Inside a Valley Architect’s Thoughtful Modern Ranch Redux
Architect Jason Boyer is not one to rush the creative process.
By Carly Scholl | Photography by Scott Sandler
After purchasing a home on the border of Paradise Valley and Arcadia in 2006, architect Jason Boyer decided, rather than rush to renovate, he and his wife would take some time to simply observe. After about a year of studying—the house, the landscape, the neighborhood, the changing patterns of sunlight throughout the seasons, the way the couple lived day to day—Boyer had an informed understanding of what changes needed to be made.
“After living here for a while, we realized that the orientation was all wrong,” explains the architect. “We have this incredible view of Camelback Mountain—a big reason why we bought the property in the first place—but we couldn’t really enjoy it. The living spaces all faced away from the mountain, but the bedrooms faced toward it, which was a waste since we don’t spend much time in the bedrooms during the day.”
Boyer focused the renovation around two objectives: maximizing the engagement of the house to the view of Camelback Mountain and taking advantage of the site’s potential for indoor/outdoor flow. “The plan of the house is built around a series of courtyards,” he notes. “There is a semi-private courtyard in the middle and a more private courtyard in the back that separates the bedroom wing from the detached home office.” This orientation, along with the artful placement of windows throughout the home, ensures that nearly every room has a view of Camelback.
“Light is a material just as much as marble or wood. We wanted our home to be filled with and almost defined by natural sunlight.”
—Jason Boyer, architect
“Light is a material just as much as marble or wood,” asserts Boyer. “We wanted our home to be filled with and almost defined by natural sunlight.” The architect notes that it is both an art and a science getting the right light into the right rooms at the right time of day. “Living in the house for a while really helped me understand how the light changed throughout the year, and where to situate windows and openings.”
Renovated in a modern ranch style in keeping with the context of the surrounding neighborhood, the house is all about the relationship to the outdoors. Exterior living spaces, including the courtyards, chaise lounges around the pool, and a barbecue near the kitchen, integrate the natural Sonoran setting into the Boyers’ everyday routines.
“The exterior is simply an extension of the interior, particularly in Arizona where outdoor living is so inviting much of the year,” explains landscape architect Todd Briggs, who collaborated with Boyer on the renovation. “Classic materials, sight lines between space, appropriate scale and ease of movement, coupled with shaded outdoor spaces, are quintessential to outdoor living in Phoenix.”
Designed to be simple, clean and purposeful, the hardscape does not compete with the home’s architecture, yet provides an ideal setting for the desert-native flora to become a focal point. “The plant palette is inspired by the Sonoran Desert and the landscapes visible on Camelback Mountain as viewed from the home,” Briggs points out. “I seldom design with color at the forefront, instead electing to arrange plants in groupings so their forms, textures and tones of green play off each other. Seasonal color is primarily achieved with the use of the native palo verde trees, with their explosion of blossoms in the spring. I like to think of them as our own version of the Washington, D.C., cherry blossom celebrations.”
Though the renovation was completed in 2008, Boyer credits the timeless materials palette, the hints of midcentury modern influence, and the unbeatable natural surroundings for keeping the house looking fresh. “We’ve made a few changes over the years, but ultimately we appreciate the house more and more every year we live in it,” he says. “We never get tired of watching the sunset over Camelback from our backyard.”
Architect: Jason Boyer, Boyer Vertical.Landscape architect: Todd Briggs, Trueform Landscape Architecture Studio.