Glass walls framed with abundant greenery. Flowers cascading from balconies, terraces and window boxes. In a city where barbed plants, rocks and sand rule the terrain, the possibility of living in a lush gardenscape with boundless blue-sky views casts a powerful lure. For one retired couple, it was a calling they couldn’t resist.
For 10 years, the husband and wife had resided in a Scottsdale golf community, but having given up the sport, they were seeking a change of venue and lifestyle. They sold their 5,000-square-foot Southwestern-style home with all the furnishings—including kitchenware and linens—and purchased two adjacent condominiums just steps away from upscale dining, entertainment and shopping venues.
Because Optima Kierland Center was still under construction, the two units, totaling about 3,000 square feet with northern, western and eastern exposures, were nothing more than empty shells. While some of the fixtures, such as the high-end kitchen cabinetry, were standard options, the new owners wanted to expand on the basic offerings. They hired interior designers Tony Sutton and Nora Johnson to adapt the space to their own needs and tastes. A rental apartment in the same complex served as a temporary abode, giving them a bird’s eye view of the renovation and allowing them to sample all the included amenities.
Although the homeowners wanted big changes, they set few specifications for the team. On their wish list were two master suites and a corner office. The remaining living area would be designed for daily use and include the kitchen, an adjacent dining room and social spaces for relaxing, watching TV, entertaining and playing board games with visiting grandchildren. “We didn’t need any guest rooms because room service at the nearby Westin Kierland Resort & Spa was more attractive,” notes the husband. Having owned and built a dozen homes during their marriage, the owners were open to Sutton and Johnson taking the lead on the decision-making regarding space planning, design style, color palette and furnishings.
Sutton, a Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award winner, faced two formidable tests: reorienting the entryway to create a visual pause before opening into a living area that frames a 180-degree panoramic view, and finding an artful disguise for a pair of structural columns that impeded prime usable space.
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