A Softened Midcentury Vibe Defines A Desert Remodel


exterior and landscape

For a Paradise Valley remodel, a skilled design team channels a softened midcentury vibe.

mid-century modern exterior entry

For the entrance to a couple's renovated Paradise Valley residence, a courtyard with a fountain provides a soothing transition between the wildness of the landscape and the welcoming calm of the interiors, which feature furnishings selected by designer Jamie Herzlinger.

mid-century modern living room gray...

Herzlinger conceived a 13-foot-long curved sofa for the living area, which takes in stunning vistas. "By keeping the furniture backs low, I was able to maintain the views," says the designer, who clad the piece in a hard-wearing Holly Hunt gray mohair fabric. A brass-and-marble coffee table by Powell & Bonnell and a pair of Jiun Ho chairs complete the seating area.

mid-century modern living room curved...

Midcentury pieces inspired much of Herzlinger's design, including the pair of custom rugs in navy, black, ivory and gray that link the living and dining areas. "For modern projects, I go with a simple palette," she notes. "I like the furniture to be the star." Above the Holly Hunt dining table, surrounded by Hellman-Chang chairs, hangs a light fixture from Jonathan Browning Studios.

mid-century modern hall in kitchen...

As with most of the interior architecture throughout, the new kitchen was designed by the clients' daughter, designer Amber Anderson, who masterminded the sleek, modern cabinetry crafted by Woodesign. Reinforcing the streamlined vibe, hardware and touch latches were jettisoned in favor of small hidden finger nooks carved into the white-oak doors.

mid-century modern media room blue...

In the media room, Herzlinger designed L-shaped sofas with tufted backs and created leather-bordered coffee tables with the safety of the couple's young grandchild in mind. Washed white-oak shelving, designed by Anderson and crafted by Woodesign, showcases the owners' collection of sculpture and curios.

mid-century modern exterior and infinity...

An outdoor seating area on the second level's entertaining deck features furnishings from Brown Jordan. Held up by a single concrete pillar, the space was an addition designed by architects Justin Ferrick and Mark Philp and built by general contractor Greg Hunt.

mid-century modern exterior balcony sitting...

Black glass railings on the entertaining deck were replaced with clear glass to offer unimpeded vistas of the landscape from the interior. "We're still wowed by the view," the wife says. "The hues change so much throughout the day." The furnishings here are also by Brown Jordan.

mid-century modern bathroom white freestanding...

For the new master bathroom, Anderson says, "we decided on a very bright, open look, mixing varying tones and textures with small pops of matte-black metal in the fixtures and details." The Victoria + Albert soaking tub is from Clyde Hardware.

mid-century modern bedroom obsidian sculpture

In the master bedroom suite, Herzlinger arranged an obsidian sculpture from the clients' collection on a plinth in front of a window that looks out to Mummy Mountain.

mid-century modern bedroom neutral palette

The wife "doesn't like frilly elements," Herzlinger notes. The designer softened the master bedroom using other means, such as the upholstered headboard by Ted Boerner and a cylindrical lamp by Ron Dier Design, one of a pair. The nightstand is by Hellman-Chang.

As she wound her way up toward a Paradise Valley, Arizona, house on a steep mountainside, designer Jamie Herzlinger recalls being amazed by its stunning landscape. And once she entered the sleek modern structure, she was struck by the mesmerizing vistas through the expansive glass windows. “I realized for the interior design, the trick would be to choose pieces that would make people stop and admire them instead of the view,” she recalls.

Herzlinger’s vision was the final step in a process that had begun two years earlier, when her empty-nester clients decided to downsize from their rambling family house nearby for a more midcentury look. “We wanted something turnkey,” the wife says. Although they were delighted with the clean lines of their new abode, built about five years ago, the interiors needed work. “There wasn’t a lot of detail,” explains the couple’s daughter, designer Amber Anderson. She was tasked with layering the interiors with architectural elements, including millwork and lighting, that would wash the minimal space with warmth.

The two-level floor plan also needed adjusting, notably enlarging key areas. Anderson worked with architects Mark Philp and Justin Ferrick and general contractor Greg Hunt to design a larger kitchen, master bedroom and master bathroom, expanding the footprint of the home. She also tapped woodworking company Woodesign to bring to life the distinctive millwork she envisioned, such as the media room’s wall of lighted shelves that illuminate small sculptures and curios. Outside, the architects added a wide entertaining deck to the lower level and a negative-edge pool on the site’s lowest area.

The new scenery informed every aspect of Herzlinger’s design, a clean, modern take on a 1950s look. “The clients love midcentury style, but I wanted to soften it, as it can get very masculine and stark,” she says. The designer paid careful attention to furnishings, from each item’s scale to its shape. “It was especially important to anchor the living area with larger-scale furniture to make guests want to stay there,” she says. To that end, she created custom pieces, including the space’s 13-foot-long curved sofa that invites the couple and their extended family to sit and enjoy the view. “Rounded shapes make people feel more relaxed, because they’re not so cold,” Herzlinger observes. She introduced curves in other pieces, too–witness the living area’s black-marble-topped coffee table with hand-forged brass legs, the shape of the dining area chairs and the luminous circular porcelain shades of the chandeliers in both spaces.

With a new grandchild and three rambunctious dogs, the couple prioritized low-maintenance furnishings. In response, Herzlinger upholstered pieces in fabrics such as mohair on the living area sofa and leather on the media room’s tufted sectionals. “These fabrics will look beautiful even as they wear,” she says. The designer involved the couple in helping create the custom pieces by bringing the clients to fabric showrooms and demonstrating sizes using paper cutouts–a process that paid off. “The furniture is just dazzling and comfortable,” the wife says.

Throughout the home, neutral hues–plucked from the wife’s wardrobe–harmonize with the exterior and serve as a calming counterpoint to the bright contemporary art the clients have begun to collect. “When I work with modern design, I limit myself to five colors,” Herzlinger says. “I want to keep it tight.” In this case, she chose black, ivory, navy and two shades of gray, playing with the tonality of each–as seen in the pair of abstract rugs inspired by midcentury patterns she designed to ground the living and dining areas. “There’s no wall between the spaces, and the floors are neutral, so I went bold with the rugs to define them,” she explains.

The clients are ecstatic about the outcome. “The house feels like us: clean and modern but still inviting and comfortable,” the wife says. Herzlinger chalks up the success of the project to the couple’s involvement in the process. “They really were the model client,” the designer says. “They understood that simple is always better when it comes to modern design.”