When I imagined my dream house, I didn’t even know what state I was going to build it in,” says the homeowner of this residence outside of Phoenix. Perhaps not having a restrictive site in mind helped fuel the fantasy, given the result—which includes a 24-foot-high foyer, a modern palette of neutral hues and textured materials, and such careful layout planning that if 500 people came to attend a party, the foot traffic would never cross into the private living areas.
Enlisting the expertise of designer Cary Henry for the interiors and working closely with her on the project for more than four years, the homeowner indeed planned his perfect retreat: a resort-style secondary home where he could escape from his busy lifestyle. But instead of the rustic style usually associated with the surrounding area, sleek and shiny reign supreme with lots of glass and metal, as well as high-tech gadgets and systems, a hobby of the homeowner. “It’s not what you’d expect to see in the desert,” Henry says of the home’s modern façade. “Here, a Tuscan influence is common, but this house is more in the style of a Santa Barbara estate. It’s more flat finish than tumbled stone.”
Pure luxury is experienced upon entry when, once through the home’s massive African mahogany double doors, one is met with a double stairway that marks the centerpiece of the foyer. High-polish cream-colored Botticino marble fashions the flooring in 3-by-3-foot slabs, while intricate crown molding—a radiating sphere inspired by a hotel the homeowner visited in Beverly Hills—not only draws on classical themes, but also adds dimension to the cavernous area. A floor-to-ceiling fireplace in the formal living area beyond features a hand-carved mantel and extends more than 22 feet up to the second level, which houses the master suite on one side and five guest rooms and an office/media room on the other.
Because of the home’s mostly monochromatic color palette, textures became extremely important. “He’s not a fan of pattern,” Henry says of her client, “so we created more of a tactile experience.” To this end, the designer employed a mix of materials and finishes—from leather, silk and wool to stone, wood, glass and steel—all of which help make spaces visually interesting while adding a hint of color. “Cary and I have very similar visions,” says the homeowner, “and we share a contemporary style, so we worked well together. She knew that I didn’t want to see a bunch of fabric swatches. Drawings don’t give me an idea of scale; I just know what I like when I see it.”
A prime example of this can be found in the kitchen. Situated on the main level, the area features a dining nook in the farthest corner, so that a diagonal path needed to cut straight through the room to allow for general traffic. “We wanted to think outside the box for this space,” Henry says. The solution: to design stationary split elliptical islands for both functionality and a unique aesthetic. But first, the resident wanted to test it out by making a three-dimensional mock-up of plywood before committing to the design. “I just wanted to get an idea,” he says. “We would leave it for weeks, making tweaks here and there, which allowed us to get a real feel for what would work and what wouldn’t.”
Although the cutting-edge home is grand in scale, no detail was overlooked in its creation. Throughout the three-story house are ample spaces for entertaining, from the lower-level bowling alley to a plush media room, bar and lounge areas. LED lighting enhances the ambience for a club-like feel in the evenings. All lighting, as well as audio-visual, fireplaces and security, is programmable and accessible via Crestron touch panels at home or on the go. “I can run the whole house from my iPhone,” the homeowner says.
When not entertaining, the owner is drawn to the house within the house: the 3,000-square-foot master suite that features a spa-like bathroom, its own living room and private terrace, and a tremendous closet. “It’s like my cozy little bungalow,” he says. And as it turns out, the dream house the owner was searching for has become such a perfect reality that it has now become his primary residence.