Nearly 20 years into the new century, myriad design trends have already come and gone: sleigh beds and armoires, and a preponderance of brown–spurred by an embrace of Tuscan style–as well as layers of pillows and throws in deep russets and emeralds. “The style used to be way more opulent with layers of rich colors,” recalls designer Danielle Wallinger, who in 2005 filled a Scottsdale, Arizona, residence–the second home of an Oklahoma couple–with brown leather sofas and an array of jewel-toned accessories.
More than a decade later, the homeowners of the DC Ranch domicile were ready for a change. “Everything looked old and dark,” says the wife, who worked with Wallinger on the home’s first go around. “The original finishes still looked good, but we wanted a lighter, brighter ambience.” In fact, it was the Venetian plaster, onyx and other rich materials that first engaged the couple who spied the house while driving around on a rainy day looking for architectural styles they liked. “The curb appeal was fantastic, and the inside was even better,” says the wife. “It had more custom features than we would have had if we built on our own. We weren’t planning to buy but we decided we had to have it.”
The owners turned to Wallinger early on, asking her to start by weighing in on the original interior architecture. Working with general contractor Rick Padilla of Padilla Signature Builder, the designer had a hand in the reclaimed Amish barnwood beams and the metal railings fashioned from antique pieces. “The materials in the floor are laid out to mirror the ceiling beams, and we used reclaimed artifacts like the pillars in the living room to impart an authenticity not commonly found in new construction,” Wallinger boasts. “It feels like it has been there for hundreds of years.”
The old-world elegance also provided the perfect backdrop for shifting design motifs. With the brown phase in the rearview mirror, the current iteration takes a lively turn with warm-toned neutrals more in sync with the surroundings. “The windows are so large, the landscape becomes part of the space, so the interiors needed to be a harmonious continuation,” says Wallinger, who repurposed many of the existing pieces. In the living room, for example, back-to-back sofas once topped with brown leather and wide wale corduroy gave way to lighter more refined charcoal-gray leather and plush velvet pillows.
Flanking the oversize couches are new wood cabinets with woven grass-cloth insets and adequate scale to stand up to 18-foot ceilings. On one side of the room, a co ee table crafted from a slab of acacia and distinguished by mitered corners and waterfall legs serves as a streamlined counterpart to the reupholstered tufted ottomans. On the other, Wallinger designed four arrow-shaped tables in varying wood shades that can be combined to form an array of patterns. “They are based on a timeless Navajo design,” she says.
Dominated by stone walls, the dining room also mandated statement pieces like the existing tabletop that responds to the layout of the ceiling beams. To update the space, the exposed backs of the six side chairs were wrapped with upholstery in a neutral snakeskin pattern. There and elsewhere, texture is a key layer with furniture and fabrics selected to stand up to the highly textured walls and doors.
In the master bedroom, for example, the original headboard was recovered in a warm gray fabric that emulates silk to provide a strong counterpoint to the ashed adobe wall. Wallinger also introduced a plush area rug to further soften the coarse adobe. Mercury-glass lamps atop the refinished side tables add bling, and the sparkle continues with a pair of new chandeliers composed of delicate crystal droplets. “They add just the right amount of romance to the otherwise masculine space,” she says.
Appreciative of her repeat opportunity, Wallinger says, “It’s wonderful for a designer to still have an intimate relationship with the owners of a home you helped build from the ground up. To be part of a home’s progression as it ages and changes is really something special.”