Candelaria on Homes: Some Candelaria Concepts

By Mark Candelaria, AIA

At Candelaria Design Associates (CDA), we’ve never posted architectural laws on our walls. We do our projects one by one, opportunity by opportunity, client by client, challenge by challenge. In that way, we can best satisfy our clients’ dreams and wishes; many of them are now friends (CDA was even named Best Architect in Best of Our Valley 2020).

But we do have some guidelines we’ve observed during our 21 years as a firm; some I first considered while working early in my career at CCBG Architects in Phoenix for my former ASU architecture professor, George Christensen, FAIA.

Most of our homes at CDA are at the luxury level, but as I look back on 40 years in architecture, I think these design concepts widely apply, whether for the dream mansion you’re building overlooking the ocean, a lake or wilderness; the down-sized empty-nester you’re designing for your second life closer to town; or the older home you’re renovating, large or small.

Here are some suggestions you might want to consider before beginning your house:

  • Designs for the Client –– A home is not just where you live but where you celebrate life. All of us at CDA enjoy designing homes for lifestyles, not textbooks. Sure, we’re honored by the many awards we receive for our work, but the big reward is the happiness of our clients.

Since the first CDA shingle went up at our first small office in midtown Phoenix, we have been client focused; we want to make your home yours. Part of the panache, the “show and tell” of a great home is how well you live in it, how it fits you. That’s as important as the style, the materials, the flow and all the flourishes.

Your hallways will have artworks, collectibles and pottery, family pictures and memorabilia you’ve collected during your life. But, if you liked those groin vaults you saw in Europe, the tiles from an old church building in France, the archways in a Tuscan home, and old barnyard beams in Ohio, ask that these structural elements be incorporated into your home.

No matter the style, from traditional to contemporary, we want to capture all of these soulful elements; they add substance and meaning to your everyday experience of living in your home.

Hallways, for example, are often not regarded as a room or a space. At CDA, we love them; they are the transition between spaces, just as you transition from one point of your life to another. In particular, we love interrupting the hall with archways between rooms and as repeating corridor details, no matter the style.

Mark Boisclair Photography, Inc.

We’re ceiling lovers here, too, so you’ll see many Old World vaults in our kitchens, wine cellars and staircases or crisp crossovers broken by slots of natural light in our more Contemporary designs.

An early home I did in the Paradise Valley Country Club area was for a good friend and his wife. She loved the famous Ralph Lauren stairwell in New York City; I went to the store, sketched it, and we recreated while I was still at CCBG. It’s still in the home and still impresses each time you see it.

Every time you experience these custom details, you’ll have good feelings in the moment and in memories, too.

Mark Boisclair Photography, Inc.

  • Targeting Timelessness –– Do it, as the Nike slogan says, but don’t overdo it. If you make your home idiosyncratic or trendy, five years from now you might not like either the trendiness or the idiosyncrasies. Your prospective buyers will be even more critical than you.

A decade or so ago, we designed a home in Paradise Valley for one of the Phoenix area’s most successful production homebuilders and his wife. The Santa-Barbara-style two-story is on five beautifully landscaped acres with incredible views of Camelback Mountain. He and his wife are still there, even after they’ve raised their family; they love it. It worked then; it works now.


Pearl Blossom Photography

  • Certain Styles Thrive in Certain Locales –– The first home I designed after opening CDA was in beautiful Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, for two dear friends. Built with hand-hewed logs from British Columbia, their luxury home majestically looks over and out to the lake. The material, siting and style match the rural wooded site. In my upcoming book, we playfully call it “Lincoln Logs on the Lake.”

Here in the Valley, a Mummy Mountain Home for an airlines executive and his wife seems just right, too, with its Contemporary clean lines and materials. Beautifully built by Schultz Development into the landmark Paradise Valley mountain, the well-glassed structure embraces the granite, connecting the owners with the rock’s contours and jaggedness; other styles with heavy separating walls would not have been as successful.

  • Welcome Style Fusions into Your Home –– Mediterranean can also be Mod, Spanish Colonial or Territorial can also be svelte and Contemporary. The art is in the brush strokes connecting them.

One of our Paradise Valley homes just became the second-highest resale ever in Arizona, at $17.5 million; incorporating French Chateau and Italianesque elements, it’s what I call Hamptons Transitional. We hope the new owners enjoy it as much as we did designing it.

Dino Tonn

  • Mix Your Materials –– CDA has always enjoyed mixing materials: stone and wood and steel, bricks and aluminum. Another Paradise Valley home incorporates two styles of bricks, a mix of woods (pine on the structure and clear alder on the doors) and pavers on the pathways.

Pearl Blossom Photography

A Contemporary home, also in Paradise Valley, is inset between Mummy and Camelback mountains; here the owners once hiked as youngsters. Also built by Shultz Development, it has lots of glass and metal, and the interior has wood planks on the ceiling, adding a softer texture.

Mark Boisclair Photography, Inc.

  • Minimal and Warm ––Our designs are inspired by all styles, including Minimalist and Mid-Century Modern, and we incorporate details from these distinctive Modern concepts in many of the homes we design. Elements such as arches and beams, tastefully incorporated, take the edge off, so to speak, those more angular styles.

A recent Paradise Valley kitchen, for example, incorporates premium Bulthaup components; the light wood adds warmth to the Contemporary design and materials.

Werner Segara

  • Site to Celebrate –– Most luxury homes are so in part because of location: a nearby mountain or mountains, a lake, the ocean. We often take a ladder with us to a potential home site; if our clients are willing, we get them up a few steps for an idea of how we’d like to maximize the views. And, here in Arizona, we always site to minimize direct western exposures.

You might also want a stand-alone casita or incorporate a focal-point fountain or statue in your yard or courtyard. In an Arcadia neighborhood home, for example, we aligned the roof pitches of the main home and the pool house, with the peak of Camelback Mountain behind the latter.

Pearl Blossom Photography

And, for a renovation in Clearwater Hills, next to Paradise Valley, we placed new windows above the realigned kitchen sink to celebrate great Phoenix Mountain Preserve views.

  • Live Your Lifestyle –– It’s your home to enjoy and share. Design it for you and your passions; design it for your life and for life. It’s yours, not the architect’s.

David M. Brown and Tiffany Candelaria assisted on this second in a series of articles on residential architecture. For more about CDA, see

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts