Ask any Canadian what he craves most during the winter months and the answer will most likely be sunlight. That was the case with the Calgary-based homeowners who overlooked the dated design of this Scottsdale vacation home to see the potential of a house that gets copious morning and evening sun. “The original design wasn’t really suited to their style,” designer Dana Lyon says. “It was a little too colorful, with really saturated hues of chartreuse, turquoise, orange and pink.”
Luckily, when the house went on the market, the forward-looking couple—he’s an engineer, and she’s an accomplished cook who likes to paint—recognized that it could be just what they wanted: a spa-like retreat to escape brisk Canada winters. “We wanted a house where we could entertain friends and family, and a home where we could relax,” the wife says. “I wanted it to feel very calm and beautiful.” So Lyon, along with project manager Michelle Young and builder Jeff Gatewood, was hired to transform the residence into a contemporary yet tranquil space.
The team started by converting several small rooms into large open spaces perfect for entertaining. They then installed limestone floors in the largest squares they could buy and chose Caesarstone for the countertops. “We were going for a modern space with a somewhat grounded organic feel,” Lyon says. “So we created a very light palette and selected simple materials.”
The result is a sedate environment that showcases the homeowners’ personalities and passions. The kitchen, for instance, was outfitted with a commercial warming hood and a double gas oven for the wife to bake rustic yeast breads from scratch. Three built-in wine refrigerators allow her to burnish her expertise as an oenophile, as well. No stranger himself to the culinary arts, the husband is the home’s master barista; a state-of-the-art coffee machine lets him brew up espresso and coffee drinks for guests.
In addition to their love of good food and drink, the couple also share a talent in the arts. She is an accomplished painter, and many of the works featured in the home are hers. For his part, the husband is a master woodworker who built several pieces of furniture in the home and created two installations on either side of the fireplace in the living room. Fashioned from 500 pieces of wenge wood individually sculpted and hung on non-stretch fishing line, the pieces are “just astonishing to see,” Lyon says. “You could see his engineering mind at work to get them to match up just right on the strings.”
To make sure the homeowners’ artwork would pop, the pieces were installed into a monochromatic background against Opuzen’s glass-beaded wallpaper. The only thing that competes for attention is the incredible desert vista. “We wanted to make the desert the hero in the background,” Lyon says of her chosen palette—a soothing mix of furnishings cloaked in white, beige and wood tones. This sense of serenity translates from the main living spaces into the master bathroom, where large expanses of glass provide a natural panorama. “It creates a sense of calm and unity, which is something I really wanted to achieve,” the wife says.
Such calmness carried over into the renovation process, which was overseen remotely. All pertinent parties would meet by Skype once a week. If the homeowners wanted to see something, the design team would simply walk around with a laptop. “It was extremely painless and efficient,” the wife says. Her husband concurs. “Jeff is a very meticulous contractor, and both he and Dana are tremendously trustworthy. I can’t say enough good things about them.”
Thanks to these professionals’ work, the couple have achieved what the husband calls the “perfect Canadian house in the desert,” awash in light and at one with nature. “When all is said and done, we really like our house,” the wife concludes. “It sort of takes my breath away every time I walk in.”