made their way from room to room. “New cabinets, backsplashes, countertops, faucets, fixtures, floors, tile, paint and more. We knew it would be a big undertaking, but with every intention of remodeling, we could see past it. We knew we wanted it, so we took the leap.”
It was a decision they would not regret.
The Rondeaus promptly set about assembling a design and renovation team, which included general contractor Craig Eckhardt, a friend and business associate of Kevin’s whose work the couple admired.
“It was a pleasure to work with the Kevin and Jessica on creating their dream home,” says Eckhardt, who also oversaw the removal of the home’s existing finishes, from flooring and cabinetry to plumbing and electrical, as well as installing a new window wall in the great room. “We pretty much stripped it all down to the drywall,” he says.
Regarding the redesign of the interior and the bulk of the transformation, “we had a vision, but didn’t know how to put it all together, nor did we want to scour dozens of design centers and showrooms,” says Jessica. “Our goal was to find someone who could help us make material selections and blend it all together.” Extensive research brought them to interior designers Andrea Bazilus and Annie Rice.
“We were hired to perform a full architectural remodel and major revamp of the interior,” says Bazilus. “The Rondeaus made it clear in the beginning that they wanted fun colors and patterns mixed with cozy textures and an overall cohesive look. Our main challenge was to keep the background palette neutral enough for the vibrant furniture and eclectic touches we knew would work. At the same time, we didn’t want the architectural elements to be too plain, so we had a lot of fun with tile and backsplashes and chose to keep other elements, such as paint color, cabinet color, countertops and flooring, consistent.”
While the renovation did not require any major new construction changes to the home’s footprint, it was a comprehensive remodel from top to bottom.
For example, in the kitchen, “the biggest problem was that the cabinets were all recessed into the wall,” says Kevin. “We wanted a large hood to be the focal point of room, and couldn’t achieve it with the structural restrictions of the cabinetry.”
Fortunately, it turned out that the back wall was only built to accommodate the recessed storage and was not load-bearing. As such, it could be removed to explore where the original structural wall stood and, from there, the possibilities for an oven hood and cabinetry makeover.
With guidance from Bazilus and Rice, the Rondeaus went with a blue-and-white color scheme that surrounds an oversized 10-foot-long by 6-foot-wide quartzite island countertop, the creation of which was a feat in and of itself.
“Our island was designed before we realized that getting a single slab that large was hard to come by,” says Kevin. “We didn’t want a seam, so we had to spend a lot of time looking through many different slab yards until we finally found a piece that was both big enough and had the look we were after. We remembered liking it when we picked it, and we fell in love with it as soon as it was installed.”
The fireplace in the family room presented another challenge, and Kevin readily admits it had become his biggest obsession during the remodel. The original one featured a Cantera surround, a common look for many Tuscan-style homes, that needed to be replaced. “I knew that the fireplace was going to be the highlight of the home, so I fretted every detail,” says Kevin. “I went to several suppliers trying to find reclaimed brick in just the right color. I hand-picked the barn-wood beam for the mantle, as well as the log kit size and style, and I spent hours researching and detailing the dimensions and brick layout. But all the hard work paid off as it’s my favorite design feature of the home. I get to enjoy it almost every night when I sit and watch my favorite show on my 85-inch flat-screen,” which hangs nearby.
Another major focal point of the remodel is the master bath, which was transformed into a soothing retreat for the homeowners. A large Jacuzzi tub was replaced by a more modern freestanding slipper tub that rests between matching vanity cabinets. Dated tile flooring was swapped out for an elegant crosshatch pattern in subtle hues of taupe and cream. And recessed cabinetry was repurposed as a makeup vanity for Jessica.
While the project took about eight months from start to finish, the Rondeaus could not be happier with their “new” home. Once the final touches were in place, they were even more convinced that going the remodel route was the right choice.
“What we didn’t expect was how much more we would love this house once all the finishing touches came into play,” says Kevin. “Andrea and Annie made so many amazing recommendations, from lighting to plumbing fixtures, and rugs, art, furniture, window coverings—you name it. Every added piece made each room better and made us love our new home even more.”
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