Delft tiles, Chinese porcelain, Wedgewood pottery—blue-and-white has been a classic design duo since the dawn of decor. For designer Britany Simon, the time-tested combo, accented with punches of sunny yellow, presented a solution to a problem: How to bring energy and character to the fairly nondescript interior of a newly constructed spec house.
Situated in the historic Phoenix neighborhood of Arcadia, the modern farmhouse-style residence started out as a custom build; however, the owner backed out of the deal midway through construction. When Lizy and Skyler Irvine saw the house, they liked that it was move-in ready, but they weren’t quite sold on some of the design choices. The place was blessed by the real estate gods in that it had great bones and good flow, but the stock fixtures and builder-grade finishes lacked a distinctive point of view. And while the Irvines loved the home’s overall style, it skewed just a hair too modern for their tastes and didn’t feel reflective of the couple and their three young children. “We wanted to make it our own,” says Lizy. “The house didn’t need to be renovated. It just needed to be decorated.”
Simon, who had already completed two previous projects with the Irvines, was their first call. “They wanted me to amp things up style-wise and make it more fun and personalized,” she says. At the top of the agenda: giving the kitchen a more custom look. To warm up the space and provide both storage and visual interest, she installed wood-and-brass open shelving over the gray-veined subway tile. She also changed the hardware on the cabinets and swapped out the lights for a trio of vintage-inspired milk glass-and-brass pendants, the scale of which was better in tune with the island.
The kitchen flows into the adjacent living area, where French doors flood the room in natural light and crisp shiplap paneling on the fireplace underscores the home’s farmhouse vibe. “They wanted the space to feel sophisticated, but also young,” says Simon. Family-friendly furnishings take their place around the centerpiece of the room—a one-of-a-kind marble top coffee table that was handmade by Lizy’s grandfather. “It’s an heirloom that’s stayed in her family for years and has moved with them from house to house,” says the designer. “We incorporated some antique pieces with more modern and transitional ones because they wanted things that would wear well and stand the test of time.” She relied on Lizy’s favorite palette of blue, white and yellow “to pump up the playfulness through color and pattern.” A mix of geometric, floral and menswear-inspired fabrics artfully blends masculine and feminine elements.
That same dichotomy plays out in the dining room and office, which are exercises in yin and yang sensibilities. For the dining room, Simon leaned into a modern femme aesthetic with Schumacher’s classic Hollyhock floral wallpaper, but balanced the femininity with a rustic wood dining set and an industrial brass chandelier. In the husband’s office, she strikes a clubbier vibe. Bolder blues and midcentury furnishings lend a masculine feel, while a cheeky art gallery wall brings lightness and humor to the space. “We wanted the grouping of art to be quirky and unexpected,” says Simon.
Such merrymaking design choices extend to the children’s rooms, too. “We really wanted to find a grand-scale floral wallpaper for the girls, but we couldn’t find one that was quite right,” says Simon. Enter local artist Dana Maciag, who created hand-painted custom murals for the kids’ sleeping quarters. In the girls’ room, a riot of oversize blooms in a rainbow of hues creates a playfully off-kilter canvas for a bohemian blend of prints and accessories, including a rattan corner swing. For the son’s nursery, the artist painted a charming, aviation-themed mural, which guided the decor of the whole room. And in the kids’ playroom, Simon brings the spirit of the outdoors in through a forest-inspired wallpaper, a buffalo-check teepee and a whimsical tree-shaped bookshelf.
Safe, creative space to unwind isn’t limited to the kids’ rooms. Simon’s goal was to make the entire house a joyful refuge from the outside world. “Both of the parents work stressful jobs; they want to come home to a place that’s bright and happy and makes them feel good,” she says. Looks like she succeeded. Says Lizy, “All I know is I walk in the front door and I feel immediately energized and at home.”