Like a lot of people, my goal after high school was to get out of dodge. I landed in Pittsburgh, PA, a growing city where I could experiment with a creative profession while avoiding the constant stress of seven roommates and astronomical rent. Since then, Pittsburgh has gained a lot of attention as a livable city, an affordable city, a foodie city, etc. It’s on a new list every day. Lots of other up-and-coming cities are making these lists as well, cities like Phoenix, AZ.
and her husband Kevin Cieszkowski grew up in the Phoenix area, but they landed in San Francisco, CA because, as Chantell explains, “Phoenix wasn’t a place [I] wanted to stick around post high school. Think cookie-cutter homes, strip malls, chain restaurants and beige, lots of beige.” But when Kevin had the opportunity to work remotely as a software engineer, they left San Francisco and returned to Phoenix to be closer to family.
They were pleasantly surprised to find that the city had changed drastically. “Independent shops, restaurants and cafes were popping up, and the idea of destroying the old and building new was no longer the precedent. Young folks were quickly moving into historic neighborhoods and renovating homes to their original charm. It made the decision to move back all the better.”
The couple bought their house sight unseen, since they were still living in San Francisco, but luckily, it was everything they’d hoped it would be. Moving to a city with an affordable cost of living also meant Chantell could make her dream come true. In March of 2016, she opened , a modern bohemian concept shop selling women’s clothing, accessories, home décor and gifts, and their home has often served as a unique backdrop for many of her photo shoots. —
Image Above: Kevin and Chantell’s bedroom combines a soft palette with bohemian touches. Kevin built the barn door himself to cover Chantell’s closet, which he painted with that minty pop of color (“Quiet Turquoise” in Eggshell from Ace Hardware).
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Kevin Cieszkowski, Chantell Nighswonger and their cat Smokey in front of their Phoenix, AZ bungalow. Chantell says, “We’ve definitely had a few people ask if they could take photographs in front of [our pink door]. We always oblige.”
Chantell and Kevin’s home design goals were “to create an environment of organized chaos, my eclectic with his modern. We wanted our home to be a reflection of our life: organized but fun; creative yet simple; colorful yet polished.”
When Chantell and Kevin chose their home, they were looking for something with charm, a big backyard and a home they could customize. When they left San Francisco, Chantell says, “We realized we didn’t need a lot of space. So rather than look for a larger house, just because we could afford it, we looked for something almost exactly the same size as our apartment in San Francisco.” They found their sweet spot in a bungalow in the historic Phoenix neighborhood of Medlock Place.
From buying the house sight unseen to the eclectic and modern bungalow it is now took about one year. “We wanted to do the home right and not rush, so we designed a plan and then created phases for budget reasons.”
Chantell shares, “We are most thankful for our home because it’s not only a beautiful space to live in, but also a beautiful space for us to work in, which is important for our lifestyle. It serves as a space for friends and family but also oftentimes as a photo shoot location for . For a small home, it has certainly kept us busy but we’ve enjoyed every moment.”
Kevin and Chantell’s bedroom was a long, narrow, light-filled blank slate. After finding a blue velvet upholstered, high-back chair at an antique shop, Chantell decided blue would be the underlying theme for the room. Then she added bohemian touches through textiles, wall hangings, and plants.
The bar cart adds a touch of mod to the bedroom. The artwork is a photograph from . Chantell gushes, “I love this photograph so much that the same exact one hangs in my shop.”
Chantell’s side of the bed features a small Oaxacan rug she and her mom found at a fair in Guadalajara. The weavings are some early work from a local Phoenix artist, .
Another corner of the bedroom features Chantell’s first ever indoor plant happily soaking up the window light. The cactus on the brass trunk is in a pom pom basket from .
The floor tiles in Chantell and Kevin’s kitchen create a focal point and made for quite an adventure in home remodeling. “My main design feature for the kitchen — and where we would pour most of our money into — were the beautiful black and white, hand-painted cement tiles. This was a few years ago before this style became extremely popular and they were very expensive to get here in the states; our small kitchen would have cost over $4,000 to tile. I went on the hunt for a cheaper source and found a supplier in the town of Merida, not far from where my parents were living in Mexico. My mom, who is from Mexico and speaks fluent Spanish, helped coordinate what would end up turning into a …difficult process of importing them from Merida to Phoenix. After all was said and done, I think we only saved a couple hundred dollars, but they were and still are my favorite design choice of our home.”
