It’s challenging enough to craft a new home that speaks to its surrounding neighborhood of midcentury dwellings while simultaneously embracing the natural environment. But one that also blends the clients’ dueling styles—one Tuscan, the other Scandinavian—and adheres to local height restrictions meant to preserve mountain views? That’s a situation in need of a well-oiled team.
Designer Kaitlyn Wolfe, architect William Gansline and general contractor Landon Mondragon were more than willing to rise to the challenge to create a contemporary residence for a cosmopolitan couple in Paradise Valley. One of the first new houses built since the Arizona neighborhood was developed in the 1960s, the exterior materials played an important role in creating a sense of belonging. Clad with stucco and rust-colored porcelain tile accented by jet-black steel, the dwelling echoes and enhances the scenic desert landscape at the base of Camelback Mountain. “We wanted it to communicate with the environment,” Wolfe says. “That dialogue makes the home feel calm.”
Gansline strove to imbue the structure with an expansive feeling while still working within height restrictions. “We incorporated skylights to flood the interiors with natural light and created a wall of glass doors in the living room that pocket into the wall,” he says. “It provides this indoor-outdoor feeling.”
To balance the design leanings of both the husband, who formerly lived in an ornate Tuscan-style abode with darker wood tones, and the wife, who prefers a minimalist aesthetic, Wolfe turned to neutral shades. Concrete, steel and white oak play nicely with earthy browns, each component carefully considered. “It’s one thing to choose a variety of materials,” Mondragon notes. “But to have them work together is difficult. They nailed it.” The simple, streamlined furnishings the wife favored worked perfectly among the mix of wood, stone and metal. “I think the magic was bringing in midcentury pieces and lighting while still using some warmer tones and textures,” Wolfe muses.
Though the designer selected a neutral palette, the dwelling is anything but boring. In the kitchen, a sand-colored, three-dimensional tile backsplash plays off the simple taupe cabinetry. In contrast to the gray perimeter countertops, the island sports a white quartz with brown, gold and gray veining. “It’s a statement piece,” Wolfe says.
As is the dual-sided fireplace between the kitchen and living areas. Composed of textural black marble and hot-rolled steel, it separates the spaces without compromising flow. On the far wall, a built-in Macassar ebony bar with a cork wallpaper backsplash and polished quartz countertop adds to the drama.
The subtle color scheme extends into the primary bedroom, where gray plaster walls add dimension to the well-lit space. A pair of elegant black pendants with gold-leaf accents create glowing pools of light. The guest suite, by contrast, is rendered in white with a wall of drapery hanging behind the bed adding an ethereal quality. To ensure the room still relates to the rest of the home, Wolfe punctuated it with bronze-framed pendants and dark side tables.
The bathrooms are equally resplendent. The primary en suite features terrazzo-like porcelain, the large-format floor tile transitioning to a mosaic in the shower. A darker tile reminiscent of black marble surrounds the tub “just to give a little contrast,” Wolfe says. In a guest bath, a black tile-clad shower juxtaposes white oak cabinetry outfitted with a concrete backsplash and countertop. “You can move any finish to any part of the home, and it would still look good,” the designer notes. “It feels very intentional.”
That’s also the case for the exterior by landscape architect Philip Van Wyck, who incorporated a mix of desert and Mediterranean plants, such as yuccas, agave and cacti. A monolithic fountain in front of the residence, which sits relatively close to the street, provides a screen from passersby. “The gentle sounds of the water help create a sense of calm—something we all need,” Van Wyck says.
Another fountain elevates the backyard, which features areas for living and dining, including a counter-height bar that faces Camelback. It was a fantastic setting for the dinner the owners held for the team after the culmination of the project—just one of many gatherings they have hosted, entertaining guests nearly every weekend since moving into their new abode. “They rave about it,” Wolfe says. “That’s all I can ask for.”