A Midcentury Modern Paradise Valley Home Boasts A Minimalist Aesthetic

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Modern Flat Roof Exterior Landscape

Native flora balance the home's masonry installed by Pioneer Masonry, Douglas fir and aluminum.

Modern Douglas Fir Overhang

An overhang of Douglas fir framed in dark bronze anodized aluminum by Metal Works shelters the patio, which features furnishings from the 1966 Collection by Richard Schultz for Knoll. The custom fire feature inset into the floor was designed by Kendle and fabricated by builder Stephan Mackos.

Modern Neutral Dining Room With Statement Art

In the dining room, koa wood furniture and Douglas-fir ceilings impart warmth. The Berman Rosetti table, buffet and chairs are all from John Brooks Incorporated; chairs are covered in Trujillo chenille from Brunschwig & Fils. 'Silvered Edge' by David Kessler hangs over the buffet.

Modern Neutral Great Room with Reading Nook

Floor-to-ceiling windows in the living area lead the eye to the views; materials such as the honed Empress limestone from Facings of America continue to the patio. Midcentury modern furnishings in the breakfast area include a Platner table and Cherner side chairs, all from Design Within Reach. Adjacent is a cozy reading nook with a lowered ceiling, where an Eames lounge and ottoman, and a floor lamp by Arne Jacobsen reside near the window atop a cowhide rug.

Modern Neutral Living Area

Iconic midcentury modern pieces continue in the living area, where a Noguchi coffee table and Eileen Gray side tables, all from Design Within Reach, join B&B Italia’s Ray sectional from Lumature. Dick Jemison’s Dreamwork XV, purchased at Larsen Gallery, adds a splash of color to the space.

Modern Neutral Dining Room Entry

The transition between the living and dining rooms combines honed limestone, concrete and rammed earth, with both spaces filled with art and light. Jim Waid’s Eden, purchased at the Riva Yares Gallery, peeks out from the dining room.

Modern Neutral Dining Room With Statement Art

In the dining room, koa wood furniture and Douglas-fir ceilings impart warmth. The Berman Rosetti table, buffet and chairs are all from John Brooks Incorporated; chairs are covered in Trujillo chenille from Brunschwig & Fils. 'Silvered Edge' by David Kessler hangs over the buffet.

Modern Neutral Kitchen

The kitchen becomes like one piece of fine furniture with continuous rift-cut walnut cabinetry from Architectural Kitchens; Blizzard Caesarstone from Ram Marble & Granite Designs tops the counters. Bottega stools from Design Within Reach provide seating.

Modern Neutral Kitchen Painting

Another Kessler painting, 'Silhouette Shimmer,' hangs on the kitchen wall.

Modern Master Bedroom Corner Window

A corner window of the master bedroom creates an engaging niche with masonry walls that seem to float over glass, screening out adjacent homes while welcoming views of nature and the desert fauna that regularly visit. The rift-cut white-oak flooring is from Premiere Wood Floors.

Modern Douglas Fir Overhang

An overhang of Douglas fir framed in dark bronze anodized aluminum by Metal Works shelters the patio, which features furnishings from the 1966 Collection by Richard Schultz for Knoll. The custom fire feature inset into the floor was designed by Kendle and fabricated by builder Stephan Mackos.

Modern Cantilevered Steel Fence

A cantilevered oxidized steel fence by Blue Water Furnishings integrates into the home and the surrounding mountains. After the build, a cascading copper fountain by Tempe sculptor Gary Slater was added for its water sounds and interesting aesthetic.

Modern Gray Poolside Landscape

Saguaro and other native flora—including desert succulents, ironwood, paloverde trees, and various shrubs and blooming cacti—installed by Benhart Landscaping balance the home's exterior. The pool was fabricated by Dan Goss & Associates.

Robert Frost directed us to take the road less traveled, while Henry David Thoreau wrote that we should “simplify, simplify, simplify.” A Paradise Valley couple eloquently expresses both of these concepts in their one-story empty nester on the lower north face of Mummy Mountain.

Recalling the midcentury modern homes that once dominated this hillside area, the house—set on a 1-acre lot—features clean lines and a minimalist aesthetic in the tradition of such pioneers of modern Southwest architecture as Al Beadle. “These move-down luxury houses or ‘jewel box homes’ are for people who desire high quality but simply don’t want 6,000 to 10,000 square feet to maintain,” says architect Brent Kendle. “These owners were looking for a right-sized residence of exceptional design and craftsmanship that would meet their lifestyle needs. Every square inch had to be meaningful and work together and had to add to the betterment of the whole. This forces an architect to challenge every design move, questioning if it is both efficient and elegant.”

The owners, who were downsizing from two larger houses, also in Paradise Valley, turned to Kendle through a recommendation from friends to plan a sophisticated home with an emphasis not on size, but on style and lifestyle. “We asked for lots of light, views of the mountains and understated elegance in a smaller space that was functional, intimate and easy to maintain,” says the husband. “We didn’t want a splashy or boastful home,” adds the wife. “We were looking for a home that almost disappeared into its setting.”

The subtraction begins with natural materials such as rammed-earth walls, concrete masonry block, limestone and oak floors, and Douglas-fir wood ceilings. Many components repeat inside and out, interlocking the spaces and connecting the home with the surrounding foothills. The rammed-earth construction, in particular, with its natural beauty and inherent thermal properties, was central to the home’s structure.

“Rammed earth is formed into walls like concrete,” says builder Stephan Mackos. However, whereas concrete is poured into place, the rammed earth is set in place in 6-to-10-inch lifts at a time, and then tamped down either by hand, as in this particular project, or with pneumatic tampers. “The biggest challenge was to incorporate ceiling, roof, wall, and glazing elements into it precisely,” Mackos adds. For example, the frameless fixed low-emissive glass piece by the front door had to be installed as the wall was being formed around it—the only case he knows of such a placement.

These simplifying protocols provide for a real focus on nature. Outside, the homeowners preserved the indigenous flora and utilized xeriscaping, such as the native agave at the front artfully displayed in oxidized-steel planters designed by Kendle. Light from large windows and skylights further the transparency to the outside, while white-finished level-5 drywall complements the natural materials and yields a blank canvas for the owners’ art collection. Case in point: a colorful Dick Jemison abstract in the living room, for which Kendle created exact wall space—a method he repeated throughout the home for displaying other works of art.

Throughout the house is a mix of contemporary furnishings, such as the living room’s modular sectional, alongside a bevy of midcentury modern pieces from Design Within Reach. The result is a classic yet minimalist de´cor scheme accented by both the artwork and personal mementos from the owners’ previous homes; the husband, a jazz guitarist, displays his collection of guitars on a wall vignette near his home recording studio.

In the end, the road to simplicity has been a happy one, and the result is a smaller-scale space that Kendle says “feels cozy yet dramatic, modern yet welcoming, and elegant yet casual.” Adds the wife: “Everyone who visits our home says it’s so warm, and we think so, too.”

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