Clinging to the side of Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona, a Spanish Colonial Revival style house has been transformed by architecture firm The Ranch Mine into the ‘Red Rocks’ residence, a dwelling that creates and elevates a variety of experiences with both the natural and man-made environment.

When the homeowners approached Claire and Cavin Costello of The Ranch Mine to redesign their mountainside home, they were frustrated by the thick columns that interrupted the views, the heavy clay tile roofs and dark beams, and the floor plan that focused more on a ceremonial entry than the indoor/outdoor lifestyle they craved. It was clear very quickly to the design duo that although the Spanish Colonial Revival style can be beautiful in the right situations, the style of this home was repressing the potential of the site, or more simply put, the house was style over substance.

The first move to remedy this situation was to strip back the additive design features, leaving a simple, 2 story stucco box. Inside the box, The Ranch Mine rearranged the floor plan to prioritize the connection between the living spaces of the house and the primary views, including a new steel, glass and wood stairs to a different location to allow for a view from the rear of the house through the front and to the valley beyond. An additional en-suite bedroom was added via a second story addition clad in unhoned, unfilled vein-cut Veracruz limestone that cantilevers out over the mountain to preserve the maximum amount of outdoor living area and disturb no more space than the existing house footprint. Rather than mimic the red sedimentary sandstone of Camelback Mountain, limestone was chosen to make the addition appear like the calcite veins that often appear in the red rocks marking their moment in time. Along with this enclosed space, over 2000 square feet of shaded exterior patios were created, extending the living of the house in every direction and providing shade for the interior spaces. The first floor covered patio, accessed by a custom pivot gate by Bang Bang Designs, is lined with misters to keep the space cool all year round in the desert heat and transition the open living space to hot tub and firepit and down to the pool area. The large south facing second floor patio, with an Ipe ceiling and floor, features bi-folding custom steel screens (also by Bang Bang Designs) that help shield the deck from the harsh desert sun while still allowing the breeze to come through but can be folded aside at dusk to take in the famous Arizona sunsets. The screens feature a custom hexagonal pattern that is denser at the top and the bottom leaving the more viewable area at eye level while sitting down. Just to the side of this area is a walking deck with custom planters that bring the desert up to the master bedroom, adding color and invigorating fragrances. Off of the new second floor bedroom, a modern take on a Juliet balcony cantilevers out, almost kissing the mountain, creating a powerful connection and an intimate moment.

On the interior, a low maintenance, exposed concrete floor was poured on the first floor to cover the extensive amount of work that needed to happen due to the failing plumbing and structural infrastructure of the existing house and maple wood floors were kept for the second floor. A fairly neutral palette of walnut and white cabinetry with a variety of quartz counters and marble tile were used throughout to keep the red rocks as the star material. To highlight this, bi-folding glass doors and clerestory windows were added to the corner of the living and dining room to access a quiet walkout patio and mirrors were floated above the master bathroom vanity in front of the raw mountain face to visually anchor the home to its unique site. In the front addition, large windows immerse the homeowners in the view and a small square window in the steam shower provides a peekaboo skyline vista.

While design style is likely the most popular home design topic, with websites sorted by style and guides that “figure out your design style,” the “Red Rocks” residence revealed how a prescriptive style limited the potential of the site. The remedy was throwing out the rules and designing for amazing daily experiences. Ultimately, homes are for the inhabitants and they should open up possibilities and connect us with our world.

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BEFORE photo of the front Photo  of Red Rocks modern homeView Photos

BEFORE photo of the front

Modern home with Exterior, Flat RoofLine, Stone Siding Material, and House Building Type. Perched on the side of Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona, a new 2nd story front addition and redesigned landscape transformed a Spanish Colonial house by embracing the desert, mountain and city views with covered patios extending out in every direction Photo 2 of Red RocksView Photos

Perched on the side of Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona, a new 2nd story front addition and redesigned landscape transformed a Spanish Colonial house by embracing the desert, mountain and city views with covered patios extending out in every direction

BEFORE photo of the entry Photo 3 of Red Rocks modern homeView Photos

BEFORE photo of the entry

Modern home with Exterior, House Building Type, Stone Siding Material, and Flat RoofLine. The roof of the new 2nd story addition soars above the new limestone clad entry Photo 4 of Red RocksView Photos

The roof of the new 2nd story addition soars above the new limestone clad entry

Modern home with Garage and Attached Garage Room Type. Above the new entry, custom planters hidden behind the limestone cladding spill vegetation over the wall  Photo 5 of Red RocksView Photos

Above the new entry, custom planters hidden behind the limestone cladding spill vegetation over the wall

Modern home with Exterior, Stone Siding Material, House Building Type, and Flat RoofLine. To create more private outdoor living space, the garage area was clad in limestone and extended to include a steel pivot gate that is the new entry to the home Photo 6 of Red RocksView Photos

To create more private outdoor living space, the garage area was clad in limestone and extended to include a steel pivot gate that is the new entry to the home

Modern home with Doors, Exterior, Swing Door Type, and Metal. Entry pivot gate Photo 7 of Red RocksView Photos

