We have the 1990s to thank — or blame — for many things: the Friends TV show; the birth of the Internet; the Clinton Years. It also gave us beige as a décor philosophy — beige carpets, tile, cabinets, walls, and more. It was marketed to us as an easy-breezy California-infused design style and it could be found virtually everywhere. And it still haunts us today.
That was the starting point of a 1990s-era Sun City Vistoso home desperately in need of a modern makeover. Honey-oak kitchen cabinets, an awkward kitchen peninsula, doorways with faux Southwest geometric cut-outs, brass fixtures, awkward built-in niches, and, of course, beige carpet everywhere — even the bathroom. The client knew the home needed a complete re-design and reached out to longtime collaborator Dorado Designs, a full-serve design/build firm on Tucson’s northwest side, to get the job done.
“Dorado Designs has been a partner with this client for years,” Designer Janice Williams explains. “They’ve been a loyal client and we’ve completed several large-scale renovations with them.”
The client envisioned a French Countrystyle home, but this meant some significant alterations to the 1990s-era, faux-Southwest style of the home’s interior. The footprint of the 1,800-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bath home didn’t change, but the interior layout was altered completely.
The project became a bit larger in scope when it was discovered that animals had taken up residence in the home’s ductwork. “We had to take everything down to studs,” the homeowner says. “We started basically from the ground up.”
Williams echoes this. “The project was a complete gut. We changed window sizes and locations and installed new ductwork, electrical and plumbing.” New floors, cabinetry, countertops and finishes also were installed.
The home’s double entry doors were removed, as were two columns framing the formal living room. The Southwest-styled cutouts were deleted. Some windows were replaced with new, but sometimes re-sized windows or French doors were installed. Others were eliminated entirely, including the interior transom windows and the window in the laundry room that faced the street. Faux wooden beams, added in the family and living rooms, created the Old World elegance the client desired.
The narrow doorway between kitchen and dining room was expanded not only to make it more functional, but also to beautifully frame the fireplace, which got a makeover from 1990s black and brass to classic brick with a wooden mantel.
“Honestly, the old doorway was so narrow I don’t know how anyone could have gotten a dining table through it!” Williams notes.
In the kitchen, the awkward peninsula was removed, opening the space up and making it more inviting. All new cabinetry and high-end appliances give the room a sophisticated yet functional flair — a must for the client, who loves to entertain.
One of the biggest transformations took place in the laundry room. What had been a typical laundry room/pass-through to the garage was reimagined as a luxe butler’s pantry with custom cabinetry to hold the homeowner’s extensive collection of dishes and flatware.
The master closet was replumbed and modified to accommodate the washer and dryer.
All of the beige tile and carpet was replaced with honeyed wood
What had been a typical laundry room/pass-through to the garage was reimagined as a luxe butler’s pantry with custom cabinetry to hold the homeowner’s extensive collection of dishes and flatware.
floors, complementing the wood accents that were added throughout the home, creating a harmonious continuity.
The bathrooms were completely re-envisioned as well. Williams and the client sourced antique furniture pieces and had them retrofitted as vanities. A free-standing bathtub and chandeliers became perfect high-end touches.
Recessed lights, as well as 15 chandeliers, also were installed throughout the home. “When I told the electrician, he just stared at me for a while,” the homeowner says with a laugh.
The front of the home got some attention as well. Not only was the double-door entryway replaced with a gorgeous, single custom door salvaged from the homeowner’s former house, Dorado Designs constructed a walled and gated courtyard. One of the home’s front windows was then transformed into French doors that open to the refurbished courtyard.
From start to finish, the project took about eight months. It occurred at the beginning of the pandemic, so Williams says they didn’t suffer from the supply chain issues that would come to dominate the marketplace in later months.
“My favorite part is probably the fireplace,” the homeowner adds. “The whole house is current and comfortable now.”
“Nothing was left untouched,” Designer Janice Williams concludes. “I’m really proud of the changes to the living spaces. They are so much more functional now, not to mention beautiful.”