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For The Home

Old World Architecture

Author: Linda J. Barkman
Issue: March, 2015, Page 95
Photography by Scott Sandler

My brain is always actively designing something. I get ideas in the middle of the night and have to get up to sketch them.
Clay ScrivneR
Masters of the Southwest
2015 Award Winner

Residential designer Clay Scrivner has been in training for this award from Phoenix Home & Garden since childhood. “I knew what I wanted to do from the second grade,” he says, adding that he worked in the field of architecture all through high school. After attending Arizona State University, he joined Linderoth Associates in Scottsdale. He launched his own company, Scrivner Design Group, in 1995. While Clay specializes in boutique, resort-like homes, he also designs residential communities. He has done consulting work in China and Europe and appears as a regular guest on the “Home Hunter” TV show on ABC-15.
  We love and admire Clay’s work because it is a seamless vision. Our favorite examples, of which there are many, are carefully conceived, designed and executed with care and skill. Yet, they are understated and elegant. Nothing extra is added; nothing essential is forgotten.

Clay successfully blends historic reference with improvisation. This works well in the South- west where the climate and terrain marry well with certain traditional architecture, yet demand the use of contemporary, weather-resistant building materials and techniques.

And, perhaps, most importantly, Clay keeps his clients foremost in mind. His homes are humanly scaled and are unique to each homeowner.

“I find joy in making clients happy,” he says. “I am grateful and thankful that they put their faith in me. It’s an absolute trust in my creativity, my discernment. That means the world to me.”

Congratulations, Clay!

– the Editors

Photography by Scott Sandler

Clay Scrivner designed this deeply recessed circular window with a raised starburst pattern and the iron sconce, which features curlicues.



Divine Detail Artfully Orchestrated Defines a
New Spanish-Style Home


As a young boy, Clay Scrivner took a grade-school field trip to Mission San Francisco Solano in Sonoma, California. There he discovered Old-World architecture—and his life’s calling. “I was fascinated with the history,” the residential designer says. “Spanish architecture became a personal passion.”

Now based in Scottsdale, Scrivner brings this passion to life in beautiful homes, like the one featured here. With its multiple courtyards, intricately tiled fountains, deeply recessed door and window openings, white plaster walls and clay tile roof, the residence is pure Spanish in its design origins.
This particular project was a close collaboration between a talented team consisting of builder Dan Madison, interior designer Pati Vester, landscape architect Russ Greey and the homeowners. All have high praise for Scrivner.


But Scrivner’s homes are not copy-cat renditions by any means. While his work is based on history, it also has a unique grace that is fresh and appealing. Scrivner calls it “quiet architecture.” Designs show restraint and offer a pleasing and elegantly composed simplicity. Details abound, yet nothing is overdone. Each element plays its part in creating a delightful symphony of light, shadow, form, scale and balance. 

The integration of every detail is a trademark of Scrivner’s designs. He often draws every doorway, fireplace, light fixture, tile element, flooring pattern, gate, water feature and more by hand before it’s put into technical form.


Photos - Clock-wise from top left:Details abound in the kitchen, where Scrivner designed the iron pendants and the metal overlays for the glass doors and cabinet fronts, repeating the curlicue motif used elsewhere.

Circular rooms are naturally inviting and this dining room is no exception. The bi-level room also features a catwalk encased by more custom metalwork and decorated by a tiered chandelier.

Scrivner created custom tiles throughout the home. These relief azulejos were inspired by tiles at the Real Alcazar in Seville and Alhambra in Granada, Spain.

An object spied in a quiet palace in Ronda, Spain gave the designer the idea for this scalloped plaster corner sconce in the breakfast room.
“My brain is always actively designing something,” says Scrivner. “I get ideas in the middle of the night and have to get up to sketch them.”

An example of this pursuit of perfection is the the home’s focal-point entry fountain. Scrivner designed and custom colored the decorative tiles—some of which are three-dimensional—and configured their use for the elaborate star-pattern of the basin so they could be installed without needing to be cut.

Praise-worthy features of interior spaces include arched openings that change shape throughout the house; marble flooring laid in a Moorish star pattern in the master vestible; a bi-level dining room with a catwalk that opens to a terrace; and a series of wide-arched openings that begins in the foyer, extends to a sliding glass door in the living room and is repeated on the covered patio beyond.


Photos - Left to right; Left: Scrivner says most of his ironwork inspirations, like this one, come from photographs he took of buildings while visiting hill towns in Andalusia, Spain.

When asked about parallels between his music and his home designs, Scrivner says both allow him to be “in the moment, improvisational. I am not one to play the same thing twice.” In this entry courtyard, he designed unique tiles for the center and wall fountains, which are joined by a tiled runnel, as well as project-specific ironwork for the light fixtures, entry door grill and balcony railing.
“In this age of building instant homes, Clay is a rare Renaissance man who uses his insightful, soulful talent to craft homes that realize his clients’ dreams,” says Madison. “As a part of Clay’s team on many projects, I have personally enjoyed his talent in designing timeless homes that have integrity and character and that speak to the heart and shared values of the homeowners.
Photos - Clock-wise from top left; Above: The wide-arched opening between the foyer and living room is repeated on the opposing wall, which opens to a veranda, and the circular window repeats an element found on the home’s exterior. Hand-plastered walls add to the interior’s sense of authentic character.

A graceful arch tops a niche in the master bedroom. The soft gray, white and taupe palette is in keeping with the quiet elegance of the home’s architecture.

This exterior stairway leads to two courtyards, one for BBQ, the other for morning breakfasts.

This tree-shaded courtyard off the breakfast room features a stone-walled fountain with a zig-zag water trough made by placing roof tiles upside down.
The lady of the house agrees with that statement, adding, “Clay’s design exceeded our expectations in every way. He is an absolute design powerhouse.”

Creating beautiful, functional structures is yet another form of art for Scrivner, a self-described country boy who also writes music, sings and plays several stringed instruments.

“The creativity is always going,” he says with an impish twinkle in his eye. “I never stop. To me, work and play are synonymous.”
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