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Full House

MASTERS of the SOUTHWEST Award Winner

A modernist house designed for two families is tucked into a hillside site in Paradise Valley between Mummy and Camelback mountains. Plenty of glass walls capture the views. The facade downplays the size of the home, which is built into a sloping lot. The landscaping features angular beds and geometric plantings that echo the lines of the architecture.

A two-family dwelling offers the perfect mix of sleek style and casual functionality.

By Katherine Adomaitis | Photography by Christiaan Blok and Michael Duerinckx

Nestled at the base of Mummy Mountain, the contemporary glass, stucco and steel house, partially hidden by desert vegetation, presents a low profile to the street. On the backside, though, the seemingly conventional abode opens to reveal a lower level, a series of balconies, overhangs and cantilevers, and vast stretches of window walls that capture views of Camelback Mountain in the distance and flood the interior with light.

The remarkable design was driven not only by the owners’ modern, minimalist aesthetic and the sloping site but, most importantly, by the owners’ desire to have their home accommodate two families.

Melanie and Roland Folz spend much of the year in Germany, where Roland works, but they would frequently travel to Arizona to stay with Melanie’s sister, Mary Heitmann, and her husband, Mike. The couples, respectively, have two and three young adult children. “We all get along so well,” explains Roland, “that the idea of sharing a home seemed natural, especially when looking ahead at retirement, when Melanie and I will be able to spend more time in the Sonoran sunshine.”

1. Inviting furnishings create a comfortable seating area in the family room. The adjacent kitchen includes two islands to accommodate several cooks and features a floating glass bar top. 2. In the dining room, a tulip painting by Dieter Krieg is one of several pieces by German artists that were incorporated into the new home. 3. A bookmatched stone surround adds depth to the living room fireplace, where a pair of sculptural cocktail tables and angular seating add a crisp edge. The painting of a wood grouse is by Stefan Strumbel. 4. Pocketing glass doors connect the large open-concept kitchen and family room with a balcony that overlooks the backyard and Camelback Mountain.

The couples began to look for a home a few years ago, but nothing seemed to fill their wish list, which included separate master suites, five bedrooms for the children and enough common space to share without feeling like the two families were on top of one another. Eventually, they came across a 1970s ranch on a 1.5-acre lot with glorious mountain vistas to the north and the south.

The property, surrounded by a eucalyptus forest, had seen better days, so the family reached out to Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award-winning interior designer Tony Sutton, whose detailed, understated approach they admired, to consult on a potential renovation or new build. “Nothing had been done to the residence since it was built, and it wasn’t worth saving,” Sutton recalls. “The original house wasn’t designed for the views and the lot was overgrown—but the potential was fantastic.”

Taking advantage of the property’s slope, the design team discovered they could create a sizable walk-out lower level and reduce the mass of the 10,600-square-foot house toward the street. “This is a narrow lot,” architect Erik Peterson explains, “and there was a lot of programming that needed to be accommodated without compromising the views, but we got everything to work.”

Peterson, also a Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award winner, created a main-level floor plan with separate but equal master suites—one that cantilevers over the backyard on the east side of the house and the other, on the west side, set square to capture views of Camelback Mountain. Connecting the two wings are a formal living room, dining room, family room and kitchen, all of which open onto a balcony that runs across the back of the house. The lower level includes the five children’s bedrooms, a game room, theater, wine cellar and an impressive man cave that’s tucked in back of the lower-level garage. “The key was to make each space have a human scale, even though it’s a pretty open plan,” Peterson says. “We wanted the house to have a sense of intimacy. We also didn’t want it to seem like a divided house, even though it’s for two families. If only one couple is here, it doesn’t feel like only half the space is being used.”

Peterson detailed the flat-roofed house with smooth, integrally colored stucco walls that blend into the desert site, aluminum-clad window walls, dark steel fascia and stone cladding.

Operable windows next to a soaking tub in one of the master bathrooms frame views of a private garden space and encourage breezes.

“The key to minimalist design is to make things comfortable by bringing in natural elements.”

—Tony Sutton, interior designer

Ensuring that all the pieces of the project puzzle came together smoothly—resulting in a home that, while complicated in design, feels effortless and accessible—was builder John Schultz. “Building a contemporary home is challenging,” Schultz notes. “What you do at the foundation stage affects everything. You can’t go back and disguise it with ‘gingerbread’ like you can a rustic-style house, which is much more forgiving.”

Having built numerous hillside residences in the area, Schultz was well-prepared for the challenges to come. He prepped the site with a 15-foot vertical cut into the slope and removed a large section of the rocky terrain, creating a horizontal foundation to accommodate the home’s lower level. Construction began with the tennis court and pool house at the far end of the property. “We couldn’t build the main house first due to the narrow shape of the lot,” he explains. “We worked our way out from the back.”

A look at the rear facade underscores the engineering skills Schultz put into play, as plenty of structural steel supports the home’s awe-inducing overhangs and cantilevers. Inside, the builder was responsible for details such as the kitchen’s floating glass bar top and the dramatic limestone, glass and steel staircase. He also coordinated the placement by crane of a large-scale stylized steel sculpture of Nefertiti, which now resides in the backyard by the pool.

