Homeowners Cindy and Ryan Buell cherish the life they’ve built in Scottsdale. But when it came time to construct a larger house for their growing family, they wanted their new home to feel as if it were far away from the Arizona desert. “They wanted something fresh yet that had a bit of a European influence—and they didn’t remotely care for anything that was Southwestern,” says designer Kim Scodro, who has worked on two previous houses for the Buells. The couple had dabbled with color and a modern aesthetic before, but this time around, they sought classic styling with a much lighter palette. “This one was to be very different,” Scodro says, noting that her clients sought something sophisticated and timeless where they could settle down and raise their three young children.
That edict carried through the architecture, as well. “The interiors are very clean, very classic and very bright,” says architect Erik Peterson, who was recommended by the home’s builder, Steve Sommer. “They wanted the outside to be a reflection of that—not a lot of details or ornamental designs.”
Having never built a house before, Cindy says they had to rely on their design team to develop a layout that could accommodate their children and extended family. In response, Peterson planned zones that place public spaces front and center, with the children’s bedrooms and playroom on one side and, on the other, a master suite, office and gym. Second-floor guest suites for the couple’s parents are reachable by elevator. “Everyone has their own area,” Peterson says. “And the rooms each have their own scale.”
Scodro—working with design associates Jessica Leibovich and Kathryn Scodro, her daughter-in-law—chose art, furnishings and finishes that would connect the main spaces yet define each with its own character. The entry sets the tone with an abstract work the designer commissioned from Chicago artist Amy Donaldson, which takes its colors from fabrics Scodro used throughout the house. Its hues, for example, reappear on the living room’s accent pillows and the dining room chair trim. “The idea was to have a flow,” she says.
Another aesthetic thread weaves through the living room and kitchen in the glazing on each room’s built-in cabinetry. A large archway joins the two spaces, so Scodro wanted them to be complementary—in form and function: The white indoor-outdoor fabric on the living room sofas is immune to watermelon and Popsicles, Cindy says, both of which she has washed away easily. “We didn’t realize how livable it would be,” she adds.
Family considerations went into nearly every space. The dining room’s dramatic floor-to-ceiling wine chiller is a nod to Cindy’s father, an avid wine collector. He is storing much of his collection in half the space, while the Buells have started building their own stock in the other half. “That wine cooler—that’s the art,” Scodro says. From there, she designed a herringbone-brick pattern to line a barrel ceiling, which Cindy requested because it makes the space feel like a tasting room.
The property itself also had much to do with the home’s design. Although the house backs up to a golf course, the Buells wanted to capture the side views toward Scottsdale, as well. Sommer obliged by climbing a 14-foot ladder on the land before breaking ground. He used a GPS to record the proper sight line, which Peterson then designed into the plan for the home’s upper decks. “We had to adjust the whole floor plan,” Peterson says. The Buells got lucky, Sommer adds, because most lots face either the golf course or the city. “Not many of the homes here can capture both the views in such a special way,” he says.
The two decks that offer those views flank the second floor’s bar and TV lounge, which was a priority for Ryan. Here, Scodro used a darker palette with saturated blues and deeper wood tones that make the custom-paneled bar a standout. Light prevails, however, as French doors on three sides open to the decks and to Juliet balconies overlooking the living room below.
Landscape architect Beth Webster made just as much of an impact outside, filling out tiered gardens in front and highlighting the backyard and pool terrace with potted flowering plants. “We wanted a lot of color, green and lushness—to the degree we can do that in the desert,” Webster says. Crowning the front and back are drought- friendly Texas mountain laurel trees, which blossom with huge clusters of purple flowers that smell like grape soda. Marigolds and coral-colored autumn sage also dot the property, along with daylilies and Arizona yellow bells.
The pool, meanwhile, was sited behind the master wing, so that it could be fenced off from unattended children and leave a large lawn centrally situated where the kids can play. Those kinds of design details throughout the project were deliberate, Scodro says, and contribute to an elegant plan that’s also kid-friendly. “Everyone worked together to get Cindy and Ryan this result,” she says. “This is where they will build their memories and raise their children.”