“This house is a piece of sculpture in and of itself,” says architect C.P. Drewett of the modern home that he designed in Scottsdale’s high desert. Large windows frame expansive views of the mountains and help create a loft-like feel that balances the home’s earthy building materials, including fluted split-faced block and cantera stone. To add warmth, the architect had the ceiling lined with Douglas fir and commissioned built-in cabinetry made of walnut and red gum. “When we engage the robust, heavy masonry with the wood, the materials counterbalance each other nicely,” Drewett says.
Many of the interior materials extend past the building envelope, bringing about a strong sense of connection between inside and out. That posed a technical challenge for builder Larry Stuart. “The butterfly roof is angled toward the house and the wood carries through, which exposes it to moisture and the sun,” Stuart explains. To protect the wood, Stuart interlocked each board on all four sides and applied multiple coats of sealers. “You want it to look as good 10 years from now as it looked when you put it up,” he says.
The same care was taken when weatherproofing the skylight that runs nearly the entire center length of the home. “The skylight tracks along with the sun, so in the summer months, light floods the core of the house and illuminates the other rooms, which break off of the main spine,” Drewett says. Although the main rooms are open to the central hallway, walls separate each space and provide many surfaces ideal for the display of artwork. “This home was designed with a collector in mind,” Drewett explains.
Although it was not designed for these particular homeowners, the couple that ultimately purchased the house to be closer to their grandchildren quickly recognized that it was the right one for them. “The pure and simple architectural lines are a perfect complement to our possessions,” the wife says. To help them furnish the space, they flew in their longtime interior designer, Janet Bilotti, who is based in Naples, Florida. “Most of the furnishings are Italian, but we also included timeless architectural pieces,” Bilotti says.
In the family room, where the owners spend much of their time, the designer incorporated two black-leather-and-steel Wassily chairs by Marcel Breuer alongside a contemporary sectional upholstered in gray fabric that echoes the color of the fireplace’s fluted masonry.
“We let the sky, mountains, desert, and artwork be the color,” Bilotti says. For the formal living room, which the owners use as a gallery and reception area, Bilotti integrated a single pair of Mies van der Rohe daybeds covered in black leather. “Those kinds of pieces are going to live on long after we’re gone,” Bilotti says.
Creating an enduring design also informed landscape architect and contractor Bill Tonnesen’s approach to the exterior, where he planted a mix of indigenous plants that include various shrubs, cacti and foothill paloverde trees. “Anytime there’s a chance to return the land to what it was 200 years ago, there’s a kind of cosmic correctness to it,” he explains. To minimize maintenance and water usage, Tonnesen filled in a long rectangular pool alongside the home with pieces of salvaged mesquite and river rock that he arranged in a spiral shape. Near the front door, he added a contemporary steel bench and matching planter that he filled with dried agave stalks. “They make the entry much more welcoming and personable,” Tonnesen says.
These details perfectly complement the home’s modernist aesthetic, Drewett says, noting that it will need little maintenance in the years to come. “This home will just get better with age,” he adds. “The nuances of its architecture will stand the test of time.” Much like the artwork that is found throughout.