With its 20-foot vaulted ceiling, clerestory windows, and arched doorways and fireplace niche, Christopher’s living room belies the fact that it exists in a condominium. Architectural elegance notwithstanding, Christopher made the space his own with a timeless tea stain on the previously all-white walls, warm hardwood flooring that replaces the original 1970s-vintage white marble tiles, and a heavily carved marble mantel that he substituted for the unadorned modern original. Then he filled the room with his collection of antique portraits, bought for their look more than price or provenance: “Some of my favorite pieces are the ones I’ve made the least money for,” he says. The portrait above the fireplace, for example, cost $50 at a Tulsa estate sale. “They said it was grandpa,” Christopher laughs. “He’s all bunged up but I love him that way.” Dressmaker details on the casual ticking-covered sofa, along with its much more elegant Fortuny-covered pillows, soften the space and keep it current.
One of the perks of being in Christopher’s business is the give-and-take of client relationships. Hanging above a country-French chest Christopher snagged for $300 on an antiquing foray with Tulsa designer and friend Charles Faudree (whose projects and own homes frequently appear in Traditional Home), the late-17th-century trumeau in his living room was a gift from a client who “went modern.”
One of Christopher’s previous jobs was working as the liaison between Louis Vuitton and a major retailer. In that capacity, he came across a piece of vintage Vuitton luggage that not only had been owned by JFK, but bore the president’s monogram. “It was beyond repair,” Christopher recalls, “which was how I was able to obtain it.” The piece de resistance of his now-large collection of Vuitton, the JFK suitcase serves as the family room’s coffee table, raised on a iron base Christopher designed for it. An antelope-print carpet, rich leather on the French wing chair and ottoman, and chocolate-hued paint on the walls imbue the family room with the desired degree of warmth.
The only room in the condominium in which Christopher opted to retain the original white marble floor tiles was the kitchen, where, he reasoned, they contributed to his vision of chic French style. Getting that look required a complete transformation with all new cabinetry, countertops and appliances. At the far end of the kitchen, a wide archway opens onto the condominium’s most interesting architectural feature, a round library.
Its distinctive round shape makes the library one of Christopher’s favorite retreats.
Before he purchased the condo, the library was dysfunctional, devoid of any shelves for books. Simply by fitting an architectural sculpture niche with shelves he remedied the problem.
Jutting past the condo's arched loggia entry at its side, the round library gives the condominium a singular exterior appearance.
A Welsh dresser filled with Old Paris porcelain (any porcelain created by a number of French potters during the Regency period) graces a dining room wall. Christopher’s preferred variety of Old Paris is the simple gold-rimmed pattern favored by Marie Antoinette.
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Interior designer Christopher Coffin is a master at blending new and old
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Scottsdale interior designer Christopher Coffin turned to design in a career move prompted by the 9/11 tragedy. A corporate executive who spent nearly as much time abroad and in New York as at home in Arizona, Christopher was encouraged to make the leap by Anne Gale, a since-retired Scottsdale design maven who convinced him to join her firm. A long-time antiques collector and a master at blending new and old, Christopher, now head of his own design business, taps his background in textiles (he holds a bachelor’s degree in apparel and textile marketing) in his multi-layered designs, as exemplified in his own home.
Interior Design: Christopher Coffin, Christopher K. Coffin Design, 7500 E. McCormick Pkwy., Scottsdale, AZ 85258; 480/945-4080, christophercoffindesign.com.
Photography: Michal Venera
Produced by Barbara Mundall