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Modern Marvel

A new home at the base of Piestewa Peak cuts through the clutter.

In the living room, designer Debra Richardson grouped a white leather sofa and deep armchairs with an arc lamp. The kitchen punctuates this neutral color scheme with Silestone countertops and a Parsons table with plush dining chairs.

Real estate developer and agent Michael Banovac thinks that the Phoenix/Scottsdale market is oversaturated with Tuscan, Mediterranean and ranch-influenced architecture. “We’ve been doing what I call Restoration Hardware-style homes for years,” says Banovac, managing partner of RMB Luxury Real Estate in Phoenix. “We do that well—it sells. But, today, modern architecture is more desirable with young professionals and fashion-forward people.”

Banovac purchased a plot of land at the base of Piestewa Peak in Phoenix, where, at the end of a cul-de-sac, he’s building three unabashedly modernist homes with views of the mountain and an adjacent wash.

One of the homes, a 3,100-square-foot main house with a separate 800-square-foot guest house, was completed late last year. Banovac’s team included builder Mission Realty, architect Mark Tomecak and in-house interior designer Debra Richardson, who created a residence that combines a modern aesthetic with a comfortable floor plan and marketable amenities.

The main consideration on this particular project, the architect notes, was the views. “We wanted every room to have a view of the mountains,” he says.

The master suite is all about minimalist luxury, with a low-profile platform bed and simple lines.

Tomecak angled the main house and guest quarters into the ⅓-acre, pie-shaped lot, creating numerous opportunities for views. The main home’s entry bisects the house and offers straight-on Piestewa views. The master suite is located to one side of the entrance and the great room to the other. Two additional en suite bedrooms and a small flex room, which can be used as a home office or exercise room, open onto the great room. The guest house includes a full kitchen, sitting area and bedroom.

In elevation, Tomecak was inspired by midcentury architecture, with a flat roof, 12-foot ceilings and full sliding glass walls.

The home’s most striking design element is the use of split-face block for the walls, with a taupe-hued, rugged texture. “The block material is expressed inside and out,” says Tomecak, “and it’s also the structural element of the house.”

Richardson worked closely with the architect to select details that echo the modern message. “We wanted materials and furnishings that are trending now,” she explains, “but are classic enough to stand the test of time.”

Richardson suggested deep-hued, wide-plank hickory flooring for the home’s main rooms and cream-colored carpeting for the bedrooms, as well as sleek white and espresso cabinetry for the kitchen and bathrooms, creating a sophisticated, neutral backdrop.

The home’s beauty isn’t all skin-deep, Banovac explains. Rooftop solar panels give the home a Home Energy Rating System rating of 51, far below the new-home standard of 100 (an off-the-grid home’s rating would be 0). Dual-pane, low-E windows deflect solar heat gain, and desert landscaping—chosen by Boky Landscaping—keeps the watering to a minimum, as does the artificial turf that surrounds the pool.

“I think we hit it all with this house,” says Banovac. “The aesthetics, the luxury, the views—plus it’s a fun place to live.”