The owners call their desert mountainside home “Hacienda del Sueño” (“Dream Home”), but the moniker could also be “Home of Spring,” — “Hacienda de Primavera.”

Built by Scottsdale’s La Casa Builders, the 7,248-square-foot Modern Hacienda eloquently expresses the owners’ vision, easily flexing for a multi-faceted lifestyle that finds them as much outside as in — particularly in spring, when the desert effloresces before it sizzles.

Designed by Drewett + Brenden Architects of Phoenix, the three-bedroom, one-story home, plus single-bedroom, semi-attached casita is meticulously sited in north Phoenix on a one-acre triangular lot, delivering imposing southside views of Camelback Mountain and privacy.

pool“I can say without reservation that the ‘outdoor-room’ solution for this residence is the best Arizona lifestyle room of any home I have built in my luxury-home career,” says Ron Steege, who with La Casa partner Tim Larson has been building custom homes in the Valley since 1991.

The owners, for sure, joy in their home. “We love the mountain in the early morning and with the lights on it at night,” the wife says of the master bedroom suite, which faces the 2,707-foot landmark. “It makes it easy to have sweet dreams.”


Begun in June 2007 and delivered to the New York couple by the La Casa team in December 2008, the custom home is walkable to the popular trails around and to the challenging summit of Camelback. It is also a short stroll to the historic Royal Palms Resort and Spa, with its outstanding spa and fine dining.

“This home was designed specifically for Arizona’s indoor/outdoor lifestyle,” says Scottsdale interior designer, Kim Alonzo, ASID, whose work won her KA Designs first place at the 2010 ASID Design Excellence Awards in the Residential over 6,000-square-feet category.

kitchen“The client entertains a lot and wanted to be able to open up the back of the house so the entertaining space would be doubled,” she adds. “Guests would not feel separated by any wall systems. The back of the house is constructed of ceiling-to-floor retractable glass doors that hide in the wall, which adds to the illusion of a unified space.”

The wife explains: “I love the outdoor covered patio; most of the year we can entertain our friends and families there. My husband can barbecue, and there can be friends around him so he doesn’t feel so lonely while he’s cooking. Likewise, others surround me in the kitchen. It’s one big room, which is exactly what we wanted to accomplish.”

Just beyond this area is the pool, designed by Kirk Bianchi of Bianchi Design in Phoenix and built by Phoenician Pool Company of Scottsdale, and the grounds celebrate the artistry of Morgan Holt and his EarthArt Landscape & Design of Phoenix.

Throughout, the layout of the home, in particular its main rooms — kitchen, dining room, wet bar, great room and outdoor patio — facilitate this entertaining lifestyle. Often, she’ll start a party with appetizers at the entry courtyard, continue with main courses at the large kitchen island (with what the couple calls the “pull-out drawer without end”) and then serve dessert on the adjacent outdoor patio, where guests can swim and relax while enjoying changing mountain moods.

To intensify this indoor/outdoor nexus, Alonzo tied the materials, colors and styles together. The great room flooring, for example, is concrete tiles that continue to the patio, including the grout lines, so there is no visual interruption.

“The interior and exterior furnishings and fabrics complement each other by color, pattern and texture,” she says. “The patio furniture is more like a living room because it has a sofa, chairs and a cocktail table surrounding a fireplace and television.”


“We wanted a home that was warm and cozy, inviting, colorful and welcoming,” says the wife, who grew up on Long Island, where her parents lived in the Hamptons. “We did not want a home that was ‘frilly and fussy’ nor did we want a house where family or friends were afraid to touch anything.”

living“We used furniture that was sturdy, such as the mesquite dining room table from Taber & Co. in Tucson, so as not to worry about the amount of use it would get. It’s meant to be used — and used in order to create memories.”

Larson adds: “Our clients wanted a home that would live well on an intimate level, with private places to curl up with a book and glass of wine or visit over coffee with a friend or family.” Valley residents since 2001, the couple also hosts their four children and two grandchildren on the holidays in addition to frequent entertaining.

Back East, the wife had been devoted to contemporary architectural and furniture styles, but after living here, they began to not only enjoy the desert lifestyle but southwest culture and traditions as well.

“When we first thought about building this home, we looked at some very contemporary designs, but we didn’t think that they belonged here,” she explains. “We thought that because this was the Southwest, our home should express that — in its styling, hand-crafted elements and colors.”

As a result, it interweaves various styles, textures and influences. Traditional elements, including flagstone and granite walls, combine with contemporary materials and technology, such as copper bargeboard sheathing and, between the great room and the outside patio, a retractable electronic wall system on a radius.

Shopping for more than a year with the wife, Alonzo discovered traditional Southwestern and Mexican accessories as well as contemporary artworks, which provide color panache throughout: hence, Modern Hacienda.

“Our clients had a very bold vision for the residence that included a unique mix of modern 21st-century architectural features mixed with organic hand-made finishes, set off by a very intense color palette,” Steege says. “The results are quite extraordinary; every room, every space is a visual treat.”

Throughout the home are reclaimed Douglas fir beams and corbels created from these — such as in the main hallway. Larson regularly travels to Oregon to select beams and ships them for acclimation to Arizona where they are covered in canvas and dried in the desert for at least one year.

“The beams are salvaged from old saw mills and buildings built in the early 1900s,” he explains. “We work with local craftsman and wood carvers to integrate them in our clients’ homes.”


Hand-carved woodwork is everywhere. The distressed-alder front door, with floral themes, is by Scottie Reid of Scottsdale, and the cabinetry and interior doors, most created in knotty alder, was crafted by Russ Kory’s Phoenix-based Finely Designed. Much of this woodwork reveals floral themes, the wife’s favorite motif which also appears on the red-fabric cornices, bedding and the master bedroom wool carpet.

Ornamental iron also celebrates the Southwestern spirit: In the central hallway, the wife helped design long sconce supports, which contrast with the corbelled beams and provide verticality to the winding space of sandblasted concrete tiles. And, off the hallway, her office has a highly crafted iron gate rather than a door.

bathroomAntique and contemporary accessories reiterate the regional inspiration and the connectivity of the home with the outdoors: hand-painted Talavera dishes from Nogales, Mexico, in the kitchen; a large garden planter from Guadalajara, which tilts on iron bracing to show at 45 degrees; deep-red Tarahumara pots above the pool, with its red-tiled raised spa; gas lanterns at the pool fireplace; a chandelier synthesized from items purchased in Mexico, India and America; and, in a guest bathroom, pieces of an aged screen, with fading multi-colors, insetting the contemporary alder door and also serving as covers for the adjacent cabinets.

In their desert home, there are memories, too, of the water and Long Island. The wife calls her serene master suite getaway, her “Ocean Bathroom,” with its aquamarine and other blue-toned porcelain tiles, and an outdoor shower is a step away from the master shower. At the front entry, Cave Creek sculptor Alan Hochman has created a water wall of scored New Mexico granite, which the husband loves listening to.

“Our dreams have become our reality,” she says of her Phoenix hacienda. “Every time we walk in, we smile.”