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Adobe Abode

Author: Maria Matson
Issue: November, 2013, Page 98
Photos by Garrett Cook

Exposed adobe walls provide a textural, earthy backdrop for the living room of this home. A sleek table made out of sheet steel lends visual (and actual) weight, while an armchair upholstered with an Aubusson tapestry offers Old World appeal. Artwork by Phil Perry.

A Desert Home With Beautiful Bones Gets an Update of Family-Sized Proportions

Given the choice, Scott Fletcher would choose to live in an adobe home over any other kind. “I was raised in adobes,” he explains. “I just feel really comfortable in them; they remind me of home.” As an adult, he and his wife, Shelby, bought one in Tucson; and then another in Albuquerque. But when it came time for them to move to Phoenix, they thought the chance of finding one was slim. Then they stumbled upon a 5,700-square-foot adobe set on just over an acre in Paradise Valley.

“We scoured this town looking for a house that would work for us on a number of levels,” Fletcher recalls. “When we saw this one, we knew it was the perfect house. It was spectacular ... or could be spectacular.”

And now, six years later, it is spectacular, partly because two Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest had a hand in it: architect Clint Miller and interior designer Linda Robinson. Architecturally speaking, Miller describes the house as “a load-bearing adobe earthen structure that is exposed both inside and outside.” That is, what you see is what you get: It’s made of adobe, and that’s the material you see on the exterior and interior. But Miller’s feelings about adobe run deeper, too. “It’s kind of spiritual,” he comments. “You’re looking at the real thing. There’s a lot to be said for looking at the real deal and the simplicity of the real deal.”

Although the Fletchers say they bought the house because its bones were better than good, they knew the interiors needed an overhaul. For this they turned to Robinson, a designer Fletcher describes as “pretty special,” not just because she’s his mom, but because “she has incredible ideas; she’s from the future,” he remarks.

Anchored by a fireplace and situated near the pool, this inviting sitting area is partially sheltered by the canopies of nearby trees.
Like her son, Robinson is a fan of adobe. “It develops over time a beautiful soft patina, and I love the organic nature of it,” she says. “Inside, the rooms are very quiet because the mud absorbs sound, so there’s kind of a hush that is serene and quite lovely. Mud walls are the perfect starting point for me.”

Over the course of four years, Robinson led the remodeling, refinishing and furnishing of every room. But she didn’t do it alone; she had some help from a couple of kindred spirits: Fletcher and his sister, Stacey Giles. The three met regularly for lunchtime brainstorming sessions, often sketching ideas on cocktail napkins.

“I don’t know if it’s because I raised them or if they were just born with similar wiring to mine, but I can throw out an idea and they can both see it in their mind’s eye, too,” Robinson notes. “They just get it.”

The outcome, she says, looks as though no designer was involved, but rather that the pieces were collected over time. The mix of reclaimed-wood floors, antique doors, Oriental rugs and Contemporary artwork is pretty yet practical for the couple and their young daughter.

“The house is comfortable and yet kind of elegant, too,” Scott remarks. “Adobe does both things; it’s not showy and fancy, but it’s still sort of dressy at the same time.”

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