For Chris and Molly Loughney, the husband-and-wife team behind Phoenix design-build firm Fitch Hill, creating a new abode for themselves was a chance to examine the many facets of their life together. How might they craft a dwelling that emphasized wellness while also serving as a home base for their growing company? The answer came in some clever—and surprising—ways.
“We were living in an apartment in Scottsdale and four years into designing for our clients when we decided to be proactive about creating a place for ourselves,” Chris says. While away on vacation, they talked through starting a family and what the concept of home meant to each of them. “We just needed to focus on us and plan our lives,” he adds.
Topping their shared list of must-haves was more square footage, interior spaces with a peaceful energy, and a backyard that felt both like an extension of the residence as well as its own little getaway. “We have similar aesthetics, so we’re pretty much aligned on the things we like,” Molly says, noting their mutual love of neutral colors and natural materials that patina with time. “I gravitate toward the look of classic European country estates but with modern details and clean lines,” she explains, while Chris says he is “more about the emotional comfort of a calming space.”
The couple (he’s a general contractor originally from Connecticut; she’s an interior designer with roots in Indiana) worked with architect David Dick to draw up their vision for a thoroughly contemporary home that also fit stylistically into the Biltmore-area neighborhood. “It’s mostly midcentury ranch houses that are being rehabbed now,” Chris notes, who knew the location well from previous projects. The result is a design that bridges past and present. “Traditional homes have a lot of symmetry, but ours has asymmetrical gables on the front façade that make it look a bit more modern,” he adds. The black-and-white exterior palette paired with copper gutters adds to the contemporary aesthetic.
This mingling of old and new extends throughout the interiors. “I wanted the whole place to be light and bright with warm tones that make us feel at home,” Molly explains. “This was a chance to explore ideas I’d proposed for clients, but it was also a challenge because it was so personal,” she says, noting the kitchen designed for Chris, who loves to cook, as well as the placement of meaningful decor, such as driftwood collected on their travels.
Practicality was also a guiding force. Rather than sourcing a pricey marble surround for the living room fireplace, they chose a plaster finish that resembles cast stone. And instead of custom shelving for the dining room, the couple found a pair of arched iron cabinets that they recessed into the wall. Molly also focused on sourcing durable fabrics, leathers and washable rugs that could stand up to their Saint Bernard, Walter. “He’s the sweetest dog,” Chris describes. “A big bundle of love and slobber.”
To reinforce the wellness aspect they craved, the couple designed their bedroom to overlook the backyard, which features multiple lounging areas, a fireplace, small pool and meditation bench with a waterfall, all surrounded by mature trees. “We wanted the bedroom to be connected to the outside, and it feels like a retreat—waking up to that is wonderful,” Molly says. Minimal furnishings and simple linen draperies add to the airy feel.
But what truly surprises in this most subtle of houses is the 1,500-square-foot basement. Going below ground meant they could go bigger with greater efficiency and without changing the architectural scale of the neighborhood. Occupying the level are offices for each of them, a presentation space for client meetings (this is company headquarters, after all), living and dining areas, guest accommodations, a wine bar and a golf simulator. “Basements aren’t common here, but we’re getting a lot of questions about them now,” Chris notes. “I think we’ve set a trend.”
The Loughney home reflects their individuality, but that it’s also captured the imagination of fellow Phoenicians is proof of its ingenuity. “Phoenix is the fifth-largest U.S. city now. It doesn’t have to be a follower anymore, it can be a leader,” Chris says. “We have the people, the companies and incredible artisans—there’s just a lot of talent here.”