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Modern Interpretation

Drifts of white roses and panels of lawn frame the pool, designed with a classic arched form. Elevated fire bowls add a dramatic touch.

A North Scottsdale home puts a contemporary spin on a traditional design.

By Katherine Adomaitis| Photography by Garrett Cook

In the tony enclave of Silverleaf, a newly built hillside home is a graceful expression of contemporary Mediterranean architecture. Inside, it’s light, bright and comfortable, filled with elegant furnishings and boasting a floor plan that’s perfect for indoor-outdoor entertaining. And, it offers stunning views of the East Valley.

But this was no paint-by-numbers custom home. Rather, it was filled with numerous challenges, including a steeply sloping site, the need to interpret the community’s more traditional design guidelines to create a modern architectural statement, and crafting a floor plan that works for two occupancy situations.

The project began when the adult son of a Chicago-based family was searching for his own place. “I was looking to live in Silverleaf myself,” he explains, “and then my parents and sister wanted a place to get away from the cold weather.” He ended up finding a 5-acre site, and “It made sense to just build one house where we could all be together—a place where I could live full-time and that my family could use as a winter vacation home.”

Among the son’s—and family’s—requests for the nearly 14,000-square-foot home were two separate master suites at opposite ends of the house, so the parents and son could have privacy when all were under one roof. They also wanted a formal dining room large enough to seat a dozen-plus guests for holiday dinners, a generously sized kitchen with two islands, a game room and plenty of patio space. “We cook and entertain—big time,” says the son. “We like to have large parties, inside and out.”

Architect Dale Gardon, a Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award winner, interpreted the family’s lifestyle with a floor plan that angles around the backyard and expansive pool patio. The parents’ master suite is sited in a wing off the entry, while the great room-style living room and kitchen take up the core of the house. The son’s master suite is located on the opposite end of the home, providing him with privacy. Three more bedrooms, an exercise room and a bunk room for children are on the second level.

When it came to the home’s look, Gardon went along with the exclusive neighborhood’s Mediterranean requirements—albeit with a modern twist. “Silverleaf is evolving,” the architect says of the community’s design guidelines. “The aesthetic used to be much more traditional and rustic, but today you’re seeing a cleaner, lighter look.”

1. Limestone cladding and a softened archway frame the home’s entry. A large window above showcases a collection of black-and-white photographs. 2. A rectangular water fountain is the centerpiece of the auto court. 3. The game room, which includes pool and shuffleboard tables, features a bar that is illuminated by a slab of back-lit onyx.

Gardon specified pale ivory and silvery gray stucco for the exterior with limestone-clad accent walls, and created a series of hipped roofs and stepped-back facades to break up the home’s massing. A softened archway for the entry, dark gray clay tile for the roof, black window shutters and classic window awnings are nods to traditional architectural motifs, but Gardon modernized the elevations with touches such as glass railings, custom cast glass sconces and metal chimney details.

Floor-to-ceiling windows and doors further the modern appearance and flood the home with natural illumination. For a finishing touch, Gardon added a stainless steel-and-glass stair rail that bisects each step and, in lieu of beams, ceilings detailed with patterns crafted of white drywall.

Builder Anthony Salcito, in a quest to align the home’s views with Scottsdale Airport’s runway, which is quite visible to the southwest, carved out a flat building site, reached via a driveway that descends from street level. Retaining walls integrated into the architecture keep the desert floor at bay. Fit and finishes were also important. “When you look at the lines in the tiles, they align with everything inside and out,” says Salcito. “It’s a precise, crisp look in this kind of a modern house.”

Interior designer Kimberly Anderson distilled the family’s preferences in a calming, cool palette of pale silver, warm gray, taupe and blue. “This house is geared toward family enjoyment,” she says. “Everyone wanted an approachable, contemporary look in a serene color scheme.”

