Zen area and cozy nooks bring indoor living outside in Gilbert home. Take a peek

Arizona News Business

Georgann Yara, Special for The Republic Published 2:00 p.m. MT Oct. 31, 2019

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After a hectic week, some seek relief at a spa, retreat to a yoga class or hike a mountain to find some peace.

For Ross and Erin Murray, however, the opportunity to decompress is just a few steps from the master suite of their Gilbert home. A private Zen area sits just off their bedroom, complete with plush seating, meditation pillows and a pergola overhead. Yoga mats are nearby. An outdoor shower flanks one side of the space and a hot tub on the other. At night, serene lighting adds to the vibe.

“We have a lot of kids so it’s a good place to sit, meditate and enjoy the outdoors,” Ross said, referring to his and Erin’s daughters, ages 8, 9 and 13. “It’s our place to unwind.”

The peaceful domestic getaway is one of the ways the Murrays’ new home in the Toll Brothers at Whitewing luxury development has brought the comforts of indoor living to the outdoors.

‘Grown-up area’

The Murrays moved into their new build four-bedroom, 3 ½ bathroom home in September 2018.

The single-story main house is 4,400-square feet and an accompanying casita is 600-square feet.

The backyard boasts and an aggregate wall made of boulders in rebar. There are multiple lounging areas, a love seat and umbrellas. A modern swimming pool is ideal for both laps and relaxed wading.

A rock wall supports three stone fountain bowls that provide visual and audial ambiance. This spot is the obvious star of a backyard tailor-made for hosting.

But the sprawling half-acre property feels cozy almost on demand thanks to several nooks around the home that exude indoor comfort amidst the elements.

“We wanted the opportunity for a lot of outside living spaces. That’s one reason why we loved this house,” Erin said.

The Murrays requested the Zen nook, seeking a reenergizing spot that wasn’t in an area their kids would routinely spend time in.

“We call it our super-secret grown-up area,” Erin said of the space. “It’s where we recharge our batteries.”

They worked with Phoenix-based Sonoran Landesign, one of two preferred landscape companies that Toll Brothers collaborates with, to make it happen. The outdoor shower concept is a popular amenity with homes, Daniel Benson, project manager for Toll Brothers, said.

But, the little touches like tiling, artificial grass and easy entry between the space and the bedroom were customized and ready upon move-in.

“We allow the landscaping to begin in tandem. We’re able to do really cool things with interior and exterior materials to create seamless indoor-outdoor spaces that’s customized with everyone’s unique taste,” Benson said.

Big structural features such as 16-by-8-foot pocket doors off the living and dining room create that seamless access to the back patio when open.

A pivot front door provides security needed for the recessed street-facing entry but also elegantly allows indoor and outdoor to meld when opened at every degree to their ranch-style design.

“They did a very cool front entry door that’s very modern and opens up to the front courtyard and tied with theirs being a modern ranch house,” Benson said.

Cozy nooks bring indoor comfort out under the sky

Exterior furnishings beg to be functional and lived in rather than just practical décor. This is clear with the first steps onto the property.

When arriving at the home, a walkway leads the Murrays’ guests through an idyllic desertscape scene accented by a boulder and rebar wall that resembles the one in the backyard and boasts two large fountain bowls.

After a few steps through the courtyard, a seating area is comprised of two facing sofas, pillows and a fire pit between them all on paver pads and artificial grass. It implores to be the site of evening conversations, cuddling and drifting off at midnight beneath the sky.

Past the front pivot door, a stroll leads through the living room that flaunts a floor-to-ceiling electric fireplace and cushy seating. Open pocket doors lead to the spacious backyard filled with alcoves that bring indoor privacy and intimacy under the sun and stars.

Among them, a corner spot with a sofa and two hammock chairs under an oversized adjustable umbrella. Two Adirondack-inspired chairs look right at home in a Baja shelf in the pool and are shaded by another umbrella based underwater.

“We spend every night out here and watch the sunset,” Erin said pointing to the two chairs. She gestured to the corner seating area and said, “And we look at the moon from there.”

Ross, a mortgage lender who runs his own Homebridge Financial Services branch in Gilbert, said he and Erin eyed a Toll Brothers home for the amenities and options available to them. And they are pleased with the result.

“Toll builds an amazing house. It’s the best builder when it comes to a higher-end home,” he said. “We fell in love with the house. We wake up every day and we pinch ourselves.”

Know of a unique home in metro Phoenix that is not on the market that should be featured? Email carrie.watters@arizonarepublic.com.

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