An Earthy-Glam Remodel in Arizona Worth Drooling Over
From a hand-painted mural to vintage gallery walls, this home is full of thoughtful ideas while staying true to its desert roots
When Sacramento-based design duo, Christina Valencia and Kele Dobrinski of Colossus, found this Scottsdale home in need of major TLC, they were excited not only for the desert-inspired space they would create, but also its proximity to the baseball stadium. “Kele has been going to Scottsdale for Spring Training with his family since he could walk, and now that we have three young boys, he is more determined than ever to turn them all into lifelong San Francisco Giants fans via annual pilgrimages,” says Valencia.
The project was a full family experience—it was created for the couple and their boys, and Kele’s parents came on to help. “Kele’s dad is a contractor and his parents have long wanted to remodel a home in the desert, so it was a fun family collaboration,” says Valencia. “His parents handled the building and we focused on concept development and design.”
Desert glam comes to life in the Scottsdale home, but it didn’t always look that way. “In its original state, the home had no soul. Everything was beige and brown and blah all over,” says Christina. Their big focus was bringing plenty of color and texture into the home and celebrating the architectural design features that were already there, like the slanted wood ceilings and textured stucco walls.
When the family isn’t visiting Scottsdale, they rent out the home on Airbnb, and as such, they’ve leaned into an escapist aesthetic. “We had a hunch that styling it with hints of ’70s rock ‘n’ roll glam was exactly what would help give this place an instant-vacation feel,” says Valencia. They brought in vintage decor and deep gold accents, along with textured pieces and dark feathers for a bold, eclectic look. “One of our favorite places in the world to vacation is the Parker Hotel in Palm Springs, so we drew inspiration from there in order to create our own interpretation in the Arizona desert.”
For the most part, the duo remotely renovated the property from their home in Sacramento. “When renovating from afar, you have to have immense trust in your construction crew on the ground to ensure that they’re not cutting corners or taking advantage of the distance between you and them,” says Valencia. The family team came in handy once again when Kele’s parents ended up staying in Scottsdale for the final few months to finish the construction portion themselves as seasoned experts. “Now we have a finished home that not only looks good but will stand up over time,” says Christina.
Walking inside the front door leads straight into the living room, where Valencia and Dobrinski combined vintage pieces, bold color, and pops of glam for a lounge-like space.
The fireplace and mantel are major eye-catchers. The couple designed it to be a focal point with graphic black and white Cle tile, and a painted desert landscape over the added mantel. “We couldn’t afford fancy art within our renovation budget, so Kele sketched a desert scene and then we painted it,” says Valencia. The landscape adds a pop of color to the room—and it secretly hides the TV, too.
Out of all the rooms in the three-bedroom house, the kitchen needed the most work. “It was small, dark, and dingy with little light, so we tore it all out, opened it up, and started over,” says Valencia. “We added a big peninsula with a soapstone-esque quartz countertop, applied earthen Cle tile to the hood to bring in some natural desert hues, and added open wood upper shelving for a more organic element with a hickory veneer backdrop.”
To complement the rest of the kitchen, the couple added open wood shelving for storage while keeping the redesigned room airy and bright. “We love how [the wood veneer] brings in another textural element, and we applied the same veneer to the face of the peninsula to help tie the space together,” says Valencia.
Another challenge was the dining room. The space was small, and they didn’t want a table so large that it would overwhelm the room. Luckily, Craigslist came to the rescue. “We found a round marble table that fit the space perfectly, and then balanced its vintage vibe with a modern chandelier overhead,” says Valencia.
One of Valencia’s favorite features in the entire home is the desert-inspired gallery wall in the dining room. “We love vintage shopping for our projects and the Phoenix area has some of the best in the country, so it was the ultimate treasure hunt!” she says. “One day, Kele stumbled across two stitched fabric floral pieces that we knew would be perfect in that space, then we built the rest of the wall around them. Now every time I sit at that table I’m reminded of all the local places Kele and I visited to find one-of-a-kind pieces of art and all the fun we had throughout the process.”
In the kids’ room, space for the bunk beds was borrowed from another room. “We built bunks into the space we took back from the wonky hallway closet,” says Valencia. “We found an old bunk set and cut it down to size so that it could perfectly fit the space.”
The double bed guest room, though, is a showstopper, thanks to the desert-toned mural. “Kele and I painted the sunset mural on a total whim after a long day of moving furniture,” says Valencia. “Over takeout Thai, we quickly sketched out what the sunset over nearby Camelback might look like, then headed to Home Depot to grab paint and stayed up late into the night with paintbrushes and wine.”
In the center of the room is an amber glass hanging lamp that the couple scored at the Sacramento Antique Faire. “We love how it centers the room and is a weighty juxtaposition between the lighter, bamboo bed frames,” she says.
In the master bedroom, light spills in through the French doors that connect to the backyard. The view of the pool is reflected in the room’s color story, with blue accents from the wall art to the rug.
In the master bath, instead of one massive mirror, three mirrors with gold trim—two slim matching ones over each sink, and one large round one in the middle—put a vintage-glam twist on the standard bathroom vanity.
The yard has multiple areas for enjoying Arizona’s warm temperatures. The couple designed both the above outdoor lounge in the courtyard area and a little backyard dining space for themselves and their guests, along with a pool for cooling off during Scottsdale’s blazing-hot summers.