Unique Rooms #1 – A Wordly Home


Written By: Ashley Griffin

Some travelers bring back trinkets and treasures from trips, others postcards and silly souvenirs from nickel-and-dime shops. For one retired, Toronto, Canada-based couple, such small, chintzy mementos didn’t seem the appropriate way to remember memories made on their frequent trips abroad. So, they blazed a new way of collecting travel mementos, and brought back a home.

They did not, however, transport an entire estate. Instead, they gathered top-of-the-line finishes and materials while abroad and brought them back to the United States where they used them to build a fully customized European estate. Utilizing both tangible elements – Turkish limestone, Canadian glass, and custom maple doors from Holland – and a wide range of international ideas and designers, the couple built a luxurious, contemporary retreat in Fountain Hills, Arizona.

Today, every aspect of the finished 10,800-square-foot home speaks to their hobby of travel, and also to their appreciation of fine design.

The finished home presents a happy marriage of internationally sourced materials and cutting-edge designs. The designs mirror those found abroad; the materials were each hand-selected from one of the owner’s favorite destinations before the architect began working on the home. Inside this glamorous retreat, everything from the wine room’s custom stained glass door to the powder room’s Venetian plaster finish hints at the owner’s love of different cultural destinations.

Acting as the best representation of their hobby and also as the home’s most opulent space is an elaborate indoor-outdoor pool designed to replicate the world-renowned spas of Finland. The finished pool is as breathtaking a space as it is a functional, relaxing retreat. Telescoping doors allow for indoor and outdoor entertainment, and a custom ring above bathes the pool in cobalt blue neonĀ  lighting.

Even the entrances to this space are lavish: Guests arrive via either a dynamic glass-enclosed elevator that opens to the expansive pool area or a floating Turkish limestone staircase.

Everything is the home’s lower level was designed around this breathtaking pool and the panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Most notable is the lack of any walls between the spaces. Instead, the homeowners opted to use glass windows to divide the pool from the other areas, giving the lower level a feel of one expansive room.

They also eliminated distractions from the view by using non-reflective glass for the window walls. It keeps the reflection or silhouetting of the interior of the house to a minimum, especially at night when the coating assures that the home’s lit interior won’t reflect against the window walls.

The window walls also allow the pool to become the striking focal point from every downstairs area. The areas surrounding the pool include an intimate sitting area, a bar with granite countertops, a “flex” area, a spa zone, and a patio with fire pit and multiple cascading water features.

The downstairs bar – complete with a microwave, storage, a fridge, and a wet bar – is mot appealing and creates a space for lounging and relaxing with ample seating and counter spaces for buffets.

Further relaxation is found in the spa room, whose steam shower with blue tiling mimics the spa-like pool. This area boasts a dry sauna and an elevated massage and exercise room as well.

The lower floor also houses a “flex” room in which the owner has placed his combination billiard table and shuffleboard to give the room a special flair. He also created a home theater with stadium-style seating and custom upholstered walls and a wine room with storage for 500-plus bottle. Though these features are impressive, the pool will always be the home’s piece de resistance.

This unique theme room, conceptualized abroad but realized on American soil, truly brings the best designs and materials in the world together to create on stunning showcase.