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For The Home

Rustic Style Abode

Author: Terri Feder
Issue: October, 2014, Page 82
Photos by Michael Woodall

Automated LED lighting
colors a water wall in rich hues, lending night-time wow-factor in the backyard. The curvilinear pool, designed by Red Rock Pools & Spas, features custom iridescent mosaic glass tiles, a raised deck and a splash pad. The shade structure provides relief from Arizona’s sun. Faux grass with embedded waterspouts is cool underfoot and always green. A windmill adds a pinch of country.

Refined Rustic Style, Ample Amenities and Over-the-Top Technology Make for an Amazing Family Retreat

The lives of professional baseball players are notoriously travel-packed, with athletes and their families hitting the road often during the season. So it’s not surprising that when the stadium lights shut down, the crowds disperse, and the off-season arrives, going “home” takes on an entirely new meaning.

For the Major League Baseball player and family who live at this pastoral residence, home spells a highly automated sanctuary where luxury and resort-like elements blend with good ole country comfort. It’s a place where green pastures form the backdrop to an architecturally dramatic yard decked out with luxe features, including an exceptionally large pool with a splash pad for the kids, a spa with seats sculpted to the owners’ bodies and more. But things didn’t always look or function like this.

It was in 2007 that the outfielder and his wife purchased the 5-acre property with its existing home just east of Phoenix. “This area was a good choice because they have family nearby and, out here, you can get large parcels of land and build without as many restrictions as in other parts of the Valley,” confides builder, landscaper and pool designer Rick Chafey of Red Rock Contractors and Red Rock Pools & Spas.

Glazed tin panels add a metallic luster to the center section of the kitchen’s beamed ceiling, and thickly mortared brick walls lend a rustic feel. The coppery-hued stars on the walls’ upper portions are actually seismic earthquake washers. Back in the day, they were used to reinforce the exterior walls of masonry buildings. Other details include a custom iron hood trimmed with horizontal rebar bands, alder cabinets with a distressed and glazed finish, and concrete countertops. The island’s top is walnut; its wire-brushed, stained oak base has green undertones. Providing a spot for informal dining is a custom Industrial-style table featuring a riveted steel-panel top and casters. The chairs are upholstered in suede.
After living in the house for a spell, the couple decided it was time to give it their own twist. A two-phase remodel ensued, during which time the homeowners headed out of town for another baseball season. Chafey and his partner, Brett Blauvelt, along with architect Jon Poetzl and interior designer Angelica Henry, ASID, made up the design team. During the first phase, the master suite was reworked and expanded with spacious his and hers closets, and a covered patio was turned into a state-of-the art indoor home theater.

Soon it was time for the second phase, which would see all the as-yet untouched parts of the home remodeled, the landscaping redone and new spaces added. The homeowners gave the team two directives: “Push the envelop” with novel designs, innovative materials and technology and recast the existing Tuscan-themed style into something part Modern luxury, part country farmhouse. “They asked for a home that had all the luxury of a five-star hotel but that felt liveable and comfortable,” says Henry.

One of the most dramatic add-ons is a detached 8,000-square-foot building that the team calls the man cave. It boasts a kitchen, guest apartment, garage, workshop, game room and a professional batting cage.

The project was no walk to first base; the homeowners wanted the work completed in a single baseball season—7½ to 8½ months—not a lot of time for so much complex work. “The most challenging thing for me,” says Poetzl, “was keeping up with the clients’ creative wish list. They were constantly adding to the scope based on things seen in their travels.”

The showpiece of the kitchen is a sage-green and copper-trimmed La Cornue range. Antique hinges accent the adjacent cabinets. Corrugated glass embedded with chicken wire forms the upper wall.
Henry, too, had to hustle. Among her challenges were finding ways to lend the intimacy of a cozy mountain lodge to the large-scale spaces; figuring out how to artfully conceal all the technological gadgetry; and coming up with materials durable enough for the couple’s two young boys but luxuriant enough for the adults. Henry’s solution for the latter was to incorporate what she calls “beautifully imperfect, aged materials infused with warmth, texture and character.” These include hand-charred wood and patinaed steel. To create a wholly unique look, Henry commissioned and also designed many custom furnishings. “Bespoke elements are infused throughout the home in the fireplaces, light fixtures, cabinetry, furniture, and even the family’s new cattle ranch brand,” she notes. 

For Chafey and Blauvelt, turning detailed, gravity-defying architectural and interior designs with large quantities of ponderous materials—steel, concrete and reclaimed wood beams—into reality was the tricky part. “The large size and amount of structures involved required massive equipment and, at times, the need to build custom bridge crane systems to install it all,” Chafey confides.

Thanks to their respective talents, round-the-clock work, and the contributions of their many employees, the team met its deadline with stunning results. Today, the 10,000-square-foot residence is easy to live in. “Pretty much everything is automated and can be controlled remotely from a smartphone or tablet, including the lighting, temperature, appliances, window treatments, sound systems, security cameras and pools,” says Blauvelt.

For the family, the new digs offer a refuge they are loathe to leave, can’t wait to get back to and enjoy sharing.

