A Select A Size Solution


The east wing of Anne and Robert Segal’s home is just off the entry hall of the home.

 Sliding doors in the dining area lead to the main living area and entry hall.


Anne and Robert Segal with their dogs.




 A large Volcano granite slab graces the entire fireplace wall. Stairs lead to an upper deck.






A Select-A-Size Solution

By Romi Carrell Wittman  |  Photography by Kris Hanning

For many years, the Segal residence was that one cool house in the neighborhood where the kids and all their friends could hang out and relax. A sprawling ranch-style home with a large wing just for the teenagers, the 5,000-square-foot house was a perfect fit for the Segals and their three children. But, as the Segal children grew up and moved out, the big house with a kids’ wing was a bit too big for mom and dad.

Anne, a retired judge and academic lecturer, and Robert, a dermatologist, knew the time was right to find a new place that fit with this chapter in their lives. Their goal, however, wasn’t to simply downsize; they wanted to re-size.

“We had friends who downsized after the children moved out only to find that the new house was too small,” Anne explains. “We didn’t want to do that.”

Although the Segals’ children don’t live with them any longer, they visit frequently and often for extended periods of time, which meant a drastically smaller home just wouldn’t work. Eldest son Stephen attends school in Israel and returns to Tucson for four-month breaks, so he needs a place to call his own during his extended stays. Middle-child Brad attends Harvard Medical School, but still wanted to have his own room. As he explained to his parents, “I won’t have a home for about ten years. I need a place for my stuff.” Their youngest child, Bonnie, is a third-grade teacher with Teach for America Americorps, who also visits during the summer and school breaks.

Anne said they didn’t want to rattle around a large place, but they also didn’t want to put a cot in the laundry room when their children visited. So began the couple’s quest to find the right house.

In January 2014, the Segals found a beautiful one-acre lot in the foothills. It was a rare find — an undeveloped space in a mature neighborhood and one that offered sweeping views of the city to the south as well as the Catalinas to the north.

They worked with Sonya Sotinsky and Miguel Fuenteville of FORS Architecture + Interiors to come up with their new home’s unique sliding-wall design. Eli Benita of Benco Construction served as the general contractor and builder. Wherever possible, they used local vendors for all finishes. The end result is a home that’s just under 4,000 square feet and, depending on the couple’s needs, is a one-bedroom, three-bedroom or four-bedroom house.

Anne says that when it’s just she and her husband, they live in a spacious one-bedroom home. When a child comes to visit, they simply slide the walls open to reveal two additional bedrooms. To accommodate longer stays, a one-room casita is accessible via the front courtyard.  

The dining room also is adaptable for many uses. It’s a large space just off the main living area and, when not in use, remains unseen behind the moveable walls. When the Segals have company, the walls slide open to reveal an airy, inviting room with two tables and bar area with blue pearl granite countertops.

“We wanted two tables so if there are only four or five guests, we can hear the conversation by sitting at a square table of eight,” she says. “If we have six couples, then we push the tables together. For large family dinners, we use a matching flat leaf table to connect the three tables.”

The home’s lines are sleek and modern, with a white color palette accentuated by their collection of primitive artwork, which the couple has accumulated over the course of their 34-year marriage. The fabric and street art found throughout provide color and personality, making the home feel both chic and informal.  

The southern and northern walls are mostly glass, allowing ample light to flow inward. On mild spring and autumn days, the windows can slide open and mechanical screens, tucked away out of sight in the ceiling, are rolled down to create a modern Arizona Room. The screens also provide an additional layer of heat protection during the summer months.

In the kitchen, windows extend down to the blue granite island and sandstone countertops, bathing the space in warm and inviting light. A fun and functional touch are the custom drawer pulls found on all cabinet drawers and doors; they were custom molded to fit Anne’s hands.  “I have arthritis,” she says, “and we had these made so they are more comfortable to use.”

Many of the home’s features were designed with aging in mind, she says. A lot of thought was given to accessibility and ease of upkeep so the Segals can “age in place.” “We wanted a home that could basically run itself,” she says. To that end, the house is “smart,” with all major systems controlled via iPad and iPhone.
In the backyard, a covered patio runs the length of the house, as does a lap pool. The design of the pool is such that it appears to float in mid-air, and Anne says on a still day it looks as if it’s drifting between the sky and treetops.

The design and building process went smoothly, with no major issues or setbacks. In fact, the couple had just two disagreements: Robert wanted a dark tile stripe to run the length of the pool, which Anne thought was too harsh; meanwhile, Anne thought a full slab of Volcano granite for the fireplace’s façade should be scaled back so that it only framed the grate opening. “I was right about the pool,” she says with a smile, “and he was right about the fireplace.” The tile stripe in the pool is light blue, while the granite on the fireplace extends to the ceiling.

The home is a beautiful mix of both fun and functionality, sophistication imbibed with comfort and warm informality.
Anne says, “We love the versatility of our home.” HG

General Contractor and Builder: Benco Construction, (520) 631-3231
Architect: FORS Architecture+Interiors, www.forsarchitecture.com
Swimming Pool: DragonFly Pool and Spa, Dragonflypool.com
Granite and Stone Countertops: Granite Specialists,
Bathroom and Kitchen Design: Carlie Korinek, CKD, CK Cabinetry & Design, ckcabinetryanddesign.com
Landscape Design: Dean Alexander, Blue Agave Landscape Design, blueagavedesign.com
Motorized Screens: Tucson Rolling Shutters,
Closets: California Closets, www.californiaclosets.com