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How One Designer Warmed Up with Amazing Arizona Style

Surrounded by majestic vistas, this extraordinary residence is a serene sanctuary in the middle of the Arizona desert.

Raising Arizona - Exterior

“My inspiration was really just to have a place that my family could come and we’d have peace and quiet and beautiful weather,” says homeowner and interior designer Stephanie Wohlner. “Just a private little retreat, and it really ended up that way.”

Chicago-based interior designer Stephanie Wohlner has always had a soft spot for The Copper State, starting with childhood family trips followed by her college years. Once she and her husband began to think about escaping the frigid Chicago winters, they knew exactly where to go.

“Arizona is the perfect place for us to end up,” she says. “I grew up going there and my husband’s a biker, and he can just bike forever on those roads and in the mountains.”

After two decades in the design industry, Wohlner’s mind was brimming—“chaotic” was the word she used—with ideas and visions of color palettes, patterns and fabrics galore, even carrying around a picture she found in France years ago of her dream terrace ceiling.

No detail was spared from Wohlner’s ‘chaotic’ mind, but the residence would never reveal the development phase’s intensity, only radiating tranquility amidst cotton candy sunset skies.

“I’ve been designing homes for so long, all of these ideas were collected in my brain,” she says. “I wanted it to feel collected, to feel like even though it’s beautiful, you can walk in and sit anywhere, put your feet up, just hang out. I wanted that warm, hangout feeling in this house.”

Walking into the home, you’re immediately struck by shades of deep turquoise—a theme repeated throughout the home, from the pool to the master bedroom chaises to the terrace kitchen backsplash—that offers a sense of repetition, which Wohlner says provides connection and a reassuring sensibility.

“I like to repeat things like color,” she says. “Your brain may not register that you’re seeing them over and over again, but yet that’s another element that I think makes you comfortable in a home. You don’t know it, but it settles you.”

An avid hiker, Wohlner only realized at the residence’s completion that the grand living area reflected the nature around the home, saying that “all of the colors are from my hikes and desert walks,” but that it wasn’t her design intention. “It just sort of came out in my work, I never knew it was going to affect me in that way, but after I did it that, I thought, this is exactly what I just saw on my hike!”

But it wasn’t the only surprising epiphany that emerged from the design process. “In my work, I typically like to do a lot of patterns and mixing,” she explains. “But I discovered through this whole process that this is who I really am: layer upon layer, pattern upon pattern.” And nowhere is that more pronounced than the seating area, along with another repeated style theme, large-framed French doors. “We did as many windows and French doors as we possibly could,” she laughs. “And when I look back now, I probably would have done more.”

In the powder room, Wohlner honors her late mother’s unmatched sense of style—“she had the best taste of anybody”—by incorporating her horn-hide hybrid chair, which she purchased in Arizona, against the shimmering shade of blue wallpaper.

“I have pieces of my mother all over this house,” she says. “I always loved that chair and my mother always loved Arizona, so it fit perfectly here, and every time I go into the powder room, I think of her.”

Raising Arizona - Living room

Left: Deep turquoise hues are layered throughout the entire house, as are statement decor pieces from Wohlner’s late mother, including this stunning horn-hide chair.
Center: The great room is a study in contrasts, from the richly textured and velvet soft Mokum fabric from HOLLY HUNT that graces a set of sofas, to the swirl-patterned chairs wrapped in Donghia fabric from Kravet, to the zig-zag drapery motif to “mimic the mountains outside” from Holland & Sherry. A textural, neutral rug from Stark Carpet anchors the room. Over the fireplace, a carved wood piece by Formations through HOLLY HUNT adds graphic interest.
Right: Behind the great room area is another smaller seating nook. A large light fixture from a Parisian flea market hangs overhead while grounding elements, including the lacquered Liaigre coffee table from David Sutherland and console underneath the television by HOLLY HUNT complete the floor to ceiling vision. Sofas by A. Rudin.

The kitchen is home to the design pièce de résistance, and the foundation for every subsequent style choice: the intricate tile by Exquisite Surfaces.

Raising Arizona - Dining

Left: Moody, grey-blue dining chairs from HOLLY HUNT encircle a kitchen table by The Bright Group, all perched below a gorgeous, all-white chandelier by Iatesta Studio, through John Rosselli & Associates.
Right: Wohlner’s beloved kitchen tile served as the kitchen’s key foundational piece. Counter stools by McGuire Furniture, through Baker Furniture, surround the rectangular kitchen island and above, a pair of pendants are swathed in creamy- grey cattle hides by Edelman Leather. Appliances by Sub-Zero and Wolf provide the utmost in functionality, making this kitchen perfect for entertaining.

“I started with the kitchen floor, I loved the really intense pattern,” she says. “Then I kind of pulled everything together off of that, and the curtain pattern actually mimic the mountains outside.”

Raising Arizona - Living

Left: In the casita, geometric backsplash tile from Exquisite Surfaces draws the eye. The kitchen is equipped with a Wolf range and Miele dishwasher. A rug by Stark Carpet and stools by CAI Designs add texture, and the cozy chairs and sofa are covered in ZAK+FOX fabric, through HOLLY HUNT.
Right: More soothing blue tones are found in the master bedroom, just steps away from Wohlner’s rose garden outside the French doors. A large wooden bed, along with the bench at the foot, are by HOLLY HUNT and the chaise overlooking the desert expanse is wrapped in a creamy fabric by David Sutherland.

“I carried it around with me throughout this whole project trying to figure out a way to do it,” she said, adding that it was her husband’s engineering background that ultimately enabled her to bring her creativity to life. “He’s the one who really pulled the house together structurally for me,” she says. “He helped make all my ideas work.”

Raising Arizona - Pool

No desert oasis is complete without a beautiful pool. Loungers, covered in Sunbrella fabric, sit underneath umbrellas by Tuuci.

But nothing compares to the surrounding natural beauty that shines through every French door and oversized window, luring guests to the terrace area, set with antique French pavers, and topped with a recreation of Wohlner’s long-cherished photo of what she calls “a roof within a roof.”

Raing Arizona - Terrace

Left: On the terrace, an ottoman and chairs by JANUS et Cie, covered in Mokum Fabric from HOLLY HUNT, provide a perfect place for a nap or a cocktail. Large textured planters throughout the entire outdoor living area are by DEDON. The outdoor kitchen, with its striking turquoise tile backsplash by Exquisite Surfaces, is kitted out in Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances.
Right: Wohlner says, ”My husband and I disagreed about this dining table a lot because he kept saying, who has a dining room outside? I said, ‘we’re lucky enough to be in this climate, we’re sitting outside.’”