The Personal Touch

Quality meets classic style in a custom East Valley residence

House details

+ 5,711 square feet

+ 4 bedrooms

+ 4.5 baths

Year built: 2020

Features: air-conditioned 7-car garage, circular wine room, 76,000-gallon pool, outdoor fireplace, oversized granite island

Billy Johnson has been constructing custom homes in the Valley of the Sun for more than 36 years. So when he decided to build his own residence, he knew exactly what he wanted and how to go about achieving it. The result is a 5,700-square-foot traditional Mediterranean/Tuscan-style masterpiece filled with high-end finishes, one-of-a-kind touches and all the amenities that any discerning homeowner could possibly want.

“I had lived in my previous house, which I also designed and built, for 20 years,” Johnson says. “I wanted this home to showcase my style as a custom home builder. My meticulous attention to detail is displayed in every room.”

Guests are greeted by a spacious foyer that opens to an expansive great room with high beamed ceilings and banks of French doors that lead to a glamorous pool patio, complete with soothing travertine pavers and a wall of bubbling scuppers that blocks out nearby neighbors. Just inside the front entrance is one of the home’s most unique features — and one of Johnson’s favorite: a circular wine cellar.

“The large great room is certainly catches your eye from the moment you enter the house,” Johnson notes, adding that “homeowners no longer want dining rooms or formal living areas. And the round wine cellar with its custom cabinets and hand-painted ceiling is a unique focal point.”

Wide hallways lead to the owners’ suite to the right and a wing of guest rooms to the left. “I built the hallways to serve as art galleries as you walk through the home,” Johnson explains. “By opening up these passageways, you give the house a completely different look. They enhance the home and makes it look bigger than what it is. They also allow you to create various artistic vignettes that can provoke conversations with your guests.” Johnson, an avid hunter, has filled his rooms and hallways with his many hunting trophies that he’s acquired over the years.

Interior designer Debbie Brown worked with Johnson on the home’s design from the initial stages. “Billy has built thousands of homes, and he’s such a detailed perfectionist,” she says. “Most of his designs feature the Tuscan look. They have a turret in front, or two or turrets. With this house, he wanted to modernize it, so instead of using stone, he covered it in stucco for a more sleek finish.

“The wine is so unique. It’s one of the really spectacular features about this house,” she continues. “I had an artist come in paint an atlas on the ceiling, and it’s stocked with every kind of wine you can imagine.”  

An oversized island is the centerpiece of the open-concept kitchen. Here, Johnson’s attention to detail is displayed in the massive granite countertop. The grain of the stone aligns perfectly with matching wall unit counters and continues up on the backsplash in one singular flowing line that creates a sense of visual calmness guests can feel often without realizing why. “That took 11 slabs to create. That’s a lot of granite,” Brown exclaims. “We searched a long time for just the right stone, but once Billy saw this, that was it. He knew what he wanted.”  

The master suite, which Johnson refers to as “The Lion’s Den” is a study in sumptuousness. The regal king-size canopy bed is dwarfed by the room’s massive size. Rich wood tones, dark leathers and animal prints are complemented by the neutral Venetian plaster walls and wall-to-wall carpeting that features an organic design that is echoed by the deer antler chandelier.

The lion theme carries into the luxurious master bathroom, which features a show-stopping circular steam shower with a custom lion head motif in the tile flooring. Silver lion head drawer pulls decorate the dual vanity, and safari prints dominate the furnishings and throw rugs.

For Johnson and Brown, the exteriors were just as important as the interiors. “The back patio is a main feature of the house that really sets it apart from other custom homes,” the homeowner points out. The sparkling cerulean pool spa and surrounding lush greenery pop against the soft sandy hues of the travertine decking. A large outdoor kitchen, built-in stainless steel appliances and double-sided fireplace support year-round entertaining.

“From the back patio overlooking the pool, to the oversized great room — even the air-conditioned garage —every spot in this custom home is enjoyable to spend time in,” Johnson says. “It is luxury resort-style living at its finest.”

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