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A 1970s-Era Scottsdale House Goes from Dark and Dreary to Airy and Modern

At the front of the home, a shed roof with a steel trellis that extends from the eaves was installed above a new trio of windows, creating a sheltered patio. It offers views of Mummy Mountain that can also be enjoyed from the adjoining living room. Supplementing an existing mesquite tree are agave, small palms and decomposed granite.

A re-imagined 1970s-era house goes from dated, dark and dreary to light, open and breathtaking.

By Linda J. Barkman | Photography by Kevin Kaminski

Sometimes a house is devoid of curb appeal and dated in every sense of the word, but the lot is otherwise spectacular and in an ideal location. That is precisely the situation Joe and Diane Julia found themselves in when a house-hunting foray led them to central Scottsdale’s McCormick Ranch. The couple fell in love with the area and the lot. Unfortunately, the house was not so wonderful. Having worked with architect Jessica Hutchison-Rough in the past, the Julias knew she would be the right talent to transform the dark and unappealing existing residence into an open, light-filled contemporary home with a warm feel; a home that would be easy to maintain and would evolve with them over the years.


“The lot offers fantastic mountain and golf course views,” notes Hutchison-Rough. “The Julias bought the 1.3-acre property with the intention of replacing the 1970s-era slump-block house with a slightly larger custom home that would suit their active empty-nester lifestyle.” While the footprint of the home stayed fairly intact, it underwent a complete renovation inside and out. Gone were the solid wood entry door, 7- to 8-foot ceilings, sunken living room and tiny kitchen, master bedroom and bath. In their place, the architect added a sleek steel and obscured glass pivot door at the entry, two distinct and separate living areas—a formal living room at the front of the house and a family room that opens to the backyard; and a spacious master suite with a roof deck. The kitchen—created when a wall between the existing kitchen and dining room was removed—is optimal for entertaining. Filled with light from large windows and a bank of skylights, the reconfigured space boasts two islands—one for prep and one for dining—and flows beautifully into new dining and living areas and the backyard beyond.

The exterior’s front entrance was expanded and accented with a trellis-ceilinged portico. A shed-roofed patio offering views of Mummy Mountain was added nearby, while a new stepped wall on the north end of the home created a sense of movement that can be seen from outside. In addition, a small patio at the back of the house was enlarged and topped with a canted roof lined with concrete tiles.

To achieve the open and airy aesthetic the homeowners wanted, Hutchison-Rough used structural materials such as pre-finished black metal for eaves and trellises, smooth white stucco walls and warm wood flooring. These were paired with simple box shapes, high angled ceilings and expansive windows and glass doors along the back of the house that provide the strong indoor/outdoor connection they desired.

“It went from a dark and boring production home to an inviting, state-of-the-art custom residence with lots of pizzazz.”

—Jessica Hutchison-Rough, architect

1. Now light and bright, the foyer and living room have a welcoming feel. 2-3. The U-shaped kitchen now opens to the dining area and is large enough to accommodate two islands. Thanks to expanses of glass and a bank of skylights, the room is flooded with natural light. With a little help from the sun, the elongated pendants create rainbowlike reflections.

“This home has been an inspiration for many of our other projects where clients wish to create a modern, functional space as a retreat from their many life demands away from home,” remarks builder Mark Callahan, speaking of the wide appeal of the home’s design.

The architect and design team, which included interior designer Debbie Samartzis and landscape architect Jeff Franklin, created a functional and fully updated home complete with technology that controls lighting, window shades, home automation and entertainment. Hutchison-Rough describes the completed abode as a re-envisioned classic Scottsdale ranch house. “We cleaned it up and gave it a fresh feel. It went from a dark and boring production home to an inviting, state-of-the-art custom residence with lots of pizzazz,” she concludes. “The homeowners were very involved, so there weren’t any surprises, and they love every inch of it.”

1. “There was considerable effort to get the stepping in the massing along the master wing of the house,” notes architect Jessica Hutchison-Rough. The interior was designed to create some movement in the architecture visible from the front of the house. 2. Vaulted ceilings and a sloped pony wall add interesting angles while engineered-wood floors lend warmth. 3. Offering expansive golf course views, the back of the house boasts an expanded, refreshed  covered patio with a travertine flooring. Overhead is a canted roof with a tongue-and-groove wood ceiling. To the right is the new master wing with a new roof deck that offers views of the golf course, Mummy Mountain and downtown Scottsdale. 4. Before


Architect: Jessica Hutchison-Rough, Urban Design Associates, Scottsdale, Builder: Mark Callahan, Callahan Development Company, Inc., Scottsdale, Interior designer: Debbie Samartzis, Samartzis Minchew Design LLC, Landscape architect: Jeff Franklin, Jeff Franklin Design and Consulting,

ENTRY—Pivot door: Designed by Debbie Samartzis, fabricated by Colletti Designs,


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