After living in a Newport Beach, California, condo for many years, a semiretired commercial real estate executive splurged on a sprawling contemporary dwelling near Pinnacle Peak in Scottsdale. She was tired of sharing walls and had always adored the desert. “I was ready for a change,” she says. “I call this my ‘big girl’ house.”
Originally designed by architect Mark Tate and built by his wife, Lisa Tate, the home boasts a mix of rustic board-formed concrete and precision concrete block. Black basalt tile and smooth travertine beautifully accent the man-made materials. “They contrast both texturally and from a color standpoint,” Mark notes.
Large expanses of glass capture views of the surrounding rocky terrain, while clerestory windows offer enticing glimpses of the mountain peaks in the distance. “I want my clients to live in the environment, not just look at it,” the architect muses. “The idea is to bring the outside in not just when you’re stationary, but when you’re moving through the house as well.”
The modernist manse instantly resonated with the new homeowner, but she felt that the stark interior material palette was a bit austere. After consulting with Mark, she discovered his original plans had included a much warmer milieu with a wooden ceiling in the living room. Armed with this understanding of how the space could be made cozier, the owner asked interior designer Sue White Heinz to help her personalize the dwelling. The two have been friends for decades, which made for a deep understanding of each other’s tastes. “My design style is a little less structured and looser than hers,” Heinz says. “She wanted to infuse that feeling into this house.”
They quickly realized Mark’s vision by cladding the living room ceiling in cedar. The second-floor guest space already featured a wooden ceiling that flows out to the underside of the roof, so they knew the addition would make a big impact, both visually and acoustically. Heinz extended the use of wood paneling to the primary bedroom, this time bringing the material down to the fireplace wall as well. “Now you feel enveloped in a warm space,” the designer notes.
To that same end, a vibrant mix of Moroccan and Southwest-style rugs as well as furnishings covered in sumptuous textural fabrics create a funky, bohemian feel. A wool rug anchors a mohair sofa and pair of alpaca-covered chairs in front of the living room’s board-formed concrete fireplace. Meanwhile, a pair of pendants with cloud-like fabric shades softly illuminate a custom Mimi London waterfall-style walnut table surrounded by mohair-upholstered chairs in the open kitchen. There, a newly added veiny quartzite backsplash in a neutral hue juxtaposes glossy cabinetry.
Large hand-carved wooden bowls likewise provide a warm contrast to a concrete wall in the passageway that leads to the primary bedroom suite. At the end of the hall, a floor-to-ceiling window frames vistas curated by landscape designer Chad Norris, who enhanced the rocky landscape with a variety of cacti and spherical agave. “I treated these corridors as picture frames to stunning, artistic arrangements,” he explains.
Concrete planters filled with such foliage ensure the upstairs patios are equally stimulating. Inside, a pair of wood-and-cane chairs atop a multicolored rug face floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a long view of the city. “I call it my retreat,” the owner says of the second-floor space. Thanks to a custom Dale Chihuly chandelier suspended in the glass-enclosed stairway, the view is equally enticing for passersby. Indeed, so many people have commented on the piece that the owner jokes she should probably charge admission. “We had to put something fabulous there, and it’s stunning,” the designer adds.
Thrilled with the way Heinz brought the space to life, the owner enjoys hosting friends and family for gatherings big and small. During a recent soiree, she and her guests sipped wine and cocktails on the partially covered poolside patio, which includes areas for cooking, dining and relaxing. Clad with dark basalt tile, the outdoor fireplace makes for a particularly cozy gathering spot. “It’s my yummy house,” the owner laughs. “I’ve never lived in such a calming space.” The home is now, as Mark says, “everything it was destined to be.”