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A Small Corner of Paradise

A dramatic glass-and-metal starburst light fixture hangs from a wooden beam below a skylight at the center of this Arcadia home.

A modern ranch dwelling with a unique subterranean living space blends into its charming suburban setting.

By Nancy Erdmann | Photography by Joshua Caldwell and Garrett Cook

Rick Andreen and his wife, Shellie, have enjoyed living in the highly desirable neighborhood of Arcadia since 1997. While they loved their large home, they were looking to downsize. They found themselves drawn to what appeared to be an abandoned Mediterranean-style abode that they would drive by every day. “It was a blight on the street. The outside was painted pink, and it was in bad shape with colonies of Africanized bees residing in its walls,” Rick recalls. But the home was on a corner lot with access to bike lanes and pedestrian pathways and within walking distance to Old Town Scottsdale. “One day, we saw a construction fence pop up, so we decided to ask the owners if they’d be willing to sell, and they said, ‘Yes.’”

As the owner of a real estate investment, design and development firm and former president of a large homebuilding company, Rick is no stranger to the construction process and served as the project’s architectural designer and general contractor. “Shellie and I didn’t want our place to be trendy but instead feel modern and updated,” he says. “The goal was to have the exterior fit within the ranch-house style of historic Arcadia by using traditional materials, such as stucco, brick, concrete and cobblestone, which weather well in Arizona’s hot, dry climate.” The Andreens also wanted their new house to display architectural features suitable to the locale, including a hip roof, low-slung gables and front and rear covered porches and patios.

Inviting porches and shaded patios embrace the social nature of the Arcadia community that the couple live in. “We really enjoy the indoor/outdoor opportunities at our house,” says homeowner Rick Andreen. “We have fireplace nights on our front patio whenever possible, and friends pop in and feel welcome to sit down and relax.”

Also important for Rick and Shellie was making sure that all areas of the 4,600-square-foot, single-story five-bedroom home were utilized and functional. “Our house supports a family of two adults and four children, and we have the flexibility to turn off a large zone of the home when our three adult kids are not here,” notes Rick. To get the space they needed and keep cooling costs down, the couple installed a basement 12 feet below ground that encompasses a guest room with an en suite bathroom, an entertaining space and a powder room. “By building down into the earth instead of up, we were able to take advantage of a naturally cooler environment.” The 1,100-square-foot-basement is accessed via a grand staircase illuminated by a skylight, and large window wells provide additional natural light.

The modern ranch-style house was painted white to reflect the heat of the sun for energy efficiency and provide a backdrop for the landscape. Soft, wispy ornamental grasses contrast with the southern live oak trees and white iceberg roses. A cedar split-rail fence doesn’t hide the landscape but offers a bit of a safety barrier from the street, notes landscape architect Russell Greey.

The main level is bright and cheery with white walls, vaulted ceilings and large banks of windows. To bring their personality into the house and create a serene, timeless and comfortable atmosphere, Rick and Shellie collaborated with interior designer Alisha Taylor. “We worked with Alisha on two previous projects and found her style to be unique and trendsetting but with a classic edge that made the investment in our furnishings worth the extra expense of high-end custom products,” says Shellie.

Taylor notes, “The main living area—the kitchen and adjacent family room—is designed to have the feeling that it is bigger than it really is. We worked with finishes, proper beam layout and just the right light fixtures to truly capture the architectural appeal of the vaulted ceiling that runs continuously through the space and so beautifully balances the cozy, comfortable vibe below.”

The home’s blue, black, white and gray color scheme is partnered with natural warm woods in the flooring and furniture. “In order to blend Rick’s requests for modern touches and Shellie’s desire for a relaxing yet classic interior, we incorporated a careful balance of materials and textures. Sleek metal details are used on the stove hood and fireplace mantel, and soft textures and layers were infused in the new furnishings,” Taylor explains. “Getting the scale and dimension for each piece was key to making sure every room felt properly outfitted and proportional.”

