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For The Home

The Sweet Spot

Author: Katherine Adomaitis
Issue: April, 2018, Page 60
photography by Michael Woodall and Landon Wiggs

Homeowners Melissa and Matt Jones wanted a modern, indoor-outdoor style for their Scottsdale family home. What they got is a clean-lined space that promotes an elegant, easy-living lifestyle. Pool and landscape designer Kirk Bianchi added fiber-optic lights in the pool to illuminate the shallow waters and add sparkle at night.
A Pro Athlete and His Wife Transform a Master-Planned House Into a Sleek, Stylish and Restful Retreat

hen professional golfer Matt Jones and his wife, Melissa, travel the world on the PGA Tour, they usually stay at golf-friendly resorts with plenty of outdoor amenities. So it was only natural that when it came time to find their family home in North Scottsdale, Australian-born and ASU-educated Matt and Melissa, a California native, wanted to re-create the easy, breezy resort style of living that they had grown to love.

“We’re both beach people,” explains Melissa, “so even though we chose to call Arizona home, we were looking for that indoor-outdoor experience and a casual, modern style.”

Parents to two daughters and a third child on the way, the Joneses opted for a build-to-suit home in a gated community that was masterminded by Dutch architectural and interior designer Piet Boon. What drew them to the 3,800-square-foot home and casita, set on 1.5 acres? “We loved the big banks of windows that open onto the yard,” says Melissa, “and we liked that it was not on a golf course. Matt needs a break from golf when he’s at home.”

A mirrored fireplace surround, sinuous wallpaper and a crystal-bead chandelier add glamour to the living room’s black-and-white palette, while a tree-root coffee table provides an organic touch. Despite the elegant look, the space is also child-friendly, thanks to durable fabrics and materials.
To help customize the four-bedroom home and landscape to reflect their lifestyle and tastes, Melissa and Matt brought in the talents of pool and landscape designer Kirk Bianchi and interior designer Christina Forrest.

Outdoors, the home had a minimal desert-style landscape in front and a bare dirt lot in back when Bianchi, a Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award winner, began working on the project. The couple requested something modern and sleek that connected seamlessly with the interior. Also on their list? A pool and spa with easy access for all ages, several areas for outdoor entertaining and lounging, an outdoor kitchen and, perhaps most daunting for the designer, a waterslide for the kids.

Bianchi delivered it all in a crisp, geometric style. “My background is architecture,” says Bianchi, “and I have a big-picture view of pools and landscapes. You don’t need a lot of extraneous ‘bling’ to make a landscape work. It’s how you arrange the elements, and it’s about the journey through the landscape from front to back.”

In the front yard, which rises gently from the street, Bianchi added more layers of plantings, hardscape and architectural elements to help with the transition from curb to entry door. Low garden walls placed parallel and perpendicularly to the street guide visitors through the landscape and across the cobblestone-paved drive. A portal-style wall with windows defines the door and entry courtyard, where comfortable outdoor seating beckons. Oversized pots anchor the front yard’s corners, and specimen plantings, such as Hercules aloe, provide eye-catching focal points.

A bridge across the pool leads to a spa and, behind the large wall, a waterslide. Bookmatched panels of an ultracompact surface with marble-like looks turn the standalone wall into an eye-catching, luxurious focal feature.

Bianchi designed steel-and-wood shade structures for the back of the house, keeping burning rays off the home and sheltering outdoor living areas.

In the backyard, Bianchi left no square inch to chance. Using a theme of overlapping rectangular forms, he added tall steel-and-wood shade structures to the house, keeping the summer sun off southern and western window walls. The covers also define patio living spaces. An outdoor kitchen with a 10-person raised table took shape just off the home’s great room, while several raised decks, built of a woodlike product made from recycled rice husks, provide spots for lounging in the sun.

A portal-style wall and layers of plantings help to create privacy from the street and define the home’s entry courtyard.
Bianchi designed the pool as a dark rectangle, with a sun shelf around the perimeter, meant for lounging and playing. “I don’t think of the pool as the centerpiece of the landscape,” Bianchi explains, “but rather as a backdrop, a mirror that reflects all that is around it.”

The designer also deftly met the challenge of adding the waterslide without creating a theme park feeling by hiding its stairs and most of the slide behind a 10-foot-high architectural wall, which also includes a subtle waterfall and serves as the pool’s backdrop. “The pool and the landscape speak to adults, but it’s also kid-friendly,” Bianchi says. “You don’t need spray cannons and water domes to make it fun.”

