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For The Home

Desert Home

Author: Maria Matson
Issue: February, 2014, Page 82
Photos by Michael Woodall

An open floor plan keeps hosts and guests connected, whether cooking, dining or socializing. Basalt laid in a staggered pattern covers columns that mark the entrance to the kitchen. The same material is given a linear treatment on the range hood. A ceramic tile band is incorporated in the stainless steel tile backsplash, and white limestone clads the face of the dining bar.



A Light-Filled Desert Home Celebrates Its Site With Style

Like the mythological phoenix rising from
the ashes, so did this home in the northernmost reaches of Scottsdale.

“When the owners purchased the lot, a home there had burned down,” explains architect Allen F. Tafoya. “And the lot was down in a hole, so I suggested they raise it about 7 feet.”

They did, adding 18 inches of fill, compacting it, testing it; then starting all over again until the lot rose to its current level. “Coming up 7 feet took a lot of time and a lot of dirt, but it made a significant difference in their views,” Tafoya notes. With the nearby fairway and distant city now in clear sight, the design and build work moved forward.

“The homeowners wanted an open floor plan that included a gourmet kitchen. They wanted a large kitchen where they could have their guests participate in the food preparation. And they wanted it open to the living room, so they could still interact with visitors in that area,” Tafoya remarks. Another must-have was a master bathroom with early morning light. “That determined where we located the master bath, and the design grew from there,” he adds.

For their Arizona getaway, the Canadian homeowners also envisioned something on the Contemporary side of the architectural spectrum. “They didn’t want Pueblo, Santa Fe, Tuscan or Spanish Colonial,” the architect acknowledges. “So we gave them a home that fits into the desert, but with more of a sharp, crisp-edged design. Hiring Est Est is perfect for that kind of a home because that’s their real expertise.”

The dining area, punctuated with a painting by Jenny Foster, is situated at the far end of the open kitchen. It features a raised corner fireplace and Transitional furnishings with
an organic sensibility.
Est Est owner Tony Sutton—who was instrumental in the home’s early planning stages—assembled a team of three from his interior design firm. They worked closely with the homeowners, the architect, and builder Dan Couturier, from start to finish. “The homeowners were looking for a Contemporary residence, but they also like organic materials and they enjoy the desert,” states senior designer Elaine Alexander. “They wanted this home to look integral to the desert, bringing in the light and the landscape of Arizona.”

Because an abundance of light and landscape poured into nearly every space, Alexander—along with designers Lindsay Kadlick and Ashlyn Jones—specified custom stained glass from artisan Kevin Douds in areas where windows afforded perhaps too much visibility.

“The architect incorporated a lot of glass to bring the light in,” says Kadlick. “But in some areas, we also needed privacy. The clients really love art glass, so we used it throughout the house to meld privacy with art.”

Colors and materials that echo the outdoors were selected for every room, creating an uninterrupted visual path from indoors to out. “There is such continuity that you can flow from room to room without any jarring experience,” Alexander states. “There is a sense of ease, comfort and harmony throughout.”


A polished-granite vanity with integrated trough sink cuts into a white quartz column in the powder room. On the opposing wall, boldly patterned wallpaper is paired with a baseboard of black and white tiles. Flooring is black marble. The art glass doors provide access to the pool area.
The focal point wall in the main living space features chiseled stone intersected with horizontal bands of copper tiles, as well as built-in wood-veneer bookcases to display a collection of vessels. The barn-style sliding door to the right opens to a cozy study.


The master bathroom is a picture of cool, Contemporary sleekness. The narrow, corridor-type space is broken into segments accented with glass, including stained-glass windows, the vanity’s glass countertop and the crystal-link chandelier. “All this was selected with the idea of reflecting light, which makes the space appear larger and roomier,” Elaine Alexander declares.
The narrow, corridor-type space is broken into segments accented with glass, including stained-glass windows, the vanity’s glass countertop and the crystal-link chandelier. “All this was selected with the idea of reflecting light, which makes the space appear larger and roomier,” Elaine Alexander declares.

Photos - Clock-wise from top left: The designer also notes that the art glass windows provide privacy and add a curvilinear design element to an otherwise linear, clean-lined space. • “The pool water comes right up to the window of the master bedroom, so when you’re in the master suite, you feel as if you’re floating over the swimming pool,” says architect Allen Tafoya. The rock wall appears to cut through the house to form the bed wall inside. A boulder water feature adds to the sensory experience. • In the master bedroom’s sitting area, the fireplace face combines a mix of materials and textures. From the top down are a specialty plaster finish, granite ledge mantel, travertine surround and a granite hearth. • A soft putty and sage-green color palette echoes the hues found in the landscape outside the bedroom’s multiple windows. The wing bed is upholstered and the nightstands are wrapped in linen. Ceiling beams camouflage LED lighting. Flooring is wire-brushed oak.

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