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A Couple of Travel Enthusiasts Find Their Forever Home in Paradise Valley

A well-traveled couple decides to settle down in the desert in their ideal forever home.

The master bathroom captures the essence of this stately Paradise Valley home—timeless yet high-drama, bold yet inviting.
“The style of this home is eclectic with the combination of old and new, traditional and Asian, contemporary and modern,” says interior designer Wendy Black Rodgers. In the entry way, antique furnishings look perfectly at home alongside modern lighting fixtures and clean-lined architecture.

By Carly Scholl | Photography by Mark Lipczynski

Though a low-profile ranch house in Paradise Valley seems like an unassuming place for the intersection of breezy desert living and sleek cosmopolitan worldliness, somehow this richly appointed abode strikes that golden balance. “My husband and I have lived all over the world—we’ve done about 13 different moves with our children and owned about a dozen homes,” explains the homeowner. “It’s a big world and we’ve been able to enjoy it. I think that is reflected in this house.”

Having only lived in the Valley about 17 years, the husband and wife, despite their far-flung globe-trotting adventures, discovered that their love for the Sonoran Desert made it the ideal spot to settle down for good. “We felt like Paradise Valley was the place we wanted to be,” the wife notes. “We sold our larger house but wanted to stay in the same neighborhood. We wanted to build our forever family home.”

The couple assembled an all-star team of Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award winners to help them re-imagine the charming corner lot in the Mountain Shadows East neighborhood of Paradise Valley that they purchased in 2019. With the enclave’s stringent HOA restrictions in place to protect its midcentury modern history, architect Erik Peterson and builder John Schultz had to get creative.

“This neighborhood is very specific about the type of style for the homes,” explains Peterson. “They’re all ranch homes with low profiles and similar character. The goal for this couple was to meet the style guidelines but still make something fresh, new and creative.” Working within these parameters, the design team took advantage of every square foot of the lot, toying with the footprint over and over until it was perfectly situated. “The home is at the end of the street, and the lots are very tight,” Peterson notes. “We were trying to fit a whole lot of the homeowners’ requirements into a small box, but I think we succeeded in optimizing the land, the views and the exterior living areas.”

1. “It took me about two years of living here until I began to truly see the color in the desert,” explains the homeowner. “I wanted my house to reflect that. I love black and white, but I wanted my home to also have the color of the desert.” A verdant courtyard at the front entry demonstrates this balance of nature and romance. 2. Light wood floors laid in a herringbone pattern add an aristocratic twist to the study. But it’s the built-in cabinets lacquered in dramatic navy blue, an acrylic desk and an assortment of colorful objects that keep the room from taking itself too seriously. 3. The wine-storage wall of the game room continues the home’s open and airy aesthetic. 4-5. “I wanted to use timeless fabrics and finishes, especially in the master suite,” says the homeowner. Sumptuous textiles in earthy tones in the bedroom invite relaxation and restoration, while the black bed frame and black marble-clad fireplace anchor the space with a bit of drama. “I also love how the geometric moldings in the bathroom and bedroom give some texture and a classic feel to the house you don’t see very often.”

Landscape designer Jeff Berghoff had his work cut out for him, as well. “I don’t see a small garden as a constraint,” he says. “It is an opportunity to create something really special for the client. The project is a really good example of how to do a courtyard house. Because they’re at the end of the street, car headlights can flash through windows and you don’t get as much privacy. But we used strategic plantings and a hedge to create the front courtyard, which conceals the house a bit and makes the entrance feel more intimate.” Additionally, the layers of Mediterranean-inspired plantings—including lantana, olive trees, lavender and white roses—help create the illusion of more space. “That’s the art of what we do—every job has its constraints,” Berghoff continues. “With limitations, you have to be more creative.”

To help maximize the interiors and create light, bright, open areas, the couple turned to designer Wendy Black Rodgers. “We wanted a home that was transitional but had a cosmopolitan charm to it,” says the wife about their initial vision. “We were looking for a timeless aesthetic, lots of natural light and a warm, inviting feel but also classic global elements, such as the furniture and art we’ve collected in our 34 years of marriage and living and traveling throughout Asia, Europe and Australia.”

Rodgers, who had known the couple previously for many years, understood the challenge of incorporating the existing collection of furnishings into a brand-new house. “Many interior designers want to execute a pure expression of their ideas,” she notes. “But I was hired because they knew I would be willing and able to incorporate their beloved furnishings and accessories into the new design.”

