Let the Light Shine In: The Planar House Sparkles in the Desert

  • Curb appeal in the desert

    Curb appeal in the desert

  • Kitchen in the desert

    Kitchen in the desert

  • Lit up in blue

    Lit up in blue

If you're the type who can't pick (and stick with) a color scheme for your home, this modern marvel in Paradise Valley, AZ, might be your dream home.

Designed by Steven Holl and listed for $2.5 million, the two-bedroom, three-bathroom Planar House -- a name chosen for the interaction of different geometric planes inside and outside the house -- was inspired by the surrounding landscape.

"The architect played with light and shapes. That is why this house is so amazing. At different times of day, it is almost a different house," says Marcia Canady, listing agent and broker with EntreHOM Fine Properties.

To achieve the home's appearance, the architect made extensive use of windows, corrugated steel, and concrete.

The walls are made entirely of tilt-up concrete, which was poured and dried on the ground, lifted onto the house, and then covered in Venetian plaster.

Windows are everywhere in varying sizes and shapes, with some coming together to form angles. Skylights allow sunlight from above, while windows come up from the floor in several of the rooms. Depending on the time of day, the rooms take on a different hue.

"It is always changing. During the day, the home has a cool, blue twinge. At sunset, it lights up in a warm orange," says Canady.

The home also has another light show up its sleeve. The garage door, the front doors, and the ramp leading to the rooftop deck are made of Cor-Ten steel, with the shapes stamped into the steel. From the outside, the steel appears to be a modern art installation. From the inside, light shines through the shapes and dances around the home as the sun moves overhead.

Creative use of natural light is just one of the design features that helped the home earn the 2006 AIA NY Merit Design Award.

The interiors are incredibly modern and sleek. The kitchen, with its bamboo backdrop, cleverly hides the appliances.

"There is a walk-in pantry behind bamboo doors. Two panels pull out and open up, and everything is in there," Canady says.

Outside, there's a 40-foot lap pool and a cactus garden surrounded by high concrete walls. From the amazing rooftop deck, "the views of Camelback Mountain are just spectacular," says Canady.

The unencumbered views are due to its remote location. With over an acre of land in the exclusive desert town, the property offers plenty of room to spread out and very few neighbors to deal with.

The solitude and dazzling design make it the perfect location for a winter hideaway, retirement home, or art studio.

After all, "the home really is a work of art itself," Canady says.