After moving three times in seven years, designer Kim Scodro was ready to plant firm roots in the Southwest. A down-to-the-studs renovation of her family’s second residence in Chicago inspired her to do the same in Scottsdale, but rather than renovate, she and her husband decided to start from scratch—the challenge was marrying their classic yet current design sensibilities with the desert climate. “We wanted a house that was light, open and airy,” says Scodro, who splits her time between Arizona and Illinois, “but we also needed to give a nod to the landscape.”
Drawn to the Spanish-style homes often found in California, Scodro envisioned a house inspired by that classic foundation but updated with a neutral color palette and layers of texture and warmth. As a design professional, she had no problem assembling a top-notch team to assist her with the project, including architect Erik Peterson, builder Tanner Luster and landscape architect Russell Greey. Together, they located an ideal site on which to build: a vacant lot on a private golf course surrounded by mountains and high enough on a small hill to see the downtown city lights twinkling at night.
Armed with Scodro’s vision, Peterson developed the idea for a single-story hacienda-style structure with sweeping vistas and a floor plan that encourages family togetherness and outdoor living. The mindset was to “build a home that could really be lived in, not just visited,” says Luster, who worked with project superintendent Nick Collier. Peterson sited the house so that the living room, dining room and kitchen make up one centrally situated space overlooking the golf course; a long adjacent hallway leads to the private quarters. Expanses of glass doors open to seamlessly connect the inside to the alfresco spaces; the centerpiece is an infinity-edge pool that sits on the same plane as the patio on one end and appears to drop into the desert on the other. “When the water is still,” says Greey, “it creates a beautiful mirror that reflects the sky.”
Scodro voiced one caveat in regard to the grounds: “I’m a Midwestern girl in my roots,” she says, “so I wasn’t into extreme desert landscaping.” With that in mind, Greey says he “gave Kim the greenery she needed by filling the backyard with colorful ornamentals,” and then used native plantings around the perimeter to gently blend into the desert.
For the interiors, Scodro stuck to a sea of pale blues, grays and creams. “Soft palettes are calming,” she says, “and I like everything to flow from one room to the next.” A matte plaster finish on the interior walls provides subtle depth to the soaring spaces, while layers of texture and a combination of woods lend softness and warmth. In the living room, for example, a wool-and-silk rug anchors a cozy seating area that includes a leather-trimmed mohair sofa and armchairs covered in a blue-and-cream floral. Shelving fashioned from reclaimed barnwood and ceiling beams made of alder echo the rough-hewn white-oak floors and 18th-century Spanish doors that conceal a pair of closets.
Part of the fun for the designer came from being her own client, which allowed her to take more risks, such as installing pieces of faux hide in the coffered office ceiling—a detail that required close to 3,800 individual nailheads and three days for installation. “We sometimes can get stuck in our tried-and-trues,” she says, “but in this case, I was able to push things a little more. I felt more comfortable experimenting on my own home rather than a client’s.”
Similar to the homes she decorates for others, though, Scodro’s new dwelling is a true reflection of its occupants, right down to the front door. “People thought we were crazy putting in a glass door because now when we’re home, everyone knows,” she says with a laugh. “But that is exactly why I wanted it. I wanted it to say: ‘Hey, we’re home, come on in anytime.’ That’s just who we are.”