28 June 2010

East Coast Couple's Southwestern Dream Home

AZ Central

There's a lot of cowboy in Larry Rogoff. He may be from Pittsburgh, but the design sensibilities that stir his soul are those of the Southwest.

His wife, Lisa, shares his exuberant embrace of the region. Raised in a Yonkers, N.Y., apartment, she too found herself drawn to Navajo and Hopi designs, art and Southwestern hues long before the couple left the East Coast 20 years ago for the Arizona sunshine.

A frustrated architect, Larry settled for remodeling their homes, waiting for the day when he could build one from scratch.

With an eye to the future, the Rogoffs bought a near acre of land on Lone Mountain in north Scottsdale. Avid travelers of New Mexico, Texas and Arizona, they also began collecting such things as antique doors and other architectural relics from La Puerta Originals in Santa Fe, as well as art, handcrafted furniture and anything else that struck their fancy.

About 10 years ago, Larry began designing their dream home. He was careful to incorporate remodeling changes he had made to their other homes and to create the kind of open, comfortable, decidedly Southwestern abode they envisioned.

The ceilings - except for the 19-foot ceiling in the two-story entryway - would be lower. Windows wide for the mountain views. No formal living room. And they wanted a dining room that was like a ceremonial Native American kiva, intimate but large enough for a 10-foot-long table to seat a dozen or so guests.

There were special places for artwork they had collected for more than 20 years, for such custom furniture as the handcrafted buffet in the entryway and the chair Larry and his son carved from a tree trunk.

"We wanted to keep it comfortable and cozy," Larry said. "We didn't want a model-home showcase where you walk into a living room and there are rooms to the left and rooms to the right. That lacks imagination."

There's no lack of imagination in the mountainside home where they've lived for eight years.

Walk into the light-filled two-story entryway and there's a nearly 10-foot-high gaming wheel on one side and a handmade inlaid-wood chest on the other. Ahead is the great room with its exposed-beam ceiling and a bank of windows overlooking the terraced backyard, pool and mountain views.

"We didn't want a formal living room because no one uses them," Lisa said. "We wanted this comfortable and livable, and we like natural materials."

The kitchen overlooks the great room and a dining area.

The couple like to entertain and cook, so Larry designed a raised kitchen rather than the more popular two-level granite-slab counter. The higher kitchen floor creates a bar-height counter on one side, where guests can sit and sip wine, and a counter height for those prepping food in the kitchen.

At the end of a hallway with a brick-barrel ceiling is the sunken dining room that Larry designed as a kiva.

Steps lead down to the room with a brick sand-grouted floor, Venetian-plaster walls, coffered ceiling and a beehive fireplace that burns both natural gas and wood.

When you enter the room, the focal point is an 8-foot-long wide-angle photograph of Monument Valley hung above a narrow window slit.

When you're seated at the 10-foot-long dining-room table, the view shifts from Monument Valley to Pinnacle Peak and the McDowell Mountains outside the window.

If the dining room was Larry's focus, the guest room was Lisa's.

"I've lived with three men," she said, referring to Larry and their two sons. She wanted a decidedly feminine guest room that reminded friends of a turn-of-the-20th-century bordello. Larry joined in the design fun, using reclaimed-wood floors, rosebush-print wallpaper and a pressed-tin ceiling in the adjoining bathroom. A cowboy hat hangs from one of the posts on the four-poster bed.

Framed sepia-toned photographs of Amsterdam's red-light district hang in the bathroom. Her grandmother's silver tea set sits on an antique table.

"I picture a single woman who's a bit promiscuous living here," she said. "Sometimes I come in here just to laugh."

The Rogoffs decorated another bedroom in an early 19th-century theme they call Hollywood cowboy. A four-poster bed is covered in a Navajo blanket. The window shutters have cowhide insets, and bead-board wainscoting adds to the room's authentic feel, as does a small old-fashioned saloon bar and tufted-leather wing-back chair. It's a nice place to land after a long trail ride.

"Nothing happened all at once. When it's right, that's when we got it," Lisa said, explaining the careful assembly of a ruby-red antique chandelier and an antique pickle-jar collection. She also made curtains from feed bags.

At the end of the day, you can find the Rogoffs on the rooftop deck off Larry's second-floor office. Whiskey more than wine drinkers, they come here to toast the sunset and savor the landscape they love.

"I wanted it to be a comfortable home," Larry said. "Could I have made it bigger and a little more grand? Yes, but it's our nest and that's not who I am."

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