Work in progress: Artistic touch in contemporary home
Demonstrating his taste for contemporary design, Scott Stanhope has turned an older split-level home into the epitome of relaxation and enjoyment, even though he describes it all as a “work in progress.”
One of the most striking features at the back of his home in the Rancho Caballo subdivision is the shiny black wrought iron spiral staircase, complete with banister, which leads from his 24-foot-by-40-foot sun deck down to the backyard. One feature that makes this staircase stand out is the repeated circles incorporated into its design — the same as the design in his double wrought iron gates. “We incorporated circles in everything we built — the gate itself and, of course, the little banister, which was a lot more work. But it turned out nice.
“When I first moved in here, we didn't have a way up and down without going all the way through the house,” he said of the outdoor staircase, which now doubles as a fire escape.
The use of circular patterns in both the exterior and interior of the 5,200-square-foot home unifies Stanhope's artistic contemporary theme.
His saltwater swimming pool, for instance, was remodeled to include a semicircular ledge built into the northern side beneath the water line, providing a shallower area for sitting or launching into the pool.
The circular theme also manifests itself inside the home, where one of the first unusual features you will notice is the pool table on the bottom floor of the multi-level living room area. The table balances almost like a seesaw on top of polished tire rims that are mounted onto a stainless steel base. Perhaps this design should not be too surprising, since Stanhope is the owner of Wildside Offroad/Arizona Brake Automotive Service Center.
The pool table is not the only place where Stanhope carries out the circular theme. Contemporary art consisting of seven brushed aluminum panels placed side by side depict a shiny starburst design from which a trail extends. It would almost resemble the design of a comet or perhaps a jellyfish with long tendrils. A similar piece of aluminum art, illuminated by a skylight above his staircase, gives the feeling that one might have if looking up through the seaweed that radiates from a central point at the bottom of the sea.
The kitchen continues the circular theme in its contemporary design. Some of the cabinet doors, for example, are slightly convex so that they appear almost cylindrical. The central island — reputed to be of marble imported from Italy — is split into two levels. The higher level is almost a teardrop shape but more elliptical. The smaller end of it stands slightly above the larger section, in which the black tempered glass stovetop blends in so well with the deep greenish black of the marble that you hardly realize that a stove is there at all until you see oven door of glass and stainless steel beneath the island.
Suspended above the stove is a shiny aluminum tube attached to a curved stainless steel vent hood, which itself is no ordinary fixture. With two layers of thin shelving slightly angled that extend from either side of the cylinder, the whole device looks as if it might have come from a different galaxy.
On the kitchen's east wall stands a large arched doorway leading to the higher level of the living room, where Stanhope plans to put a couch — when he finds just what he likes to go with the tear-shaped glass topped coffee table. Adorning the wall to the left of the arched doorway is a piece of contemporary art that resembles eight-inch bowls — 12 of them placed adjacent to each other — to form a rectangular pattern with shiny chrome in the center of each. If they were larger, you might mistake them for instruments used to pan for gold.
As you look through the arched doorway toward the opposite living room wall, you will see a large round mirror and another contemporary art piece that resembles a feather split lengthwise and then coiled to display the each individual strand. On a much larger scale, its shape resembles a snail shell.
Speaking of shells, Stanhope was formerly a wholesale dealer in gems and minerals. Consequently, his home is also a showcase for some unusual pieces displayed around his living room. For instance, near his fireplace is a heavy stone containing an amalgamation of fossilized shells, each about the size of a man's fist. Even more spectacular are the two amethyst geodes that stand on their individual pedestals on opposite sides of the room. The larger of the two has smaller geodes embedded inside it.
“When we had that big earthquake last year, we started to bail out. And then I saw the geode starting to do this,” Stanhope explained, gesturing how it was rocking on its pedestal. “So we ran over and saved those.”
The home's interior double front doors feature large stained glass ovals in which are circles of red, green and purple glass. Even more unique is the additional black design in the glass that mimics the design of the banister of the nearby staircase that leads to the six upstairs rooms. Designed by a former owner of the home, the wrought iron banister is a series of various sized loops. Beneath the staircase is a dolphin sculpture that forms a ring. Another dolphin sculpture also adorns a window ledge in the dining room.
