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For The Home

Work of Art

Author: Katherine Adomaitis
Issue: June, 2017, Page 82
Photos by Steven Meckler and Tom Spitz

Architectural designer Clay Scrivner’s creative touches can be seen throughout the renovated home, including near the entry, where he converted an unwanted powder room into an artistic niche for the owners’ vintage player piano. Custom uplit shelving spotlights an antique can collection. Metal sculptures are by Mary Bates Neubauer.
A Run-down Oro Valley Estate Is Transformed Into a Masterpiece of Custom Features and Collected Treasures

Just inside the entrance, an antique player piano is tucked into a niche. A stylized, arched opening in the thick wall allows the instrument to be seen from the adjacent living room. When viewed straight on, the piano is perfectly framed in the opening and looks like a piece of art. The vignette is just the beginning of the many artistic touches found in a gracious, hacienda-style home in Oro Valley.

A new hallway, enjoyed by the family’s miniature dachshund, Rozzie, connects the main house to the once-freestanding garage and guest apartment. Scrivner placed a deep-set arched window at one end of the hall to frame garden vistas. “It’s our favorite view in the house,” say the homeowners. The painting is by Mark Stock.
But the 6,900-square-foot, five-bedroom house didn’t look quite as charming when the present owners first laid eyes on it several years ago. A 5-acre former horse property, it was anchored by a “vaguely territorial” house that dated to 1943. The structure had been partially demolished, and some of the ceilings had caved in, but it had potential. For the wife, the home had hints of character and the promise of a remodeling project that would reflect their taste; for the husband, the appeal was the roomy, tucked-away lot, plus the towering eucalyptus and mature mesquite trees. And, for both, there were the picture-perfect views of Pusch Ridge in the nearby Santa Catalina Mountains.

The couple built a guest casita, which they lived in while they pondered what to do with the main house, as well as the large collection of art, artifacts and furniture they had acquired during their many travels that was stored in an old Quonset hut on the property. The answer to their questions was found on a newsstand. On the cover of an issue of Phoenix Home & Garden was a project by Scottsdale-based architectural designer Clay Scrivner, who’s known for his passionately detailed interpretations of Spanish-influenced designs.

An old mesquite tree shades the home’s garden. The renovation added French doors and covered patios to the house, connecting the indoors to outside. Scrivner custom-colorized the hand-painted tiles that line the steps to the pool.
Partnering with his longtime building colleague Dan Couturier, Scrivner went to work, transforming the existing main house into a charming home that flows seamlessly from indoors to out and complements the couple’s existing art and decor, which include modern paintings, photography, antique French advertising posters and rustic furnishings from around the world.

“We decided to go for an Argentine “estância” influence in the home’s design,” explains the Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award winner of the property’s South American ranch estate feel. “The look is a little more spare and austere than, say, a Mexican hacienda. We also used some Moroccan touches, because the owners enjoyed their trips there and that style of architecture.”

Scrivner and Couturier expanded the house by 950 square feet, pushing out walls to accommodate a new master suite that faces the mountains, as well as a reconfigured kitchen and dining area. They also connected the once-freestanding garage and its second-floor guest apartment to the main house via a new hallway. Large windows were added to bring in light and views, and French doors were installed to connect the interior with newly built covered patios that offer breathtaking panoramas of the mountains and garden.

Moorish keyhole windows with wood lattice link the master bedroom to a sitting room. A painting by Mark Stock hangs by the custom bed and plush chair and ottoman. The rich colors of the artwork influenced all of the textiles and finishes in the room.
“The house originally had a stark, boxy feel,” recalls Couturier. “Replacing the solid wall in the great room with a bank of wood-framed floor-to-ceiling windows and doors really warmed up the home and turned the view into a piece of art.”

Scrivner imbued the interior with individualized touches that add a patina of age and reflect the homeowners’ love of travel and passion for art. He custom-colorized tiles—a signature of his work—in hues of green, ochre, burgundy, black and white that were pulled from the couple’s collection to frame fireplaces, line niches, clad bathroom walls and showcase the risers on all of the home’s stairs, inside and out. “A lot of inspiration also came from Moorish designs, so we keyed in on palettes with Moroccan influences,” Scrivner explains.

Moorish style is also evident in the home’s wrought iron elements, such as the kitchen’s pot rack, decorative medallions and interior and exterior light fixtures, all of which were custom-designed by Scrivner. “Whenever I do ironwork on a house, I’ll add a little secret motif,” he notes. Hidden within their designs are stylized “H” and “E” letters, which denote Hacienda Escondida—the name the couple gave to their new home. “Our daughter came up with the name,” says the wife. “Escondida means ‘hidden’ in Spanish, and her first impression of the house was that it was very private and well-hidden from view. We loved the sound of it, and decided to make it official.”

