Modern Masterpiece 7

Mid-Century Meets Modern Design in One of Phoenix’s Most Unique Homes

When Julia Buckingham, principal and founder of Buckingham Interiors and Design, first stepped foot inside her Phoenix home, she instantly knew it was the right place for her.

It had a “total mid-century vibe, which was exactly what we were looking for in a home in Phoenix,” says Buckingham.

She and her husband initially put in an offer on a place in Paradise Valley that fell through. But one week later, their realtor called to tell them she had “found the house of your dreams.” And it really was.

Even though it was love at first sight, like any designer, Buckingham immediately started planning how she would change the home to suit her individual tastes.

Although the framework of the house—it was originally designed by notable local architect Mel Ensign—remained the same, much of the interior was revamped. So much so, that the home was featured in the Modern Phoenix Home Tour, which was held on April 10.

“The renovation consisted of making the house much lighter and brighter,” says Buckingham.

One notable change was the first floor living room. A wall was taken down and a powder room was removed to create one big open space that showcases the sweeping views of downtown Phoenix and desert landscape. Walls and ceilings were painted white to draw attention to nature.

The upstairs master bathroom was also completely redesigned. A bathtub was taken out to make way for a spacious walk-in shower, and a brass all-glass apothecary cabinet featuring colorful glass vases was placed across from the vanity. A white kidney-shaped foot stool occupies one tiny alcove in front of the shower. Buckingham says she and her husband fell in love with the piece, and miraculously, it fit into the tiny space without her measuring it.

Buckingham’s home manages to feel both modern and vintage, with just a splash of whimsy. And that’s by design. The orange and yellow-colored console in her living room wouldn’t feel out of place on the set of Mad Men. A table with a glass top and an impressive base hand-crafted out of an actual ship’s anchor gives the room a whimsical touch, as does a surprisingly comfortable orange chair shaped like a hand. Orange is one of her colors of choice.

“It was a fantastic complement to this petrified wood and stone throughout the house. It made everything pronounced; the stone and the texture of the stone. Every time I introduced an orange piece, I thought, I don’t want to be too orangey, but this makes so much sense,” says Buckingham.

At one time, she worked as an antique dealer and says she always likes to feature pieces from different eras in each room that she creates. She wants her pieces to be fodder for “cocktail conversations.”

“It’s become the whole moniker of my design style. Mixing antiques and modern together. I actually trademarked the word, which is’ modernique.’”

Another part of her past also seeps into her current designs. She helped open the Neiman Marcus on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, and now displays artwork from a homeless woman who lived outside the store, Lee Godie. A Godie creation featuring numerous yellow birds hangs in the downstairs bedroom.

“I’m attracted to this naïve art that is not polished. That is not pedigreed, but it’s really artists saying and showing their emotions, inspirations and their dreams through rough, raw drawings. That’s why I’m so attracted to her work,” says Buckingham.

Her fashion background is also evident in her designs. Blue and gray Hermes wallpaper made to resemble a full book shelf adorns the wall behind the vanity in the master bathroom. The intermingling of fashion and design is no coincidence either.

“The things that I like to do in terms of the entire interior design interpretation are all about the meddling of fashion and interiors. Even if it’s detail on a sofa. Fringe on a rug. A metallic finish on a chandelier I’ve designed. It’s all about something feeling not necessarily so industrial. Feeling softened by the fact that what we wear and where we like to live are completely conjoined.” A seamless design for a flawless home.