Inside the Art-Filled Home of an Eclectic Pair of Collectors
Two busy physicians made sure their new Paradise Valley home fit their lifestyle—and showcased their art.
By Nora Burba Trulsson | Photography by Art Holeman
When two physicians decided to build a new home that would allow them to decompress from their busy careers and enjoy family time with their three sons, the couple didn’t just hire a design team, sit back and wait for the magic to happen. Instead, the husband and wife brought forth detailed information about how they wanted to live, how the house needed to feel, their likes and dislikes—and, not to mention, how their significant art collection needed to be incorporated into the new setting.
The resulting 7,000-square-foot, four-bedroom modernist dwelling in Paradise Valley reflects the owners, from the tall window walls capturing views of Camelback Mountain and the 75-foot-long lap pool providing a watery link between the house and the backyard ramada, to the artworks and specimen stone accents that add drama to the interior.
“The homeowners wanted us to understand their lifestyle,” says Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award-winning architect David Dick, who spearheaded the abode’s design. “They wanted this to be their home—not an architect’s vision—that would be an extraordinary place where they could live for a long time, not just for a few years.”
The backstory to the house began more than a decade ago, when the couple started thinking about building a contemporary dwelling, inspired by their love of the Bauhaus modernist movement. “We bought a property two doors down from our original house,” explains the husband, “and we thought about using that for our parents. Instead, we realized it had a lot of privacy and mountain views, so it would actually be perfect for us.”
Thus began the thoughtful process of creating a home that would include a relaxing master suite and exercise room for the couple, private spaces for their sons, guest quarters for visiting parents and central areas where they could all be together and entertain. “We didn’t want to just throw square footage at our needs,” explains the wife. “We needed the house to fit our lifestyle.” Equally important, was to create a setting that could showcase their collection of fine art and contain details that linked the house to natural elements.
“With the design—and the glass walls—we let the mountain be the star.”
– David Dick, architect
After interviewing several architects, the couple found that Dick could translate their housing desires into a contemporary reality. The architect created a stepped-back plan that affords mountain views and access to the outdoors from almost every room. He flanked the great room and kitchen with the master suite on one side and a study and bedroom for the youngest son on the other. A partial second floor includes a loft-like game room and two bedrooms for the college-age sons, while a gallery entry hall—designed to display sculpture and heirloom furnishings—connects the house to the guest quarters.
“The design of the house is simple, with geometric elements and clean lines,” Dick says. “The stepped-back facade keeps the house from looking boxy, while the pale walls and stone accents help minimize it in the landscape. With the design—and the glass walls—we let the mountain be the star.”
Builder Tim Mann oversaw the construction, which included the installation of many architectural details that were collaborations between the homeowners and the architect. “The owners were definitely part of the design and materials-selection process,” says Mann. “That’s what made this house uniquely theirs.” Among the details that Mann oversaw were the stacked limestone accent walls inside and out.
As a nod to the wife’s and youngest son’s shared interest in geology, the bar, which features a slatted walnut ceiling, is anchored by a framed slab of Zeus granite, mounted on the wall like art. “It still has the drill marks in it,” Mann says, “and the owners liked seeing that.” Another slab—this time amethyst—was mounted above the bed in the master suite and backlit with an LED panel. The powder room also rocks on, with an under-lit onyx countertop.
Working with a backdrop of pale walls and wood flooring, interior designer Debra Warner helped the owners with furnishings and finishes. “They had a vision for the interior,” Warner recalls, “and needed some help to achieve it. We reused some of their furniture from the previous residence and worked in some new pieces.”
In the great room, Warner arranged a low-slung Italian sectional and several sculptural chairs around the fireplace and TV so that the setting could also take advantage of mountain views from the 19-foot-tall window walls. The dining room’s red chairs add a bright pop of color to the otherwise neutral setting, while the live-edge table brings another touch of nature inside. The kitchen’s modern cabinetry is contrasted by a waterfall walnut table, set perpendicularly to the island. And, in the master bath, sleek cabinetry and a deep soaking tub were paired with mosaic tile flooring and rough stone for what the husband calls “a modern take on a Roman bath.”
When it came to the artwork, the owners worked closely with the architect and interior designer to place the pieces for maximum effect. “After I visited the Museum of Modern Art as a kid,” says the husband, tracing the roots of his love of painting and sculpture, “I always dreamed of living in the MoMA. Of course, that’s not the reality here, but my wife and I picked out every piece of art in the house.”
In the entry gallery, a monumental head by artist John Tuomisto-Bell greets visitors, as does a giant hand sculpted of old engine parts. A painting by Arizona artist Steven Yazzie graces the bar.
The couple also chose a few new pieces because they worked in the new setting. An over-scale mosaic tile portrait of Napoleon that defines the dining area was a find at a local stone and tile showroom, which was willing to part with it due to a remodeling project. A lifelike birch tree—meant to bring down the scale of one end of the great room—was a commission by a company that makes indoor trees for the likes of Disney World and Dollywood.
When it came to real trees, the owners turned to landscape designer Jeff Berghoff, who worked the owners’ love of palms, cacti and succulents into the site, while still keeping the emphasis on the home’s architecture and the mountain views. The entry is flanked by a quartet of palms and a scattering of specimen cactus, softened by flowering shrubs. In the back, a generous stretch of lawn links the house, pool and ramada. Sour orange encircles the perimeter, providing a green screen from neighbors. “For the master bathroom, we created a specialty garden, with an outdoor shower, palms and succulents,” Berghoff explains. “We went for a Baja California or Cabo-like planting area.” And the lap pool? The owners can work out in the exercise room, take one step outside and swim to the ramada for morning coffee.
Indoors or out, the family is enjoying every aspect of their new abode, whether they’re entertaining or just spending a quiet weekend en famille. “This house was a labor of love,” the wife says. “We were lucky to work with such a talented—and nice—team. We’ve become friends.”
Their architect agrees. “The best houses are when the clients are engaged in the process,” Dick says, “and these clients did so wholeheartedly. The home is an expression of their lifestyle.”
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Architect: David Dick, David Dick Architect. Interior designer: Debra A. Warner, Studio W Design. Builder: Tim Mann, TM Construction Inc. Landscape designer: Jeff Berghoff, Berghoff Design Group