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Barefoot Elegance

A quaint outdoor sitting area at this Arcadia-area home is a welcoming spot to gather with neighbors.

From its picturesque landscape to its quintessential architecture, a new residence is perfectly tailored to its iconic locale.

By Nancy Erdmann | Photography by Garrett Cook and Karen Shell

It’s funny how serendipitous moments can sometimes change the course of life in ways you least expect. For one Phoenix couple, a routine daily activity became the catalyst for saying goodbye to a home they adored and taking on a construction adventure that brought them to a new neighborhood they had always cherished.

The husband was raised in the Arcadia area of Scottsdale, and the wife grew up in California. In 2015, after years of living in Tempe, they moved to Phoenix. “We bought a house that we really and truly loved,” says the wife. Due to their kids’ school bus schedule, she would often pick them up in front of one particular house in Arcadia where she waited under the shade of a beautiful pine tree. “We didn’t live that far away, but the scheduled route meant 20 extra minutes on their travel time, so I would come and get them.”

One day, she saw a sign on the property announcing that the existing 1950s ranch was going to be demolished and a spec home would be built in its place. “The house we were living in just happened to also be by the same company, so I was especially curious to find out what they were doing,” she recalls.

Without mentioning it to her husband, she contacted builder Austin King, checked out the plans and liked what she saw. “I casually mentioned to my husband that there was a new residence going up, and I thought he might be interested in seeing what was going on,” she says. To her surprise, he was open to looking at the drawings.

“I grew up in Arcadia and have great memories of playing basketball with my buddies at Hopi Elementary School and riding our bikes up and down the streets,” he says. When his wife brought up the idea of buying the house and getting in early on the process to customize it, he agreed. “The thought of seeing my own kids grow up here and going to the same high school I did sold me.”

The home’s exterior, with its board and batten finish, shake shingles, open gable rooflines and shutters and awnings, harks back to the midcentury ranch homes so prevalent in Arcadia, notes King. And the use of dormers and shingle-style wood siding is characteristic of a farmhouse aesthetic. “The architecture is iconic in that it gives a nod to the post-war-era ranch homes while fusing in charming bucolic character,” the builder explains.

1. Landscape designer Jeremy McVicars created a secret garden on the far side of the garage in an area that some might consider unusable space in the triangle-shaped lot. Filled with arid-loving plants, it looks inviting even in the heat of summer. Shake siding adds texture to the garage, while an old sink is used to wash fresh-picked vegetables. 2. This charming space serves as a thoroughfare between one backyard area and another. For a unique groundcover, white alyssum was planted between pavers.

The gardens, too, with their picturesque pathways and sitting areas, play a big role in the look and style of the property. “Our outdoor spaces are very important to us,” says the husband. “We wanted something spectacular.” Their desire for a lush, layered English garden look meant they would have to get creative with the wedge-shaped yard.

“When you look at many of the yards in Arcadia that have a triangle shape, most don’t make use of all the space,” observes landscape designer Jeremy McVicars. “The unused sections often serve as a place for storage. Our goal was to create a landscape that was unique and timeless and to utilize all of the lot by creating secret garden rooms with connecting pathways.”

“The architecture is iconic in that it gives a nod to the post-war- era ranch homes while fusing in charming bucolic character.”

—Austin King, builder

1. Architect Milos Minic recommended adding a pergola to connect the house to the ramada. A blue soapstone counter was chosen for its color and durability, and the red reclaimed brick, arranged in a herringbone pattern, is a classic look the homeowners love. Overhead, hardy tangerine crossvines will one day fill in to provide filtered shade. 2. Farmhouse-style architecture combined with tailored landscaping is a look that is becoming increasingly popular in the Arcadia neighborhood. 3. A key design philosophy for furnishing and accessorizing the home was to follow through with the same look from inside to out. Here, the great room opens directly to one of several outdoor living areas, which mirror the comfortable aesthetics of the interiors. The homeowner says she can easily switch up the pillows on the indoor sofas with those on her patios. 4. The indoor/outdoor concept is at play in the backyard, where the main patio melds flawlessly with the great room and the connected ramada acts as an extension of the interiors. “Every outdoor sitting area reflects a mood,” says the wife. The globe-style iron chandelier was added to visually anchor the setting, notes builder Austin King.

