Finding a second home was a requirement for us when we moved from California to Arizona,” says Alden Hultgren, explaining that she and her husband, Hubert, wanted their children to be able to enjoy summers outside, not “stuck inside with the heat in Scottsdale.” After ruling out Lake Tahoe as too long a journey, the couple looked closer to home. “Once we found Pine Canyon and Flagstaff, we fell in love,” she remembers. Only a two-hour drive away, the location was convenient for weekend jaunts and winter holidays, too.
“After living most of our lives in mountain towns, including Vail and Park City, all we’d seen were traditional houses, but this felt like a chance to redefine what you can build in the mountains,” she continues. “People are attracted to more contemporary homes right now, but they assume a mountain home has to be rustic. We wanted to shatter that notion.” Those words delighted architect Mark Tate, who has since designed several more contemporary residences with builder Jason Vedadi in the neighborhood, a golf resort known for its championship course. “Everyone has this idea of Arizona being desert, but a large part of the state is an alpine environment and there’s been an influx of younger buyers up here that’s driving newer design themes in this historically traditional community,” he explains. “What we refer to as ‘modern mountain’—places like Martis Camp in Tahoe—hasn’t found its way to Arizona until now.”
Keeping true to his philosophy of “what makes a good house work,” Tate designed for the Hultgrens with as much glass as possible, “so you can always see outside as you move through the house,” he says, noting views of Humphreys Peak. (“Every window looks like a piece of art,” muses Alden.) Where the architect might typically employ flat roofs, he used shed roofs for snow. And he gave the exterior high-contrast siding to echo sunlight streaming through the trees. Because the house doesn’t read as a solid mass, it sits more comfortably in its surroundings, a site further enhanced with the addition of evergreens and flowering shrubs by local landscape firm Morning Dew. “This is our dream aesthetic: contemporary, tons of light, minimalist and true indoor-outdoor living,” continues Alden. “We fell in love with the floor plan, but watching the home go vertical was beyond expectation. We knew we wanted a second living area upstairs for the kids, but we’ve been surprised at how much we use it. Nearly all summer the doors are open to the deck and it becomes an extension of the home.”
For the interiors, the couple called on designer Lexi Lundberg to create clean but cozy spaces. (Alden and Lundberg knew each other from their hair salon, which Lundberg designed and where they even had a few meetings.) “I remember seeing the design boards for the first time and getting so excited. Lexi has an amazing vision—we asked her to help with everything, down to the sheets, bowls and soap,” recounts Alden. “The house needed to be minimal in decor but elevated,” explains the designer. “We didn’t want any feeling other than nature, so we kept to low-profile furniture and natural materials, with durability in mind,” she says. “They’re there to relax and enjoy their time—we didn’t want the interiors to require a lot of attention.” For continuity, she carried a palette of soft grays and natural woods throughout the home, warming each space with textural rugs, fabrics and accent pieces. “Modern lines but earthy elements,” is how she describes the mix, noting a trio of round baskets on the living room wall. “They help your eye go up and out. All the pieces play nicely together and just enhance the experience of being in the home.” Upstairs are guest rooms, bunk beds and play space for the boys, and the couple’s suite, a room so thoughtfully designed they can stargaze from the bed.
“It’s so important to create a place—a vacation home like this or just a space in your own home—that brings you peace,” continues Lundberg. “It’s hard not to feel that up here, but we really wanted to create spots they could just sink into.” And they have. Outdoor activities may beckon every season, but it’s the house that always wins, especially that upper deck. “It’s where everyone just wants to hang out,” says Alden. “You’ll find us out there almost every night.”