Architecture and Design

Inside Jim and Amy Adkins' Timeless Central Phoenix Ranch House

Between the sage green block exterior, the sandstone half-wall that wraps around the front and the bank of illuminated windows, Jim and Amy Adkins' central Phoenix home radiates warmth. A large red door beacons visitors inside. When the light is just right, it actually glows.

Jim Adkins, front man for the band Jimmy Eat World, and his wife, Amy, moved into their mid-century rambler in 2011 with their three boys, Jackson (13), Finn (10), and Cash (7). The home is located in Palmer Estates, just west of Central and Bethany Home, and features five bedrooms and four bathrooms.

Inside the house, which was designed by R.W. Axtell and built in 1950, the living spaces are open and airy, with clean lines and lots of natural light. Standing just inside the entry, the eye is immediately drawn to a huge, stone hearth in the center of the formal living room. A Paul McCobb sofa, purchased at Modern Manor, frames the cozy space in front of the fireplace.

Everything in the house fits together so well, it’s easy to assume the Adkins gutted the place and rebuilt it to match their vision. To the contrary, Amy says the only change they’ve made since moving in is painting all the interior walls white. 

“And we replaced the garage door – but only because I ran into it,” she laughs. “We wouldn’t have done it otherwise.”

The family has move across the Valley over the past 12 years, from their first home in the Cheery Lynn historic neighborhood, to a house in the Biltmore area, and then to Mesa before landing here.

“Before buying this house,” Amy says, “we were living in Mesa. And we thought, 'How did we get all the way out here?' We sold that house right before the market crashed; we were really lucky.”

From the stove where Jim is preparing dinner for the kids, he has a clear shot into the open family room, where Finn is on the couch with a fever. Between stirring the meatballs and administering medication, Adkins reminisces on moving into the house.

“It was about two weeks after moving in and were like, ‘There’s no microwave,’" he says. "And we’ve never had a desire to get once since then.”

While they wouldn’t mind upgrading some of the original features, like the pink tile in the master bathroom and the kitchen cupboards that don’t quite shut, Amy recognizes that’s what gives the home its retro-charm.

“You think you want to change and fix it, but then time passes and you end up loving it the way it is.” She says there are no imminent plans for big changes right now.

When asked to define her style aesthetic in a word, Amy offers, “timeless. And classic.” Jackson adds to that, “Swag. Swag is important, too.”

Adkins says her design inspiration is Dwell magazine. “I love Dwell,” she says. “I like mid-century with touches of modern convenience. I don’t like it to be too Euro or too shiny. I like warm, cozy, and timeless.”

As for Jim, his wife describes him as having a very distinct fashion sense. “He never looks like a slob. Jim’s always very put together and I find that rolls over into everything like his sense for the home," she says. "Jim loves himself a bow tie or a cufflink. And he likes shoes."

Jim chimes in at this point. "I do like shoes. I like a classic, English shoe." 

Jim and Amy are masterful at blending modern with retro when it comes to accent pieces. Some of the items in the home have come from locally-owned shops that specialize in Midcentury Modern, and some have more sentimental value.

Amy's aunt and uncle in New York have been downsizing over the past several months. "They've kept everything," she says, "and they want it all to stay in the family, so I brought a bunch of really great stuff back this summer."

The most cherished find from the recent coast-to-coast haul? A set of rich, brown leather Wassily chairs.

“Their style is just perfect,” she says. “Those chairs will be forever, and handed down to the child who appreciates them the most,” she adds smiling.

The Adkins’ neighborhood is home to over 40 kids, many of whom go to school with Jim and Amy’s sons.

“On Friday afternoons they all just gather,” she says. “It’s awesome.” A few weeks ago, Jackson and a friend biked to Federal Pizza and had themselves “a little 13-year-old date.”

Biking to local restaurants is one of Amy's favorite things to do in the winter months. "I love being so close to everything," she says.

On the wall just inside the front door hangs a Modified sign, a gift to Jim and Amy from Kimber Lanning. Modified Arts was opened in 1999 by Lanning, who also founded Local First Arizona, as an art space and venue for live music and performance. 

"Jim used to play at Modified, and artists would show there," Amy says. "That was in the early days of First Friday, which has since exploded!" 

She cites people like Lanning and Charlie Levy, the brains behind Valley Bar and Crescent Ballroom, as being instrumental in the development of the CenPho identity. Today, the sign in the Adkins' home serves as a reminder of that evolution.

“I think Phoenix has definitely arrived,” Amy says confidently.