The designer specified all of the home’s furniture and art, except for a horse painting in the dining room and a sculpture of a colt in the living room—both of which attest to the family’s equine interests. In the living room, a neatly tailored sofa, a woven leather bench and two curvaceous club chairs make an inviting seating area in front of the fireplace. For the dining room, Anderson commissioned a custom black walnut table, large enough to accommodate 16 guests. She hung the horse painting in a niche backed with a reflective wallcovering and upholstered the dining room’s remaining walls, which provides both a softer look and acoustic control during large gatherings. In the kitchen, a massive stone-clad hood and two custom stainless steel pot racks take center stage.

“You feel like you’re in a luxury resort here. There are so many spaces to enjoy. It’s never monotonous.”

—The homeowner

1. Entry gates lead from the driveway into the auto court and also signal a transition from native desert plantings to a more formalized look. The home’s front facade features a mix of traditional architectural elements and modern details, such as a dark gray tile roof. 2. A study in sleek minimalism, the entryway celebrates the surrounding landscape. A large window wall, bookended by floor-to-ceiling glass doors provides unimpeded views of the backyard and mountains beyond. A contemporary bronze twig chandelier and a bronze statue on an open-frame pedestal lend a museum like feel to the space. 3. The great room includes the living room and the kitchen, as well as an informal dining area. Crisp white sofas provide seating in front of the fireplace. 4. The custom dining table can accommodate more than a dozen guests during holiday get-togethers. The horse painting, by Richard Murray, is one of the few pieces the family brought to the new house from a previous residence. 5. In the kitchen, a stone hood and custom stainless steel pot racks are elegant accents, while two islands provide plenty of space for cooking and entertaining. 

Per the family’s request, Anderson also envisioned spaces for fun. A game room easily accommodates pool and shuffleboard tables, as well as a bar, game table and a sectional for family lounging. Upstairs, a slumber party-ready bunk room, with six bunk beds plus trundle beds, welcomes young—or young at heart—guests.

Outdoors, landscape designer Jeff Berghoff specified plantings that transition from natural desert at the property’s edges to formal gardens closer to the house, and developed hardscapes to accommodate outdoor entertaining spaces as well as the practicalities of parking cars. 

“The drive down to the house winds through native desert that includes palo verde trees and ironwoods,” explains Berghoff, “then it enters the auto court, which had to be large enough to park numerous cars. We broke up the mass of the auto court with paver patterns, a central fountain and transitional plantings, such as bougainvillea and Texas mountain laurel.”

In the backyard, Berghoff created a lusher look with what he calls “panels of lawn” interspersed between patios and drifts of white roses, his signature planting. Trees were sited carefully, allowing the focus to remain on the views. “We also added a destination fire pit, set at the edge of the yard,” he explains. “From here, you can look at the desert below, thanks to the glass railings, and view the sunset.”

As soon as it was completed, the house became the site of numerous family holiday gatherings and has functioned perfectly when all are in residence and as a dwelling for a single man. “You feel like you’re in a luxury resort here,” says the son. “There are so many spaces to enjoy. It’s never monotonous.”

Architect: Dale Gardon, Dale Gardon Design. Builder: Anthony Salcito, Salcito Custom Homes. Interior Design: Kimberly Anderson, Arcadia Design Group. Landscape Architect: Jeff Berghoff, Berghoff Design Group.

For more information, see Sources.

“This house is geared toward family enjoyment.”

  —Kimberly Anderson, interior designer

1. Lush draperies and calming hues add a serene touch to the seating area of the game room, or family entertainment room. 2. A cozy fire pit seating arrangement at the far end of the pool, with views of the house and McDowell Mountains, offers an ideal spot for gathering on cool desert evenings. 3. A vestibule and a comfortable seating area separate the parents’ master suite from the home’s entry. 4. The spacious master bath has views of nearby mountains and cacti, while shades provide privacy. 5. Designed for both the young and young at heart, the slumber party-ready bunk room includes six custom bunk beds, as well as trundle beds. 


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