High Grounds 5

A Desert-Inspired North Scottsdale 
Home Gets a Fresh New Look

Nestled in the exclusive North Scottsdale Desert Highlands community, with sweeping views of Pinnacle Peak Mountain, is a magnificent desert-inspired dwelling with a unique history. Originally designed in the 1980s by renowned architecture firm, Swaback Partners, and led by Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice and founding member of both Swaback Partners and Studio V, Vern Swaback, this distinctly contemporary, completely custom home proved to be a true Southwest splendor of its time.

However, when its Canadian-based owners returned from an 11-year stay in Doha, Qatar, they decided that it was time to give their home a much needed makeover. That’s when they enlisted the help of Studio V to update the interiors, while also elevating the design with a Middle Eastern- inspired aesthetic and underlying contemporary vibe. Helming the remodel was Vern Swaback’s daughter, Caroline Swaback Schlack, who, along with fellow designer, Etta Cowdrey, envisioned an interior that would embrace the existing organic architecture, but bring in a fresh palette of colors to give it a clean, contemporary, modern look.

“For us, and our clients, desert contemporary style is really all about playing off of the home’s natural materials, such as its flagstone foundation. So we tried to use a lot of neutral, earthy colors to reflect the desert and complement the existing palettes,” says Caroline.

Another key component of the remodel was giving the home an eclectic, Middle Eastern feel by incorporating pieces that the owners had collected while in Qatar, like original artwork and silk rugs.

“The homeowners had collected these beautiful, colorful rugs, so we had to be careful in our color selection to make sure that we were really embracing them,” says Caroline. “In the end, they turned out to be a real jewel, adding that pop of color to the rooms.”

Caroline and the Studio V team put that same care and consideration into every aspect of the home’s design.

“We came into this project with a fresh mind for the clients’ specific needs and really did our homework in terms of understanding what the owners wanted,” says Caroline. And the result certainly did not disappoint.

Enter the home through a thick wooden door and find yourself in the midst of the breathtaking great room. Here, the design team played up the curved nature of the home, adorning it with an expansive curved sofa and a soft-edged recessed wall that embraces both the fireplace and entertainment center.

Venture through the home’s kitchen and into the dining room, which boasts a long travertine table—the owners’ original piece—and a truly spectacular chandelier.

“I think one of the more special elements of this room is the chandelier, which really brings in that Middle-Eastern, Moroccan vibe and creates an intimate atmosphere at night,” says Caroline.

From the dining room, head out to the backyard, where a warm fireplace and curved stucco couch with comfortable cushions and an eclectic array of vibrant pillows beckons.

“One of our favorite things while researching concepts for the home were those pops of color, because when you think of modern Moroccan, you think of colorful poufs and a unique layering of textiles,” says Caroline.

As part of the remodel, Studio V also added an art studio and pavilion perfect for embracing the indoor-outdoor lifestyle.

“It’s a space that you can keep the doors open and enjoy the weather,” says Caroline. “The owners use it right now as an office, but there’s also a sleeper sofa and a full bathroom so it would work perfectly for guests too.”

In the end, the remodel afforded a spectacular, freshly-conceived desert contemporary vision of the home that truly embraced the owners’ personal lifestyle while still maintaining true to the structure’s original glory. A real southwest gem.