An Oro Valley Residence Fits Nicely Into Its Surroundings


When builder Joseph McHallam speaks of the multiple roles he played in the design and construction of the Stone Canyon home he shares with his wife and family, he reflects both confidence and pride. “I wore many hats,” he says, laughing. “I’m a contractor with an eye for design and detail from 25 years of experience building high-end homes back in New England, so I guess you could say I already had a solid foundation in good taste.”

For this, his first home building venture in Oro Valley, McHallam partnered with architect Ron Robinette, who was involved early in the site selection. “The lot was on a golf course with great city and desert views,” Robinette recalls. “Though set on 2 acres, the building envelope was small with a strange configuration, and two-thirds of it was natural rock outcroppings in protected no-build zones. I was there primarily to make sure everything went smoothly and to assist with the process.”

McHallam and his wife directed the style of the home. “What was popular in the area at the time was either very Tuscan or hard-surface contemporary design,” he says. “But we didn’t feel like any of that was really us.”

With this in mind, Robinette’s architectural plan features a trio of individual volumes with gabled roofs that create distinct building forms—one housing the main living area, the second the family’s bedrooms and library, and the third a guesthouse/casita—joined by a pair of bridges. Approached from the long curved drive, finished with custom imperfect-edge pavers by Monarch Stone that mimic antique French limestone, the home appears to nestle into the natural surroundings. “It’s all linear, organized and symmetrical,” Robinette says.

“It fits perfectly into the lot like we had unlimited space to work with.” Part of the effect is the result of carefully sourced exterior materials, such as textured Telluride miner’s stone veneer, combined with stone caps and sills, rough-sawn fir posts and beams, wire-brushed wood windows, integral color stucco, and tile and metal roofing. Another is a purposefully planned landscaping design by Berenice Ainza of De Anza Construction and landscape contractor James Dawson, who worked together to complement the natural saguaro cacti and other desert flora, as well as the many rock outcroppings, both existing and man-made.

Inside, McHallam sought to balance the strong exterior elements with more refined finishes and detailing that spoke to his and his wife’s tastes, starting with imported antique French limestone and clear-stained walnut flooring, and continuing with custom-designed casing, baseboards, crown molding and other millwork. Of particular significance is the cabinetry, especially the kitchen system. “We took our ideas and sent them to Crown Point Cabinetry in New Hampshire,” McHallam explains. “The whole house, including the cabinetry, vanities and study, all showed up on a truck, blanket-wrapped like furniture. The quality was amazing.”

Furnishings, such as the Emanuel Morez Country Trestle dining table, a St. Germaine sofa from Cameron Collection and the Holly Hunt four-poster bed, were chosen to complement the design and scale of their respective rooms. In turn, area rugs, draperies, light fixtures, tabletop accessories, artwork and antiques were selected to personalize each space. “Everything is in the details,” McHallam says.

Outdoor areas were no exception. Just behind the living room, a swimming pool appears as a natural oasis edged by, and reflecting, the desert landscape. The surrounding pool patio connects to a series of outdoor seating areas defined by clusters of natural rock. “It’s the perfect place for the way we live,” McHallam says. “We created a warm and personalized space for our family and guests to enjoy and doing so much of it ourselves really made it feel like home.”