The foyer, featuring walls clad with riveted steel panels, is reminiscent of a grain silo, says Angelica Henry, who commissioned the space’s arresting chandelier from glass blower and metal artist Michael Allison. The sculptural fixture features blown-glass “water drops,” LED lights and upcycled pipes and valves.

Rugged materials—steel and reclaimed wood—offer texture in the living room, which is entered through a curved steel pivot door with glass insets. Bespoke details include the fireplace’s acid-treated steel mantel and herringbone-patterned, hand-charred wood backdrop. Balancing the hard materials are a plush rug and an array of cushioned seating, including leather armchairs with contrasting appliqués.
Anchoring the family room is an epic stone fireplace filled with rebar “twigs.” Other materials used are wire-brushed oak, reclaimed wood beams and rustic sandstone pillars. The family’s ranch brand above an 85-inch TV accents an artful wood panel that can be lowered at the touch of a button to conceal the television. Designed  by Angelica Henry, the brand was hand-charred to appear burned into the wall. The wood-paneled ceiling sports reclaimed beams. In lieu of conventional artwork, Henry designed a series of waterjet-incised copper panels that are backlit. The dramatic floor lamp was crafted from twisted cedar. Motorized light-blocking window panels from AZ Custom Designs ensure perfect conditions for TV viewing.

The trophy room has a two-channel tube-amplified stereo that only plays records. The amplifiers power a floorstanding tower speaker. Audio can be routed through all of the home’s interior and exterior speakers.
Enclosed steel-clad illuminated niches display wire weavings by Susan McGehee.

Attached to the backyard pool is
a spa/water feature made of cast-concrete panels. Cantilevered stairs hover over its lit perimeter as water streams from steel scuppers and spouts. Blue and coppery-hued mosaic tiles shimmer day and night.
The master bedroom’s motorized 120-inch screen recesses into the ceiling when not in use. Also motorized are the floor-to-ceiling blackout draperies.

Photos - Clock-wise from top left: Hidden in a custom-designed leather headboard/display wall is a LED projector. Light in the long niche bounces off a copper-backed glass panel. LED lights glow below the bed’s raised platform. The three pen-and-ink panels are by artist Linnea. • The wife’s two-story closet features rows of back-lit shelving for shoe storage and display. Closet rods have LED strip lights that illuminate the top of the clothing, making it easier to see what’s what. The island, with its antique mirror paneling and brass tabletop, offers additional storage replete with glass inserts for jewelry and other accessories. A tufted demilune ottoman upholstered in pearlized leather provides a comfortable perch. The bronze laser-cut ring-and-chain chandelier was custom-sized for the space. Stairs embellished with custom stamped-leather tile risers lead to the closet’s upper level, where backlit spaces display purses on adjustable stands and glass-paneled railings ensure views are unobstructed. • Among the high-tech features of the husband’s expansive closet are myriad shoe shelves with backlit, color-changing LED panels whose hue depends on the homeowner’s preference. Neatly displayed are the professional ballplayer’s many pairs of sneakers. • A private Zen garden off the master suite has poured-concrete beds brimming with elephant’s food (Portulacaria afra), golden barrels and other xeriscape flora. Water flows from steel scuppers and spouts, and a shade structure and misting system keep it all cool. Rock-filled gabion baskets and runnels with Mexican river pebbles and faux grass lend an organic feel.
The home theater’s fiber-optic ceiling twinkles with scads of star-like lights. Angelica Henry designed the bar, which features a zinc top and a wood base composed of planks laid in a herringbone pattern with a painted and scrubbed finish. The barstools’ chip-carved wood backs and suede cushions impart texture. Mica shades dress custom sconces. Sofas upholstered in soft fabrics and set on different levels make for comfort and unobstructed views.

In the theater’s powder room, an Industrial-style pulley cage pendant light hangs from a beefy rope. The patinaed and waxed vanity has an integral concrete sink. Wall panels frame corrugated chicken wire glass.
A wire-brushed oak door in the home theater opens to reveal the equipment room—a space packed with the high-tech electronics that make all the magic happen.

The couple’s home theater, which was installed by Theater X, has a 185-inch screen that automatically formats to the size of the content being projected, and a 3-D projector, which is actually two LED projectors stacked atop each other. One projector produces an image for the viewer’s left eye; the other produces an image for the viewer’s right eye. Together, they display a stereoscopic 3-D image. This type of 3-D, known as “passive 3-D,” displays a full image for both eyes at all times, creating a view that looks like real life. The only other place to experience 3-D in this way is at the IMAX.

The speaker system was concealed behind removable wall panels that were designed by Angelica Henry. Henry had the panels upholstered in an acoustically transparent fabric that won’t muffle the sound. The system offers 3,880 watts of amplification and is the same one used by many professional music and movie studios. All these elements were then integrated through a Crestron home automation system. The automation system enables the owners to control everything, using one device–either a touch screen, handheld wireless remote control, smartphone or tablet. Another exceptional feature in the theater is its HD digital video processor, which allows up to four video screens to be viewed at a time on any of the home’s TVs, making the MLB player who hangs his hat here a very happy man indeed.
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