When designers Jamie Drake and Caleb Anderson began planning the interiors for a longtime client’s second home in Paradise Valley, Arizona, they were confident they had a strong sense of the residents’ taste, which had always leaned toward elegant neutrals. “After 20 years,” says Drake, “we have a dialogue.”
Occasionally, however, people surprise you—as their clients did when the designers brought them to stone yards in Phoenix during the planning stages. “They were attracted to very vibrant stones, much to my surprise,” Drake says. One grand slab of marble in particular, in shades of tangerine and green, was “extraordinarily dramatic” and ended up as the exquisitely high surround for the fireplace. It also became the departure point for the airy, five-bedroom home that maximizes views of Camelback Mountain and desert environs.
But the setting doesn’t just offer stunning vistas. The home, which was built on two adjacent lots situated on a corner, provided a “backyard that was lush enough to enjoy with their family,” says architect Vivian Ayala, who, with partner Mark Candelaria, did the architectural designs. Working with builder Rod Cullum, they created an open plan on the ground floor, taking advantage of the surroundings by installing sliding glass doors in the double-height great room that center on indoor-outdoor living.
With the dramatic fireplace and wide-open design setting the stage, Drake and Anderson knew the rest of the finishes needed to rise to the occasion. “Part of this project, as in all of ours,” explains Drake, “is complexity of materials. It’s innate in both Caleb and me to create things that are unique and unusual, and we do that through the use of surprising combinations.”
Picking up on the palette of the 20-foot fireplace surround, the marble of the kitchen island features the same shades but in darker tones and a more concentrated pattern. The designers then added a striking mix of quartz, quartzite, Corian, enameled steel, lacquer and a leather-wrapped refrigerator door. Emerald green marble in the adjacent powder room ups the drama factor. Celadon porcelain pavers cover the main floor throughout, grounding the space with a fresh neutral.
When it came to furnishings, Drake and Anderson listened to the residents’ request for the home to feel like an Arizona residence, one that reflected hot days and cool nights. Says Drake, “They wanted sort of a Southwest color story, but I think one can be poetic with those directions. It can be derived from the palette, but in its own unique way.”
They pulled in the colors of the regions: the vibrant red blossoms of the Indian paintbrush plant, the blue-greens of faded turquoise, and the fiery oranges of sunrises and sunsets. A large celadon silk-and-wool rug with orange accents anchors the soaring great room with “a beautiful tonality enhanced by the way the light picks up on the silk,” notes Drake, while a softly structured sectional in the same pastel hue delineates the living area from the kitchen and nearby dining area. A sculptural low table—a series of stacked shapes made by Stefan Bishop of Monterey pine, —recalls the organic sensibility of the rugged mountain as well as the stepping stones alongside the pool, part of the landscape design by Jim Lucas. Orange accents—from throw pillows to the lively landscape triptych visible on the overlooking loft—inject energy through these main living areas, while the master suite is dressed in the quieter tones of sage, celery, mint and rust, and where textures range from silk to leather to onyx.
When it came to art, the 20-year relationship yielded another advantage—Drake and Anderson have an innate understanding of the clients’ taste and curated a collection that they knew would work well with both their preferences and the design. On a wall in the dining area, illuminated by plentiful outdoor light from the sliding glass doors, a commanding abstract painting by Dan Christensen features a circular shape echoed by the placement of a lit orb porcelain sculpture by Barnaby Barford at the center of the great room.
That sense of surprise and visual interplay was an objective for Drake and Anderson at the outset, a kind of joy that the residents entrust in interior designers to bring to their space. To this day, the pair still sees fresh connections. “Caleb and I enjoy spaces that continue to delight the eye beyond the initial impression,” says Drake, “so while you’re in the space you continue to discover interesting juxtaposition between things.”