Kele Dobrinski and Christina Valencia’s latest project in downtown Scottsdale, Arizona, is sensory overload in the best way possible. “No matter where you’re sitting, your eyes are feasting on something different—a daybed loaded with colorful pillows, textured wall hangings above a vintage wood dresser flanked by oversize lamps, diamond mirrors upon diamond mirrors,” says Valencia. And she’s just talking about the living room.
The husband-and-wife duo behind Colossus Mfg., a design, marketing, and development studio, pulled out all the stops for this three-bedroom, two-bathroom renovation—and for good reason. The sun-drenched house belongs to Dobrinski’s parents, who were looking forward to being in walking distance of the San Francisco Giants’ spring training stadium.
“Kele’s dad, Jim, is also a recently retired general contractor, and as the most unretired retired person I know, his eyes lit up when he found a place that needed a little love,” shares Valencia.
Drawing inspiration from the surrounding landscape and the Dobrinski family’s longtime love of rock-n-roll, the couple turned the funky home into a soulful desert escape. Ahead, Valencia gives us a sneak peek inside the sunny Southwest abode and shares a few smart decorating hacks along the way.
Find Your Lighting
The biggest structural changes made to the house were in the kitchen. In order to accommodate all the grandkids, the pair doubled the size of the space. They also added an archway between the kitchen and living room to create a sense of continuity and take advantage of the sunlight streaming in from the brand-new skylights.
“Getting more light into a home is our number one goal for any project because, through our totally nonscientific reasoning, we believe that being surrounded by natural light just makes people happier,” says Valencia.
Channel Your Favorite Decade with an Earthy Twist
Originally built in the early 1970s, the 2,000-square-foot home lent itself to a groovier aesthetic. “Kele grew up listening to that era of music with his folks, so we thought it would also be a fun nostalgic nod for them,” she shares. “We also learned that Stevie Nicks grew up here, so we channeled what a Fleetwood Mac afterparty might look like in the desert.”
So what does a refined, modern take on a rock-n-roll afterparty look like? It’s vintage art and dream catchers. It’s squash-tinted wall murals, antique bed frames, and odd-shaped mirrors. It’s the instant-vacation vibes you expect in Palm Springs or Joshua Tree.
“We were definitely inspired by the desert and the incredible topography around us, but also wanted to make sure we layered that with a bit of ’70s rock-n-roll glam to mix in something unexpected,” she says.
DIY Your Way to a Tech-Free Home
“TVs are a necessary evil for most people in the design world,” says Valencia. “Every client wants to have one, but the practical spot for it always falls smack dab in the focal point of your room, and you’re left looking at a huge, ugly black box.”
If you’re currently wondering, “What TV?” take a second look at the abstract painting above the mantel. The work of art is really a clever way to hide a common eyesore.
“Kele had the brilliant idea of making a cabinet box to conceal the TV during non-watching hours and to treat the cabinetry like an art canvas,” explains Valencia. The DIY quickly turned into a family collaboration—Kele’s dad built and primed the cabinet, Kele sketched the landscape, and his parents brought it to life. “It was an inexpensive hack that had a big aesthetic payoff,” she continues. “Plus, if you get bored with your art down the road, you can just paint yourself a new one. I highly recommend trying it.”
Shop for Tile with Texture
Along with rich wood tones and woven tapestries, the pair also experimented with texture through tile work. “For the kitchen, we knew we wanted to keep a warm, earthy desert feel so we went with Cle Tile’s Eastern Earthenware line (this color was recently discontinued) to wrap the hood. It has a ton of texture and color variation within it and almost dances as it moves in the light,” says Valencia. The couple paired the pick with a matte gray backsplash—a striking way to juxtapose the wood grain in the open shelving.
The fireplace hearth is wrapped in Jacobsen Cement Tile by Cle Tile. “The fireplace really grounds the entire room, so we knew we needed a graphic, eye-catching tile that was a juxtaposition to the vintage pieces of furniture throughout the room,” she explains. “The bold tile helps give it its own moment and screams, ‘Look at me, sit, and have a cocktail.’”
We’ll happily take her up on that drink anytime.
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