There comes a moment in every longtime couple’s lives together when they begin to think about what potentially could be their “last home.” It’s a time fraught with weighty questions. “Where, finally, do we want to live?” and “What will be our lifestyle ‘finale,’ and what should it look like?” come to mind.
Such was the case for a Paradise Valley, Arizona, couple who were repeat clients of Karen Rapp Interiors.
Two years ago, the couple decided to take on their crowning residential remodel, a home steeped in everything that, together, they had created for themselves and perhaps dreamed about for many years.
And, on the practical side, as they planned ahead for their retirement and all that it would entail, they wanted to make sure the house they designed was one that was “built for the ages.” That is, designed such that it could accommodate them as they advanced in aged (e.g., one level, a walkout basement, etc.).
The project was necessarily large in scope, involving entirely razing an existing 1960s house and building a completely new, 6,000 square-foot home on the lot; and, as well, reorienting it to maximize views of Camelback Mountain. Importantly, considering the project scope, the last thing the clients had in mind to do was something ho-hum or status quo.
As Karen Rapp well knew, that clearly isn’t who they are. They wanted the design and construction to be something unexpected—something that reflected their personalities, their many accomplishments and the nature of their lives together.
One of the first tasks for the couple was to assemble their design/build “dream team.” The design team included the owner’s representative, Jim Smith, of Serving the Nation (who is not only a lifelong friend of the couple, but an expert in luxury home design and the luxury hospitality industry); architect Matt Thomas, of Matthew Thomas Architecture; and interior designer Karen Rapp. Russ Greey of Greey|Picket Landscape and Design was the clear choice for the landscaping. And, completing the team as the general contractor—the team member to make it all happen—was the mighty Greg Hunt, of GM Hunt Builders.
As planning got underway, one of the primary goals that the couple identified was to “compartmentalize” their use of the home. For instance, although the house’s square footage remained essentially the same in the remodel, the clients wanted to incorporate into the design a means to close off certain areas of the house when they weren’t in use. The guest quarters are a perfect expression of that—they’re designed such that, when unoccupied, they can easily be segregated from the rest of the house.
Overall, the clients were looking for a home that is casual, comfortable, easy to maintain and perfect for occasional entertaining. Another important consideration was that it offer welcoming space for succeeding generations of the clients’ family—their four grandchildren.
As Karen, herself, comments: “The goal—which I believe we achieved—was to create interiors that are eclectic and, at the same time, soft, elegant and contemporary.”
“One of the first things we did regarding the interior was to inventory the couple’s existing furniture to see what would work in the new design and what wouldn’t,” Karen notes. “Luckily, we found that we could use their furnishings and artwork in the new design. New upholstery makes for new furniture!”
In keeping with its relaxed, fully livable plan, the color palette for the new home is easy on the eye: it’s suffused with warm, soft grays and whites with lots of matching fabrics.
The new kitchen and dining area is Karen’s favorite of all. “The open concept design makes such a statement about this home,” she notes. “It’s ‘gourmet’ without looking at all pretentious. In fact, it has a distinct ‘lived-in’ look about it—a room that people will immediately sense that people actually live here and use this room; that it’s not merely designed for the decorativeness about it.” The kitchen boasts a meticulously crafted French “La Cornue” range that Karen explains was the result of a trip with her client to San Francisco. The range so impressed Karen that she bought one for herself!
A part of KRI’s design incorporated exquisite and elegant decorative tile throughout, but especially in the butler’s pantry, where the tile reflects a certain whimsy and charm.
One thing the new design focused on was creating an invitation to use exterior space as an inviting extension of the interior living quarters. As Karen describes it: “Because the climate here is so agreeable, most of the year we live outside as well as in. That’s why it’s so important to have our outdoor areas that serve as an extension of the interior. Our design emulated how the French and Italians live outdoors and on their terraces. People in those European countries park themselves outdoors at a long table and enjoy charcuterie and antipasto platters (and some wine of course!) while they watch their children or grandchildren play on the grass. There’s a certain beauty in that kind of living, and this design allows for it and encourages it.”
The spacious “his and hers” closets are an exercise in personal styles: “Hers” is glamorous, featuring enough room to display the client’s artful collection of handbags. “His” is organized with everything in its place, offering a “gentleman’s haberdashery” feel.
The grandchildren’s whimsically designed and decorated “bunk room” makes the point that, after all, this is a family house, mindful of—and welcoming to—the different generations that occupy it.
Much of the extensive collection of artworks the clients amassed through the years was perfectly adaptable to their newly designed home. This portrait of John Lennon is a perfect case in point.
Following is a list of artisans and contractors Karen Rapp Interiors partnered with to achieve the couple’s “home forever.”
- Owners Representative: Serving the Nation
- Contractor: GM Hunt Builders
- Architect: Matt Thomas Architecture LLC
- Landscape Architect: Greey|Pickett
- Plumbing: Clyde Hardware
- Tile: Craftsman Court Ceramics
- Floors: Premier Wood Floors
- Lighting: Creative Designs in Lighting
- Light fixtures: Bevolo
- Upholstery: Lifestyles Upholstery
- Appliances: Monark
- Electric: Golka Electric
- Cabinetry: Copperstate Cabinet Company, Ramsey Brothers, Reliance Custom Cabinets, Classy Closets
- Slabs: Cactus Stone
- Fabricator: Anne’s Custom Roman Shades & Bedding
- Photography: Steve Craft