Custom tiles frame the fireplace in the master suite’s sitting room and complement the colors of a photograph by Luis González Palma. It is one of the wife’s favorite works of art. “Her eyes seem to follow you around the room,” she says.
Moroccan-style keyhole windows allow light to pass between the master suite’s sitting room and bedroom. Dark terra cotta tile flooring in different patterns adds interest throughout much of the house, while varying ceiling treatments define the home’s rooms. A thick mesquite bar top frames the island in the kitchen, where custom alder cabinetry is juxtaposed with commercial-style stainless steel appliances.

Scrivner and the homeowners worked together to place the art and furnishings. A common color palette, available wall space, scale and theme helped drive their choices. “For example, three paintings by Mark Stock hang in different areas,” says the wife. “The one of a woman burying a box in the garden was placed in the service hall where we have lots of indoor plants and from where we can see the exterior garden, while his large painting of the ‘Butler’ was hung near the front door as a way of welcoming people into our home.”

Carved stone window surrounds and a custom wrought iron rail frame a Juliet balcony that brings light to the landing of the interior’s main staircase. Adjacent to the front entrance, it was added during the renovation.
The hallway leading to the master suite is lined with French posters. In the master suite’s sitting room, a photograph by Luis González Palma hangs above a fireplace flanked by two Arts and Crafts-style love seats. A painting the owners found in Vietnam provides a backdrop in the second-floor guest quarters for a small bistro table encircled by Donghia chairs. Black-and-white art photography lines the staircase leading to a second-floor den and playroom for grandchildren.

“We definitely selected our favorite pieces to display in the house,” the wife reveals.

Scrivner took his design talents outside, too, creating living spaces and a lush landscape that the owners could enjoy year-round. An outdoor kitchen with a raised wall hides the driveway and garage, while a tiled banco provides extra seating for alfresco dinners. A ramada with another tiled banco is a shady spot from which to look back at the main house, beds filled with desert-friendly plants, the tile-edged pool and a tiered fountain.    

The master bathroom evokes visions of far-off destinations. An ogee arch opening frames the shower, which features handcrafted Arabesque tiles in shades of green. An exterior door opens to a private citrus garden.
And then there are the new shaded patios that angle around the house. They offer plenty of room for furniture groupings, as well as for a hammock that invites serious lolling. The patios are where the owners frequently find themselves in the evenings, enjoying their new hacienda and watching the sunset’s reflective glow on the mountains.

“We knew right away that there was something special about this house, and we’re incredibly lucky to have found Clay, who was able to envision its potential and make it a reality,” says the wife. “It is pretty sweet to have our toughest decision of the day be where we should sit to enjoy our five o’clock glass of wine.”

The hallway from the entry to the master suite includes a long built-in bookcase that was original to the house, as well as the owners’ collection of antique French advertising posters. The lantern-style    ceiling lights are Scrivner’s design.

Traditional Moroccan brass lanterns and a camel sculpture add an exotic touch to the second-floor guest suite.

Classic hacienda elements mix with worldly accents on the front entry patio. A wall fountain designed by Scrivner is the perfect backdrop for a bistro set that the homeowners purchased during their travels. Two shades of paint in rich Southwest colors are separated by a chair rail made of Scrivner’s custom-colored tiles.


Scrivner’s custom-colorized tiles add colorful touches to the risers of the main staircase, which leads to a game room. The lantern is from the owners’ previous residence, while the popcorn machine is a 19th-century antique. On the left is metal artwork by Wosene Worke Kosrof.
The reconfigured kitchen and dining room provide more space for cooking and entertaining. Alder cabinetry and a mesquite island countertop add richness to the large room. Scrivner’s touches include the tile backsplash and the custom pot rack above the island.

Photos - Clock-wise from top left: Murano glass pendants frame a view of the raised fireplace in the dining area.

Scrivner detailed the pool and spa with an array of hand-painted tiles. The covered patio on the left is the perfect spot for a hammock, while a fireplace adds warmth on chilly evenings.

The outdoor dining area includes a full grill kitchen and shade for the table. The raised wall hides views of the driveway and garage.

The view of Pusch Ridge in the Santa Catalina Mountains clinched the deal for the owners. They enjoy the scenery from their new pool and spa, situated in a prime backyard location. The tiled water feature is framed by raised patios and flower beds, trickling fountains and outdoor art.

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