Revel in Resort-Level Luxury at This Scottsdale Getaway
A Canadian couple crafts a luxe Scottsdale getaway filled with custom details and meant for fun.
By Nora Burba Trulsson | Photography by Michael Duerinckx
The seeds for an 8,100-square-foot Sonoran getaway on a ridge in Desert Mountain were planted years ago when Canadian couple Sharon and Colin Davies were circling the globe and living in many different countries. As they traveled and stayed in hotels, they began developing a list of what they liked and didn’t like, garnering ideas that they hoped to incorporate into their future vacation residence.
“We were looking for a resort-style winter retreat for ourselves and our adult children,” says Colin. “We weren’t in the market for a ‘family-friendly’ house or a retirement villa. It had to be a lively, creative place where we could entertain guests.”
After a few cold Canadian winters, Sharon and Colin zeroed in on Scottsdale because of its dry heat and access to golf, hiking and biking.
Their wish list—which evolved into a 20-page summary—included everything from high ceilings and big windows to the tiniest of details, such as having multiple electrical outlets and USB ports at each bedside.
“This house was custom-designed to the nth degree,” says Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award-winning interior designer Tony Sutton, who collaborated on the project with fellow designers Jelena Martic and Liesel Lewter. “Each room is unique and has many wow factors. Sharon and Colin were involved every step of the way, suggesting ideas and paying attention to all the details.”
From the white lacquered billiard table in the upstairs game room to the glassed-in lounge area sunken into the swimming pool, this is a home meant for fun. Its style is exuberant and overflowing with personality—consciously designed to be the polar opposite of the couple’s more traditional primary residence in Toronto.
Builder/architectural designer Patrick O’Brien spent hours on the site with a compass and a camera, studying the sun’s angles and positioning the dwelling for the best desert and city light vistas. “I devoted about a year to doing computer models on the project,” he says. “I researched everything, including the views, how the cabinetry worked and even what the bedrooms would look like, which takes a lot of the guesswork out of building.”
Following the slope of a natural ridge on the 2-plus-acre site, O’Brien nestled the house into the desert, creating a three-level design with the primary living spaces and master suite on the main floor, and the game room, Colin’s office and three spacious guest suites on the upper levels. Because the Davies requested a modern yet warm architectural style, the designer used stone accent walls and desert tones to tuck the abode into the landscape, opening up the interior to patio spaces with expanses of retractable window walls.
“We used a steel skeleton for the home’s superstructure,” O’Brien explains, “not the usual frame construction. We left the steel beams exposed in many areas inside, and they form the deep, cantilevered overhangs that shade the house and patio by the pool.”
Inside, dark wood flooring, tile, stone, metal and sleek modern cabinetry form a unifying backdrop—yet each space is a unique destination filled with custom details.
In the voluminous great room, two matching, angular fireplaces flank the window wall that overlooks the zero-edge pool and desert views beyond. Here, the steel beams are further accented by a series of circular chandeliers. The Davies ditched traditional sofas and sectionals, opting instead for groupings of club chairs, accented by tables with interesting forms and textures. A pair of fragmented mirrors frame a grand piano and present a fractured view of the setting. The dining room’s 14-foot-tall, backlit glass wine cabinet creates a glamorous setting during leisurely meals around the circular table. The nearby media room offers sculptural red and black leather recliners, while a large mosaic portrait slides open to reveal the TV. A lightning bolt-patterned LED light fixture, designed to change colors, is embedded into a ceiling soffit in the game room.
“The prow shape of the pool mimics the form of the overhangs and points to sunset views.”
—Patrick O’Brien, architectural designer/builder
Each item was selected not just for comfort and practicality but also for sleek visual appeal. In the master suite, blue art glass doors open onto the bedroom, where a custom bed floats in the middle of the floor, with the headboard’s backside doing double duty as bookshelves. Sharon’s designer shoe collection is displayed luxuriously on illuminated glass shelves in the closet. And the master bath? It is anchored by a massive tub, carved from a 6,000-pound block of marble and craned into the space before the home’s roof went on.
“Most clients are often hesitant to be daring and bold when it comes to their houses,” Sutton says, “but Sharon and Colin were not. We weren’t just orbiting the Earth here—we were out beyond Pluto.
“We came up with multiple reasons for the owners and their guests to use each spot,” Sutton continues. “We didn’t want them to use just one or two rooms in the house. We wanted them to engage in and fully experience each area.”
The exterior spaces were equally important. Landscape architect Russell Greey, also a Masters of the Southwest award winner, worked closely with Sutton’s team and the homeowners to create gardens filled with resort-style amenities, as well as quieter spots for relaxation. “This was not your typical estate landscape with a large yard,” he explains. “It was more about being on a desert hillside and extending living spaces to the outdoors.”
At the front of the house, specimen cacti greet visitors, while the entry door is reached by traversing glass steps that hover above a water feature. In back, the zero-edge pool, designed to reflect the prow shape of the roof overhangs, is the focal point of the patio, which includes areas for alfresco dining, conversation and sunbathing. The pool boasts a sunken lounge, set a few steps below the decking and separated from the water by a sturdy glass wall. Stools on both sides of the glass allow swimmers to join the conversation. Dwarf olive hedges soften the poolscape, while masses of bougainvillea add splashes of glorious color.
A more intimate outdoor setting can be found between Colin’s office and one of the guest suites. Surrounded by three walls and sheltered from the wind, the courtyardlike patio is anchored by a mature ironwood tree and warmed by an angular concrete fire pit, underlit for dramatic effect.
The couple and their children enjoyed three weeks there, making use of all the spaces, before they returned to Canada to ride out the pandemic. They are, however, anxious to return. “We have a long list of friends and family who want to come visit,” says Sharon. “We’re looking forward to hosting and entertaining them all.”
Architectural designer/builder: Patrick O’Brien, O’Brien Luxury Homes. Interior Designers: Tony Sutton, Jelena Martic and Liesel Lewter, Est Est Inc. Landscape Architect: Russell Greey, Greey|Pickett.
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