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Design Ideas
House Tour: Modern Vintage 1930s Desert Cottage
This designer worked to balance renovation and restoration in this historic Phoenix, Arizona home.
When the house across the street from designer James Judge’s home in a historic Phoenix neighborhood went up for sale, his dream modern vintage renovation was set in motion. Judge said he wanted to enhance the 1930s structure’s original details but modernize the space for current homeowners’ needs. “So much love and respect went into... Keep Scrolling
Written by Dani Grace
Styled by James Judge
Photography by David Trujillo


When the house across the street from designer James Judge’s home in a historic Phoenix neighborhood went up for sale, his dream modern vintage renovation was set in motion. Judge said he wanted to enhance the 1930s structure’s original details but modernize the space for current homeowners’ needs.

“So much love and respect went into this remodel to really make this home the best it can be, while really paying respect to its identity and historic roots,” he said.

a wooden couch back sticks out among white, brown and slate grey decor
The master suite ties in all of the thematic elements of the house. The home’s color palette – consisting of slate grey, brown and white – dominates the room decor. Modern light fixtures, desk and desk chair contrast with the classic weathered wood and leather armchair.

Judge said he also prioritized design continuity during the remodel. The slate grey color is present in the doors, kitchen island and couches. You can spot exposed wooden beams in many rooms.

“You’ll see the white walls and wood floors, and this complements the white exterior with cedar shingles,” Judge said.

couches and chairs sit around an ottoman
The home’s open floor plan updates the house to serve the modern homeowner. The same wall curves seen in the archway between the kitchen and living area can be seen in the master bedroom.

One of the main updates to the floor plan that Judge spearheaded was opening up the dining and living areas.

Originally, the kitchen would have been previously closed and the previous owners actually opened it up most of the way, but we really continued opening up the rest,” he said. “Now the kitchen area and the dining area flow together seamlessly to really provide an open floor plan for that area, and of course that gives a much more modern vibe for the house.”

The living room couch’s oversized throw pillows add a splash of color to the home’s neutral theme. Judge mixes a classic tufted ottoman with trendy wall art, which continues the house’s “modern vintage elegant” motif. Couldn’t you just sink into those couches for a long nap?

Related Reading: How to Buy Vintage Textiles at Flea Markets

exposed wooden beams hang over a marble island and wooden table
Farmhouse lightbulbs hanging over the kitchen table add an old-school industrial feeling, which contrasts with the room’s modern chairs and stools.
saloon-style cabinets hang underneath a sink
Some of the exposed wooden beams seen throughout the house are original, but James reproduced their look in other rooms. The saloon-style doors below the sink mirror the exact cabinets that have been in the house since 1935.

The kitchen appliances are modern, but Judge said he fell in love with the original sink cabinets with saloon style doors. To add more storage, he constructed extra floor to ceiling cabinets. Preserve a modern vintage balance, Judge added a perforated inlay to the doors, but tacked on current hardware.

“You have half the kitchen from 1935, half the kitchen from 2019,” Judge said.

two shower heads hang over elegant floor tiling
The dual shower, which Judge deems a “sexy” update, incorporates modern amenities into a bathroom characterized by vintage-patterned tile floors. The huge gold mirrors are reminiscent of vintage Hollywood glamour.

The master bathroom takes its own modern vintage identity, boasting a dual rain shower and two huge gold mirrors. Judge mixed the stacked white wall tile – which matches the backsplash in the kitchen – with an elegant vintage-patterned tile floor. The cabinets are coated with Valspar’s puppy love color, a decision Judge polled his Instagram (@thehousejudge) followers about.

Related Reading: Finishes for a Vintage Farmhouse Bathroom

a white and wooden couch sits at the end of a bed under a sculpted archway
The grey drapes and doors contrast with the room’s bright gold and white theme. Wicker coffee tables add a cabana-like feel to the master bedroom, while the wooden side tables are nods to modernism.

Framed feathers on the master bedroom wall echo the room’s feeling: light and airy. While the space is mostly white and wood, slate grey doors tie in the home’s other colors. An arched cove in a modern vintage wave – present in hallways throughout the home – cove hangs over the bed. Judge said he took advantage of the alcove wall to optimize the room’s square footage.

“We maintained the archways where they were already existing in the home, between the living room and dining room into the hallway,” he said. “Then we replicated them in other areas, like master suite.”

If you liked our tour of this Phoenix home, sweep through this vintage Nashville cottage.

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