For homeowners Ki Ngo and Kevin Goff, renovating this five-bedroom Tuscan-style home in Gilbert, half an hour southeast of Phoenix, provided an opportunity to have a little fun. Recreational travelers with neither children nor pets, Ki and Kevin wanted a home that would be not only be an escape from the desert heat and their busy careers—Ki is a dentist, Kevin an attorney—but also an exciting destination for frequent guests who often check in for a night or two.
Shortly after purchasing the house in 2010, the pair hired Scottsdale-based interior designer Angelica Henry to help them achieve the look they desired: a sleek hotel-like atmosphere with clean lines and a lot of personality. “Ki had an appreciation for design from the very beginning,” says Henry, who completed the project in a little less than a year. “In each room we wanted to create a wow factor, to make a big impact by giving it a sense of luxury that made a statement.”
Working with contractor Robert Mcknight, whom Ki had previously hired to build out his dental offices, Henry focused on decorative flourishes rather than major architectural changes. With a penchant for bold color and fashioning art pieces from unexpected materials, the designer was able to transform the original dark space encumbered with tumbled stone, heavy cabinetry and ornate ironwork into a chic retreat with a jet-setter vibe.
For Mcknight, the project was relatively straightforward and seamless. “Angelica has a great personality and handles the client relationship really well,” he says, adding that this attribute made it easier for him to trust in—and accommodate—some of her more unconventional design ideas.
In the open family room, which serves as a lounge for cocktails or movie watching, Henry replaced a nondescript firebox set directly into the drywall with a sleek and linear gas-lit fireplace surrounded by handcrafted glass tiles and a wenge wood veneer. She then modernized the adjacent kitchen by replacing the original dark upper cabinets with glass-fronted ones, installed a countertop of white onyx, and added a backsplash of the same glistening glass tiles from the family room.
In the master bedroom, which Ki says is without question his favorite room in the house, Henry cut a niche into the wall above the bed and inserted a wooden screen laser cut with a motif evocative of a delicate Asian flower. It is illuminated from behind with LED lighting that can be manipulated to produce a full range of color depending on the mood of the room’s inhabitants. When not in bed, the homeowners can recline on a pair of resort-style chaises covered in silk velvet.
The master bathroom is another spot where Henry got inventive. To give the space a point of interest, she created her own piece of art—purchasing a set of iron bowls with shiny gold interiors and setting them into custom wood frames, which she eventually mounted above the tub for a dramatic flourish. She replaced an existing drop-in whirlpool tub on a travertine platform with a freestanding soaking tub, designed matching wall-mounted vanities that appear to float, and installed a showpiece of a chandelier that produces a mirrored effect.
The designer applied her creativity to the guest bedrooms as well, decorating one with a handblown glass chandelier that she reconfigured, with Mcknight’s help, from spaghetti-like pendants into a shape approximating a sphere of tailed comets. For another guest room, she found a large photographic mural that depicts blades of grass and affixed it above the bed.
“I wanted each room to have a different look to it,” Ki says. “Our concept was a hotel-like setting that was also homey.” And it seems that with originality and resourcefulness, Henry indeed accomplished the mission.