Rooms With a View
A vacation retreat in a resort community receives a luxurious makeover that rivals its surroundings.
By Shannon Severson | Photography by Michael Baxter
“Location, location, location” is a popular saying when it comes to real estate. One Paradise Valley property, perched along the rocky slopes of Camelback Mountain, is the ultimate example of this mantra. Its floor-to-ceiling windows capture sweeping panoramic views of the Valley, and the resort community in which it sits has a long history tied to legends of architecture, sports and Hollywood. But even the most well-situated homes need an update now and again.
The Thornton family first visited the home, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright associate Paul Christian Yaeger and dubbed “Villa Luna,” during a spring break trip from their home state of Tennessee.
“I always look up nice places to stay because it’s part of the holiday experience,” explains the wife. “We travel with our adult children and my mother, but we’d never rented an entire home before this trip. We ooh’d and ahh’d and enjoyed a really unique vacation.”
Her husband, however, found himself wanting more than a temporary sojourn. At first, the family took his interest in purchasing the villa with a proverbial grain of salt, since perusing out-of-town real estate is one of his hobbies. But he persisted and routinely kept an eye on the property.
“My wife loves the mountains, and I love to golf,” he says. “When the home came up for sale five months after our visit, I knew we were destined to have it. Each time we’re here is exciting, and the view is always changing. It’s an adventure.”
As part of the sales negotiations, the Thorntons needed to get an appraisal of the included furniture. On the recommendation of a friend, they hired interior designer Lynne Beyer for the task. When the purchase was complete, they asked her to help them refresh the 5,500-square-foot dwelling’s interiors.
“Considering the amount of change we wanted, it was better to work with someone local to the area,” says the wife. “Lynn has a great sense of design, and her husband, architect Ryc Loope, was able to handle whatever structural changes we needed.”
A top priority of the near-total home makeover—only the recently remodeled kitchen was left untouched—was maximizing the unparalleled vistas. “Every room has a spectacular $10-million view,” Beyer says. “I wanted to keep the designs subtle so as to not clutter the space and allow the focus to remain all about the natural surroundings.”
One of the first things the designer did was swap the living and dining areas. The original layout had the living room situated just beyond a view-blocking fireplace, while the dining room was surrounded by an expansive bay window. “This is what this home is all about,” says Beyer, gesturing to the picturesque scenery. “Why would you want the focal point of the main gathering space to be a fireplace when there’s this beautiful landscape to enjoy?”
A custom-designed crescent-shaped gray sofa and “floating” swivel cocktail chairs form a cozy seating area that looks out over the desert terrain. “This is a very angular home,” Beyer explains. “I incorporated lots of rounded forms to soften those angles.” Wall-to-wall carpeting, cut into circular area rugs and bound in distinctive patterns, define individual rooms and break up the broad expanse of travertine tiles. According to the designer, this is an effective way to add floor coverings without breaking the bank. A round dining table with seating for eight was placed in front of the fireplace. The sleek feature, with its angled edges, hugs the perimeter of the arrangement, creating a sense of intimacy.
Adding color and creating bright, welcoming spaces, especially in the enclosed media room and lower-level guest bedroom, was an important aspect of the design. Beyer also had to keep in mind that the villa is used as a vacation rental when the owners aren’t in town. “I felt strongly about bringing in richness and texture,” she notes. “For the walls, I chose a dark gray that is easy to clean and hides a multitude of sins. I do a lot of work in hospitality, so I know that finishes need to be extremely durable.”
Because the Thorntons wanted the villa to have a contemporary feel but not overdo the Southwest aesthetic, Beyer added touches of their favorite colors—orange, which nicely mimics the home’s spectacular sunset views; deep blues; and accents of green—to the relatively neutral palette.
Organic elements combine with texture and shimmer in the four bedrooms. “We like casual elegance,” explains the wife. “It’s how we live, and it’s what we wanted in our vacation home. We also added two double beds to one of the bedrooms because we were interested in the comfort of our guests. My husband and I have friends with whom we often travel, so we wanted to accommodate as many visitors as possible.”
Numerous areas throughout the home are tailored to social gatherings, both small and large. “Our living room, with its big view of the entire Valley, is our favorite spot on the inside,” says the husband.
The lower level features a media room with recliners, a sleeper sofa that can accommodate additional overnight guests and versatile ottomans that facilitate stretching out and relaxing or setting out a spread of snacks and drinks. An adjacent entertaining zone, complete with multiple conversation groupings, a fireplace and TV, opens onto an expansive deck, where rechargeable lanterns and a bioethanol fireplace cast a warm glow over a lounge, dining area and bar. It’s the perfect spot to savor a glass of wine while watching the sun set over the mountains.
When the Thorntons need to relax, they can escape to a private patio, accessed through their master bath’s luxurious shower. “We added a privacy wall and created a wonderful little space outside that they can really use,” says Loope. “There’s a water feature with rocks that are lit in the evenings.”
Equal parts luxury family getaway and party host’s dream, Villa Luna offers its owners the ideal jumping-off point for exploring all that the Southwest has to offer. For the wife, the home is an experience unlike any other—its warm, comfortable interiors delight everyone who visits and, following the extensive renovation, match the grandeur of its enviable setting.
Interior Designer: Lynne Beyer, Lynne Beyer Design. Remodel Architect: Ryc Loope, HL Design Build.
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