Soothing Spirit

Numerous indoor and outdoor conversation areas give this Scottsdale, Ariz. residence a warm and inviting character that complements its function not only as an entertaining destination, but also a multi-generational family home.

November 01, 2005

Custom Luxury Secondary Residence

Numerous indoor and outdoor conversation areas give this Scottsdale, Ariz. residence a warm and inviting character that complements its function not only as an entertaining destination, but also a multi-generational family home.

Nestled into a boulder field, the home's rectilinear exterior resembles that of a modern-day pueblo with stucco walls standing in striking contrast to the green fairways of Troon Monument Golf Course which surround it. Inside, however, its three-level floor plan (see page 28) features a warm and inviting free-form fusion of unique living spaces designed to promote family togetherness without sacrificing privacy.


"This project is really all about hearth and home," says Billi Springer, interior designer, who worked closely with builder, Richard Sinagoga, and architect, Lee Hutchison, from the home's initial design stage.

The living space in this 7410 square-foot home features a casual character accented by rustic, textural finishes. Such finishes include wood vega ceilings, three-coat hand-plastered walls with radius corners, slate countertops and spread-joint flagstone floors.

The home was carefully sited on its one-acre lot to take full advantage of a 360-degree view potential. Outdoor entertaining space surrounds the home, extending in some spots into the desert with the goal of creating private conversation pods for entertaining, says Sinagoga. "This type of entertaining space is extremely important in this part of the country because of our mild climate."

Hutchison describes the home as "transitional" for his clients who maintain their full-time residence in Washington state. "They will likely retire here eventually," he says, "but for now, they commute between the two."

In addition to an ultra-private master retreat, the home features three comfortably appointed secondary bedrooms, each with its own full bath, as well as a separate wing that functions as an attached in-law casita.


"These clients were adept at expressing their wants and desires for their home," says Springer. "It was very important to them that the floor plan accommodate the needs of both their children and their parents. They really gave both a lot of say in what they wanted to see in their various areas of the home."

Design Concept

The home's contemporary exterior features a multi-level flat roofline creating distinctive shadow lines which mimic the nearby rock outcroppings. "From the outside, the house appears to grow right up out of the ground," says Hutchison.

"The clients really appreciated the desert environment they were coming to," says Springer, "and wanted the home to blend in rather than stand out from its surroundings."

One design requirement for the homeowners was that the home have an entry courtyard that also functioned as outdoor living space. For this home, the main entrance includes a Southwestern kiva-style fireplace, a water feature and several seating areas.

Inside, the home's three floors appear to ebb and flow in deference to the natural topography of the site. The main floor living areas, including the formal entry, spacious kitchen and morning room, dining and great rooms are all elevated a half-flight of stairs from the garage level.

The master suite is up another half-flight while a separate hallway leads downstairs to the secondary bedrooms. "This really gives the homeowners the variety of unique living spaces that they wanted," says Sinagoga.

"I rarely do a lot of squared-up rooms in the homes that I design and this house is typical of that," says Hutchison. "I don't think there are any parallel walls in it.

"Overall, the home has a number of well-defined spaces that are very private but ultimately they all flow into each other. The floor plan has a very nice, sensible organization to it. Common spaces blend into private spaces so there is not a glaring transition from one to the next. Sometimes in large houses you can get the feeling of being isolated. That is definitely not the case here. No matter where anyone is, they still feel as though they are part of the house."

The Design/Build Team

Sinagoga emphasizes the importance of maintaining close working relationships with everyone involved in the process of building a custom home. "When you find people that can do quality work and are responsive to your needs as a builder and to those of your client," he says, "then you really want to work hard to maintain that association."


Sinagoga works with several local Realtors who routinely recommend that their clients speak with him before purchasing a specific lot for a custom project. In this case, his clients had fallen in love with this lot, a triangular-shaped parcel located along a fairway in a newly-developed golf course community in north Scottsdale. The Realtor recommended they get a qualified builder's opinion regarding its potential for development before making their final decision.

"Associating with the right agent is very important for any custom builder," he says. "Not only do they provide you with a source of potential clients but they also bring to the table their expertise on the marketability of the new home's design as it relates to resale value down the line."

Sinagoga also recommended Hutchison tour the site with the clients before they purchased the lot. "They had some concerns. While it did offer terrific view potential, the views that it has now did not exist then," says Hutchison, "they wanted to know if it was feasible to develop the lot and still be within the community's strict design guidelines for building height."

Most custom clients, says Hutchison, come to him with definite ideas about what they want to see in their home in terms of style and living space. "From this, I create an architectural program for them — a written description of the house — and advise them on what I think will work best. Then I stay involved with the project all the way through its construction."

Both Sinagoga and Hutchison also stress the importance of including a skilled interior designer as a part of the custom home team. "Many of the unique elements of this house were the direct result of the creative ideas suggested by our interior designer," says Sinagoga. "She came up with custom designs for everything from the home's beautiful entry doors to the dining room table."

Springer, who has more than 35 years of interior design experience, works exclusively with new construction projects. "This allows me to become involved very early on in the design of the home, essentially right from the schematic stage. When you have an architect, builder and interior designer all working together on a project right from the start they are able to bounce ideas off each from their different perspectives. The project comes out much better as a whole that way."

Sinagoga also identified other key players as essential to building a custom residential project. These key players include a qualified civil engineer, who will create a partial development plan for the site as well as assist in securing the required municipal construction permits, as well as an audio-visual designer, professional lighting consultant, and a landscape and pool designer.

Hurdles & Outcomes

After Sinagoga initially walked the site with his clients, he gave them his opinion on what it would take to develop it in terms placing the foundation. "They really had their hearts set on this location," he says. "But part of what made it so appealing — being part of a large boulder field with various outcroppings — was also going to significantly drive up the cost of building on it. In this case, what we try to do is to arrange the floor plan to flow with the site, to follow the existing contours of the lot."

Nevertheless, this site required an extensive amount of grading and fill work be done to position the house to maximize its view potential, he says. "Working in and around large boulders is not too much of a challenge for us because this is typical of the topography of the area. It is pretty much normal construction procedure for us."

Sinagoga estimates that this project took three years from start to finish. The home was completed in November 2003.


Custom Luxury Secondary Residence

Style of Home: Southwest Contemporary

Location: Scottsdale, Ariz.

Total Square Footage: 7410 sq. ft.

Estimated Market Value: $3.5 million

Builder: RS Homes, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Architect: Urban Design Associates, Ltd., Scottsdale, Ariz.

Interior Design: Billi Springer & Associates, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Major Products Used: APPLIANCES: Sub-Zero, Viking Range, Dacor CABINETRY: custom knotty alder COUNTERTOPS: granite, slate FLOORING: Apache Stone TILE: Arizona Tile CUSTOM DOORS: Craftsmen In Woods DOOR HARDWARE: Craftsmen In Woods PLUMBING FIXTURES: Kohler LIGHTING FIXTURES: custom HVAC: Carrier EXTERIOR FINISH: synthetic stucco WINDOWS: Fleetwood Windows & Doors

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