Float Above The Landscape In This Modern Desert Marvel


A steel house is built...

Clad in unfinished, hot-rolled steel intended to rust and patina over time, a minimalist marvel designed by architect Andy Byrnes almost floats above the landscape of Camelback Mountain.

An entryway with terrazzo floors...

Architect Andy Byrnes kept the material palette of his Camelback Mountain home to a minimum, leaning heavily toward oak, steel and glass. The terrazzo floors are the work of Advance Terrazzo Co., while the millwork is by AK Studio.

A living rooom with a...

In the living room, which enjoys both mountain and city views, natural wood cladding meets troweled plaster above. The leather DWR sectional sofa lends an earthy tone alongside Hive Modern Repos lounge chairs, an Eames lounge and ottoman, and a custom marble coffee table.

An dining space that opens...

In the dining room, custom pendant lights hover over a Paola Lenti table. On the wall is La Vida Nueva by Erik Gonzales.

A minimalist kitchen with a...

With its clean lines, the kitchen is an expression of Byrnes and his wife’s penchant for minimalism. Created by AK Studio, the kitchen features countertops from Picasso Tile & Stonework, Gaggenau appliances and a Colorado Yule Marble backsplash.

A back patio with a...

A slender pool by DGA pools nestles into the mountainside, with a Pete Deise sculpture holding court above. Both the art and mountain views can be enjoyed over dinner around the outdoor dining set from DWR.

Desert landscaping outside the house.

For every aspect of the home’s aesthetics, Byrnes took fuction into consideration. The elegant sculptural spheres installed throughout the landscaping hide the septic system.

A bedroom with orange abstract...

Bathed in sunlight, the soothing milieu of the second bedroom includes a Nest Bed from DWR, a custom stainless steel side table and artwork by Hilario Gutierrez.

A bathroom vanity that looks...

The views from the homeowners’ bathroom often feature cameos from local wildlife. The medicine cabinets, paired with an AK Studio vanity, were designed by The Construction Zone.

A bedroom with terrazzo floors...

Texture sets the tone in the main bedroom. Byrnes designed a bed with a leather-wrapped headboard and punctuated it with a Lightform Lighting fixture.

It all began as a business decision. Architect Andy Byrnes was looking for a piece of land to build a home to showcase the work of his design-build firm. So, he turned to his girlfriend, Shawna Glazier, owner of BeSpoke Real Estate, who found him the perfect spot—an unusual lot set against the landscape of Arizona’s Camelback Mountain. Byrnes knew the site would be challenging, but also that it would be worth it in the end.

And it was—in more ways than one. As the project began to take shape, and the couple’s relationship progressed to marriage, they began to rethink their initial goal. Maybe rather than a showcase, it was meant to be their home.

It’s easy to see why. The minimalist, monolithic house appears to float above the landscape, thanks to Byrnes’s architectural design, taking in views from Praying Monk all the way through the hump of Camelback. Byrnes’s priority was to capture every possible view from its best vantage point, sloping the roof so that it opened up the side of the house to be almost a continuous wall of glass. “The idea is that, at night, the base disappears and becomes black and there’s just this floating transparent box up against the hill,” he explains.

It was also important that the exterior, though eye-catching, required no maintenance. The house is clad in unfinished, hot-rolled steel, so that it patinas with age. Retaining walls of Cantera stone keep the structure stable. But, while minimalist in essence, the architecture is undeniably expressive. “One of my philosophies about architecture, especially because I’m also a builder, is that the structure expresses itself,” Byrnes explains, noting the columns on the building’s exterior that catch both the floor and roof structure. “You see that same rhythm inside the house. There’s this very obvious structural diagram.”

For the interiors, which Byrnes designed in collaboration with his firm’s lead designer Jessica Ruiz, they stuck to a limited material palette. Terrazzo floors provide continuity throughout, while the walls comprise various iterations of vertical oak—painted or stained white or black in some rooms and left natural in others.

Most of the furnishings and artwork are pieces Byrnes and Glazier have collected over the years, but new additions adhere to the same muted color theme, so as not to distract. “I was trying to stay low-key, with natural leather and tans,” he says. “There’s so much architectural detail that the interiors should be quiet. We lead our lives with a minimalist nature. There are four plates and four cups on the shelves in the kitchen—frankly, the house is full of empty cabinets!”

The home’s few flourishes exist mostly in its surrounding landscape—such as the ribbon-like metal Peter Deise sculpture fringing the Cantera stone wall above the pool—but most of them serve a function. In the yard, a series of sculptural spheres fashioned from rebar perched upon patterned rocks hide the septic system, while a trio of pipes act as roof scuppers to help with drainage during rainstorms, creating waterfalls much like those that run down the side of Camelback Mountain.

Much of the landscaping utilizes native plants that were already part of the lot—brittlebush and creosote bush and paddle cactus—but Byrnes and his team did bring in two large ironwoods and two palo verdes for an added touch of arboreal drama. “It anchors the whole house in a way that it seems that the house has been there a lot longer than it has,” he says.

Now that they’ve been living there a little over a year, Byrnes and Glazier have no regrets about making the home their own. In fact, Byrnes says that every day when he wakes up, he’s faced with an enviable conundrum. “It’s hard for me to decide where to have coffee in the morning. That’s for sure.” And while he is reluctant to name just one favorite spot in the home, he’s partial to the shower in the main bathroom, where expansive windows look out onto the slope of Camelback Mountain. “This morning there was a 60-pound coyote standing on the rock in front of me as I took a shower,” he says. “It was very cool.”

Architect Andy Byrnes kept the material palette of his Camelback Mountain home to a minimum, leaning heavily toward oak, steel and glass. The terrazzo floors are the work of Advance Terrazzo Co., while the millwork is by AK Studio.