French Countryside Arizona Kitchen

french countryside Beautiful Kitchens & Baths - Karen Rapp Interiors - French Provence Residence Arizona Interior Designer

AS A CUSTOM HOME BUILDER FOR MORE THAN 40 YEARS, Jerry Meek has helped many clients create their ideal kitchens. Usually, however, they want to start from scratch with a new space—not model it after one they were leaving behind.

“I think this may have been a first for us,” says Meek, president of Desert Star Construction in Arizona.

french countryside kitchen - butchen butcher block counter island

He explains that his clients loved their old home, which he and his team had also built. But with their children now older and on their own, they were ready to downsize to a more manageable space.

Their previous house pulled its themes from 17th-century Europe and could have passed for an old villa in the South of France.

“They wanted that same feel on a smaller scale,” Meek says, “so that defined the whole project, and it’s how we approached the kitchen.”

Indeed, says interior designer Karen Rapp, the new kitchen—like the home itself—is “just like something you’d find in Provence.”

terra cotta ceiling stove hood butcher block counters

French Countryside Home in Arizona

The walls, for example, are hand-chipped limestone, while the weathered wood beams spanning the 11-foot ceiling came from an aging house in Belgium.

The flooring is antique terra-cotta ceiling tiles reclaimed from a home in France, and old-world details like an arched Dutch door make the room seem transported from another time.

antique bonnetiere french wardrobe karen rapp interiors

Carefully carved, dark-stained oak shelves sit on stone corbels next to a plaster hood. And in a corner stands an antique bonnetiere (an 18th-century French wardrobe)—a monument worthy of the desert mountain visible through the kitchen windows.

“That piece is truly beautiful,” says Rapp, who also worked with Meek on the clients’ previous home. “When they bought it, it was in total disrepair, but a master craftsman we like to work with restored it and refinished it.”

The space doesn’t sacrifice function for beauty, however. That bonnetiere holds glassware and dishes, and the range, sink, and refrigerator form a perfect work triangle.


Then there’s the kitchen’s substantial centerpiece: an island the homeowners brought with them from their previous home and had trimmed down to fit the smaller space.

“It has a 2½-inch-thick butcher block countertop,” Meek says. “Like everything in there, it’s meant to be used every day.”The kitchen was put to the test early on when the homeowners threw a party for everyone involved in the home’s construction.

“You could tell they were happy with how it turned out,” Meek
says. “It’s just what they wanted—it feels like home.”


View the original article as featured in the Spring 2019 issue of Beautiful Kitchens and Baths by Meredith Publishing.

WRITER Chris Hayhurst
PHOTOS Laura Moss
FIELD EDITOR Jessica Brinkert Holtam

farmhouse sink curtain skirt


sink faucet

floor plan

open shelving french countryside kitchen

Mixing it Up for an Eclectic Feel

Phoenix Home and Garden Feb 2019 cover

Phoenix Home and Garden Magazine, February 2019

Combining design styles can create an eclectic and elegant look in your home.

By Ben Ikenson

A good rule of thumb in interior design is to choose a favorite style that guides you in making consistent, cohesive choices of individual decorating elements.

If you’re drawn to two disparate styles, such as traditional and contemporary or Southwest and midcentury, however, this approach simply doesn’t apply. But don’t despair—with the help of professional interior designers, you can enlist well-honed strategies to create the perfect mix-and-match look.

“You have to be careful not to end up with a mishmash, and there is a fine line between eclectic and hodgepodge,” explains interior designer and Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award winner Susan Hersker.

“Eclectic is a successful blending of designs, lines, materials and other considerations with a great deal of thought given to the process.” The designer’s rooms frequently include furnishings from different continents, periods and cultures, but commonalities in texture, color and form provide the necessary visual synergies.

Introducing a single, unique item to an existing interior can also take a special touch. Hersker relays an anecdote about a client whose home and furnishings were contemporary.

When the woman inherited a precious heirloom cabinet from her mother—a traditional-style item that was out of sync aesthetically with her sleek interiors—Hersker embraced the piece’s ornateness. Instead of banishing the casegood to a back hallway, she created a custom space for it in the homeowner’s office.

Now set between modern-style built-in cabinets, “it looks like it belongs exactly where it is, as if it was meant to be there all along.”


Dining Room by Karen Rapp Interiors - Phoenix Arizona
A contemporary Moroccan tribal rug anchors this dining room by interior designer Karen Rapp. The serene space seamlessly integrates a traditional table with contemporary chairs, a 400-year-old oil painting above the fireplace and an antique French side table.

Interior designer Karen Rapp, also a Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award winner, shares her primary trade secret for orchestrating cohesion while combining contrasting styles: Focus on scale, proportion and style sensibilities.

For example, she pairs a No. 14 bistro chair designed by Michael Thonet in 1857 with an Eero Saarinen Tulip table created by its namesake Finnish designer in 1957. “The scale and proportions of the chair and the table are the same, so that’s complementary.

Both pieces have curved design elements, and while they’re from different centuries, they have a similar timeless grace and elegance,” says Rapp.

Interior designers often deliberately choose seemingly discordant elements to enhance the personality of a space.

“Mixing styles can add charm as well as change the entire look of a room,” says interior designer Michelle Pierce. To create a hierarchy of styles and keep the ensemble balanced, she follows a 75/25 rule.

She notes, “If 75 percent of your existing furnishings and accessories are one style, say, traditional, you can add in 25 percent of another, such as midcentury, and your space will have a creative vibe but still be cohesive.”

Karen Rapp Interiors eclectic living room
To enhance the large scale of this sitting room dressed with mostly traditional furnishings, Rapp incorporated large pieces of contemporary artwork from the homeowner’s collection. The size of the painting above the sofa table is proportionate to the size of the antique Chinese foo dog collection.