Photographs by Colleen Duffley
Written by Lisa Cregan
Produced by Barbara Mundall
These are some of the things designer Berkley Vallone loves: cake plates, mirrors, French soap labels, the color pink, Coco Chanel, antique teacups, Fornasetti plates, and, well, you get the picture. Berkley is one exuberant young woman. The daughter of a designer, Berkley turned designer herself and says the most important thing she tells clients is to “find things you love, and we’ll make them work.”
“Love” is the operative word for what’s inside Berkley’s own two-bedroom cottage. She’s passionate about everything here—including husband Ken and their son, Cash. Purchased as a bachelorette pad when she came home to Scottsdale from New York a decade ago to form Vallone Design with her mother, Donna Vallone, the house was renovated before she even met Ken. “And now we’re exploding out of my bachelorette pad!” she laughs.
Built in 1985 on the lush grounds of a vaguely Moroccan 1920s resort hotel, the house had a somewhat choppy floor plan. With typical enthusiasm, Berkley couldn’t resist moving every wall, pipe, and wire—right down to repositioning the front door.
Visitors arriving at that new glass-and-steel front door are greeted by a visual allée guiding the eye straight through to a beautiful backyard garden filled with whimsical chaises, striped awnings, and grass-green pillows. But the real color riot is inside.
“When I design for other people, I don’t always use this much color. But for me? I love to be surrounded by color,” says Berkley. “I think that comes from my mom, who’s a master. I grew up in a house with lots of vibrant fabrics; it obviously made an impression!” Snappy throw pillows top every seat in this house—“I’m constantly moving them around and changing them,” she says—and artwork seems to cover every available vertical surface.
The art collection began when Berkley started buying her classmates’ work while studying at New York’s School for the Visual Arts, but the living room’s focal point isn’t some starving student’s masterpiece. It’s dominated by an oversized climate zone map that hangs above the sofa. “It’s a vintage school map,” Berkley explains. “I love the big scale. It’s the perfect size and it’s got blue, orange, pink—all the colors of the living room. It was more about colors than subject matter.”
But mastering color entails knowing where to hold back, too. Once she’d finished her architectural tweaking, Berkley gave the walls of the main living space a coat of bright white, then installed contrasting ebony-stained wood floors. “I imposed the same rules here that I do with clients,” she says. “You start with classic bones, classic furniture, and white walls, then you add color with accessories and art. I like to bring in the things that speak to me.”
On a 30th birthday trip to Paris, Berkley happened on a flea market jumble of oversized letters from the side of an old German bank building. Back home, she tried arranging them in something comprehensible for her living room wall. When Ken visited for the first time, he found the message she’d settled on quite compelling—“KISS ME.”
Berkley has a thing for numbers and letters. There’s the red “77” (her birth year) hung high on a wall and the gorgeous Louis Vuitton trunk/cocktail table she couldn’t resist because it was embossed with a “B.” Little Cash looks up from his changing table at an alphabet needlepoint by artist Paul Smith.
Ken playfully inquires whether their home might someday be a little less girly, but it’s hard to see Berkley giving up the vintage Barbie prints over her tub or the big pink ottoman anchoring the dressing room anytime soon. Judging by her gilt-edged powder room, fabulous small spaces may be her forte. She admits she likes to “go a little crazy” in powder rooms, and the high-wattage gold chinoiserie scene on the walls in hers might be the room’s most subdued element. Berkley even gold-leafed the baseboards and ceiling in fond genuflection to Bemelmans Bar in Manhattan’s famed Carlyle hotel. “I’ve always loved that bar; it’s so sparkly and decadent.”
Even though she, Ken, and Cash are starting to burst out of her once single-girl space, she doesn’t think she’s prepared to let go. “I love coming home here. I’m not ready to leave, not just yet.”
Interior designer: Berkley Vallone, Vallone Design, 7007 E. Third Ave., Scottsdale, AZ 85251; 480/421-2799, www.vallonedesign.com.
Builder (remodel): Nance Construction, 480/663-7894, www.nanceconstruction.com.
Landscape design: Berghoff Design Group, 480/481-3433, www.berghoffdesign.com.
Flowers: Flora Bella, 480/483-8181, www.florabellaaz.com.
Light fixture (discontinued): Design Source, 336/841-1650.