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For The Home

Mountainside Living

Author: Terri Feder
Issue: September, 2013, Page 106
Photos by Garrett Cook

Vibrantly hued Swan bar stools create visual drama in the kitchen, which was kept devoid of accessories at the homeowner’s request. Bronze granite countertops with a leather finish, a custom glass backsplash behind the range, and a copper hood embellished with a textured white gold trim exude warmth and a sense of fine craftsmanship. Walnut plank floors are laid in a diamond pattern.



Clean Lines, Splashes of Color, and Exotic Finishes Elevate One Man’s Home to an Expression of Artistry

The German writer Goethe once wrote, “Music is liquid architecture, and architecture is frozen music.” For interior designer and former opera singer Esther Boivin, ASID, effective design is much the same as a well-crafted musical composition—it should provoke emotion, be timeless, have a recurring leitmotif, or theme, with contrasting ideas, and create a lasting impression.

Boivin, who hails from French-speaking Canada and has the mellifluous accent to prove it, set out to do just that when Tim Tyson engaged her in 2011 to design the interiors of what he describes as his “dream home.” Set among the hills of Scottsdale’s Desert Mountain community, the residence boasts eight fireplaces, four bedrooms, a dining room with adjacent glass-walled wine room, a vodka room, a bar and billiards room and so much more. It is, in short, not your average bachelor pad.

The designer’s challenge: to find a way to marry the home’s architecture and composition with her client’s design preferences and her own eye for what works. “Tim wanted Tuscan; the architecture is somewhat Contemporary; the sandstone used on the walls is Mission; and I tend to favor clean lines,” explains Boivin. It would take nearly two years to complete the project from the beginning of the construction to the installation of the interiors—including all finishes and furnishings—and to satisfy both her expectations and those of her client.

With architecture by Shelby Wilson, this custom home features sandstone from Texas, which had to be hand-carried to the site due to the rocky terrain.
As one journeys from one unique space to the next in the flowing, fortress-like home, what stands out is the array of unique finishes the designer wove in and the detail that went into how they were incorporated. From the radiating wallpaper that was custom-cut to create an asymmetrical geometric pattern on the vodka room’s ceiling, to the quartzite flooring in the foyer that shimmers and glows at night when the light catches it, to the shiny brass floor tiles and stamped leather walls of the powder room, the home is brimming with visual and tactile treats at every turn.

Boivin, who has traveled and lived throughout the world and credits those experiences as much as her education in helping to hone her designer’s eye, says, “I pay a lot of attention to ceilings and floors. I believe that a house needs to be beautiful even when it’s empty. That’s why I use so many different floor patterns and materials. When the floor itself is gorgeous, you don’t need a rug. When furniture is sculptural, you really don’t need to accessorize.”

For textiles and furnishings, Boivin opted to go with soft, patternless fabrics, such as mohair, as well as comfortable, enticing furniture. She explains, “There’s so much rhythm going on with all the stone, the architecture and Tim’s extensive art collection. If I would have chosen patterns, it would have been too much.”

Another signature Boivin touch is the judicious use of vibrant color, as evidenced in the kitchen stools covered in citrine mohair and the cobalt-blue chairs of the vodka room. “Everything has to be balanced, but then I like to add something bold and unexpected to make a statement, like a splash of color,” she notes.

When all was said and done, homeowner Tim Tyson got the “personal castle” he had  dreamed of, with interiors that went well beyond his imagination. “This is probably the last house I’m ever going to live in, so I wanted it to be very special yet still very liveable. And that’s what Esther gave me,” he says. “My house is the one that all my buddies love coming to and hanging out at, which is really the best part of it.”

Flagstone was used on the pool patio, where homeowner Tim Tyson enjoys entertaining.

In the high-ceilinged piano room, Esther Boivin chose simple furnishings—soft, enveloping brown leather wingback chairs grouped around an earthy wood-slab coffee table. She kept it “quiet” here so as not to compete with the sandstone walls, travertine-plank floors laid in a herringbone pattern, and the bronze sculptures displayed in stone niches. The sculpture that appears here is by Marie Barbera. The entrance to the adjacent vodka room can be seen below the balcony.
With its radiating sunburst
ceiling, floor-to-ceiling labradorite bar wall, vibrant blue mohair chairs, leather hide floors, and sculptural glass-topped iron table, the vodka room is a jewel box of exotic finishes and superb craftsmanship. Architect Shelby Wilson came up with the idea for this room and for extending the shape of the triangular window to the library above. Paintings by artist Tom Darrow dress the walls.


In the billiards room and bar, signed hockey jerseys cover one wall, serving as sartorial wallpaper. The homeowner, a former hockey player and all-around sports enthusiast, enjoys hanging out with his friends here. Mohair-upholstered stools line the bar, while walnut wood planks clad the floor. The ceiling was covered in burlap and then treated with Venetian plaster. Says Esther Boivin, “I wanted something darker here, something with presence because the ceiling is so high.”
Just off the bar and game room, this powder bath features a textured coconut wall covering, floating wood-slab counter with natural edge, hand-crafted copper backsplash, and a natural bronze papillon vessel sink with a bronze wall faucet. Two simple pendants hang from the dropped copper ceiling. The mirror is antique and boasts copper feathers. The arched door is made of African mahogany.


In the family room, which is adjacent to the kitchen, comfort reigns supreme in super-soft leather lounge chairs and a mohair and leather sofa. A painting by artist G. Harvey entitled The American Cowboy hangs on the fireplace wall. Draperies in a metallic copper fabric dress a set of French doors. Displayed on a small accent table is a bronze figure entitled The Guardian by sculptor Michael D’Ambrosi. The coffee table is made of a highly polished dragonwood.

Photos - Clock-wise from top left: Intricately carved African mahogany doors leading to the master suite open to a glass wall revealing a verdant view of the landscape. Flooring here is quartzite. • Stamped leather tiles clad the walls, and brass tiles in four different patinas distinguish the floor of this powder room. “I wanted a geometric pattern on the cabinets and in the flooring. It had to be simple and clean,” explains interior designer Esther Boivin. The bronze vessel sink is coupled with a matching bronze faucet. The art glass countertop, with its green and bronze rivulets, echoes the tones of the flooring. • In the guest bath, a classic, freestanding white vessel tub resides on a rug composed of metallic and glass tiles. A rustic copper “bridge” faucet streams water into the tub as if from an underground well. The stone niches hold electrified wax candles with bulbs that flicker. Giallo Antico travertine clads the floor. • Just off the home’s entry and warmed by a massive stone fireplace, the dining room features a domed ceiling inlaid with onyx mosaic tile left ungrouted to allow the tile’s shape to stand out. A glass-walled wine room at one end holds more than 500 bottles. The iron chandelier is custom. On the wall is an ornate beaded Native American war shirt.

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