Hank Arens: Sophisticated and Comfortable Design

Hank_ArensWith an eye for creating a sophisticated and elegant home for his clients, Hank Arens has earned a reputation as one of the leading designers in northern Arizona.

Thanks for joining us Hank! Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into interior design.

I established Hank Arens designs in 2002 and have  been practicing design since finishing my design education from Scottsdale Community Colleges FIDER accredited Interior Design program in Scottsdale, Arizona. I’ve been actively involved in Arizona’s chapter of ASID, American Society of Interior Design, and am still an Allied Member.

Hank Arens Designs has worked with a wide range of projects including new home construction and remodels, health care and commercial interiors.  I have proven time and again that I can work within a budget and believe in the team approach to integrate interior design with the architect, builder and clients’ vision.

What would you describe as your style? Influences? Designers you emulate? 

My personal style is sophisticated, urban eclectic.  I prefer a space with clean lines, contemporary elements mixed with an eclectic mix of antiques, original art and often times ethnic, unique pieces.

I would say that I do not have one particular style that I design.  Each client is unique, each home is unique.  Hank Arens Designs is not defined by one particular style.  I have designed a diverse range of styles from Traditional to Transitional, Contemporary to Territorial. My vision is to listen carefully to my clients’ needs and work together to create unique, personal, comfortable and lasting interiors.  Design is very personal and I strive to maintain architectural integrity, functionality and comfort while balancing clients individual style.   A careful melding of these elements provides for a timeless design aesthetic in which to live.

I am certainly influenced by particular classic styles.  If I am working on a Spanish Colonial home, I often research the traditional elements of that particular style and try to incorporate them into the custom case goods I design.  I also seek out antique authentic furnishings that compliment the décor.  I also use fabrics and wall finishes that are typical of that particular style.

I do not emulate any particular designer.  I certainly admire the contemporary work of Kelly Hoppen, and local Arizona designer, David Michael Miller.  I appreciate the works of Kathryn Ireland as well.  Most importantly I would not be where I am today without the mentoring of my past and current colleagues Susan Hersker, Carol Minchew, Rondi Kilen, Lynda Martin, Debbie Samartzis and Tanya Shively.

When you enter a room can you tell if it has been professionally decorated? What are the tell tale signs?

When I enter a room often times I can tell if someone has worked with a designer.  If there are items “placed just so” in the room it often indicates a designer has been there.  Most importantly as I look around a room I notice the furnishings, fabrics and finishes in the space.  If items appear custom made or made by manufacturers that are “to the trade”, usually that indicates a designer was involved.  My personal goal when designing a room for someone is that the end result is a space that feels comfortable, timeless and reflects the personality of the client.  I strive to have my spaces feel cozy and lived in and not like a model home.

Arizona is dry and has a rich history with Native Americans and a strong Mexican influence. Describe how you incorporate these into your designs.

First of all I love Arizona and its rich history of Native American and Mexican influence.  I am always attending events all over Arizona be it the Dios de los Muertos Celebration or a native dance and celebration on the Hopi Mesas.  It is such an important part of who Arizona is and how we were established.  That said, many of my clients are enamored with the arts and crafts of these cultures.  And, Arizona is certainly filled with local artists, galleries, furniture manufacturers and textile designers who inspire me to use their hand crafted works to add to a clients home as décor.

What are some projects you most proud of and why?

I feel pride when at the end of a project my client tells me how much they enjoyed the process and love their home.  I am most proud of a recent home that I am completing that was a traditional Spanish colonial remodel.  We transformed the home from blah to Wow with amazing wall finishes that enhanced the architecture, remodeled and expanded the kitchen into a chefs dream and created cozy and beautiful spaces that invite visitors to sit and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding desert and mountains.  The art and accessories added are simple, locally hand crafted and add another layer of depth to the space.  This client was fun to work with as they embraced the true elements of the style we were trying to achieve and encouraged my creativity.

I am especially proud of my most recent project I just completed.  This home is a cutting edge designed contemporary cottage.  When you walk into this home you are surrounded by traditional French elements and ultra contemporary and industrial pieces, creating a space that is organic yet linear at the same time.  Around every corner is something unique that pleases the eye.  But as you travel your eyes around the space it is cohesive and inviting.  This client was a dream to work with. They wanted cutting edge and the project challenged me to up my game and seek out local artisans to work with but also find the latest in furnishings.  This was a truly fun project.

Are there any rules you must follow when decorating your own space? When should you call in a designer?

With my space it is challenging at times to find the time to design it and to make a final choice.  I love so many styles and we as designers are exposed to so many of the most amazing products it is often difficult to make our own decisions.  I select what I love.  That is the key.  And like I said, I enjoy an eclectic mix of items in a space.  You will find Donghia chairs paired with a 17th century Japanese blanket chest in one space with a contemporary mirror and Asian accessories on the chest.

I think people should consider calling a designer when they want to remodel a space, and or build a new home.  Getting a designer involved early will certainly help save time and money.  We have so many resources available, including subcontractors, local artisans who work in wood, metal, glass etc. and we are great “ring leaders” who orchestrate and manage the project for our clients.  We become an invaluable advocate for our clients.

We like rugs. Tell me a little about the various ways your incorporate them into your designs.

I love rugs.  I think rugs are a key element in the layering of a space.  They add texture, color and warmth to any space.  I certainly like to use them over hard surfaces throughout the house.  An entry rug tells a story of what you are about to experience as you enter a space.  The living room rug draws you in and makes a space come alive with color.  A large area rug in a family room anchors the space and adds coziness to the room.  And even a small jewel of a rug adds some character to a powder room or an office.  Also a bright fun rug makes a kids or teens room pop with color.

Why do you rely on area rugs? What is the biggest addition they make to a room? Do you have a particular type, size or color rug that you like to include in your work? Any that you avoid?

Area rugs add that additional layer to a space.  I often times start with a rug and work my fabrics and floor coverings from there.  It is a key element in the design of a space.  The biggest addition they make to a space is color, texture and anchoring a space.  I like rugs that are hand tufted, made of natural materials and are well made.  The rug either makes or breaks a space.  A cheap rug will ruin a space.

Anything else to add?

Thanks for your time!


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