1. One of the master bedrooms—furnished in soothing neutrals—is cantilevered over the backyard and has window walls that line up with the “camel’s head” formation on Camelback Mountain. 2. A wood- and glass-clad wall provides a backdrop to the dramatic staircase that leads to the lower-level game room and wine bar. 3. The lower-level theater, sparked by magenta accents, includes state-of-the-art seating and media equipment. 4. The man cave, hidden behind the garage, has peacock blue and metallic accents that highlight the tufted bar and golf simulator. 5. A gathering area in the lower-level game room includes sectionals and seating meant for lounging and naps.

When creating a look for the interiors, Sutton chose to play it cool, calm and crisp. “The idea was to keep it clean, with no clutter,” he says. “Everything here has a purpose. The key, though, to minimalist design is to make things comfortable by bringing in natural elements, such as wood, and making sure all of the seating is loungelike.”

Working with pale flooring and white walls, Sutton relied on a palette of cream, taupe, gray, charcoal and black to keep the focus on the art and views. In the formal living room, two pairs of sculptural lounge chairs and a deep sofa form an intimate conversation area in front of a stone-clad linear fireplace. A  coffee table comprising multiple hexagons adds a pop of red and blue to the family room, which features several deep armchairs and a custom two-way sofa that provides guests with the option of watching the TV and fireplace while facing one direction or the sun’s rays washing over Camelback Mountain from the other. The master suites are spare and simple, too; the beds float in the middle of the room, allowing the homeowners to wake up to the surrounding views.

Downstairs, Sutton took a few design liberties, creating a deep-toned home theater sparked with magenta accents in the carpeting and accessory pillows. For the man cave, he clad the bar and walls in a tufted and padded peacock-blue wallcovering, creating a vibrant setting for the room’s casual bar and big-screen golf simulator.

The lower level connects to a series of patios, where carefully planned amenities create numerous outdoor living and recreation opportunities. “The home’s architecture has a series of slight angles,” says landscape architect and Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award winner Russell Greey, “so we embraced those skews when we designed the backyard’s hardscape and planters.” A glass-tiled negative-edge pool that includes a lap lane and spa is the centerpiece of the rear landscape. Greey positioned the watery amenity to reflect Camelback Mountain when viewed from inside the house. Numerous terraces, fire pits and planter beds—many featuring greenery in gridlike patterns—add to the setting’s geometric look. Greey even designed the tennis court to be a deep blue like the pool, mirroring the hue in the landscape.

With the addition of numerous seating and dining groupings, plus two barbecue areas, the yard is used to the fullest.

A stylized sculpture of Nefertiti by Jürgen Knubben had to be craned into the garden. A focal point of the yard, she is visible from just about every south-facing window.

“This home was designed to be a magnet for our families,” says Roland. “We all want our kids to enjoy visiting, and, in the future, we want them to come visit with their partners and the grandchildren.”

The happy couples and their children have already enjoyed two Thanksgivings, two Christmas holidays and several parties together in the house, with everyone cooking side by side. But Roland points out that there is one downside to the new dual digs. “We used to go out and enjoy the city’s great restaurants,” he says, “but now we love to cook in our fantastic kitchen and enjoy our wine cellar so much that it’s like having our own culinary festival at home. We never seem to go out any more.”

For more information, see Sources.

1. On the south-facing side of the house, glass walls create a seamless transition from indoors to out. Landscape architect Russell Greey composed several seating areas that serve as outdoor living rooms. An iron staircase leads to the upper level patio that runs the length of the house and adjoins  the cantilevered master suite. Linear plant beds and a long, narrow fire pit that extends into the pool complement the home’s contemporary lines. 2. Balconies, patios, fire pits and a blue-tiled, negative-edge pool draw the families outdoors to enjoy the weather and the amenities. From this view, the cantilevered master suite commands attention.

MASTERS of the SOUTHWEST Award Winner

John Schultz

At a young age, John Schultz learned the importance of integrity from his father, Arne. “He always told me to be honest,” John recalls. “He taught me to be up front and truthful and that everything else would follow.”

Originally a student of architecture at Arizona State University, John found that his passion lay in the process and business of homebuilding and its many moving parts. “What I love is the interaction of being in the field, creating homes and seeing them through to completion, not just drawing them on paper,” he says.

As the president of Schultz Development, now celebrating its 30th anniversary, John has become one of the most sought-after custom builders in the Valley. The qualities his father instilled in him serve as the cornerstone of his company, which is trusted by homeowners and industry professionals alike. He is known for his meticulous attention to detail, easygoing demeanor and his ability to lead a multidisciplinary team of subcontractors with the dexterity of a maestro conducting a symphony.

At a young age, John Schultz learned the importance of integrity from his father, Arne. “He always told me to be honest,” John recalls. “He taught me to be up front and truthful and that everything else would follow.”

“John and I have a long track record of collaborating on many projects,” says architect and Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award winner Mark Candelaria. “Because he was trained as an architect, that aspect of design is in his blood. He sees things aesthetically, not just mechanically. That helps to streamline every project.”

Whether he’s working on a lavish Italianate villa carved into the side of a Paradise Valley mountain, a sleek steel-and-glass contemporary estate, or any style in between, every home is a source of pride and happiness for John. “I live and breathe my business,” he says. “This is my life, not just a way to make a living.” It is our privilege to honor John with this year’s Master of the Southwest distinction. Congratulations, John.

—The Editors

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