At the northeast end of the dining room, a bronze sculpture of the faces of two wolves stands on a marble pedestal that is about the same height as the dining table. Its curved spirals — cut in black marble with small striations of gray — could call to mind an old-fashioned barber pole design but of a far more elegant style.
Adjacent to the dining room, the livingroom floor covering is either of beige carpet or of slate, depending on which level of the room you are in. The stairsteps beside the wrought iron bannister are also of slate, as is the floor of the master bathroom, whose two amber vessel sinks provide a contemporary feeling to the vanity. Stanhope's spacious bedroom also has a wall of custom-built cabinetry.
To either side of the livingroom fireplace are vertical plate glass windows — each five feet wide and 17 feet tall — that extend almost from the ground to the roofline, giving Stanhope's home's interior a spacious, open look.
In the northeast section of the living room area, you are likely to find Stanhope's two daughters watching the big-screen television as they lounge on the large black leather overstuffed couch or chair in that area when they are not swimming or enjoying their backyard activities. The large beige rug in front of the couch features outlines of circles of various sizes. Tucked neatly into a nearby corner, a freshwater aquarium shaped like a quarter of a deep dish pie houses two exotic fish: a flower-horned cichlid and a South American shovel-nosed catfish. Stanhope acquired these as the former owner of Pets Plus.
Upstairs, the girls' bedroom opens to the loft area that Stanhope said was once an office. Now mainly used as the girls' play area, three walls are covered floor to ceiling in oak bookshelves that house mostly their stuffed animals. Their bunk beds stand in what is perhaps the brightest room in the house. About one-third of the walls from the floor up are painted a deep rose. A white strip all around separates the rose bottom walls from the lighter pink that extends from the white strip to the ceiling. The adjacent loft area where they play almost lost the custom-built bookcases, though.
“Everybody was kind of getting on me because at first, honestly, I was going to take that whole thing (the bookcases) out when I first bought the house,” said Stanhope. “Everyone said, ‘Man, you don't want to take out all that expensive wood.' So I decided to leave it alone.”
The upstairs room that opens onto the sun deck is what Stanhope calls his “movie room.” On an overstuffed tan sofa or on a brown overstuffed loveseat or chair, his family or guests can enjoy a movie. The black alligator-hide rug lying atop the beige carpet makes quite a conversation piece, an item he says he got because, as he put it, “My girls always like that kind of stuff.”
In fact, Stanhope said, he purchased the house especially for the girls to have a place to enjoy. Certainly there are ample opportunities for the girls to enjoy the extensive backyard. Stanhope has equipped it with a large playhouse with a ladder to its upstairs, a trampoline and a circular swing suspended from the tallest eucalyptus tree on the property. Suspending the swing with a cable from the tree limb required some ingenuity, too. Ladders do not extend to that height, and climbing it was out of the question.
“I started with a washer and a thread. There were a lot of tosses, but we got it through (over the immense branch from which it suspends). Then I tied a little thicker string on, fed it back, tied the cable on, fed it back over again, and then looped it and cinched it up. So it worked out pretty good. They have a lot of fun.”
Remodeling the home to suit his taste has been quite a challenge for Stanhope, the home's third owner.
“Retrofitting things to a house that is already existing is so hard, and everything just gets really expensive. So in our case, I just do what we can do that's reasonable but that almost anyone can do. If it's something we can do ourselves, then we can do it faster.” Although he did much of the work himself, he said he has had a lot of help from friends.
The backyard alone was quite a renovation project. Besides removing a fence that crossed the yard, Stanhope had to rid the area of a large pecan tree from the middle of the yard after bees attacked him and his younger daughter from the “huge hive in it.”
“I took out anything else that could stick and stab you. We tried to make it as easy care as possible. I think we pulled out literally over two to three hundred plants.”
That included large ficus trees that shed leaves into his pool constantly. “Every time there was a windstorm, my neighbors hated me,” he said. He added that he had also removed many 15-foot oleanders lining the fence. “I like it to look clean and usable.”
Stanhope said he gets his inspiration for his home décor through Phoenix Home or other magazines. He may flip through a magazine in a store, for instance, upon seeing something he likes, or he will see that someone else has used something that “looks cool.”
His renovations can perhaps be best described in his own words: “It's not meant to be a dollhouse. It's meant to be lived in. We all enjoy it, and so that's the main thing.”