Kevin and Chantell went back and forth on how to add an island to their kitchen remodel. They wanted the function and storage but didn’t want to clutter their open plan. They finally commissioned a local metalworker to make this design. “The creator had never made anything like it but he trusted our vision and went for it, and it ended up better than expected.”
The kitchen nook is one of Chantell’s favorite design choices they made. The couple didn’t want to cram in a full table, but they still wanted a space where they could gather with friends or family. The finishing touch was the custom storage they added. It allows Chantell to display her vintage collections, as well as define the room without closing it.
You’ll often find Chantell in the kitchen nook. “Aside from my bed, this is my favorite spot in the whole house and often where I will work with my morning coffee. We built and made the cushions ourselves. I love the black spun fiberglass hanging light that we purchased on .”
What Chantell loves most about their home…
Tackling the backyard was first on the list for Kevin and Chantell’s home renovation. They had to take advantage of the seven months of beautiful weather that Phoenix offers. It was also one of the more challenging updates, since it was a massive square area filled with rock, but Chantell really dove in! “After several YouTube videos and about 30 hours of manual labor that included hand churning mortar, a lot of leveling, and several trips to Home Depot, I had built us a pretty good-looking fire pit.” Kevin continued the project by adding the geometric grid, wanting it to feel like a boutique hotel.
Wanting a “wow” factor, Kevin and Chantell decided a cacti garden mural would be the perfect “Arizona” element to complete the yard. Prior to designing their backyard, Chantell had commissioned local artist to create two murals inside and knew she was just the artist for the job. They later planted real cacti in front of the mural to add more depth. Looks like a great place to watch the desert sunset.
Hello Sunshine Doormat – Dot & Bo
Vintage black rocking chairs – Figs Home & Garden (Phoenix)
Pink door paint – “Marry-go-Around” in semi-gloss from Ace Hardware
Chairs- One Kings Lane
Wood Cactus- Phoenix Flea
Plant Stand and Side Table- Estate Sales (spray painted)
Chair, Couch, Coffee Table – Modern Manor (Phoenix)
Rug – West Elm
Moroccan Floor Cushion and Vintage plant stand – VIDA | MOULIN
Slim Aarons Framed Photograph – Photos.com
Bar Cart – Dot & Bo
Large Rug in front of Bar Cart – One Kings Lane
Blue Chair – Tattered Nest (Phoenix)
Pillows & Indigo Cloth – VIDA | MOULIN
Curtains and Rods – World Market
Brass Trunk – Sweet Salvage (Phoenix)
Pom Pom Basket with Cactus – Xinh & Co
Ladder, Lamps – Brass Armadillo (Phoenix)
Small Blue Rug – Guadalajara
Small wall weavings – Robyn Parker
WovenbyRo Basket (used as laundry basket) on ground under hanging plant – Everything Must Go (Phoenix)
Window Shades – Lowes
Closet door paint – “Quiet Turquoise” Eggshell Ace Hardware
Custom Island – A.J. Designs AZ (Phoenix)
Custom Open Shelving – Old Sol Lumber (Phoenix)
Vintage Scale – Twig and Twine (Phoenix)
Copper Basket and Brass Cheese Grater – Urbana (Phoenix)
Copper Light Fixtures – VIDA | MOULIN
Bar Stools – The Embellished House (Phoenix)
Floor Tiles – Merida, Mexico
Table – DendroCo (Etsy)
Black Hanging Light – Chairish
Blush Pink Macramé Wall Hanging – Robyn Parker, WovenbyRo
Brass Mirror – Everything Must Go (Phoenix)
Pillows – VIDA | MOULIN
Moosehead – Z Gallerie
Custom shelf/wine rack – Public House Creative (Phoenix)