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For The Home

Family Matters

Author: John Roark
Issue: September, 2017, Page 124
Photos by Art Holeman & David B. Moore

For a sense of entry, builder Tim Beringer created a series of experiences leading to the front door. The gated arch is limestone; surrounding walls and planters are locally sourced McDowell Mountain cobblestone overgrouted in the style of a rustic Mediterranean estate.
Following a Redesign, a Good-But-Not-Great Home Becomes a Welcoming Haven

Three years after a Scottsdale couple had built in a neighborhood they had come to love, they found that their home was no longer meeting all their needs. As parents of active young children, and with extended relatives making frequent visits, they required more space for guests and longed for a yard they could make use of and enjoy. Moving was never considered; for this family, remodeling was the right choice. With the aim of making their good house great, they embarked on an interior and exterior redesign that transformed their abode into a welcoming neighborhood gathering place.

Beneath a barrel-vaulted arbor, the front yard’s outdoor dining room is a favorite gathering place for after-sunset family dinners. The two-sided fireplace, which is also visible from the street, adds welcoming coziness within the newly constructed courtyard.
The owners asked builder Tim Beringer to turn his attention to the home’s sizable—and uninspired—backyard. He enlisted the expertise of landscape architect and Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award winner Donna Winters, with whom he had collaborated on numerous projects. Together they took an objective survey of the land’s potential.

“When Tim and I first looked at it, we wondered how anyone could ever enjoy the space,” says Winters, recalling the expanse, which consisted primarily of a swimming pool illogically placed far from the house, seemingly dropped down in the unremarkable landscape. “You’d walk out there and it felt like a prison yard, and once you finally got to the pool, there was nothing else to do.”

Beringer agrees. “The original pool looked like an afterthought,” he says. “Unfortunately, it was just in the wrong spot. What the yard needed was a strong focal point, and because the pool is such a major component of the backyard, it was essential that it complement the rest of the property,”

The redesigned backyard is an oasis of much-used features for the family. Because the homeowners specified that the outdoor kitchen be uncovered, Beringer discreetly placed LED lighting in-ground and bistro lights in the trees to ensure the area is bright enough to enjoy after-dark cooking and dining. A banco with an array of pillows is a perfect spot for conversation.
Envisioning a radius from the home’s center extending out from the rear-facing windows, Beringer designed a pool that leads to a gable-roof ramada just beyond. The eye now journeys from the shaded patio across the pool’s deep-blue expanse and up to the inviting shelter. A wet edge with gently bubbling water features provides a transition from the pool’s edge to the ramada, clad in stucco and natural stone also used on and around the main house. A fireplace flanked by a quartet of wicker easy chairs beneath rustic chandeliers provides an elevated vantage point for watching youngsters and is a favorite spot for shaded poolside chats. Softly flickering gas lanterns adorn the ramada’s columns, which extend below the pool’s water level, visually uniting the two features. 

In addition to aquatic exercise, the homeowners requested that the yard include activities to help build strong bodies and foster sportsmanship. “We are a pretty athletic family,” stresses the husband. “It is important to us that our children are always busy and exposed to a lot of healthy things.” Beyond the pool area, artificial turf frames a multitude of kid-friendly amenities, including an in-ground trampoline, horseshoe pit, putting green and basketball court. A scoreboard on the rear of the ramada tracks in-yard neighborhood doubleheaders.

Bleachers sized for pint-sized sports spectators overlook a grassy backyard playing field. At mealtime, they provide kid-level seating at the service counter.
When it came to the landscaping, the couple was set on transitioning from an indigenous Southwestern plant palette. “Coming from the Midwest, we’re not really ‘desert-plant’ people,” says the wife. “There was no color in our backyard; it seemed like anything that did bloom was yellow.” They were also leery of spiky succulents in areas where the children play, especially around the water. Taking her cue from the aesthetic of the pool and ramada—as well as the architecture of the house—Winters transformed the backyard into a Mediterranean oasis. She softened the landscape and added color with roses and yellow bells (Tecoma stans), ruellia and verbena, and infused color throughout with heat-hardy flowering plants, including bougainvillea, sacred datura (Datura wrightii) and fortnight lily (Dietes iridioides).

