They work all over the country but wanted somewhere to hang their hats at night,” designer Dana Lyon says of her clients. It was in Sedona, a place “they find very sacred and spiritual,” she notes, that they discovered the perfect spot—a house with phenomenal views of the red rocks on all sides, not to mention easy access to the area’s many recreational offerings. Remodeled about five years prior by its previous owners, the house boasted Venetian plaster walls, exposed beam ceilings, Saltillo tile floors, and a stunning cantera stone fireplace in the living room. This renovation provided Lyon with the perfect canvas to paint the story of its new owners’ lives.
We started in the kitchen,” says the designer. “The owners love to cook and entertain, and they wanted a space with a simple European flair that was usable and accessible.” Lyon kept the room’s existing travertine flooring, beamed ceilings and onyx skylight. Beyond that, everything was fair game, as she changed both the footprint and finishes of the space. The new, more spacious design cleared the way for the large refrigerator—previously relegated to the laundry room—to move into the kitchen proper. The extended and enlarged island—stained in a charcoal shade—gained a sink, and a new bar area and custom banquette solved a tight squeeze problem for seating so guests can be at the center of the action.
Lyon’s kitchen ministrations did not stop there, though. The enclosed upper cabinets gave way to open shelving crafted of reclaimed wood for easy access to essentials. The wood is the ideal material for the job, Lyon says, because “it doesn’t shrink or move.” Porcelain subway tile laid in a herringbone pattern adds a bit of texture to the backsplash, while new Caesarstone countertops offer a durable work space. A bit of glamour—not to mention a subtle nod to the Western locale— comes from the shimmery hide the designer bestowed on the dining area’s banquette and chairs.
In the rest of the house, “we wanted to make the outdoors the hero, so we kept things simple,” explains Lyon, who painted walls in warm neutrals, making for a spectacular contrast to the red rocks outside and creating an easy visual transition between rooms. When color does appear, it comes from the artwork, such as in the living room, where a vibrant painting by New York artist Shawn Dulaney takes center stage over the fireplace.
Lyon custom-designed many of the furnishings herself. In the living room, for example, “we wanted to maximize the seating and, because of the high ceiling, we needed sizable furniture,” she says. The solution: a Knole sofa measuring nearly 9 feet long. Other custom pieces boast similarly generous proportions, including the lounge chairs in the living room and the den’s large sectional and ottoman. Lyon even conceived the chandelier in the kitchen—a wrought-iron piece that suggests a Spanish Colonial design similar to the living room’s existing fixtures, yet pared down to its essential elements. “I added a contemporary twist to it,” notes Lyon.
Intrepid travelers, the homeowners have taken journeys that yielded finds for their new digs as well, with an emphasis on pieces significant to the area both spiritually and culturally. A santo figure presides in the corner of the living room, while in the den an Indian drum stands as a sculptural work. Also in the den, a Chinese chest—one of the few items that came with the owners from their previous residence, because “certain pieces travel with you,” says Lyon—was turned into a stand to give it more of a presence in the room.
“I always ask myself, ‘How am I going to make the house sing,’” says Lyon. “Here, I wanted to make it calm, inviting, comfortable, and optimize the natural setting. I think we accomplished that. We stayed true to the unique character of the home and made it what it should be.”