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An Everyday Escape

Oriented around a large, inviting infinity pool, the backyard of this upscale dwelling delivers a sense of privacy and exclusivity. For the homeowners, every day spent here feels as though they are on vacation.

There’s no need for a vacation at this perfectly planned North Scottsdale estate designed for resort-style living.

By Ben Ikenson | Photography by Scott Sandler

Longtime Valley residents Charles and Suanne Woo knew exactly where they wanted to settle down. “We love the outdoor terrain of Arizona, so when we heard about the trail system going in at the McDowell Mountain Preserve, we knew we wanted to live nearby,” says Suanne. “The Silverleaf development was the perfect location.”

The couple purchased an acre-and-a-half lot in the exclusive North Scottsdale community, but a decade would pass before they were finally ready to build their dream home. During that time, they were able to assess the evolving needs of their family. Charles, a physician, and Suanne, who recently opened a hair salon in Arcadia, have two teenage boys—Carson, 16, and Bennett, 15—and a pair of energetic dogs.

“Needless to say, we wanted a home that would be durable enough for all of us to grow into,” says Suanne. “It needed to be large enough to entertain our kids’ friends, with the idea that everyone would want to hang out there, partly for the sake of our own peace of mind.”

The result—a 9,500-square-foot Mediterranean-style dwelling—is stately yet relaxed. The tranquil atmosphere imbues the home with a sprawling sense of leisure without imposing on an overall comfortable and homey feel. “Charles and Suanne wanted an elegant but casual rustic estate that not only fit their family’s everyday needs but was also well-suited for visits from extended family and friends,” notes Phoenix Home and Garden Masters of the Southwest award-winning architect Dale Gardon.

Fulfilling those requirements was easy compared with the challenge of siting the home. According to Gardon, most lots have a single street frontage (the length of land that abuts the road); corner lots have two. “This one is unique in that it faces three surrounding streets. We needed to configure the layout in a way that the public access wouldn’t adversely impact livability,” he explains. “It took extra attention to make sure that each side of the house looked great from the streets and afforded adequate privacy.”

The architect oriented much of the residence around a rear courtyard and pool, with a compound of structures that provides seclusion without inhibiting the views. The main house, which includes the great room, master suite and children’s bedrooms, forms two-thirds of the U-shaped dwelling; the third wing is a separate building that houses a garage and guest suites. “A freestanding pool cabana offers additional privacy from the adjacent neighbor on the fourth side of the property,” he adds.

1. A barrel-vaulted brick-lined ceiling provides a rustic backdrop to the hand-cast chandelier by Philadelphia-based artisan John Pomp. Interior designer Rebecca Salcito kept the color palette soft and neutral, adding pops of vibrant color with artwork and plant arrangements. The dining chairs are covered in a mohair-and-silk fabric. 2. In the foyer, the fluid contemporary forms of a custom cut-crystal chandelier and sculptural console topped with stingray shagreen complement the stone-inset parquet flooring and wood ceiling beams. 3. An Italian hair-on-hide rug delineates a comfortable seating arrangement in the great  room. Shades of taupe combine for a relaxed  ambience. The sectional sofas and pillows are upholstered in a durable outdoor fabric, and nailhead trim adds subtle interest to the linen-covered coffee table. 4. The homeowners enjoy their morning coffee in this sunny window nook with built-in banquette seating.

The home’s facade features a custom blend of exterior stone with flush-grouted installation, a unique textural appearance that creates a subtle contrast to the exterior stucco and limestone trim. “There is a nice visual balance in front, with symmetry of elements at the front entry but within an overall asymmetrical composition on a gently sloping terrain,” Gardon comments.

Builder Anthony Salcito notes that the materials used both inside and out represent a clean, modern aesthetic set against a charming old-world foundation—in keeping with the community’s design guidelines. “The overall body is a light, smooth integrally colored exterior plaster, while the backdrop is heavy in some areas, with limestone/rubble mortar-washed masonry, accented with defined, elegant carved limestone caps,” he explains. Sleek black aluminum window frames mix with Mediterranean architectural features, such as wood headers, while lighting, awning and Juliet balcony details add a sense of refinement to the exterior.

“The home has a refreshing, hip vibe, which was established through the use of natural materials.”

—Rebecca Salcito, interior designer

Inside, interior designer Rebecca Salcito created spaces to complement the open layout and appeal to the Woos’ minimalist sensibilities. “The home has a refreshing, hip vibe, which was established through the use of natural materials, earth-tone fabrics, fun fixtures, touches of vibrant color, and pops of brushed and polished nickel,” she explains. Spaces are light and airy with plenty of natural illumination. Wood floors and ceilings provide warmth and tranquility. The great room, which comprises the living, dining and kitchen areas, opens to a large terrace that overlooks the backyard and swimming pool.

1. Desert-hued stone and plaster give this rural Mediterranean-style home a laid-back formality. (photo courtesy Roehner + Ryan) 2. The kitchen island’s wood base anchors the light-filled room, which features custom white cabinetry and a marble-and-glass backsplash. Polished nickel is used on the ceiling light, fixtures, range hood trim and cabinet hardware for a cohesive look that’s easy on the eyes. 3. The formal living room features a classic symmetrical layout, with matching sofas and leather armchairs arranged around the fireplace. Salcito hand-painted the armoire, giving it an antiqued appearance. Velvet drapes add depth to the airy space. 4. A large ramada, complete with a cozy seating arrangement and fireplace, anchors the far end of the pool and provides privacy from nearby neighbors. (photo courtesy Roehner + Ryan) 5. The second-floor lounge area was designed as a gentleman’s retreat. With dark cabinetry, leather furnishings, a zinc island countertop and a well-stocked bar, it is the perfect spot for a nightcap. Large glass doors open the room to a furnished balcony.

“We wanted a home that would be durable enough for all of us to grow into.”

—Suanne Woo, homeowner

Community guidelines required the use of native greenery in the front yard. “A low-maintenance array of penstemon, sages and barrel cacti soften the property’s exterior walls, while dwarf olives line the circular driveway and create a formal curbside appeal,” says landscape designer Jeff Berghoff. Just outside the kitchen window, feeders on a large palo verde tree attract a profusion of hummingbirds.

In the backyard, neat rows of boxwood hedges, iceberg and carpet roses, dwarf olives and lavender create a lush but orderly frame around the pool. A small putting green fills a corner of the lawn near the expansive decking and lounge area. “There is nothing ostentatious about this home,” says Gardon. “It exudes a comfort in scale and features a material palette that creates a magnetic allure—so much so that you just want to hang out there.”

And that’s just what the Woos like to do. “Of all the great features of the house, we really love the backyard entertaining areas,” says Suanne. “Like a lot of homeowners, we were looking for a spacious, clean, resortlike feel. The oversized pool with zero edge and large amount of stone hardscape helps achieve that. Every weekend here is like a staycation.”

Architect: Dale Gardon, Dale Gardon Design. Builder: Anthony Salcito, Salcito Custom Homes Ltd. Interior Designer: Rebecca Salcito, Salcito Custom Homes Ltd. Landscape Designer: Jeff Berghoff, Berghoff Design Group.

For more information, see Sources.

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