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For The Home

Home With a View

Author: Eileen Bailey
Issue: June, 2014, Page 92
photography by Scott Sandler

At the back of the house, water spills from a raised spa into a glistening pool. Sweet acacia trees screen out neighboring roofs, allowing the distant mountain ranges to come into view.



Mountain Views and City Lights Surround a Fountain Hills Home

You know the saying that when it comes to real estate—it’s all about location, location, location. When one couple built the Tuscan-style Arizona retreat featured here, it was all about views, views, views. And they hit the jackpot with a property offering panoramic vistas of mountains and cityscapes within a 40-mile radius.

After 20 years of vacationing in Arizona with their family, the Chicago-based couple came to realize that Fountain Hills was where they wanted to be. Already owners of a condo there, they liked its small-town charm and easy access to all parts of the Valley.

In 2008, the pair found an ideal hillside lot. The only problem—it wasn’t for sale. Undeterred, the wife called the owner and persuaded her to sell.

After interviewing a half dozen builders, the couple chose Dennis Brown of Echelon Fine Homebuilders, who had built 19 residences in the Firerock Country Club community, where the property was located. Brown collaborated with architectural designer Bonnie Tuttle to frame mountainscapes from virtually every room and realize the full potential for wraparound views on the sloping lot.

One enters the home through this large courtyard. A 20-foot-high stone fireplace, teak bench, and Saltillo-tile flooring in a honeycomb pattern provide a warm welcome. A thornless willow acacia offers filtered shade.
Interior designer Paula Den Boer of Ashley P Design was soon on board, along with Annette McGovern of Giardinello Landscape Design.

The result is a 7,500 square-foot home and 1,200 square-foot, lower-level guest house that looks like it could be in Provence or Tuscany. All members of the team spent time at the site at various hours of the day and various months of the year to determine how the property should “live.”

As soon as Den Boer was hired, she traveled to Italy to refine her research. The owners had made it clear that they wanted a casual, comfortable Tuscan-style home. “‘Unpretentious,’ they emphasized,” says Den Boer, a Phoenix Home & Garden Master of the Southwest. “I traveled all over Italy, constantly snapping photos of details I thought appropriate for this project.”

The designer’s diligence shows in every room. Deep-set windows, stone-lined arches, cantera columns, flooring of wood planks recycled from a barn in Tennessee, and Venetian-plaster walls in hues of gold, rust and olive give the home its Old World charm. Thanks to Den Boer, the amenity-rich residence offers a mélange of texture, color and pattern.

An entry courtyard with views of Four Peaks sets the stage. There, a grand arched double door of iron and glass opens to a foyer turret that soars 24 feet.

At the back of the house, a narrow garden overlooks a golf-course lake and a distant mountain peak. A terra-cotta urn holds springtime annuals, while pink bougainvilleas lend vibrant color.
Ahead lies a spacious great room with a bank of glass doors opening to a covered outdoor living area with a mountain backdrop. To the east are the San Tan Mountains; to the west are Camelback and Mummy mountains, and center stage is Phoenix itself, with its high-rises and city lights.

The family had lived all over the country when their children were growing up. “But we always vacationed in Arizona,” the homeowners note. “Our kids—now young adults with careers out of state—say this is their real home,” confides the lady of the house.

In 2011, when the house was nearly complete, Den Boer banned the owners from it, inviting them later for the big “reveal.” The lady says, “Everything was in place; the candles were lit. It was so beautiful that I cried, just like they do on HGTV.”

Mountain views can be enjoyed from either of the great room’s two seating areas—one designed for intimate conversations, the other for larger groups. Beyond, a bank of glass doors pockets open to a covered outdoor living area.

In the breakfast room, mountain views are framed by deep-set arched windows. Above the dining table, an iron-and-wood chandelier hangs from a brick groin-vault ceiling.
Upholstered barstools on the dining side of the kitchen’s bi-level island provide a comfy place to perch. Venetian-plaster walls and classic cabinetry give the room timeless appeal.


A custom burlap-and-plaster range hood shares attention with bold granite countertops and ceramic backsplash tiles. A pot filler over the range and a plate rack to the left of it add to the room’s functionality.
With its expansive bay window, the seating area in the master bedroom allows for sweeping views. The homeowners sometimes sit and watch as storms come rolling in from this peaceful aerie. Behind the silk drapes is a hidden pocket containing a motorized screen shade to block out the western sun. The iron bed’s ornate gold-leafed embellishments lend formality to the room.


Custom cabinetry provides storage and style in the master bathroom. A vessel sink along with travertine and stone tiles add texture.

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