When Tom LaBlonde got the call to build a 26,000-square-foot residence with a full-size basketball court on 5 acres in North Scottsdale, the founder of LaBlonde Development says it came as no surprise. “This is the third home I’ve built for them,” he says of the owners, Brett and Susie Hardt. The couple has two boys, a teenager and toddler. “Fifteen years ago, the Hardts modified a great room and dining room so their son could someday play basketball. They’re a sports family.”
Yet this new sports complex-cum-home, constructed on a raw desert plot with Pinnacle Peak as its backdrop, was not intended to be appreciated by the family exclusively. “I wanted to have a spot for all kids to be able to come and practice. We have grade school-, high school- and college-level kids and even NBA players who come to our gym,” Susie explains. “I also wanted an area for elite players to be able to train without being disturbed or having to deal with people posting things on social media. I want them to feel the door is always open for them to come in and work. What better example for my own sons?”
LaBlonde says the first order of business was getting the basketball court underway, as it had to be 10 feet below ground. After completion, the structure incorporated a viewing deck for parents and scouts to watch players from above, a lounge with a full kitchen to keep the endlessly hungry players fueled, and a locker room and weight room. Decorative wood-beam trusses give a touch of elegance to what would likely be an otherwise utilitarian space.
Basketball is not the only sport the family embraces, however, and LaBlonde skillfully ensured this home reflects their varied interests. To that end, a soccer field and two pools, one with a jumpoff deck and basketball hoop (natch) plus a swim-up bar and hot tub can also be found on the property. Because the Hardt family and their friends wanted to take advantage of Arizona’s glorious weather—without having to miss a single game—LaBlonde designed an open-air shade structure loaded with seating and televisions.
Though the recreation opportunities created here are quite remarkable, Susie says, when it came to their adjoining home, the couple generally practiced restraint. “We wanted to make sure that we built a home—not a show house,” she explains. “Although it has become quite the spectacle, we are most proud that aside from the formal living room, every single room in the house is used.”
The couple worked with Stephanie Wozencraft of Distinctive Custom Cabinetry, a trusted family friend, to help with the largely neutral interiors. Wozencraft suggested many of the finishes, fixtures and furnishings found throughout, including 3D tiles from Eden Mosaic, forged iron pendants by Troy Lighting, and myriad sofas and tables from Bernhardt.
LaBlonde oriented the dwelling so the family and their guests can see Pinnacle Peak from nearly every part of the five-bedroom residence, which also features a home theater. For warmth and character, he incorporated authentic bricks from the side of an old Chicago (Brett’s hometown) warehouse, many of which still feature flecks of paint from original ads.
The couple finds sanctuary in their master bathroom, where they can unwind in privacy, either indoors in the tub, or outdoors, where a trickling fountain/fireplace wrapped in copper provides sublime ambiance in all types of weather. Arguably, the most quintessential space, however, is the wow-inducing Jordan Room. Built to house 330 pairs of Nike Air Jordans, some of which have been worn in pro games, this social epicenter doubles as a lounge for game-watching. Guests who come from miles away to stay and play with the homeowners are invited to vacation in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom casita house.
“We have only just begun to make memories here, but I am so delighted that we have created a place with usable spaces where everyone feels welcome,” Susie says. “It truly is a home for our family, as well as our extended adopted family, our friends and our basketball family, all of which continue to grow every day.”