It was the Arizona desert that ultimately enticed a Chicago couple looking for a warm getaway to enjoy with their children and grandchildren. Although they chose a traditional adobe house as their new residence, the pair was drawn to the casual yet elegant aesthetic that marks many California interiors. So, they reached out to San Diego-based designer Amy Meier to help them bring the state’s signature style to their own little piece of paradise in Scottsdale.
Though the home they ultimately decided upon boasted a gorgeous pool and sweeping views, it also had limited bedroom space and a living and dining area that felt cavernous, not cozy. It was in this living and dining space that Meier, who usually starts her process by focusing on one room and building out from there, chose to begin the design of the home.
Thanks to high ceilings and sweeping views, the room spoke directly to the family’s needs—comfort and relaxation, with the opportunity to entertain and celebrate together—but it lacked warmth.
As a solution, Meier added two couches in the living room, a daybed in the dining area and a pair of wingback chairs that would separate the two spaces. “The key was to devise multiple seating areas so the space feels intimate but not too cluttered,” she explains. To create even more distinction, Meier used lighting to visually section off one area from the other. “We dropped in two light fixtures rather than just one in the dining area to really anchor the table,” she says. The built-in cabinets were painted a deep green, which gives the space contrast yet doesn’t challenge the cohesion of the entire room.
The carefully rendered color scheme of the home articulates the natural influences of the surrounding desert. “A space should always reflect its surroundings,” says Meier, “so we pulled the desert colors in.” Warm clay reds and cactus-like shades of celadon are balanced by Benjamin Moore’s Marble White found on most of the walls in the home. These subdued expanses unite the spaces while acting as a canvas for the shifting light that streams in throughout the day and creating a neutral backdrop to highlight the rough-hewn log beams and richly saturated accent colors.
For Meier, whose previous career in fashion instilled an almost encyclopedic knowledge of textiles, and her clients, who got just as excited as she did about the swatches she shared, fabrics weren’t purely utilitarian. “I added canopies and rich upholstery in the bedrooms so that they’d feel like luxurious escapes,” she explains. To solve the problem of not enough bedrooms, Meier removed the built-in storage in the office to convert it into a bedroom for the owners’ grandchildren.
Making use of child-friendly fabrics to provide stress-free vacationing, Meier also pulled in vintage furnishings to add an air of timeless elegance. “I call it ‘the hunt,’” she says of her quest for unique and charming antiques. “I travel all over looking for pieces that add depth, character and warmth to a space.” In this case, it was a secretary that fit perfectly into the children’s room, a pair of metal capitals she turned into a living room coffee table and a gorgeous reupholstered settee in the master bedroom.
Despite the richly layered textiles and many bespoke pieces, Meier turned around the home in record time. She started in early fall and had most of the home completed so the family could enjoy it over Thanksgiving. The designer still gets regular updates on how much they love it. “I always feel honored to be able to design someone’s home,” she says. “It’s incredibly gratifying to hear how much they enjoy the space.”