McVicars and his project manager, Harrison Hoffman, created a tailored, verdant setting that looks like it came out of a storybook. From hedges of myrtles and tidy rows of roses and geraniums lining the entry walk to a hidden plot in the back filled with vegetable and herb beds, the landscape exudes country charm. There are sitting areas everywhere and a pool cabana with a kitchen, fireplace and TV is perfect for some outdoor family time.

“Our goal was to create a landscape that was unique and timeless and to utilize all of the lot by creating secret garden rooms with connecting pathways.”

—Jeremy McVicars, landscape designer

Inside, the great room, which includes the kitchen and dining area, opens to the front and back yards; large glass sliding doors bring in plenty of natural daylight. Imbued with a neutral palette of whites and soft grays—colors the homeowners find both calming and easy to design around—the walls are finished with classic crown moldings and wainscoting. “It’s all about the details,” says the wife who selected all the furnishings and accessorized the house. “I have a passion for design, and I like to make every single space special.”

She describes the ambience of the house as “barefoot elegance,” which to her means “a lovely home in which you feel comfortable sitting on the sofa and curling up watching Netflix, or a beautiful dining room table at which you can eat spaghetti and meatballs together as a family. It’s always beautiful, always relaxing. I have learned through experimentation, trial and error and time what works for us,” she notes.

Cozy sofas and chairs in various shades of white are topped with pillows that would harmonize with any room of the house or outdoor living space. Well-chosen
antique pieces mix with less expensive finds modified to suit the wife’s style and add personality to the home. For instance, a pine hutch that was perfect for the dining room but too dark for the space, was given a fresh update with white chalk paint. “It completely changed the look of it,” the wife notes.

“I always start with an inspirational photo and work from there,” she explains. “My philosophy is to spend money where you need it, such as on classic furnishings that will last, and get more creative with the accessories.” While she says she is not a bargain hunter, she does like to work her creative magic whenever she gets a chance.

From the farmhouse style of its exterior to the traditional/transitional look of the interior, the new house is in perfect harmony with its Arcadia neighbors. While the process to build it was long—a year, says the wife—the end result is a classic, comfortable abode that soon will be the source of many family memories for years to come.

Architect: Milos Minic, Integrated Design LLC. Builder: Austin King, Rafterhouse. Landscape Designer: Jeremy McVicars, Refined Gardens.

For more information, see Sources.

1. The front entry bar features a pub-like brick veneer accent wall and custom chalkboard signs. For fun, the husband, who is known to his friends as “Juice,” had his own T-shirts, napkins and coasters designed with “Juice Bar” imprinted on them. 2. With help from her daughter, the wife filled inexpensive glass jars with stacked cookies to create a delicious design element in the kitchen. 3. A defining feature of the cozy living room is the pitched ceiling with its truss detailing. Flooring throughout is wide-plank oak that is both durable and easy to maintain yet lends authenticity to the style of the home, says Minic. Paisley, the family’s goldendoodle, gives his stamp of approval. 4. Dinners together are an important part of the family’s life, says the wife. “There’s just something about sitting across from each other and sharing the details of our days that gets everyone engaged in the conversation,” she reflects. The walls, which are painted a soft gray throughout the house, allow the white millwork to stand out. 5. Inspired by a photo she found on Pinterest, the wife purchased an oversized mirror as a statement piece for the master bath. An elegant crystal chandelier adds to the sophisticated feel. 6. “I wanted blue wallpaper that had a cool coastal feel for the powder room,” she says. “I also needed a paper that complemented the blue wash bowl, which I had been saving for two years for just the right space.”
The secret garden comes to life at dusk with cafe lights strung across the yard. The homeowners were passionate about keeping the enormous pine tree that grows just beyond the wall. They outfitted it with a swing and lights.

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