Tucked on the south end of an unassuming condominium community in Phoenix is a standalone, midcentury home oozing with character. And, inside that home is a wall covered in an eclectic, mint-colored mural that has seen decades of life.
That wall, the one that runs the length of the dining room, curves as it nears the front entrance and serves as a focal point for the entire living area, served as the key selling point when Kevin and Celine Rille bought the home in 2013. After seeing that wall, they were able to look past the home’s bubble gum-hued tile, its floor-to-ceiling spearmint bathroom and the labor that would be required to give the kitchen proper TLC and make it livable for their expanding, young family.
“We wanted something funky and unique,” Celine Rille, 39, said.
And with this home, they got it.
At 2,400 square feet, the two-bedroom, two-bath home very nearly needed a complete overhaul. But, Rille, the owner of a branding and creative studio, had a vision.
“I can typically see the bones,” she said. “We redid the kitchen. We totally gutted it. And, we’re always tweaking little things.”
The kitchen needed work, for sure. When the bubble gum tile peeled from the backsplash in the kitchen, it exposed a perfectly rugged, antique even, brick wall that the Rilles decided would work great behind the gas range they would install below a custom, pot-filling faucet.
“I put it in because it’s so far from the sink,” Rille said of the specialty fixture jutting out from the home’s north wall.
And, she has a point. The distance from one side of the kitchen to the other is substantial, again harkening to the home’s history as a barn. Since clear story windows border the roofline around the circumference of the home, natural light is abundant, flooding the kitchen by day, and leaving the night shift to an industrial fixture featuring suspended, amber-colored filament bulbs.
“I fell in love with those,” Rille said of the windows, a hallmark of midcentury architecture.
Adding to the kitchen’s unique, hand-curated vibe is a custom bar and work area, both of which are propped up by exposed plumbing pipe and finished with lacquered slabs of wood, sliced from trees removed during prescribed burns in Prescott. The Rilles actually picked the very tree they liked best, and the firefighter who had the lumber cut the slabs for them.
The couple’s dishes and glassware sit exposed on open shelving, constructed from butcher block found at IKEA.
“We actually got quite thrifty with the remodel,” Rille admitted, noting the elements she pulled together from affordable home décor stops such as Target and a variety of vintage shops.
What’s cool about the Rille home is that its quirky eccentricity doesn’t end at the dining room’s marquee mural or the kitchen’s custom bar. It flows throughout, making itself known at every turn, from the home’s artfully crafted décor, its golden fixtures, its butter-colored mosaic fireplace and its overwhelmingly green bathroom, set off by a portrait of Queen Elizabeth strategically hung behind the loo.
“It didn’t make me sick,” Rille, born in England, said of the minty green toilet, sink, tub and tile that anchor the bathroom. “I thought the color was pretty.”
While the Rilles held onto the green, they did away with the yellow walls and the pink tile floor, a mash-up of colors that was just too much to digest. The pink tile has since been replaced with a more palatable and updated milk-colored floor made of penny-sized tiles set in a slate grout.
While the Rilles left the 50s in one bathroom, they went back to the future when remodeling the master bathroom, accessible by a custom barn door built by Porter Barn Wood, a Phoenix-based, family-owned lumber retailer. Once inside, the white trough sink takes center stage, and it doesn’t come without a story.
Rille’s vision called for a modern cement inlay sink, with two faucets feeding into it. But reality arrived when the sink wouldn’t drain, and so came the trough, and additional plumbing pipes, the same as those used in the kitchen, as support. But the accident works, and the look flows flawlessly with the beveled-edge, subway-tiled shower stall and the original, flush-mount light fixture recessed into the ceiling.
Despite the work they’ve completed, the house isn’t quite done. Yet.
“I want to replace that fireplace,” Rille said, citing the family room’s duplicitous center of focus that pits its rounded hearth against that eclectic mural and a traditional entertainment center. “But, that’s a whole other project.”