Arcadia Cottage Chic

Arcadia Cottage ChicPhoenix Home & Garden Cover Nov 2009

Phoenix Home & Garden, November 2009


An earthy palette, large windows and durable materials come together in a comfy family dwelling


Sometimes good things do come to those who wait.

That was the case for Shelley and Steve Adelson when designing their dream home.

In the early ‘90s, the couple bought a 1950s Ranch-style house in the Arcadia area of Phoenix because they loved the community’s neighborhood feel. The intention was to remodel in a few years, but the births of fours sons (including triplets) shifted the family’s focus.

More than 10 years later, the renovations began, and, looking back, Shelley says she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Don’t rush it—you’ll get the dream if you wait.”

Over the years, the Adelsons planned for the re-do by compiling a scrapbook filled with pictures of rooms they likes, with an emphasis on casual elegance that was Traditional in style and offered the comforts of a family home.

To bring the vision to life, they assembled a design team that included architect Catherine Hayes, building Nancy Brunkhorst and interior designer Karen Rapp.

adelesonkarenrapphayes-9The existing residence was torn down to the foundation, leaving only the living room chimney. Hayes explains that she changed the orientation of the new house to face the street at angle; this allowed the front yard to be expanded and enabled rooms to be fitted with numerous windows that let in plenty of indirect sunlight, which does not fade furnishings and flooring.

Pitched whitewashed trestle-beam ceilings contribute to an airy feel that is complemented by such elements as wainscoting and reclaimed pine flooring; unexpected touches such as windows above most of the sinks keep even these areas fresh and light.

Rapp dressed interiors in a neutral, earthy palette of creams, browns, green and white. She combined antique and vintage furnishings with new pieces and introduced natural materials through the use of sisal rugs, mountain grass carpeting and grass-cloth window shades.

Durable elements, including concrete floor tiles and quick-change slip-covered sofas that hold up to the wear-and-tear of a family of six, also were incorporated.

Attention to detail is evident throughout the family-oriented home.

For example, an office nook in the master bedroom features a corner window that overlooks the yard, so the couple can watch the kids play; the boys’ bedrooms were designed to center around a gathering room for doing homework and hanging out with friends; and many areas feature deep window seats outfitted with think, comfy cushions, providing amble seating, storage and a place for kids’ sleepovers.

Outdoors, an alfresco living room with a stone-clad fireplace and concealed TV forms and additional living space, while a quaint guesthouse offers a quiet retreat for visitors.



Shelley says that completed project exceeds her family’s expectation.

“[The design team] took it to another level that we’d never thought of,” Steve adds. “My wife spent years dreaming and clipping ideas to build her special house; not big, but a special little jewel box. We love the way the home glows at night with the light of a happy home.”

The kitchen and adjoining butler’s panty sport an airy palette of white, cream and pale green. The furniture-style island has a butcher-block top with an extended edge for dining. The ceiling is bead-board with a dormer light.

adelesonkarenrapphayes-2 furniture-style island butcher block top arcadia

The butler’s panty features a farmhouse sink, Dutch door and concrete floor tiles.

adeleson-karenrapp-hayes butler panty


The double doors next to the fireplace in this alfresco trellis-covered living room conceal a TV; the vintage window frames on the mantel were purchased at an estate sale.



A large window in the living room fills the back wall and overlooks the backyard. The design is similar to one in the original home’s living room and was one of the Adelsons’ favorite features; architect Catherine Hayes kept the window’s configuration and enlarged it. Most of the furnishings here are antiques.

adelesonkarenrapphayes-3 large living room arcadia


Garden views and natural light fill the master bath, thanks to the windows above the bathtub and “his” vanity and sink. The masculine black cabinetry provides contract to the daintiness of a petite chandelier, feminine footstool, and traditional claw-foot tub.

adelesonkarenrapphayes-6 black cabinet clawfoot tub chandelier arcadia


The powder room is outfitted with tile wainscoting, a custom vanity with limestone top, sterling silver faucet and an antique mirror. An octagon-shape window framed in wood is keeping with the Traditional theme.

adelesonkarenrapphayes-7 powder room window


Interior designer Karen Rapp explains that homeowner Shelley Adelson loves a green, pink and brown palette, so these hues prevail in the master bedroom. The leopard print fabric on the antique bench and bolster pillows inspired the color scheme.

adelesonkarenrapphayes-8 green master bedroom whitewashed trestle arcadia


Well-positioned windows let abundant sunshine into the family room. Striped slipcovers dress a pair of sofas, while window seats provide extra storage space underneath. Catherine Hayes calls these seats, which are found throughout the house, “sweet places.” Whitewashed trestle beams span ceilings here and in the dining room, where a reclaimed oak dining table is paired with cane-back chairs.


adelesonkarenrapphayes-5 striped slipcover sofas fireplace arcadia


The custom buffet and hutch feature a tile back splash and wet bar.

adelesonkarenrapphayes-4 custom tiled buffet wet bar arcadia


Interesting vignettes found indoors and out display and mix of new pieces and collected items.

adelesonkarenrapphayes-10 antique vignette arcadia home

adelesonkarenrapphayes-12 vignette


View the original article by Susan Regan from November 2009. Photography by Laura Moss