For designer Christopher K. Coffin, creating new interiors for a refined 1970s Paradise Valley home was a matter of slow and steady wins the race. “The house hadn’t been upgraded much since it was built,” he explains about the five-year process that culminated in a room-by-room improvement of the entire home. “But little by little, we’ve been constantly reviving each space.”
Situated along a prime golf course location, the home is laid out on a single level with a three-car garage and a separate guesthouse. “It’s Spanish, yet with a Continental flair,” Coffin notes about the exterior architecture, which features red tile roofs, smooth stucco walls and an arcade-style courtyard entry. “Except for new coping and the added guesthouse, most of the exterior structure has remained the same.”
What did change was the approach to the home. “We wanted to calm down the entrance and help it fit into the fabric of the community,” says Carol Puck Erickson, who, along with the aid of project manager Kimberly Arevalo and Curt Davidson, took charge of the landscape. Erickson enhanced the greenery and hardscape, adding agaves and rain lilies to existing olive trees and rare cork oaks and creating planters to better scale down the lawn. The drive was redone with flagstone pavers, and a fountain was added to the courtyard for its soothing effect.
On the other side of the hand-carved maple entry door, the home takes on another look entirely. “It’s not a typical Arizona house from a furnishings standpoint,” Coffin says. “The owners are originally from the East Coast and have another home there, and their tastes reflect that. They also have an eye for American antiques, and we wanted to utilize that as well.”
Evident throughout the home are significant 17th- and 18th-century pieces. While some already belonged to the owners, many were purchased from auction houses and antiques shows back east. Original white oak floors, sanded and refinished, are laid with antique Oriental and sisal rugs, while period artwork adorns walls enhanced with textured wallcoverings. “Wallpaper is making a comeback,” Coffin says. “But if you’re going to use it, you need to have something going on, be it a stripe or small scene, to create interest.”
For the living room, Coffin offset a striped yellow-and-gold wallcovering with gold silk draperies that frame verdant views. He then upholstered antique club chairs and a sofa with yellow silk damask and paired them with wood-frame chairs and side tables. The owners’ collection of antique cranberry glass adds a touch of accent color to the room.
In turn, the kitchen, with its custom millwork and formal white granite tops, was influenced by the sophisticated designs of Clive Christian in London. “The owners love to cook and entertain, so the kitchen has ample work and storage space,” says Coffin, who designed a vitrine across the top that runs the circumference of the room.
Entertaining extends into the formal dining room, where Coffin placed an antique English mahogany table, a double set of Chippendale chairs and a chinoiserie breakfront filled with the owners’ Chinese porcelain dinnerware. An antique brass chandelier and a diamond-patterned sisal rug complete the de´cor. Heirloom pieces continue in the library, where fashion takes center stage with a vintage Louis Vuitton suitcase that serves as a cocktail table and throws from Herme`s and Carolina Herrera that dot the furnishings.
Back outside, a variety of seating areas and a serene glass-tiled pool can be seen in the backyard—all of which shows evidence of Erickson’s handiwork. “The garden was super-large,” she says. “We pulled out the loges so that it became more in scale with the house and kept the landscaping simple so that it flowed with the golf course.”
From start to (not quite) finish, the project reflects the ongoing relationship between Coffin and his clients—a relationship that continues as plans to redesign both of the daughters’ rooms are under way now that they have left for college. “We’re so simpatico, we’re almost like family,” he says, “which has made it a whole lot easier to design their personal space.”