When Brian and Maury Harris spotted a spec-house rendering on an empty lot near Phoenix, they had just finished building a home nearby. Nevertheless, the young couple with four children couldn’t stop thinking about the renderings. Masterminded by general contractor Brad Leavitt, with input on the smart black- and-white classical facade from his wife, Ashley, the residence was geared toward indoor-outdoor living, with an enormous great room that opens to the backyard. “This was our first spec home,” Leavitt says. “We purchased the land and were excited to do something different. It’s really our dream home.”
As framing began, Brian and Maury decided to buy the house. The wife immediately called interior designers Dawn Terry and Megan Papworth, the mother-daughter team who had designed the Harrises’ previous home. “She said, ‘Before we go any further, can you help us make some changes so we can go our own way?’ ” Terry remembers. The answer was yes.
While Maury knew what she wanted–something a bit bolder stylistically than their previous home–the hard-working mother also wanted little involvement. “We’re at a busy phase of life right now,” she explains. “We have music lessons, a swimmer, a soccer player, dancers and tumblers. On top of that, Brian is running his businesses and traveling frequently. Building our first home was stressful for me, so I handed over everything to Dawn and Megan.” With that, the interior designers reconsidered the plan but kept key features like the kitchen cabinetry and decorative ceilings that were part of the original project by interior designers Kacie Lilley and Stacy Scharf of K&Q Interiors.
The five-bedroom house, which Leavitt built with architect Ben Palmer, offers some 5,000 square feet of living space but looks even larger with a decorative balcony above the front door that gives the illusion of a second story. Its black-and-white palette also makes it a standout in a neighborhood of terracotta Tuscans. “People stop and take pictures,” Leavitt says. But there’s a lot that passersby don’t even see, like the clever plan that eschews typical hallways for wide passageways that function more like rooms, and spaces that can shift roles as the children grow. Down the road, for example, the piano room off the great room could be enclosed and made into a guest room or a library.
That sense of longevity was key to the decor, too. “We like to keep the major elements classic, such as wood floors that will still look good 40 years from now,” explains Terry, who, in general, handles a project’s big-picture items like finishes, tile and flooring. Papworth, on the other hand, focuses on the furnishings. “We have separate areas, but we overlap,” she says. “We really don’t butt heads.” The duo also yields to each other’s knowledge, Terry adds. “In this case,” she says, “Megan is Maury’s age, so I deferred to her on finishes that felt youthful.” These include black walls on both sides of the living room replace, where the interior designers hung decorative African mud cloth–an element that drove the overall aesthetic.
Working with designer Amanda Egbert, who acted as project supervisor, Terry and Papworth created multiple seating areas at one end of the great room, combining a cream sofa with a dark gray sofa in one section and pairing light gray modern armchairs in another. “We call the look and styling of the seating areas ‘boho modern,’” Papworth says. The space connects to the kitchen through an adjoining dining room and ties back to it through the continuing black-and-white theme. “We made the great room walls the same color as the kitchen island for uniformity,” Papworth says. “White, black and gray are timeless, so that was our base, but we added blues and pinks for warmth.” Notably, these pops of colors appear in a painting from Christie Adelle in the dining room, an otherwise warm, modern space with earthy elements, such as a rattan hutch and a light fixture wrapped with rope.
The color story continues in the master suite, a lofty space with 12-foot high ceilings, plenty of windows and a mix of dark and light tones. “It’s just beautiful, and nothing overpowers,” Terry says. The room’s deeper hues relate to the interior of Papworth’s favorite space in the house: the master bathroom. “The dark ceiling beams balance out the black re surround and the barn door to the bathroom,” she explains. “From the black shower walls to the 8-inch countertop slab and the modern lighting, it’s a very peaceful retreat.”
Importantly, the interior designers made sure not to waste any space–a home element that attracted the Harrises in the first place. “The flow makes sense, and we love the open, inviting feel,” Maury says. “It’s the perfect party house.” And a classic one at that, Papworth adds: “We achieved a sophisticated look. Every room looks polished and feels complete.”