By David M. Brown, Special Contributor
Mary and Jay Combs have lined up a great way to enjoy the painted sky at Desert Mountain - and its unique golf lifestyle.
In the village of Painted Sky, one of 30 neighborhoods at the 8,000-acre master-planned community in north Scottsdale, the back of their 8,100-square-foot contemporary home overlooks the 10th and 18th fairways of the Jack Nicklaus Signature Apache golf course - one of six award-winning Nicklaus designs at Desert Mountain.
Equally dramatic is the drive-up approach, with its winglike entry portico - a structure architect Peter Owens repeats elsewhere in the home. Also welcoming is the brushed aluminum and copper door handle and other front door details that Owens designed. The five-bedroom, six-bathroom home includes superb golfing amenities: deferred equity golf membership, a short walk to the Bing Hu-designed Apache clubhouse and the course driving range.
This is the Combses second home at Desert Mountain. "We bought our first here two years ago - three months after visiting friends," Mary says. "We were smitten with the area and the flavor of Desert Mountain. Jay is an avid golfer, and spends most days here on the golf course."
Married for 35 years, the couple lives in the small coastal town of Half Moon Bay, near San Francisco. They have two children, both in college. He owns a commercial real estate company, and she recently retired from teaching marine science.
Here, Mary takes a different course than Jay. She enjoys the beauty of the desert and the singular amenities of Desert Mountain. Their home at Painted Sky, built by Garrett & Taylor Custom Homes, provides wonderful views of the manicured Apache course as well as the subtle earth tones of the High Sonoran Desert and the surrounding Continental Mountains, which overlook the community.
And, when Mary and Jay are not teeing off or watching others address the challenges of tee or fairway shots, they enjoy observing the myriad of non-human species that moved into Desert Mountain years ago: animals such as bobcats, mule deer, great horned owls, Arizona chuckwallas, desert tortoises, redtail hawks and turkey vultures.
"We were looking for something with a little more room than our first home - and a home that capitalized on the beautiful desert sunsets," Mary says. "We've had many visitors from the Bay Area and wanted a home that could accommodate our guests in a relaxing and fun atmosphere."
One of the more inviting rooms in the home is the large great room, with a curved poplar tongue-and-groove ceiling. "It reminds me of a beautiful luxury yacht," Mary says. Owens continued the poplar throughout: in the vaulted guesthouse ceiling; the stair tower element; the recessed ceiling in the master suite above the bed area; and the curved ceiling in the master bath.
In addition, the home includes two wet bars, a theater, a detached guest house and a spacious wine room with a leaded glass door designed and fabricated by Bonnie Dents-Burk of Expressions of the Sun in Albuquerque, N.M. Working with Darryl Jones, owner of Garrett & Taylor, and Albuquerque designer/builder Joann Briggs, who coordinated the interior themes, Dents-Burk also created multi-layered etched and leaded panels in four other interior doors - whose designs and materials integrate with Owens' architectural features.
Outside, Owens designed the pool grotto so that swimmers can stroke through it, or sit on a shelf and watch the sun set. For Owens, this aquatic area, which includes a cabana, offers coolness and quietude. "I always incorporate some distinctive element or elements into the homes I design as a statement to its own individuality," he says, adding that the elements of air, fire and water create "a kinetic living sculpture that is integrated into the design of the home."
Ensuring that the owners could enjoy the views and privacy challenged Owens and Jones. "One of my priorities was to visually protect outdoor private areas to ensure psychological comfort and yet maintain the beautiful open vistas," explains Owens, who also served as the independent site designer for the home. During his 38-year career, he has been closely involved with the golf course lifestyle, designing homes, communities, golf resorts, and clubhouses in Austria, Greece, Aspen, Malibu and Hawaii.
Jones adds: "We had to deal with proximity to the golf practice area, maintaining the view corridors through the double fairways as well as minimizing any views of adjacent houses." The southern exposure is just 290 yards from the back 10th tee, so Owens provided a covered grand patio and overhangs for privacy and to protect from errant tee shots. Here as well Owens designed curved railings to reflect the curved roof, which allows one to lean out and over the pool below.
This patio area is nestled between the main structure and the course - part of Owens' signature "grand micro environment" that includes the ramada and the pool water elements, which cradle the home and unify the property as a whole. These elements are visible from all the major rooms and accessible from the semi-subterranean family room, the family patio, living room and guest house.
Owens and Jones strove for a contemporary flair without sacrificing warmth and welcome, using various woods in cabinets, doors and ceilings. "Our goal was an open feeling in every room that seems to merge with the golf course and desert environment," says Owens, who also designed the home's stainless steel handrails and details on the room doors and cabinets.
The Combses are adding interior touches to make the Painted Sky home "theirs." "We will combine some furniture and accessories from our Half Moon Bay home as well as items from our previous home in Desert Mountain and continue to work with our decorators to create an inviting, comfortable and luxurious retreat," Mary says. While functional and livable, the rooms are each designed to create a "wow factor" - the capacity to continually elicit enjoyment, even for the owners, Owens explains. For instance, the master suite offers a private patio for, perhaps, early-morning coffee and enjoying views of the city lights. And, the office allows Jay and Mary to see their guests arrive, yet has its own private, sun-protected patio and escape route - to the golf course!
This article originally appeared in Luxury Golf & Travel, a magazine that caters to those who enjoy the good life, whether that means conquering an incredible golf course, visiting a tropical island, or discovering a dream resort. The editors and designers of Luxury Golf & Travel provide a vivid preview of the finest golf courses, resorts and real estate opportunities on the map. To subscribe, click here or call (435) 940-1701.
May 5, 2006