“I wanted this house to feel like it was pulled from the ground,” a Paradise Valley homeowner muses. “It was designed to be a dwelling.” What he means by this term, he explains, is that he and his wife wanted the abode to be much more than simply a place to live. “This is a place to plant roots,” he says.
Knowing they needed a visionary team to achieve this goal, the couple turned to residential construction advisor Keith Galbut to assemble a group of renowned design pros: designers Anita Lang and Gil Pinto of IMI Design, architect Mark Candelaria and residential designer Damon Wake, and builder Brett Brimley. Their directive? To create a generational home that would reflect both the desert and the husband and wife’s respective histories in Guatemala and Michigan. “They wanted it to be very family oriented and livable,” Candelaria explains. “They didn’t want a sterile home.”
Five years later, the result is a contemporary stucco abode with expansive floor-to-ceiling and clerestory windows that frame mountain peaks and flood the interior with light. Natural materials inspired by the surroundings add a sense of warmth and timelessness to the linear architecture. “We wanted to connect to the vernacular of the Sonoran Desert,” Lang says. “What that meant to us was pulling materials that would be representative of that topography and terrain.”
A prime example being the massive floating fireplace made of rammed earth in the great room. Resembling the strata of Arizona mountains, it creates a powerful focal point. “It’s like a magnet that holds the energy of the house, you cannot help but be drawn to it,” Candelaria comments. Although smaller in scale, another double-sided, rammed-earth fireplace likewise energizes the primary bedroom suite, creating a sense of separation between the living and sleeping areas.
The careful selection of materials didn’t end with the fireplace, Lang notes. Large-scale, leathered-limestone flooring, rift-sawn oak cabinetry and oak-plank ceilings were all chosen for their “natural tones, texture and authenticity,” she notes. “The overall feel is nurturing.”
And to an extent, she means that literally, as the health-focused wife grows vegetables and herbs in the house’s center solarium, which showcases a verdant living wall—a purposeful nod to the greenery in her home state. References to the husband’s South American roots are likewise sprinkled throughout the property. To wit, carved Mayan masks adorn the walls in the flex room, a cozy gathering spot for the family to curl up and watch TV. And the oak bar in the great room is accented by a raffia paper with a basket-weave texture that resembles the Zacapa rum label.
The organic nature of the home drove the furnishings. “In a space like this where I’m downplaying color, texture and form are especially important,” Lang explains. In the great room, a tailored Italian sectional and a pair of sculptural 1970s-era chairs with cognac-leather cushions by Brazilian designer Sergio Rodrigues surround a custom oak coffee table with interlocking layers—a piece that was inspired by the area’s eroded canyon walls.
In another vernacular nod, this time to Arizona’s copper-mining industry, see the tiered copper chandelier in the dining area that illuminates a round table with a petal-like base. Both the light and the table’s shape reinforce the owners’ concept of bringing people together. “A circle is all about community,” the husband says, noting that such connections can also be made in the hot tub or around the fire pit. “Everyone can look each other in the eyes and have conversations.”
To enhance this entertaining vibe and facilitate an indoor-outdoor lifestyle, Candelaria placed the bar near the sliding doors off the great room. “When the doors are open, the living room, in essence, becomes your patio,” he comments. “It energizes the whole space.”
After the years-long project wrapped up, the couple didn’t wait long to use the home as they’d always intended. Shortly after moving in, they hosted a birthday party for the husband, hiring a DJ and providing guests with headphones to ensure the festivities could continue well into the evening without violating local noise ordinances. It’s just the first of many jovial gatherings they plan to hold. “This is a place to build memories and deeper relationships with people we value, hopefully for many generations,” the husband says. “This is where our family has planted its roots.”