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By Nora Burba Trulsson | Photo: High Res Media | October 17, 2016
Scottsdale interior designer Beth McGehee creates a model interior for a five-level urban townhouse.
“I’m from Texas,” explains interior designer Beth McGehee, “and in Texas, all the houses are one level and spread way out, just like they are here in Arizona.”
So when McGehee was invited to design a model interior for a five-level urban townhouse, it was a challenge—literally. The principal of Scottsdale’s SB Design was one of three interior designers invited by the sponsor, Monson Luxury Group of Scottsdale, to participate in the Chateau on Central Design Challenge. The task at hand? To create three separate model homes for the notable downtown Phoenix development at Central Avenue and Palm Lane, designed to look like traditional New York-style brownstones.
McGehee and her studio team, led by designer Joe Viterbo, did their magic on a 5,000-plus-square-foot end unit, designed by Poetzl Architecture + Design of Phoenix. “We basically had a shell, an empty building,” says McGehee, “and we created a floor plan that would maximize the space.”
To create their two-bedroom scheme, McGehee and her team came up with a model occupant. “We decided our ‘client’ could be a young, single professional or couple—no kids,” explains McGehee, “someone who’s energetic [and] likes to entertain and engage in downtown’s urban lifestyle.”
The resulting design theme was modern-meets-vintage, with a black-and-white color scheme brightened by pops of acid green and pink, along with a few tongue-in-cheek, whimsical touches.
In plan, McGehee put most of the daily living spaces on levels three and four to minimize the stair climbing (and, yes, there is a very elegant elevator connecting all five levels). At street level, the design team created a foyer that also doubles as a home office, with built-in bookcases and a dramatic black-and-white chevron-patterned wood floor. A lower level, with its own entrance, was transformed into a luxe guest suite, complete with a vintage-style bathroom. Up the stairs from the foyer, the McGehee team created a great room, with a dining area, living room and kitchen anchored by a generously sized island. The fourth level? A spacious, calm master suite, with a walk-in shower positioned in the building’s turret-style bump-out. And on the top, fifth level, the design team took advantage of the rooftop terrace to make an indoor-outdoor entertaining room, complete with a bar and a glass wine closet.
Throughout the floors, comfort and style were paramount. In the living area, a deep, pale silver custom sofa invites lounging in front of the metal-wrapped fireplace. With the touch of a button, a TV slides down the fireplace hood to mantel level, then disappears when not in use. Lucite bar stools encircle the kitchen island. In the master suite, furnishings have a glam quality, from the four-poster bed and the tufted ottoman to the sinuous custom chaises in the sitting area.
McGehee and the design team also had some fun with the interiors, choosing cartoon-like bunny-patterned wallpaper for the entry-level powder room; mounting a “flock” of flying pig figures on the living room wall; and lining the hallway between the master bedroom and bath with wall-mounted, moss-filled ceramic eggs. In the kitchen, the pantry’s glass door is labeled “Stash,” and the refrigerator panels were inset with a chalkboard surface to encourage grocery lists, notes and doodles.
Completed earlier this year, the models were open to guests during a reveal party, when those in attendance voted McGehee’s model to have the best kitchen and master suite.
“Our goal was to energize the spaces,” says McGehee, summarizing the project, “and we were mindful of how to live comfortably in those rooms.”
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