Harmony in Space
Writer Donna Kublin
Photography by Werner Segarra
Elizabeth’s portrait photographed
by Allison Tyler Jones
Interior designer Elizabeth Rosensteel is thrilled to be living in Carefree. “Carefree suits us beautifully and I have never been happier,” said Rosensteel who with her husband, Barry, moved there last October after spending 21 years in Paradise Valley.
“This area is stunning with its unique mountain ranges, coloration and ecosystem,” she said. “Contemporary architecture fits so well in this landscape as it blends and becomes part of the surroundings, and well-designed interiors complement it all.”
She would know. Owner of successful interior design firm Rosensteel Design Studio, which opened in 1999, she is known for her timeless, contemporary and architecturally driven interior design.
Her history in Arizona began when she moved to the Valley in 1978 from the East Coast and began a winding path leading where she is today. Trained in graphic design, through serendipity rather than plan, she actually never worked in that field. Instead, she took jobs that required the application of three-dimensional skills, a field in which she excelled. With each position, she shaped her approach, her philosophy and added to her toolkit.
From store planning and interior store design at Broadway Department Stores, to corporate staging and set design, to being a principal and director of the Interior Environmental Design Department at Taliesin Architects in Scottsdale for five years, she solidified her thinking and developed an approach that is uniquely her own.
Along the way, Rosensteel spent a good deal of time at job sites, asking questions and learning how things are built. This has helped her in knowing what is possible to do, and what might just be an impossible dream that looked good in a drawing. “I enjoy understanding how things are put together,” she said. “It really helps with developing proper design.”
She also developed an understanding of materials. She learned from her set design work, what can be done to get a great look with inexpensive materials. This skill is helpful in designing less public spaces of a home, such as a kids’ bathroom. “We strive for simplicity and economy in the use of materials while achieving an end result that looks like a million bucks,” she said. Of course, she often uses luxury materials, depending on client requirements. Her designs are sophisticated, but can also have just the right touch of humor, when needed.
Whether projects are residential or commercial, Rosensteel focuses on what is appropriate interior design for the architecture as she creates unique one-of-a-kind interior designs. “I have never repeated a design,” she said. “Each design is an original creation.” With a staff from different parts of the world, she finds that their contribution to design reflects a broader, international perspective, which helps keep ideas fresh.
Hard working and committed, Rosensteel does find time in her off hours for other pursuits. She sings with the Phoenix Symphony. She recently adopted Vancouver, a golden retriever, who calls her studio his home. She and Barry welcome the addition, having enjoyed the company of goldens over the years and finding space now for another. She also enjoys being involved with the Carefree community, which she finds very welcoming and full of new discoveries; she enjoys the camaraderie, and the understated elegance.
Always forward-thinking, Rosensteel’s research time is spent exploring new design ideas for people who want residences where they can age in place. With new lifestyle trends for older adults, the old models no longer work and she wants to help shape the next model of how people are going to live in their 70s and 80s, especially for those who want to have independence but also need to have a community.
Her interest is also somewhat personal in that she has spent years working from early in the morning until late at night. As she looks to her future, she wants to be able to enjoy the next stage, to develop more personal relationships, to be part of a community, and to give back. She believes the best communities are multi-generational and offer a spectrum of socio-economic levels, adding that many European models have additional vitality because of those components.
Her firm is currently working on a project of creating a home design that is appropriate for any age; one that can be a home for young people and can adapt to the demands people have as they go through the various stages of life. Included are materials that are environmentally friendly and can be cleaned with environmentally friendly products. The design also includes assistance features that are appropriate for older adults, but add interest to the design.
Other trends that she is in touch with include the shift from extremely large, 20,000-square-foot residences that require a staff to maintain, to somewhat smaller, more manageable houses. Also trending is the desire to remain in a residence for a longer period of time. She keeps these trends in mind during the decision-making process of interior design.
Reflecting on her decision to come to Arizona, she is very happy to have made that choice. “Initially, I was taken by the open landscape and the weather, but I soon discovered that Arizona has always allowed you to write your own ticket. It would have been much more difficult to achieve this level of success in the Northeast, (which is) so steeped in having to go through traditional steps, with the top being very narrow.” Rosensteel’s choices have always led her to the right next stage in her life and career. Carefree, with all its special qualities, is fortunately now part of that trajectory.
Elizabeth A. Rosensteel Design Studio, LLC