When a Scottsdale couple embarked on a search for a larger home in the same community of Desert Mountain in which they already resided, they unfortunately came up short. “Everything felt like such a compromise,” the wife says. “But we loved the community, so instead, we started looking at lots.” The duo—who split their time between Arizona and Colorado—found a sprawling 4-plus-acre plot with jaw-dropping views. It also came complete with plans for a house, originally designed for someone else. “We liked the spaces (in the home), and the way they had been laid out,” the husband says. “All of our ‘wish list’ items were in the design.” The plans, though, catered to more of a Tuscan influence, which really wasn’t their style. To remedy the situation, the owners met with architect Erik Peterson and interior designer Janet Brooks to tone down some of the home’s Mediterranean elements.
“We approached the project almost as if it were a remodel to give the homeowners a clean-lined contemporary look,” Peterson says. The team, which also included builder Joseph Storey, squared off the planned arched doors and windows, for example, and nixed the moldings. Rather than having rustic wooden beams, the house would get square ones for a crisp feel. New exterior stonework—a custom blend of five stones—was also chosen, and rounded roof tiles were switched to flat ones. “The house now has a very contemporary feel to it,” the architect says. Happily, the more streamlined details work well with Peterson’s open layout—airy spaces that elegantly flow into one another. With nearly every room opening directly to the outdoors, Peterson was meticulous about the home’s orienta- tion and window placement to maximize the views and choreograph the natural light. During the design process, he even used 3D modeling software to predict the flow of sunlight into each space throughout the day.
Constructing the multilevel home on such complex topography required multiple phases of site prep and retaining wall stages. As Storey says, “We had a garage level, another level for the lower basement, the main level, the master bedroom wing—elevated 18 inches or so—and another mid-level, down two different sets of steps, for a guest wing.”
For the interiors, Brooks took it in the clients’ direction—modern but not extremely so, with furnishings that were stylish yet comfortable. “We had items made locally, and two pieces that are the absolute coolest are the double coffee tables in the living room that are made of teak with chrome bases,” Brooks says. “They’re just huge slices of a tree.” Other standout pieces include the living room’s limestone block fireplace, dining chairs in a playful fabric, and the master bedroom’s custom white-oak-and-walnut bed with matching nightstands.
The couple loves to cook and entertain—in fact, the newly retired husband plans to take some culinary classes to up his game—therefore, the kitchen was outfitted with Miele appliances. The outside wall of the space was buried into the mountainside, so the team devised a way to bring light into the windowless room. “We created an uplit barrel ceiling with iridescent glass tiles,” Brooks says. “The lighting that comes from the sides really creates a glow, and it’s better than a skylight, because you have it at night as well.”
A homage to its natural desert surroundings, the home incorporates several water and fire elements that bring the spaces to life. “You have fireplaces in both the living room and library, and master bedroom, as well as by the pool, and each one is handled as a piece of art,” Peterson says. In the end, the homeowners couldn’t be happier. “The house blends beautifully with the landscape,” the wife says, “and there are stunning views from every window.”