Romance, drama, intrigue – the hallmarks of Gothic literature also make for captivating modern design. But just because your aesthetic is more Frankenstein than faux-Tuscan doesn’t mean you have to live in a vampire castle. Channel the mystique of Gothic design, and leave the gargoyles to The Munsters.
“People are naturally attracted to the sound of water. It has a calming, cooling aspect to it. It’s very healing. We want to be around water, we want to hear water.”
Ralph Biezad would know. The former Marine Corps machine gunner now owns Pondscapes AZ, a full-service landscape installation company that specializes in water features. His favorite features are pondless waterfalls, which have no standing water but instead recycle the same water when they’re turned on; when they’re off, the water goes into an underground basin. “You enjoy all the aspects of having water and you’re not wasting water,” Biezad says.
Arizona’s painterly sunrises and sunsets are legendary, but the ceaseless sun can pose a problem for desert dwellers. To maximize protection from ultraviolet rays in your home and yard, design pros recommend you get shady.
“Arizona is a critical place to address your windows,” says Athena Hatch, co-owner with husband John of Athena’s Window Fashions in Mesa. Hatch says shade options, like the custom drapery she designs and manufactures and the Hunter Douglas shades she sells, can reduce 80 percent of solar heat gain through windows in summer. The result is eco- and wallet-friendly during Arizona’s apocalyptic-power-bill season. “It’s not just comfort – it’s a lot more,” Hatch says.
Nothing detracts from the design of a room quite like a tangled mass of wires suspended in the air like a digital spider. Banish these bundles of decorative blight by going wireless – or, at least, by creatively concealing them.
As with B-movie memorabilia collectors and ‘50s fashion fiends, modern tiki enthusiasts must have an appreciation for kitsch. But just because you draw design cues from Hula’s Modern Tiki bar or reruns of Gilligan’s Island doesn’t mean you have to descend into tackiness – look to the latter’s well-heeled Howells, not its titular bucket-hatted boob, for inspiration.
Embracing tiki mainstays – torches, statues, waterfalls and tropical prints – but doing them in an elevated way prevents your outdoor oasis from turning into a garish display. Woven natural fibers take tiki torches up a notch, providing “extra lighting and ambiance,” says Julie Buchkowski, owner of Paul’s Ace Hardware. “The added benefit is they’re keeping away bugs” with their citronella flames.
When the room’s filled with tile and pizzelles in a pile, that’s amore.
Whether you draw more inspiration from the pristine marble sculptures of Michelangelo and the majestic travertine of the Colosseum, or the sleek skyscrapers and zippy Vespas of Milan, Italian design is all about passion and attention to detail. Just forget the “Tuscan” McMansions that have cropped up in the Valley over the last few decades, says Todd Zillweger, co-owner with Tim Harris of Relics Architectural Home & Garden.
“Your sacred space is where you can find yourself over and over again.” So said American mythologist, author and academic Joseph Campbell. Whether you identify as religious, spiritual or somewhere in between, you can carve out your sacred space in the comfort of your home by designing your own altar or meditation place.