Scottsdale architect Dale Gardon, AIA, has a lot to be proud of. For almost two decades, he has been designing large-scale master-planned communities, commercial office buildings, private golf clubhouses and multi-million-dollar custom residences as the principal of his own namesake firm, Dale Gardon Design. But a few years back, when it came time for the renowned architect to come up with a plan for his own home, he had to take a step back and rethink his design aesthetic.
Having previously lived in a traditional-style home with his wife, Mary, and their two sons, he decided to go in a completely different direction. “This house was conceived to be a very comfortable contemporary. My wife and I dislike very austere contemporary, so I wanted to have clean modern lines, but maintain a warmth by selecting wood tones to contrast with crisp white walls,” he says.
“This house was conceived to be a very comfortable contemporary. My wife and I dislike very austere contemporary, so I wanted to have clean modern lines, but maintain a warmth by selecting wood tones to contrast with crisp white walls.”
The house is located in the exclusive DC Ranch community, just two lots over from their first home. Surrounded by the breathtaking tapestry of desert vegetation with sweeping mountain vistas, it’s a great place to raise a family. “It’s where we live, work and play,” says Gardon, who was the lead land planner and architect for the community which was developed more than 20 years ago. “I can’t imagine living anywhere else to afford such convenience combined with phenomenal natural and man-made beauty.”
It took more than five years to plan, design and construct the residence, but when it was complete, an extraordinary modern masterpiece emerged. Constructed of integrally colored stucco, environmentally-friendly insulated panels, and aluminum siding that resembles wood, the sleek, light-filled residence looks perfectly at home in the desert.
Designed for plenty of indoor/outdoor interplay and a dynamic use of natural light, the house makes the most of what Gardon describes as a “left-over corner of the community.” Most notably, he sited the residence to perfectly align with three of the valley’s most distinctive mountains—Pinnacle Peak, Camelback Mountain and McDowell Mountain. The grounds, landscaped with a natural desert palette, blend into the neighborhood and adjacent natural areas.
Understandably, Gardon wanted something unique. “I really wanted the house to be distinctive. I wanted it to radiate with the warmth of wood, yet at the same time use aluminum cladding that is highly durable to our extreme heat,” says the architect, who is LEED accredited. “The soft-gray stucco we chose is balanced by the crisp green accents of natural desert foliage.”
“I really wanted the house to be distinctive. I wanted it to radiate with the warmth of wood, yet at the same time use aluminum cladding that is highly durable to our extreme heat.”
What stands out most about the open-concept, two-story residence is that it was designed upside-down, with the main living spaces on top and the secondary spaces on the bottom. Awash in natural light from clerestory and wall-to-wall windows, the second floor is home to the kitchen, living room, master suite, and office. “This afforded us the most spectacular views of the entire valley on a daily basis,” he points out. Three guest bedrooms, two baths, and a rec room make up the lower half.
Designing a home of one’s own comes with its challenges. “The difficulty is that you want to expose yourself to all the possibilities of the new and intriguing products and materials that are out there to define what you are capable of within your own budget,” he says. “You are forever redefining your home to incorporate all those newfound elements.”
The kitchen, where all the major appliances are concealed behind wood cabinet doors, is a perfect example. “There is a window between the countertop and some upper cabinets, affording a view to the rear yard and summer sunsets,” says Gardon. To enhance the area, black mirror was used on either side of the window as a backsplash to conceal appliance garages, and at the same time the mirror reflects the mountain backdrop from the opposite side of the room.
Designed in several hues, the kitchen cabinets integrate white, gray and truffle-brown-color wood with reconstituted Zebrano wood. Concealed under-cabinet lighting illuminates counter surfaces for task lighting, and offers a soft glow in the evening. And nearby, a cozy breakfast nook surrounded on three sides by glass has an atrium quality.
To keep the mood light and bright, the couple filled their interiors with soft, contemporary furnishings and finishes in a palette of white, gray, brown and blue. Flooring, too, is easy on the eye, with the use of white oak wood with a gray stain, natural concrete and porcelain tile. Sprinkled throughout are photographs taken by their sons during their travels, to remind them of the journeys the boys have taken.
Outdoor living is equally important to the Gardons, and there are plenty of options for enjoying it on their acre property. For entertaining, an upper terrace resembles an alfresco bistro with its stylish modern furnishings, centerpiece fire table, and stainless steel barbecue with a sleek dining table with room for eight.
Down below and off the game room is the pool terrace. Designed with a play shelf at one end where lounge chairs can be set into the water, and a sheer-descent water wall at the other, the pool is sited perfectly for capturing the mountain scenery. The water feature also acts as a privacy screen from street views into the yard. For playtime, poles can be set in the pool coping for setting up a volleyball net. At night, full-spectrum LED pool lights glow in colors ranging from white to blue to green.
A private dog run, an outdoor shower that Gardon says he uses daily except in the coldest of days, a shaded hammock and an artificial turf area for playing lawn games keep the fun going.
“Seeing the panoramic view every day is like living in a penthouse, yet with all the privacy and amenities of a beautiful master-planned community,” enthuses Gardon. “You become so much more aware of your surroundings, and it is a daily treat to watch the sunrise and sunset from your own home.”
Dale Gardon Design
Salcito Custom Homes