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For The Home

Southwest-Style Home

Author: Terri Feder
Issue: February, 2014, Page 72
Photos by Scott Sandler



A Southwest-Style Home Exudes Deft Detail and Fine Craftsmanship at Every Turn

Acclaimed designer Charles Eames once said, “The details are not the details; they make the design.” When it comes to designing and building a custom house, every nuance, every element—no matter how small—should matter to all parties involved. The property featured here illustrates what can happen when a team of contributors who all care deeply about a project and listen to one another, unites. Enter architectural designer Bonnie Tuttle, builder Michael McGwin, landscape architect Michael Rockwell, and the homeowners, Cindy and Terry Stewart—all who spent more than three years collaborating on and realizing this property in Fountain Hills, Arizona.

Deftly sited by Tuttle, the 7,476-square-foot home, which is cut 20 feet into the side of a mountain, takes advantage of every available view; and they are ubiquitous. To the east, out the great room’s floor-to-ceiling glass wall, is an unobstructed vista of Four Peaks. To the southeast, beyond the breakfast nook’s windowed bay, is a clear shot of the fiery-hued Red Mountain.

It was this lot, which seems to float just beneath the clouds, with a golf course below, that led Terry Stewart to convince his wife, Cindy,—an interior designer from Michigan—to build a custom abode after spending just over a week in their new Scottsdale condo. “We moved into our condo in 2004. Ten days into living there, my husband took a drive to the Fountain Hills Post Office, which should have been a half-hour drive. Three hours later, he returned, announcing, “We’ve made a terrible mistake. I found this amazing place, and it’s where we belong. Within three weeks, we found this lot,” states Cindy. “Once the new house was built, we sold the condo.”

The 15-foot-high great room has a warm, intimate feel. It features a kiva-style fireplace, reclaimed-oak flooring and a staircase with an array of hand-painted Mexican tiles cladding its risers. Custom hand-forged wrought-iron railings speak to the level of craftsmanship that went into the home.
Kismet struck again as the couple drove through their new neighborhood. Admiring the architecture of many homes, they spotted one owner and asked who had designed his residence. “This man just raved about Michael McGwin and through him, we met Bonnie,” Cindy recalls. “After that, it all fell into place.”

The results of the 27-month-plus design-and-build process are exceptional. Not only does the home’s Santa Fe- and Southwest-inspired architecture entice, the high-end furnishings and finishes, along with the fine craftsmanship with which every nook was built, also impress. Among the most outstanding materials in the home are the mortise and tenon-jointed beams cladding most ceilings. Some are hand-hewn pine and oak harvested from 175- to 200-year-old barns in Canada; others are composed of new peeled-pine vigas. Equally outstanding are reclaimed, random-width oak flooring culled from a federal building that was built in 1860 in Arkansas; hand-painted Mexican tiles ornamenting stair risers; and custom hand-forged wrought-iron railings, fences and grilles.

All the furnishings and finishes were conceived by the lady of the house, who clearly has mastered the art of creating an elegant, personal and family-friendly environment. With some existing furnishings, combined with many new items from local artisans and vendors, the home offers much to delight the senses.

“We wanted to build a house for the ages and design it being mindful of those individuals who will inhabit this place after us. We also wanted it to reflect those who formerly dwelled on this special, sacred land—the Native Americans,” notes Cindy with pride and a clear sense of accomplishment.

Wine-colored walls, a black-granite countertop, a glass mosaic-style sink and a vanity with a hammered-copper apron accented with clavos spell drama in the powder room. Studies for larger works by painter Marjorie Reed are reflected in the large copper-framed mirror.

A radiused arch opens to the dining room, which features valances of carved wood. Reproductions of a Spanish Colonial-style table and chairs add a patina of age. The chairs’ cushions are made of distressed and embossed leather.
The kitchen boasts beams and corbels of reclaimed oak and cabinetry of hand-carved alder. The ornate armoire contains the refrigerator and a pullout pantry. The furniture-style island has a dark-red-stain, distressed finish, hand-carved details and a black-walnut dining counter.


The back patio, with its rustic pergola, contains this open shower with a hand-painted tile mosaic, hand-forged wrought-iron window grille, ceramic tiled walls and smooth pebble tile flooring.
In the master bath, carved alder cabinetry, granite countertops and a backsplash of glass and marble tiles adorn the vanity area.

Photos - Clock-wise from top left: The spacious snail shower and spa tub of the master bath are clad with Noce travertine inlaid with metallic glass tiles. “I was worried about it being too dark in here, so I was hoping to get a little light reflection from the glass tiles,” explains homeowner Cindy Stewart, who designed the interiors. • The upstairs guest bathroom, clad in travertine from floor to ceiling, draws interest with its desert-themed etched-glass shower door. • Designed with the homeowners’ children and grandchildren in mind, the guest room incorporates alder cabinetry and a detailed custom mirror in the sink area. Two small upholstered chairs are just right for wee ones. • An office for the man of the house offers much in the way of comfort, warmth and amenities. Punctuated with a triptych by acclaimed painter Gary Ernest Smith, the room celebrates the West. A Mexican Indian tribal rug with a Navajo-inspired geometric pattern dresses the floor. The wet bar in the corner boasts wrought-iron and glass-front mesquite doors on upper cabinets. The silver inlays in the wet bar’s tiled backsplash are giant reproductions of the old Buffalo nickel.

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