Contemporary architecture often gets a bad rap for being cold and austere, especially when it comes to homes. But while architect Cavin Costello and his wife, designer Claire Costello, might be known for their ultramodern, minimalist designs, an inherent warmth shines through each and every one of them. Their secret lies in a set of core values—but not their own. “We always ask our clients for mission statements for their homes,” explains Cavin.
Gina and Travis Cooper, who were looking to build a new dwelling for themselves and their two daughters on a secluded lot in Paradise Valley, really took to the concept. “I love Cavin’s approach,” Gina says, “because it asks things like ‘how do you live your best life in the house? What’s your ideal morning like? Where do you spend the most time? What’s the motto of your home?’ That was genius.”
The couple’s mission statement for their new abode was a simple one: a place to bring together friends and family to break bread, featuring open and light-filled spaces with a connection to the outdoors. Cavin, Claire and general contractor Mark Kozlowski, quickly realized that what the couple were asking for was similar to midcentury American ranch houses or ramblers. “Those were ultimately about informal indoor-outdoor living, sunshine and family,” Cavin says. “Making that connection really gave us a nice starting point.”
While the end result remains true to the Costellos’ signature contemporary aesthetic, the structure embodies many elements of the traditional rambler. A gabled volume at the home’s center distinguishes the entrance and main living area, flanked by low, linear flat roofs. The bedroom wing is separate from the living areas, while large glass windows and sliding glass doors flood the spaces with daylight and cross ventilation. The expansive, unconventionally sized flag lot allowed the designers to create a dwelling that stretches out into the landscape, drawing visitors into the courtyard’s embrace.
Most important to Gina was that the kitchen be at the heart of the home. “I grew up in a Latin family—my dad is Italian, my mom is Mexican and everyone gathers around the kitchen,” she says. “I love to cook, and I wanted a place where we could all come together.” With this in mind, Cavin positioned the kitchen at the center of the architectural H layout, making it a pivot point between the indoor and outdoor spaces as well as the bedroom and living wings.
“Our previous work really spoke to Gina,” Claire says of their design for the interiors. “She liked the combination of white with some high drama moments of black, wood or exposed concrete.” And that feeling of warmth inherent to The Ranch Mine was brought in via neutral browns, tans and coppers.
With a family in the furniture business and a mother who had worked as an interior designer, Gina had a keen vision for the home. So, while the Costellos gave her advice on the color palette and location of certain pieces, she sourced many of the finishes and furnishings herself. “This was my true time to do it my way and really pick every single piece with a lot of thoughtfulness,” Gina says. When it came time to choose tile, the Costellos assisted with a few guidelines. “Because the midcentury modern aesthetic was something that appealed to Gina, one of our general rules was the use of different geometric shapes as a guiding principle to her tile selection,” Claire explains. “You have the simple palette of neutral color, stone and wood, but you can really differentiate the scale, texture and interest from room to room by changing the geometries.”
While many designers might have felt nervous handing such creative decisions over to the client, the Costellos didn’t stress with Gina. “You never know what the clients will choose,” Cavin says. “But she picked a lot of great things. Once she had the parameters of what we were working with, she really filled in every piece excellently.” Unsurprisingly, the feeling of admiration is mutual. “They really captured my vision,” Gina says. “From what we expected to what we got, it’s just a dream come true.”