Throughout the property, details abound. A black granite perimeter overflow fountain soothes a narrow courtyard between the living and great rooms, visually leading the eye toward the larger landscape. The pool’s edge meets lawn directly, sans coping, for a clean look, while a hidden gutter recirculates the water. Louder bubbling fountains drown out traffic noise of a nearby busy street, and raised planter beds keep views on trees and shrubs. Paving materials are broken up with strips of grass or polished beach pebbles, something Bianchi likens to “unbuttoning the top button of a shirt for a more relaxed look.”

Indoors, Forrest complemented the sleek garden design by suggesting a black-and-white color scheme, accented with silver, gold and moss green. “I kept in mind that the house was for a young family,” she says, “yet it’s edgy and fun. Also, Melissa likes a bit of both glam and earthiness, so you’ll see touches of those elements.”

Bianchi used a series of overlapping rectangular forms to create the home’s crisp landscape and pool design, which complement the existing house.

Interior designer Christina Forrest furnished the outdoor spaces with low-profile, modern pieces with deep cushions that invite lounging. The interior’s tile flooring extends beneath the shade structures, further linking inside and out.
An outdoor kitchen, large dining table and a bar illuminated by a wall of LED candles offer additional options for outdoor living. The Joneses use the TV, fireplace and sofa almost year-round for entertaining or simply enjoying a family evening with the kids.

While the cabinetry and plumbing fixtures were part of the builder’s offerings, Forrest customized the interior with finishes that were in keeping with the couple’s wishes and personalities. Marble flooring in the foyer makes a grand statement, while a pale gray porcelain tile that is both tailored and rugged is perfect in the great room and on outdoor
patios. Silvery oak flooring underscores Matt’s office. And the designer had the kitchen island, counters and backsplash clad in a dramatic marble, flecked with moss green. In the living room, she added mirrored cladding to the fireplace for sheer drama and a sinuously patterned wall covering for depth and movement.

The dining room, with its glossy black table paired with matching Louis-style chairs and shimmering wing-back seating with lucite legs, proves that minimalism can also be glam. The focal point of the room is the plant wall, made of faux and preserved botanicals, while the Piet Boon chandeliers are an homage to the internationally known designer who influenced the home’s sleek architecture.
The designer made sure that each room was utilized to its maximum potential with the careful selection of furniture and accessories. In the foyer, guests are greeted with a grand piano—both Melissa and her older daughter play—and there’s enough room for party and seasonal decorations, such as a Christmas tree. The living room is sexy and cool, with a velvet sofa and deep white armchairs, perfect for adult cocktails and conversation, while the great room has a family-friendly sectional and a long, natural-edge table for informal dining. Matt’s office has enough shelf and wall space to accommodate future trophies, while the girls’ rooms are decorated with transition from toddler to teen in mind, with color schemes, furniture and art that’s not too precious. Outdoors, Forrest specified low-profile lounge furnishings and tables that were in keeping with the landscape’s architecturally minimalist setting.

Black, white and moss green marble is a graphic statement in the otherwise all-white kitchen. The overscale island is the epicenter of family gatherings.
Forrest also guided the selection of art and accessories, ensuring visual interest and warmth indoors and out. A gilded faux crocodile head guards the master bedroom fireplace. In the dining room, a plant wall made of imitation and preserved botanicals adds an organic backdrop to a glamorous setting illuminated by vampy Piet Boon chandeliers—Melissa’s homage to the home’s designer. Outdoors, a wall is illuminated by a series of LED candles, set into niches above the bar.

Melissa, Matt and their children have come to love the house as a retreat from relentless golf travel, as a cozy home and as a space where they can entertain friends and family. “We looked at a lot of houses before we decided on this one,” recalls Melissa. “So many of them were just ginormous. We use every space in this house, indoors and out. We’ve had pool parties, kids’ parties and dinners here. We love to entertain. Thanks to Kirk and Christina, this house is wonderful and functional.”

In a corner of the great room, a serpentine grouping of painted-wood-and-metal orbs floats on a subtle, tailored wall covering.

The powder room’s matte black vessel sink is contrasted by silvery tile flooring and a botanically inspired wallpaper in shades of gray.
Touches of gold in the wallpaper, bedside tables, bedding and cowhide print bench, accented with black, give the master suite an old Hollywood elegance and simplicity. The upholstered headboard is custom-made.

A fur-covered leather chair and metal-and-wood “cracked eggs” add modern appeal to a corner of the master bedroom, warmed by a fireplace embellished with a faux crocodile wall covering.
In a daughter’s room, a teepee, butterflies on the wall and a rocking horse signal playtime.

Elevated decks and beds filled with cacti and succulents add dimension and texture to the resort-style backyard. The pool’s surface reflects plants and sky, while its baja shelf makes it easy to step into the pool or lounge at its edge.

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