A Modern Midcentury-Inspired Sonoran Desert Home


Modern Neutral Courtyard with Frosted Glass Gate

The frosted glass gates of the entry courtyard hark back to the husband’s childhood home. The walkway to the front door is composed of integral color concrete with a light-etched finish and is lined with an assortment of desert plants. The water feature extends through the wall into the enclosed front yard.

Modern Gray Rear Elevation with Covered Loggia

A Brown Jordan sofa and chairs, all covered in exterior sailcloth fabric, furnish the loggia in the entertaining courtyard to the rear of the house. A Wolf grill sits right outside the breakfast room, which “extends out into the outdoor space like a glass box,” says the architect, “bridging indoors and out.”

Modern White Kitchen with Hanging Chrome Pendants

The kitchen combines cabinetry made from Parapan, a high-gloss solid acrylic material, with thin layers of reconstituted cherry veneer and Caesarstone countertops from Ram Marble & Granite Designs. Over the split island, which separates work from serving areas, are Prandina pendants from Lightform Lighting.

Modern White Dining Room with Hanging Ball Pendants

In the dining room, Dakota Jackson head and side chairs—the former covered in a Brentano printed velvet and the latter in Telio & Cie’s cut velvet—surround a Joseph Jeup table. Overhead is a row of Edge Lighting Bubble Ball pendants.

Modern White Great Room with Open Plan

Architect Brent Kendle created slots in the ceilings for air conditioning and recessed coves for lighting, as seen in the kitchen. Beyond is the breakfast nook, which features Dakota Jackson chairs around a Minotti table. A custom sofa table and ottomans covered in a Brentano velvet border the living room.

Modern White Hall with Crystal Chandelier

Designer Paul Lavoie left the walls white to allow the architecture, flooring and artwork to shine. The bronze sculpture, titled Internal Reflection 2, is by Jennyfer Stratman; a trio of mixed- media works by Franco DeFrancesca presides over the landing. The Trans Globe Bohemian crystal chandelier is from Premier Lighting.

Modern Glass Entry with Water Feature

A water feature to the left of the entry courtyard sets a calming tone. The all-glass entry highlights Poppies, a quartet of prints by Donald Sultan. A media room, dubbed the “Birds Nest,” resides above. Textural desert plants in beds of rounded river rock reinforce the home’s desert-modern look.

Modern Neutral Rear Elevation with Cactus

Set in the Sonoran Desert, a sleek midcentury-inspired house opens to the outside via three lush courtyards.

In postwar Phoenix, architect Al Beadle’s low-lying rectilinear houses were the epitome of midcentury cool. Since they were also situated in the Sonoran Desert, where temperatures can reach 110 degrees, such houses had to be even cooler. The renowned architect mitigated the climate by introducing courtyards, which provided privacy and brought breezes tempered by pools or shady gardens, into houses that opened up to the elements. “What makes them desert-appropriate is that they create an oasis-like feeling,” says architect Brent Kendle. “You have areas of sunshine and areas of shade—that’s key in Arizona.”    

Such qualities are at the heart of a Scottsdale home inspired by a 1971 Beadle dwelling that one of the homeowners, a race car builder, grew up in. When their former residence grew too small, he and his wife agreed to begin a search for a home that would give them more room for a garage, closet space and areas for entertaining. After two years of hunting, the husband found himself sketching a home with some of the hallmarks of his childhood abode. “It had a lot of glass, an open floor plan, and a courtyard with a pool in the middle,” he explains. “It was private in the sense that you were always looking into this courtyard instead of out to the street.”

With sketch in hand, he turned to Kendle to craft a new home that would feature the same glass expanses and include a pair of courtyards at its core. Designed in the shape of an H, the house boasts an eight-car garage in one wing and three bedrooms in the other, both connected by the tall open space of a great room that spills onto two terraces, one with a 50-foot-long pool to the north and a more contemplative garden to the south, via sliding glass walls. “You can open up the whole center of the home,” Kendle says. Perched upstairs is the “Birds Nest,” a media room with its own patio; it was named after the famed Phoenix Open hot spot where the owners met.

On the exterior, Kendle interspersed glass with contrasting textures: mesa stone, sandblasted concrete block, stacked block, and silvery columns of clear anodized aluminum. Such materials add interest to the arrangement of rectilinear forms that make up the home. All of the glazing so integral to the design is the result of some clever choices by builder Stephan Mackos.

Because the house is so open, creating privacy and integrating the building into the setting were key. All rooms are fitted with recessed roller shades that hide away in the ceiling. A concrete block privacy wall encloses the parcel, and another wall separates the entry courtyard from the pool area. Working with Kendle, landscape architect Shari Zimmerman designed a water feature that extends through the entry courtyard into the pool area, emitting a tranquil sound that sets the tone just steps from the front door. Elsewhere, Zimmerman created “an ordered landscape that was clean, neat and restful to the eye,” using sculptural desert plants such as ocotillo, agave, and saguaro and barrel cacti, reinforcing the home’s modern aesthetic.

While the landscaping reflects the scenery, the interiors do not, starting with the showstopping black-and-white swirled porcelain floors that look like honed marble and convey the “more glamorous, more uptown” look the homeowners were going for, says Paul Lavoie, an interior designer from Calgary, Canada. Building on the floors, Lavoie then infused the house with a glamorous palette of black, white, silver, and gray accented with pops of red. Instead of filling the home with vintage Eames and Nelson pieces to reflect its midcentury style, Lavoie combined contemporary furnishings with the Baroque. The result: a glittering jewel box that the husband fondly refers to as his “great oasis in the desert,” even better than the one he grew up in.