Just as much attention was paid to the gardens and exterior living spaces. Throughout the grounds, sour orange trees, vines, ornamental grasses, roses and annuals that are allowed to flourish without a lot of manicuring present a “wild cottage” feel, notes landscape architect Russell Greey, a Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award winner. “Rick designed the house to sit up a bit on the lot with old-school-style steps that lead to the elevated front porch. Because the residence is located on a busier street, we were able to create privacy near the road with a retaining wall, wooden fence and levels of plantings to screen the road. The fence doesn’t hide the landscape but instead acts as a safety barrier and creates another layer to the garden.” A tall fireplace brings an additional element to the front yard and serves as a backdrop for a secluded sitting area.

1. The ceiling above the staircase features a skylight for natural illumination along with a contemporary fixture hanging from a wood beam for artistic flair. 2. The stairs leading to the basement are paired with a simple metal railing with wood accents to match the flooring. Family photos are displayed on a credenza on the landing. 3. Tucked between the family room and kitchen, this cozy breakfast nook, with its built-in seating and table, features Roman shades and horizontal lap wood siding on the walls. 4. “The master bath was designed to be elegant but also inviting,” says Taylor. “We utilized two cabinetry finishes to accomplish a separation of the his-and-hers vanities and created a storage piece between them.” Patterned marble flooring complements the serene aesthetic. 5. A raised sun deck with synthetic grass not only provides an additional sitting area in the backyard but also was constructed to deal with grading issues. A sheet of water flowing from the tiled pool wall adds movement to the yard.

Collaborating with Rick, who wanted a swimming pool that wouldn’t take up too much of the yard, Greey came up with the idea for a petite pool that’s perfect for a quick dip on a hot summer day but that also does double duty as an oversized water feature, complete with a water wall on one side. “The backyard is fairly small, and corner lots can lead to constraints in design, so we tried to be as efficient with space as possible,” the landscape architect explains. “By positioning the pool on one side of the yard, we avoided dividing the expanse into two. This leaves more room for a grassy activity area and makes the yard live larger than it really is.”

With its clean architectural style downplayed to fit into the neighborhood without standing out, the Andreens’ home offers a calming presence both inside and out. Taylor concludes, “With tailored, contemporary touches rooted in clean classic design, this house depicts Rick and Shellie’s lifestyle, their personalities and how beautifully a home can be when blending the styles of the two people who live here.”

1. In the basement sitting area, the Andreens’ worn and loved leather sectional is paired with new furnishings and abstract art for a fresh look. Seven-foot-high window wells filled with greenery make the lower level space feel bright and cheery. 2. The fully functional basement houses a guest suite and wet bar. The brick work emulates the materials palette found on the outside of the home. 3. “The family room is all about the layered details,” says interior designer Alisha Taylor. “Great architecture, a vaulted ceiling and a unique light fixture visually frame the fireplace, which is flanked by display shelves.” Neutral-hued contemporary furnishings, accessories and a painting by Derek Shaw complete the look. 4. High contrast creates a sophisticated look in the kitchen where dark cabinetry partners with white walls, a concrete stove hood and quartz countertops. French stained oak flooring, a wood light fixture and rattan chairs add organic warmth. 5. “We wanted to create more volume inside with bigger doors and higher ceilings than the original 1950s residences in the area, yet with less square footage,” Rick explains. A clear view of the bathroom can be seen from the light-filled master bedroom where layers of linens in varying textures and patterns create a welcoming feel. 6. To make a statement on the corner of the 0.33-acre lot, which faces the intersection of two streets, Greey planted the area with Barbra Streisand roses surrounded by dwarf yaupon holly and espaliered white roses on the fence. 7. “Rick is always working on the next project, so an antique architect’s table was placed in the home office and blue built-ins were installed for books and a computer station,” notes Taylor. 8. The house was designed to focus on multiple places to relax, both indoors and out. Fourteen-foot-wide sliding doors open to the covered patio where a cozy arrangement of Adirondack-style chairs are easily accessible for alfresco entertaining.

Architectural designer and general contractor: Rick Andreen, Andreen Group. Interior Designer: Alisha Taylor, Alisha Taylor Interiors. Landscape Architect: Russell Greey, Greey|Pickett.

For more information, see Sources.


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