DW-designed project Paradise Valley Ranch Renovation was featured in the June 2015 issue of Phoenix Home and Garden. Thank you to PH&G magazine for featuring the project, writer Roberta Landman for a beautiful article, and photographer Terrence Moore who brought the architecture to life on the page. Enjoy!
A Happy New Chapter
A Down-To-The-Studs Remodel Allows a Designer’s Much-Loved Collections to Shine
Written by Roberta Landman
Photography by Terrence Moore
Ask Linda Criswell if she would agree with a “less-is-more” design mantra, and she might chuckle and say, “Probably not.”
That’s because the interior designer’s own style is anything but whittled down. Her Paradise Valley, Arizona, house is chock-full of out-of-the-ordinary finds. Items large and small, discovered here and there, are displayed with a deft hand reflective of her trade and talent, and her love for the unique and unusual is obvious at every turn.
A desk composed of a glass top on a base made of curving faux elephant tusks acts as a sofa-back table. It was used years back on the set of TV’s original “Dallas” series. “Maybe J.R. or Sue Ellen sat there,” Linda muses with a smile.
A wall in the kitchen serves as a gallery for a cluster of ex-voto paintings — personal stories rendered on tin. Created by artists who gather outside of Mexican churches, these small paintings reflect, for example, petitioners’ prayers for someone who is ill or their thankfulness to God for a miracle of healing, Linda says. These humble folk art pieces are then brought into the church where they remain until there is no more room for others to be brought in. The ones in Linda’s kitchen once hung in a a church in San Juan, Mexico, and date as far back as the 1920s. “I bought them as a collection,” she says with admiration.
A passion for design and collecting is evident in her professional life as well as on the home front. Linda is co-owner with Alicia Flatin of Bungalow. At this Scottsdale furniture and accessories emporium, she notes, “we say, ‘buy what you love.’ If you surround yourself with things that you love, then your home will make you happy.” And she is very happy in her own home with beloved items she picked up during her travels through many exotic lands, from China to India to the Caribbean.
These culturally diverse treasures and trinkets blend together like a subtly spiced stew at the 1970s-era home. She bought the once-dated ranch-style house in the spring of 2013 with the ambition of remodeling it for herself and her two children. In an eight-month project with architect C.P. Drewett, builder Chris Milner and landscape designer Jeff Franklin, “the house went down to the studs,” she says, and overgrown outdoor areas became manageable and lovely garden areas.
“C.P and I were very committed to keeping the quirkiness of the original design of the house — to embrace the different ceiling levels,” Linda notes. The art of a remodel, she offers, “is capturing the essence of the old while bringing it forward to current time and trend.” For example, old interior arches that had contained book shelves were opened up to create walk-through spaces and join the newly formed main living and dining areas. What originally had been a street side living room was converted to a front-of-the-house dining room with access to a well-furnished patio. It was an arrangement similar to one she had enjoyed at a former home.
A back patio and refurbished pool area are reached by way of the main living area; with its focal-point lavishly tiled fireplace and cushy white sectional sofa, the attractive room lies beyond a greatly enlarged kitchen. Now, about that slipcovered sofa: Don’t be afraid of white, Linda advises. She’s not. Washable and able to take a good bleaching, the slipcovers stand up well to typical wear-and-tear from kids and dogs.
Interestingly, most of the furnishings — including vintage pieces — are new to this revamped dwelling, because Linda sold her previous home furnished (it appeared in the May 2013 issue of Phoenix Home & Garden). She explains: “I do like change. I like the challenge of moving and changing my environment. I wanted this house to have a different vibe than where I was before. I wanted this house to feel like a cool getaway. Island chic. Castaway chic. A little Moroccan/desert. Light and bright with a little edge.”
Materials such as sand-colored stone tile flooring imported from Morocco, creamy marble used in the kitchen and baths, and beg-to-be-touched decorative tile in muted natural tones bring that sense of coolness and lightness to the forefront. Add to that mix Linda’s preferred look: “warm and comfortable,” which she achieves with a neutral palette and pops of color and pattern, those many vintage finds, and an artful blending of art, textiles, and plentiful accessories.
“It is a collected, layered look. Lots of collections, old art and books,” she comments.
Given new life inside and out, the modernized and beautiful home kept its signature 1970s front arches and brickwork and still looks as if it fits in with the tidy, well-established neighborhood that first attracted Linda and enticed her to enter into such a comprehensive renewal project. “Pretty much everything is new except the brick,” she remarks. “This was the largest remodel I have taken on.”
To others considering such an extensive under-taking, Linda notes that it’s easy to go over-budget on a remodel. For example, she suggests that if one does not stick to an original expenditure plan for such items as tile, flooring and fixtures — but somewhere along the way chooses upgraded versions — it “can really push the costs up.”
Nonetheless, she adds, “Remodeling is challenging but rewarding if you are happy with the finished product. A lot of great older houses sit in mature and beautiful neighborhoods. That is a huge motivator to remodel. Location, location, location!”
Color her happy.