Inspired by the husband and wife’s travels and their efforts to downsize, Rodgers created an interior wonderland of timeless finishes, bold color combinations, modern influences and eclectic furnishings. “As we went through the preliminary design questions, the words ‘classic,’ ‘charming’ and ‘layered’ kept coming up,” Rodgers recalls. “It can be a challenge to take someone’s life collections and select special pieces that work within the goals of the home, but I think these meaningful objects give the home its warmth and make it a unique space.”

1-2. “I also love how the geometric moldings in the bathroom and bedroom give some texture and a classic feel to the house you don’t see very often.” In the master bathroom, a 140-year-old vanity belonging to the homeowner’s great-grandmother is given new life in the opulent space. 3-4. The home’s black-and-white color palette continues into a guest bedroom and guest bathrooms. “This house has a sophisticated combination of charm and livability,” says Black Rodgers. “It’s layered—contemporary where it suits a modern lifestyle and cozy when you want to just hang out. It is a great house for the two homeowners but is also perfect for when they want to entertain.” 

In their new house, in their favorite neighborhood, surrounded by relics and reminders of the worldly life they’ve led, the couple finally feels at home. “We never thought we would stay here, but now I never want to leave,” says the wife. “It’s nice to know that this place is the touchstone for our family. Our kids live out of state, but they know this is home. To build this forever family home that they can come back to is really special.”

1. Due to the neighborhood’s strict design parameters, the home’s roofline couldn’t exceed 14 feet. “The whole house has very low ceilings, but it still feels expansive,” notes architect Erik Peterson. “People tend to think they need huge, high ceilings to create scale, but all the rooms here tend to be lower, between 9 and 12 feet.” In the great room, the openness of the space mixed with the coziness of the furnishings creates this human-sized scale. 2. In the dining room, the past mingles with the present. An antique Chinese wedding cabinet is tucked into the niche. At center stage is a French dining table that originally belonged to the homeowner’s mother. 3. The home’s black-and-white color palette continues into a guest bedroom and guest bathrooms.

ARCHITECT: Erik Peterson, AIA, PHX Architecture. BUILDER: John Schultz, Schultz Development. INTERIOR DESIGNER: Wendy Black Rodgers, Wendy Black Rodgers Interiors. LANDSCAPE DESIGNER: Jeff Berghoff, Berghoff Design Group.

Architect:  Erik Peterson, AIA, NCARB,  PHX Architecture, Scottsdale, Builder: John Schultz, Schultz Development, Scottsdale, Interior designer: Wendy Black Rodgers, Wendy Black Rodgers Interiors, Scottsdale, Landscape architect: Jeff Berghoff, Berghoff Design Group, Phoenix,
PRIMARY BATH—White marble and black leatherized granite slabs: Cactus Tile and Stone, Phoenix,; fabricated by Bell Stone Granite, Phoenix, (602) 513-8196. Tub: Bath fittings (by Samuel Heath): Clyde Hardware, Phoenix, Chandelier: Mirrors: Mercury Glass Co., Phoenix, (602) 258-7908.

FRONT COURTYARD—Exterior lighting (by Sun Lighting): Hinkley Lighting Factory, Phoenix, 

ENTRY—Wood flooring: Premiere Wood Floors, Scottsdale, Chandelier and light sconces: Front door: Visionmakers International, Mesa, Chair cushion fabric:

DINING ROOM—Pendant lights: Fig plant: Pearson & Company, Scottsdale, Vintage screen: Scottsdale Marketplace, Scottsdale, Centerpiece bowl: CAI Designs, Scottsdale, 

STUDY—Cabinetry: Finely Designed, Phoenix, (623) 580-725. Lighting (by Ralph Lauren):

BILLIARDS ROOM AND GREAT ROOM—Cabinetry: Finely Designed, Phoenix, (623) 580-725. Lighting: Wood flooring: Rug: Leather chair (by Rose Tarlow): Upholstery (custom): Kitchen counter stools: Wine wall: Heritage Vine, Scottsdale,

PRIMARY BEDROOM—Window treatments: Cyber Technology Group, Scottsdale, Wall molding: Granite fireplace:; fabricated by Bell Stone Granite, Phoenix, (602) 513-8196.

GUEST BEDROOM—Bed: Wall molding: Window treatments: Chair: PAGE

GUEST BATH—Tile flooring: Cabinetry: Finely Designed, Phoenix, (623) 580-725. Lighting: Stone countertops:; fabricated by Bell Stone Granite, Phoenix, (602) 513-8196.

BOTTOM, POWDER BATH—Vanity: Wall faucet (by THG) Porcelain wall tile: Mirror: Pendants (vintage):



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