Minimalist Impact

In Scottsdale, architect Mark Tate designs a spare backdrop for art, music and views.

A concrete wall anchors the floating staircase. 

In the master bath, a slot window continues to become a skylight.  

Offset concrete pavers and a slotted wall lead to the front door.  

The living room opens onto the pool patio, creating enough room for informal concerts. 

A hallway includes room for art, a bamboo-filled planter and views.

The back of the house and pool patio overlook the desert and golf course.

The efficient kitchen hides necessities behind matte-finished cabinet doors.  

When an Oregon couple decided to relocate to the desert of North Scottsdale, they envisioned their future home to be a place to celebrate art and music, gather friends and family, and enjoy the arid setting. They also wanted a clean, clutter-free, killer style. They asked Carefree architect Mark Tate to breathe life into their desert-modern vision.

Tate, whose firm specializes in custom residential work, spent time getting to know the couple—she’s a graphic designer and an artist; he’s in business and is an amateur pianist and singer—and walking their angled lot, which overlooks a golf course. “They wanted a house that could double as a gallery and be flexible enough for them to host concert gatherings,” Tate explains. “It also had to work for just the two of them.”

Taking on the challenge of the angled lot, which is bordered by a wash and adjacent to an existing house, Tate sited the 6,400-square-foot, two-level house on the property to provide privacy from the neighbor and to focus views on the golf course and distant mountains. A series of stepped-back volumes reduces the home’s mass and helps to anchor it into its site.

In plan, Tate designed the home around a large living area with window walls that slide open to the pool patio, allowing the owners to set up chairs indoors and out for concerts. Several galleries and expanses of unbroken walls were designed to showcase an art collection. Tate’s plan also included an art studio for her, an office for him and an upstairs media room.

Inspired by modernist Mexican architecture of the 1950s and ’60s, Tate designed the home to have long, planar surfaces interspersed with floor-to-ceiling windows, slot openings and voids that focus on viewpoints, creating a progression through the house. The exterior materials include rust-hued stucco for the wall, copper fascia and a cast-in-place concrete wall that bisects the house from front to back. Indoors, materials are simple too and include porcelain tile flooring in the public spaces and white walls.

“Everywhere you are in this house,” says Tate, “there is a constant connection to the outdoors, either through windows or doors. The design was all about opening up the views.”

Tate also designed a series of architectural details for the home, including a sandblasted glass and bamboo pivot door for the entry; a sculptural, open-tread staircase that leads to the media room; a bamboo-filled travertine planter for a gallery; and a slot window in the master bath that angles into the roof to become a narrow, 14-foot-long skylight.

Minimalism was also the mantra when it came to picking furnishings for the house. Sleek Italian leather seating for the living room makes it easy for the owners to push things around and add folding chairs for concerts. In the dining room, a floating credenza is a low-profile spot to store dishes, while the simple wood table is paired with sculptural white chairs. In the efficient kitchen, matte gray-and-white cabinetry hides many appliances and accessories behind a blank face. Color throughout comes in the form of modern art and desert views.

Outdoors, the linear pool with an integrated spa and the plantings were also an homage to spare design. The natural desert at the edge of the property gives way to a more constructed and geometric look closer to the house.

The homeowners, says Tate, were engaged in the design and build process of their home from start to finish. “At the end of the day, this house is their setting for art, music and views,” he says. “Its design resonated with them.”

DESIGN DETAILS
RESIDENCE
Single-family home

LOCATION
North Scottsdale

ARCHITECTURE 
Mark Tate, AIA
Tate Studio Architects

BUILDER
The Phil Nichols Company

INTERIOR DESIGN
Aileen Montelongo, IIDA
Tate Studio Architects

LANDSCAPE DESIGN
Desert Foothills Landscape

POOL BUILDER
Phoenician Pool Construction

VENDORS
BONNER DAVID GALLERIES
Artwork

BRUCK LIGHTING 
Living room chandelier

BULTHAUP SCOTTSDALE
Kitchen cabinetry

CERAMICHE REFIN 
Porcelain tile

DAVIDE GROPPI
Kitchen pendants

EOS COLLECTION BY DESIGN WITHIN REACH
Outdoor furniture

FLEETWOOD WINDOWS & DOORS
Glass doors

SPECIALTY FIREPLACES BY WAYNE HOLSAPPLE
Fireplaces

WETSTYLE
Bathroom cabinetry