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Mediterranean-Influenced Home in Arizona
By transcribing details and importing elements from the Mediterranean, an Arizona couple creates a veritable villa experience for their family and guests.
Turning into the winding drive of this Paradise Valley, Arizona, home is a transporting experience. Car wheels crunch over pea gravel, and flanking ash trees usher guests into an auto court dotted with flickering gas lamps. Iron gates allow glimpses of pocket-size courtyards tucked behind bougainvillea-covered stucco walls. By the time guests step up to Kim and Taber Anderson’s handsomely carved mesquite front doors, the feeling of arriving at a Mediterranean villa is unmistakable.
This effect is the result of careful research and planning by Kim, an interior designer, and Taber, a residential real estate developer, who purchased the 1960s-era home 14 years ago. Since touring from Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy, to Nice, France, on their honeymoon, the couple have returned to the Mediterranean region many times, cataloging structures throughout. They’ve woven timeworn architectural features and finishes inspired by homes in Tuscany, the South of France, and Spain’s Andalusia region into the fabric of their home. “I have rolls of pictures of architectural details and design elements,” Kim says.
Visitors to the Anderson’s home park in the welcoming auto court, which is lined with pavers and brightened with colorful seating and luscious flowering bougainvillea.
Photography: Ed Gohlich
Produced by Jessica Brinkert Holtam
Architect: Don Ziebell, Oz Architects, Inc., 7401 E. Redfield Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85260; 480/443-4904; ozarchitects.com.
Interior designer: Kim Anderson, Vallone Design, 7007 E. 3rd Ave., Scottsdale, AZ 85251; 480/421-2799; vallonedesign.com.
Landscape design: Greey/Pickett, 7051 E. 5th Ave., Suite 200, Phoenix, AZ 85251; 480/609-0009; greeypickett.com.
The house started out as a one-story redbrick structure with a flat roof, but the Andersons’ plan for a small remodel quickly mushroomed. “The roof leaked, so we put on the pitched tile roof, which fought with the brick, so we ended up covering it with stucco,” Kim says. That’s not to say the process was accidental. From the moment the couple toured the home and landscaped property, they imagined what it could become. “It looked so European to us,” Kim says. “The way the house rambled, the ability to add courtyards, we could see that it could have that Italian hillside villa feel so easily.”
Though this iron gate came from Tucson, it has the old-world European qualities Kim and Taber wanted for their remodeled home.
The Genoese-style tile roof, which painstakingly mimics those laid by roofers from Genoa, Italy, on homes in the South of France, imparts an instant old-world charm, as does the formed-plaster fireplace in the outdoor living room, which is modeled after one the couple saw on a trip to Italy. Imported raw materials, such as the reclaimed French pavers lining the loggias and courtyards, also add authenticity.
Antique clay olive oil jars from Italy are stately sentries at the main entrance, which is demarked by mesquite doors carved by local Arizona artisans.
For the interiors, Kim and Taber sleuthed items from antiques stores. “I like to mix some truly old pieces in with everything else,” Kim says. “It gives you a depth of character you don’t get when everything is brand-new.” The living room exemplifies Kim’s blending process: She combined transitional-style armchairs with reproduction Directoire-style stools and crowned a new limestone mantel with an antique French mirror found in New Orleans.
French doors throughout the house let in loads of natural light, which Kim emphasized with a sparkly mirror, cream-color silk curtains and velvet upholstery, and a pale patterned rug.
Elsewhere, new items, such as the Calacatta marble kitchen countertops, were chosen for their ability to take on a timeworn look. “I cook a lot, and they are etched and nicked, so they feel used and loved,” Kim says of the countertops.
When Kim and Taber bought the house in 2000, the human scale of the rooms appealed to them. “The ceilings are high enough to be graceful but not too high,” Kim says. To draw attention to the proportions, she hung silk draperies midway between the rough-sawn ceiling beams and the window headers, and let them puddle on the floor.
Throughout the house, wide-plank white oak floors in a soft gray stain have a feeling of age. Kim wanted the same patina for all the home’s surfaces, including the antiqued kitchen cabinets and Calacatta marble countertops. “The more worn they get the better,” she says.
Armchairs covered in distressed leather pull up to a pedestal table in the breakfast area. French doors and tall casement windows in sets of three ease the indoor-outdoor connection. Kim and Taber replaced all of them when they moved in. “The real divided lights lend a more authentic look,” she says.
Elegant Dining Room
From inside out, the home radiates a personal, collected appeal. “Our house is elegant but simple,” Kim says. “It’s really casual, which suits the Southwestern lifestyle.”
A glossy pedestal table crowned by a crystal-and-iron chandelier dresses up the formal dining room, which is a new addition. A small fireplace at table height is a common sight in the eating areas of Tuscan homes. The iron gate, which leads to a wine cellar, is based on a photo Kim snapped on vacation.
A hallway featuring some of the Anderson’s modern art collection leads to the master bedroom. “I like eclectic art that doesn’t match the interiors,” Kim says. “It’s more whimsical and unexpected.”
A plaster coating that is colored with powder pigment gives the walls a mottled, aged effect. Where there are corners, such as around the window seat in the master bedroom, the hand-troweled finish makes soft edges.
Towering cypress trees ringing the property underscore the Mediterranean feel of Kim and Taber Anderson’s Arizona home. A clay tile roof in the Génoise style, a stucco façade, and wood shutters hanging on iron hinges are also bona fide architectural details.
An outdoor living room, which was built 13 years ago, features dark-stained wood beams and plaster walls. Weather-ready fabric on the chair cushions and curtains feature a blue hue reminiscent of shallow waters in the Mediterranean Sea.
The open plaza connecting the outdoor living room and the main house has had several incarnations, but smooth, cropped grass is best for 12-year-old twins Nate and Lucie and their friends. “We used to have a formal garden with gravel paths, but that didn’t work. The kids wanted to run around and play ball, so we made it a lawn,” Kim says.
In the alfresco dining area, elements of different eras and cultures are unified by their rustic feel. New wicker armchairs surround an antique pine table. Olive jars are reproductions of vintage ones from Italy. The fireplace mixes old Chicago bricks with a reclaimed wood mantel from France, and the slender doors next to it are from Mexico.
In a corner of a courtyard near the garage, an iron sconce, a slender door of aged wood, and a small arched window (“like you’d see in Italy or Spain,” Kim says) conjures an old-world feel.
A white iron bistro sits in the dappled shade of two pepper trees that have been on the property since the 1960s, when the main part of the house was built. Kim and Taber added rock walls and drought-tolerant plantings to define the property.