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This Contemporary Desert Home Glimmers and Glows

As a daring nod to the interior color scheme, an exterior wall is clad in blue stucco flecked with shimmering mica.

Inside this contemporary desert home is an otherworldly scene that glimmers and glows.

By Carly Scholl | Photography by Chris Loomis

Set on a mountainside in Phoenix beneath an expanse of serene desert sky, a home for a family of five strikes a delicate balance between organic and glam, traditional and contemporary, and earthly and ethereal. Inspired by the home’s setting and the family’s soulful demeanor, interior designer Esther Boivin set out to create a space defined by beauty and livability.

This family spends a lot of time together and with their community, and they are always hosting friends,” Boivin explains. “The living room flows into the kitchen and dining space and is where everyone spends most of their time, so it had to be the room that reflects who the family is, and it had to be peaceful and functional.”

To take advantage of the stunning mountainside views, Boivin centered the room around a V-shaped window that is flanked by enclosed bookcases. “Sometimes the look of different colored and shaped books can feel cluttered, so I came up with the idea for these 15-foot-tall bookshelves that sort of look like trees to hold the family’s enormous collection of books.” In the center is a floating fireplace clad in striated marble and flanked by decorative metal elements fabricated by the husband. 

“For me, each space has to have a soul,” asserts Boivin. “There has to be something that comes alive.” To give a large swath of blue wall some life, Boivin designed small nooks to hold electric candles, which gives the effect of stars set in a night sky.

For Boivin, lighting is everything. “You can have a beautiful design, but it has to be lit properly,” she insists. For these homeowners, the designer wanted to give them lighting flexibility throughout their home. In the kitchen, hidden accent lights can be changed to a multitude of hues, and the reflective surfaces, including the crackle glass backsplash and metallic tile façade on the island, follow suit. To contrast the high-shine elements and ground the space, Boivin used contemporary walnut cabinetry and bluish-gray quartzite slab countertops for their earthy aesthetics. Acrylic barstools provide necessary seating but don’t distract from the artistry of the kitchen vignette.

Beneath an exterior wall, various seating arrangements comprising contemporary furnishings with clean lines and low profiles can accommodate plenty of guests who want to enjoy the view. Just out of sight, a large glass sliding door opens the great room out onto the patio for a seamless indoor/outdoor experience.

When I design a home, it’s like music for me,” explains Boivin. “In a song, you don’t want to hear the same note the whole time. It needs to be varied and melodic. The same is true for interior design. I didn’t want to use the same notes in every room, but each space needed to be complimentary and harmonious. I wanted the bedroom to have a more romantic tone than the great room, so we used more neutral colors and really luxurious textiles.”

Similar to the lighting plan in the kitchen, the master bathroom is outfitted with accent lights that can change colors. To make the most out of this effect, Boivin hung the his-and-hers mirrors on top of mother-of-pearl tile, which is set against sparkling black wallpaper. The result is multiple layers of glimmering black and white materials that take on and reflect any given hue emitted by the lights. “This bathroom sort of echoes the fireplace in the great room,” Boivin points out. “The mirror and the stilettoed leg of the vanity both have the same V-shape.

At 1,900 square feet, this home is relatively small for five people, so I wanted to make sure it didn’t feel smaller than it needed too,” notes Boivin. “I don’t like to see seams or lines, as they break up the natural flow of your eyeline. So instead of doing wood plank floors or tile that is marked with grout lines, we did an epoxy floor that has beautiful movement and a bit of sparkle to it.” The reflective sheen of the epoxy captures the glow of overhead lights, creating a kind of “Starry Night” effect that embodies the celestial vision of Boivin and the homeowners. “This family was a joy to work with—they’re all such amazing souls, and they exude serenity,” the designer notes. “I wanted their home to be a reflection of that spirit.”


Interior designer: Esther Boivin, Esther Boivin Interiors, Scottsdale,

GREAT ROOM—Fireplace sections, wall candles and beams (custom): All Things Metal, Phoenix, Blue sofa: Book storage (custom): Modern Design Cabinetry, Phoenix, Coffee table: Fireplace base: Arizona Fireplace, Phoenix, Dining chairs: Dining table:

KITCHEN—Tile on apron: Cabinetry:

MASTER BATHROOM—Cabinetry (custom):


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