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A Dated Midcentury Home Gets a Modern Refresh

Torn between renovating or relocating, the homeowner realized she could never replicate these mountain views. Landscape architect Russell Greey designed a new pool mirroring the geometry of the home.

A midcentury abode gets a thoroughly modern update.

By Kim Hill | Photography by Melissa Valladares

Joy Twist faced a big decision. Should she remodel the Paradise Valley house she had called home for 45 years, tear it down and build anew on her enviable property, or sell the outdated house and move elsewhere?

It wasn’t a decision she made based solely on emotion. Joy consulted with several architects, builders and real estate professionals to determine the financial feasibility of her options. But after careful consideration and consultation with her son, St. Louis-based developer Rowdy Montgomery, she realized the home’s hillside location, with its extraordinary views of both Camelback and Mummy mountains, couldn’t be replicated. 

“I love this neighborhood,” Joy says. “I have a lot of beautiful memories here and a big family, so a big house works well for me.” 

But that big house, built in 1966, needed some TLC. “We didn’t ever remodel or do much with it,” explains Joy, who previously spent summers in Colorado before living in Paradise Valley full time. “I knew I had to bring the home up to the integrity of today’s world, yet not do something off-the-wall.”

Montgomery connected with architect Michael Higgins, a Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award winner, who brought builder Todd Deniger to the project. Initial meetings revealed both the Deniger and Twist homes were built by the late Dave Hansen, a prominent Paradise Valley builder of the era. Deniger says he has remodeled several Hansen-built homes, including his own. “Hansen was a very good builder, so I knew Joy’s house had a lot of potential,” Deniger says.   

Higgins agrees: “The house was intelligently thought out. It’s like a three-pointed star. In the center of the star, all the angles face the right directions to capture the views. It just needed to be brought up to the current century.”

1. “We didn’t want a big, heavy piece here,” Pawling says of the light fixture, choosing a long, narrow design with a pewter finish to hang over the custom dining table of rift oak. The ceramic totem adds sculptural interest. 2. A nod to the home’s midcentury modern roots, the pass-through to the dining room provides functionality and lets light from the dining room window flow into the kitchen. The low-profile bar stools in the foreground comfortably accommodate the homeowner’s very tall sons but “lay back and take their place so you don’t see a huge row of bar stools when you walk into the kitchen,” says Pawling. 3. Pawling designed the primary bedroom’s textural fireplace to incorporate horizontal lines found on the exterior of the home. “I didn’t know I would enjoy this so much,” the homeowner says of the new fireplace. 4. A new window in the primary bathroom is one of several that were added or relocated during renovations. 5. A luxurious soaking tub was added during renovations to the primary bathroom.

The scope of work was extensive: creating a new, covered entry drive to the home; removing a bedroom and bathroom on the main level to expand the kitchen, form a pantry and relocate the laundry; opening the dining room to the living room; reconfiguring the primary suite by widening doors, adding a fireplace, removing the 8-foot ceiling and bringing more natural light into the bathroom; replacing all windows with new energy-efficient models; and turning all secondary bedrooms into en suites with walk-in closets.

In the living room, Higgins extended the ceiling and added a steel ridge beam for a vaulted look. “We had to extend the original stone fireplace at right angles around the corner,” says interior designer Colleen Pawling. Deniger’s crew hand-selected rocks from the home’s mountain lot to add more stone for the extension. “I have a feeling that’s what the original owner did because the stones we picked were a very close match,” Deniger explains. He used the same process for a two-story stone fireplace at the other end of the room, which extends to the home’s lower level.

“We didn’t ever remodel or do much with it. I knew I had to bring the home up to the integrity of today’s world, yet not do something off-the-wall.”

—Joy Twist, homeowner

1. Capitalizing on what was successful in the home’s original layout, architect Michael Higgins designed cabled steel railing, replacing the 1960s wrought iron, to open up the views even more. Low-maintenance synthetic grass and a minimalist plant palette let the natural beauty take center stage. 2. A new steel roof replaced the previous sloped roof, giving the home a crisp, more contemporary look. 3. “We wanted to keep some interest on the wall without competing with the art,” interior designer Colleen Pawling explains of the architectural molding. She and the homeowner spent about eight hours drawing the pattern to scale before the half-inch molding was applied. The collection of nine landscapes were commissioned to contemporary painter Daryl Childs. 4. The framed Harding fiddle, a regional instrument of western Norway, belonged to the homeowner’s father. “It’s a family heirloom that carries a lot of memories,” she says. “I have a cousin who visits from Norway, and she can play it.” 5. The Madre Pearl quartzite counter keeps the large island light and airy, while charcoal quartz on the perimeter provides contrast, Pawling says. The homeowner says the island’s waterfall edge is a favorite element in the finished design. 6. New furnishings in a neutral color palette were selected for comfort and arranged to accommodate large groups for conversation. Keeping the original stone fireplace “gives me the feeling it’s the same comfortable home I always had, but in some ways, it’s a brand new house,” says the homeowner. 7. Neutral furnishings and a serene color palette offer tranquility in the homeowner’s bedroom.

The exteriors received significant attention as well. The team installed stucco over the existing slump block, adding an insulation layer. A new steel roof replaced the sloping foam roof, giving the home a contemporary look with crisp, clean lines. Landscape architect Russell Greey, also a Master of the Southwest, says his goal was to “embrace the geometry of the house.” Greey designed a new arc-shaped pool, following an existing retaining wall. Greey says Joy wanted both low water usage and low maintenance. By utilizing synthetic grass around the pool and installing a minimalist plant palette that still shields neighboring properties, “we let the house be the piece of art,” he explains.

The entire project was a rebirth of the home. “It respects what was there and enhances what was done right in the beginning,” Higgins says of the renovations. “Joy’s decisions in this project honored the house she loved.”


Architect: Michael Higgins, Higgins Architects Builder: Todd Deniger, JKD Building Group, Scottsdale, Interior designer: Colleen Pawling, ASID NCIDQ, Pawling Design Associates, Scottsdale, Landscape architect: Russell Greey, Greey|Pickett, Scottsdale,

Railing: Design: Fabricated by Freitag’s Custom Wrought Iron, Phoenix,

Table: S.R. Drost Custom Furniture, Scottsdale, (480) 998-8977. Chairs: CAI Designs, Scottsdale, Lighting: Totem: Thingz, Scottsdale, Art (by Daryl Childs): Agave dishes: Jim Sudal Ceramic Design, Scottsdale,

Sofa (by Burton James) and  coffee table (by Fremarc Designs):  CAI Designs, Scottsdale, Area rug: Design Surfaces, Scottsdale,

Island countertop (Madre Pearl quartzite): Arizona Tile, Phoenix, Cabinetry: Copperstate Cabinet Company, Phoenix, Perimeter countertop (Silestone Cemento Spa quartz): Consentino Surfaces, Tempe, Bar stools:

Fireplace finish: Hopper Finishes, Scottsdale, Flooring: Premiere Wood Floors, Scottsdale, Chairs (by Huntington House): Ladlow’s Fine Furniture, Scottsdale, Headboard: Mirrors: Clyde Hardware, Phoenix,

Flooring and wall tile: Facings of America, Tub: Cabinetry: Chair (by Century), Scottsdale Design District,


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