Another priority of the project was to build an addition that would expand the home’s existing lower-level workout room and add first-floor adult guest quarters as well as a second-story children’s guest suite, game room and library. Beringer seamlessly integrated the new features into the home’s east side, and interior designer Linda Copelin partnered with the homeowners, who she says have an innate instinct for fine-tuning a family-friendly aesthetic. “They both have a great sense of design,” she says. “They pointed me in the direction of what they like and were open to the ideas and suggestions we brought them.”

“This is my favorite place to relax,” says the wife
of the outdoor shower area’s secluded chaise. The spalike floor combines slate and Mexican beach pebbles, which are also found in the lounge area outside the workout room. French doors lead to the master bathroom suite.
The home’s front yard was also in need of attention. “Visitors would always drive right past our house because they didn’t know where the entry was,” recalls the husband.

Beringer agrees that for such a large-scale house, the entry was lackluster. “There was no sequence that led you to the front door, nothing inviting, no experience of arrival,” he says. Extending the enclosed courtyard toward the street and incorporating the natural stone used in the backyard and perimeter, he designed an arched, gated entry that is welcoming but still provides privacy for the family. Just inside, a barrel-vaulted arbor strung with bistro lights canopies an outdoor dining room. A two-sided fireplace inset in the exterior wall is a cozy addition, giving passersby a glimpse into the tranquil enclave. A fountain the homeowners disliked because of water splash was replaced with a natural stone trough and a trio of gently trickling vintage spigots surrounded by lush greenery, including horsetail (Equisetum), canna lilies and Arabian jasmine (Jasminum sambac).

On the home’s west side, the outdoor shower is a sanctuary for the homeowners, and a convenient spot for kids to rinse their feet after backyard play.
“The ambience is so charming,” says Copelin. “They can have the fire going and still see the stars. You can just imagine good food and lively conversation being shared by friends and family.”

Today the home is a favorite haven for family and visitors from near and far. “The house and yard now coexist on a relatable, human scale,” says Beringer. “The details and continuity make it work. Before what you saw was stark and austere. Now the home welcomes you like an embrace.”

A lush backyard seating area enveloped in greenery echoes the home’s Mediterranean aesthetic. A trellis overflows with sunset balboa vine (Campsis radicans ‘Monbal’); sacred datura (Datura wrightii) and fortnight lily (Dietes iridioides) add additional color.

Adjacent to the gym, this courtyard was originally stark and uninviting, with bright white pavers and a utilitarian stairway. Beringer added visual interest to the area with overgrouted McDowell Mountain cobblestone, custom ironwork and a tranquil fountain flanked by mystery gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides ‘Mystery’).
The workout room’s square footage was significantly increased in the remodel. Designed by Beringer, the exterior barn doors are weatherproof, and when open, allow fresh air in.


The guest bedroom’s color
palette is a study in soothing neutral tones. Bedside pendant lamps accentuate the room’s height; the soft curves of the tufted chairs and a nailhead-trimmed headboard are contrasted with a textured natural-fiber area rug. A cowhide rug echoes the rich russets found in the walnut plank flooring, draperies and Roman shades.
French doors open to a private patio off the guest suite, an idyllic retreat for out-of-town visitors.


The guest bathroom features twin sinks and custom cabinetry. All tile, fixtures and surfaces were chosen by the homeowner. “She is very dialed-in to what she likes and wants,” says interior designer Linda Copelin. “Her instincts are always correct.”

Outside the children’s guest room, a sunny landing is a nice place for young guests (and their plush companions) to pause between activities.
Bunk beds with individual reading lamps make the kids’ guest room a welcome place to crash.

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