Entry pivot gate

Modern home with Outdoor, Wood Patio, Porch, Deck, Decking Patio, Porch, Deck, and Large Patio, Porch, Deck. Custom operable screens limit the harsh desert sun but can be opened to enjoy the panoramic views of the valley Photo 8 of Red RocksView Photos

Custom operable screens limit the harsh desert sun but can be opened to enjoy the panoramic views of the valley

Modern home with Doors, Exterior, Swing Door Type, and Metal. Afternoon shadows on the limestone from the custom pivot gate Photo 9 of Red RocksView Photos

Afternoon shadows on the limestone from the custom pivot gate

Modern home with Outdoor, Decomposed Granite Patio, Porch, Deck, Walkways, Hardscapes, Desert, Front Yard, Landscape Lighting, Concrete Patio, Porch, Deck, Small Pools, Tubs, Shower, and Large Patio, Porch, Deck. Entry walkway leading to the front door and eventually to the grill and down to the pool Photo 10 of Red RocksView Photos

Entry walkway leading to the front door and eventually to the grill and down to the pool

Modern home with Outdoor, Concrete Patio, Porch, Deck, Large Patio, Porch, Deck, Desert, Front Yard, Small Pools, Tubs, Shower, and Decomposed Granite Patio, Porch, Deck. A hot tub off the new covered patio and stairs leading down to the pool Photo 11 of Red RocksView Photos

A hot tub off the new covered patio and stairs leading down to the pool

Modern home with Outdoor, Concrete Patio, Porch, Deck, Front Yard, Infinity Pools, Tubs, Shower, Landscape Lighting, Decomposed Granite Patio, Porch, Deck, Small Pools, Tubs, Shower, Desert, and Large Patio, Porch, Deck. A new hot tub, firepit and pool pull the homeowners out towards the view at all times of the year Photo 12 of Red RocksView Photos

A new hot tub, firepit and pool pull the homeowners out towards the view at all times of the year

Modern home with Exterior, Flat RoofLine, House Building Type, and Stone Siding Material. Led lit steps lead from the pool up to the grill area and outdoor shower beyond Photo 13 of Red RocksView Photos

Led lit steps lead from the pool up to the grill area and outdoor shower beyond

Modern home with Exterior, Stone Siding Material, House Building Type, and Flat RoofLine. A modern take on the "Juliet Balcony" cantilevers over the mountain to provide an opportunity to step out and take in the Phoenix skyline at sunset Photo 14 of Red RocksView Photos

A modern take on the "Juliet Balcony" cantilevers over the mountain to provide an opportunity to step out and take in the Phoenix skyline at sunset

Modern home with Outdoor, Desert, Front Yard, Slope, Large Patio, Porch, Deck, Infinity Pools, Tubs, Shower, Small Pools, Tubs, Shower, Wood Patio, Porch, Deck, Decking Patio, Porch, Deck, and Boulders. View from the new 2nd story deck down to the pool hugged by Camelback Mountain  Photo 15 of Red RocksView Photos

View from the new 2nd story deck down to the pool hugged by Camelback Mountain

Modern home with Outdoor, Wood Patio, Porch, Deck, Shrubs, Raised Planters, Desert, Decking Patio, Porch, Deck, and Rooftop. 2nd story garden off of the master suite Photo 16 of Red RocksView Photos

2nd story garden off of the master suite

Modern home with Outdoor, Decking Patio, Porch, Deck, Raised Planters, Desert, Wood Patio, Porch, Deck, and Rooftop. The addition was designed to pull the homeowner out of the house and to highlight specific views such as the Papago buttes Photo 17 of Red RocksView Photos

The addition was designed to pull the homeowner out of the house and to highlight specific views such as the Papago buttes

Modern home with Kitchen, Undermount Sink, Dishwasher, White Cabinet, Ceiling Lighting, Engineered Quartz Counter, Wood Cabinet, Stone Slab Backsplashe, Cooktops, Concrete Floor, Microwave, Wine Cooler, Refrigerator, Range Hood, Beverage Center, and Wall Oven. The new kitchen hides a butler pantry and drop off zone from the garage Photo 18 of Red RocksView Photos

The new kitchen hides a butler pantry and drop off zone from the garage

Modern home with Kitchen, Undermount Sink, Dishwasher, Wall Oven, Range Hood, Beverage Center, Refrigerator, Cooktops, White Cabinet, Wine Cooler, Concrete Floor, Engineered Quartz Counter, Wood Cabinet, Microwave, Ceiling Lighting, and Stone Slab Backsplashe. A neutral palette was selected by the homeowner throughout to make the red rocks and the views the star Photo 19 of Red RocksView Photos

A neutral palette was selected by the homeowner throughout to make the red rocks and the views the star

Modern home with Living Room, Ottomans, Sofa, Concrete Floor, and Chair. Rearranging the house plan was a priority to provide views such as this throughout the house Photo 20 of Red RocksView Photos

Rearranging the house plan was a priority to provide views such as this throughout the house

Landscape Design
  • The Green Room Inc.
Builder
  • Koss Design+Build
Photographer

Overview

Bedrooms
  • 4
  • Full Baths
  • 4
  • Structure
  • House (Single Residence)
  • Style
  • Modern
  • Year
  • 2018
  • Square Feet
  • 4491
  • Lot Size
  • 63197