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For The Home

Warm Welcome

Author: Teresa Esquivel
Issue: April, 2015, Page 96
Photography by Scott Sandler

A curving array of beams on this shade-giving overhang frames a scenic desert and mountain vista at the home of Nancy and Dave Smith. To create a smooth transition between outdoor and indoors, the same travertine of the patio flooring is used in interior spaces.


An Entertainer’s Dream, This  New Home Delights Family and Guests With Fabulous Style, Casual Comfort and Spectacular Views

Nancy and Dave Smith did not fit the mold of downsizing empty nesters when they were planning their north Scottsdale vacation home. Even though the Indiana couple’s children were raised and on their own, they chose to build their Southwest digs big and roomy rather than compact.

After all, there were the grandchildren to think of—nine of them who live outside Arizona and just love to visit, says Nancy. And why not? Back home, the youngsters don’t have patios with a swinging sofa and built-in TVs, or pools to swim in at night under the stars, this grandmother laughingly notes.

These are athletic kids who “have balls in the air at all times,” she adds, and the Southwest Contemporary-style residence was conceived with them very much in mind. The house, however, is altogether grown-up-fabulous, she confirms. It is a mix of materials and niceties that are at once pleasurable for adults yet sturdy and hard-working enough for children. She credits this to the design team—architect Tor Barstad, interior designer Amy Bubier and builder Emilio LoCascio—all of whom kept the goals of beauty and utility, plus ease of indoor/outdoor living, at the forefront from the project’s start.

Suspended by chains from steel beams, a plushly cushioned swinging sofa created by interior designer Amy Bubier is a fun addition to a conversation nook.


“Comfort and durability were really the number one priority for Nancy and Dave and their visiting groups of family and friends,” Bubier offers. “They wanted interiors that promoted relaxed, casual living; ones that would be stylish, but also not show wear and tear. We needed fabrics, finishes and fixtures that would be beautiful, durable and also appeal to multiple visitors.” The great room’s creamy sectional sofa, for example, is upholstered in attractive, forgiving leather, and other seating is covered in pale-hued yet kid-friendly textiles. Both the wood flooring and the coffee table have distressed finishes, aligning with the need for easy, no-fuss living.

In a climate that allows outdoor living much of the year, it was important to the homeowners that there be a smooth transition from inside to outside. Toward that end, Tor created a free-flowing plan designed for seamless indoor/outdoor entertaining. “Every aspect of the building envelope was pushed to its limits in height and width, and every room of the house is designed to have views of the city lights and Pinnacle Peak Mountain.”

Says Bubier: “This was one of Nancy’s and Dave’s initial requests for Tor, and he did a spectacular job of creating small, intimate spaces as well as larger gathering spaces with sweeping views. My job was to make these spaces feel like livable, relaxation retreats.” The great room’s patio, with its two fireplaces, outdoor kitchen and adjacent negative-edge pool, is a case in point. Here, the designer added built-in cushioned bancos, or benches, a hanging swing, all-weather comfortable furnishings and a long, rustic dining table.

Photos - Clock-wise from top left;

Aglow in the dusk, the home is both Southwest and Asian in style. A wash across the front of the property and land that slopes away from the street limited building options, says architect Tor Barstad. Angling the house was one of his design solutions.

Unique ceiling treatments and a casually elegant, neutral-toned palette in furnishings and millwork unite the open plan’s great room, bar, kitchen and dining room. Very similar, but slightly different two-tone fabrics on the dining room chairs and pillows in the sitting area tie the spaces together while adding textural interest overall.

Homeowners Nancy and Dave Smith enjoy the casual warmth of their home.

Bubier’s find of a large antique cart satisfied Nancy’s desire for an industrial vibe. The piece was fitted with a leathered-granite top, anchored to an adjacent walnut butcher-block-topped island, and serves as an atmospheric and casual kitchen dining spot teamed with wood-and-iron stools. This unique island treatment, along with cabinetry dressed with lighted seeded-glass display areas and a backsplash of concrete tiles set in a checkerboard pattern  won Bubier an ASID top award. Barstad designed the innovative ceiling and skylight, which are accented with tongue-and-groove planks.
 Tor designed floor-to-ceiling glass walls to join the great room and its patio and, importantly, to keep desert and mountain views unobstructed. The walls of glass recess fully into side pockets. “I like it when all the doors are open and you can’t tell where the outside starts and inside ends,” he remarks. The Smiths, too, very much love those doors, as do their grandkids, Nancy reports. In mock consternation, she adds, “They like to go in and out, in and out.”

Photos - Clock-wise from top left;

Barstad designed the distinctive circular bar as a way to separate the great room and kitchen and give the latter space a bit of privacy. Bubier embellished the area with custom glass-front cabinets, a backsplash of shiny- and matte-finish aluminum tiles arranged in checker-board fashion, and a bar-front design that mimics her concept for the great room fireplace facade. Seating is cushy, and pendant lighting has a sleek, Modern look. 

A stamped-tin mantel and blue tile surround lend novel character to the dining room fireplace.

Barstad imbued the master bedroom with strong architectural elements, including rough-sawn exposed beams in a spoke design and lofty clerestory windows. Bubier added the custom bed with a romantic tufted headboard. A unique wall treatment behind the bed of bamboo pulp tiles painted with a glass-like finish visually enlarges the scale of the bed to balance that of the architecture.

The bath is dressed in marble, from the tub surround, to flooring and countertops. The wall behind the tub is covered in painted, wave-like gypsum tiles. The master suite’s pale hues are “so calming, like a beach on a cloudy day,” Bubier comments.

The great room becomes one with the outdoors with telescoping glass doors. A network of wooden ceiling trusses, the architect’s design, and a soaring fireplace are knockout features of the expansive room. Inspired by the property’s mountain views, the interior designer, with advice from the builder, conceived a fireplace facade that bears an abstract mountain-scape design; it was rendered in acid-stained steel, along with walnut, by Arizona artist Dave Bigelow.
Also designed by Barstad, heavy timber trusses in the high-ceilinged great room and equally spectacular beam configurations at the contiguous patio likewise unite the two areas. While Nancy is impressed with the beam arrays, she says they were actually her husband’s early-on idea and his nod to the Southwest. She quips, “He likes that Southwest look. I like a sleek, contemporary look.” In actuality, the home reflects a visually exciting duality of tastes. Stacked stone on the home’s exterior and at the great room’s opening to the patio speak of the regional influence he likes; an antique kitchen cart-cum-island appeals to her yen for including some industrial chic; and the master suite, decked out in marble and creamy tones, is unabashed Hollywood-like sophistication.

Part rustic, and spiced with streamlined sophistication and glam, the Smith house is perfect for entertaining lots of company.

“At Christmas last year, we were all together,” Nancy recounts. Including cousins among the large family, “There were 26 of us staying in the house,” she remembers with obvious joy.
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