“Our houses really take the shape of our clients,” architect Mark Candelaria says of the projects his firm designs. That statement couldn’t be truer for a couple whose home he recently completed in Paradise Valley. The husband and wife, longtime Valley of the Sun residents, were looking to downsize and build a new home that matched their current phase of life. They spent years looking for the right lot when they came across the perfect one, situated on a hillside overlooking a private golf course and within walking distance of the neighborhood’s clubhouse. Best of all, the site offered idyllic southerly exposures and extraordinary views of Camelback Mountain.
The couple had developed a definite idea of what they wanted for their new home. In particular, they desired a residence that met their needs as grandparents, golfers and avid cooks. “They were wonderful clients,” Candelaria says. “They jumped right into the process and made their wishes clear.” In addition to satisfying the homeowners’ requests, the architect and his colleague, Jeff Kramer, recognized the importance of the mountain view, something they strove to capture through nearly every window in the house. The couple happily followed Candelaria’s lead in pulling together the 6,000-square-foot layout. “Over the course of a few meetings, Mark formulated a floor plan using puzzle-like pieces,” the wife says. “It was fun!”
That enthusiasm bubbled throughout the course of the project, which took two and a half years and reunited Candelaria with builder John Schultz, interior designer Donna Vallone and landscape architect Jeff Berghoff. As some of the most prominent Scottsdale firms, they had all worked with each other at one point or another, making this design plan particularly synergetic.
The resulting house, which Candelaria describes as “indoor-outdoor contemporary—but warm and cozy,” works exactly to the couple’s needs. It is built around the kitchen, which is as comfortable for two as it is for 10. A hub of the house, the space is outfitted with top-of-the-line equipment and was designed to be a welcoming place for both cooking and casual dining. A sizeable table and island take center stage, illuminated from above by a large skylight. “It was added to bring in natural light, because the patio to the south cuts out a lot,” Candelaria notes. Connected to the kitchen via a butler’s pantry is the more formal dining room, which features a distinctive cross-vaulted ceiling. “There are six surfaces to a room, yet the ceiling is often overlooked,” the architect points out. “This room is heaven.”
When it came to the interior design, the homeowners trusted their instincts and knew Vallone, whom they had met through mutual friends, was the right choice. “I love going outside the box, and the fact that Donna can do it so easily made us a perfect match,” the wife says. Likewise, the interior designer, who worked closely with associate Niki Saulino, relished the opportunity “to collaborate with clients who like a little eclecticism,” she says. “This house is upbeat.” Historical elements such as Canadian reclaimed-wood beams and French limestone floors mix with contemporary components like the glass wine cabinets that border the dining room, altogether creating a style Vallone considers transitional.
Playful elements, such as the chinoiserie tiger print on a living room chair and a Hunt Slonem bunny painting, add personality and inject a youthful feel for younger visitors. In a garden-themed guest room designed with the couple’s granddaughters in mind, a cheerful floral fabric melds with colorful paintings of little birds. “Everything felt serendipitous,” Vallone says.
The serendipity continues outside, where the owners gave Berghoff—whom they have worked with before—free reign to devise a lush Mediterranean-style landscape that provided plenty of greenery while respecting the surrounding environment. “It’s a phenomenal lot,” Berghoff says. “We created a garden feel with the lawn and its rose beds, jasmine and lavender while restoring the adjacent desert to its full glory to meet the constraints of the area.” The most verdant spaces abut the house, with terraces leading to a fire pit and to hidden areas like vegetable and cutting gardens. “Jeff mixed European and Southwestern concepts, and the result is beautiful,” the wife says. An indoor potting shed offers year-round puttering, and the landscape architect, who often joined in design meetings with Vallone, played off the residence’s rustic stone exterior by sourcing olive pots from France as well as a few new pieces that lend a sense of authenticity.
Yet perhaps the most authentic part of the project is the satisfaction the owners have living in the residence. Whether the couple are welcoming family members, cooking in their new kitchen or wrapping up a round on the fairway, they feel right at home thanks to their design team. “Mark was so creative and bursting with amazing ideas, and Jeff was one of the most methodical and brightest people we had ever met,” the wife says. “They were an architectural dream come true.”