Sedona Magazine Features The "Barn" That Phil Built

In the first place, know that highly respected builder Phil Morris is a descendant of an early Sedona family and he “knows the territory,” which is a distinct advantage for his clients. Secondly, recognize that his firm, The Morris Company was established here in 1967, and during a 20-year period when the firm also operated in Phoenix it was heralded as one of Arizona’s 100 largest, privately held companies.

Thirdly, though Phil constructed major local entities such as Los Abrigados and Enchantment resorts, Hillside Marketplace, Sedona Medical Center and El Rojo Grande Ranch, an extremely impressive equestrian facility, he now focuses his attention on satisfying the burgeoning demand for large, luxurious Sedona residences. Fourthly and most interestingly, perhaps, Phil recently completed the construction of a “barn” for his civically active wife, Pamela.

Thus it is that a pertinent question arises: Why would Phil Morris, the acclaimed builder of prestigious homes and particularly artful commercial properties, build a barn? And the simple answer is, he wouldn’t – not a real barn. But it didn’t surprise the people who know him best when he incorporated all of the charm and comfort associated with a barnlike structure into a dreamlike home with so much character it immediately captures the love and spirit of all who see it.

One thing is certain: When Phil and Pamela refer to their inviting new home as a “barn,” they do it with great affection. Fact is, Phil accompanies his use of the term with a mischievous grin, as though he is fooling; as for Pamela, she laughs when she says the word. Nonetheless, barn it is because they say so, albeit the most attractive, inviting, comfortable, lovable barn ever built. In his own defense, Phil emphatically states: “Well, it’s not Santa Fe-style, not Tuscan and not Scottsdale” – but his eyes continue to display his jocular manner. And in all seriousness, Pamela extols the barn’s functional advantages.

In this writer’s mind, there is no doubt that Phil’s heritage accounts for his propensity for building personal new residences in old neighborhoods – an honest, red-blooded, all-American response to realism. For example, only a few years ago Phil and Pamela built a unique, warmly attractive, country-style home on Oak Creek near an original Sedona neighborhood where beloved, 100-year-old Owenby Ditch still is used to irrigate orchards and gardens. Now, their barn is on Oak Creek, just off Upper Red Rock Loop Road, near the historic site of Red Rock School, which was established in 1891. Oh, the joy of it all!

Phil loves to develop parklike areas as very special, natural amenities for private residences.

We always have craved creek frontage, explained Phil, who loves to develop parklike areas as very special, natural amenities for private residences. Oak Creek was the primary attraction for early settlers, so creek-side properties obviously are in older neighborhoods which not just incidentally are rich with character, he stated. Isn't it also reasonable that these sites remind Phil of his ancestors and hasn't this almost subliminal attraction rubbed off on Pamela, who Phil credits with finding their most recently acquired property?

At any rate, Phil and Pamela’s precious home is an absolutely wonderful place to enjoy life in its most realistic form. And speaking of form, both of the Morrises – make that all three, because Phil’s brother, Robert, was the architect – speak proudly of designing form around function. “It’s the substance of basic architecture,” stated Phil, who explained that the “form” Robert created around Pamela’s “function” was tweaked numerous times to accommodate still another element, interior design, which is Pamela’s specialty. Essentially, this 3,200-square-foot home, complemented by a 1,200- square-foot guesthouse and workshop, is composed of one vast open space – remember, it’s a barn! Extraordinary, efficiently planned quarters for adult children and grandchildren, plus a comfortable all-seasons room with potting facilities are attached to the east side of the barn, and a cozy master suite with fireplace, country-style bathroom and very large, walk-in dressing room extend to the west.

A pet project of Phil’s, an outdoor shower enclosed by a rock wall, complements the master bath, which also features a 1937 Kohler bathtub. And of course, the view from the room’s strategically located king-size bed is of Oak Creek, because Pamela heartily advocates that the best view in a bedroom should be from the bed.

Because of the unique design of the two bedrooms in the children/grandchildren area and the presence of a guesthouse, which features a pull-out bed in the living/kitchen area and a bedroom with Norman Rockwell-like views of Pamela’s vegetable garden and Oak Creek, the new Morris home comfortably can accommodate more than a dozen people during a gathering of family and friends.

Particularly, it is the children/grandchildren area – antique beds with lofts accessible by a ladder hanging on rollers and supported by old baby buggy wheels in one bedroom, and twin beds, twin trundle beds and a twin-bed window seat arrangement in the other – that makes it possible to entertain guests without unusual complication or disturbance. The convenience of this architectural design is further enhanced by the location of two bathrooms in this area.

The barn itself is a unique, extremely inviting homogenization of country style and industrial highlights that refreshingly creates an artful blend of elements totally without danger of separation. Indeed, it is as though the architectural and interior design of this beautiful home courageously responded to old building and decorating myths related to the classification of certain elements as “incompatible.” Not only responded to – but dispelled!

Imagine! Phil and Pamela’s home, a love-at-first-sight attraction, is composed of various country-style features such as extensive utilization of river rock collected on site; pinewood floors; barnlike, Dutch-type doors painted a “farm butter” color; built-in hutches that look like they are from a farmhouse; and even granite countertops honed to remove the shine for aesthetic charm. And these heartwarming amenities are complemented substantially by artful surprises – industrial-type steel trusses that span the barn’s vast open area; an unexpected, impressive chandelier made of galvanized tin, plus various other light fixtures commonly used in industrial buildings; and industrial faucets and related fixtures in the home’s baths and kitchen, as wellas at the built-in bar that fronts a temperature-controlled wine room where Phil stores approximately 800 bottles of his prized varietals.

Best of all, these amenities all are part of one great room, though more exactly, the home’s charming dining area – yes, it also offers views of Oak Creek – protrudes into a space adjacent to a large outdoor patio with its own kitchen and living areas. And in the spacious main room, Phil and Pamela enjoy exhibiting myriad uncommon partners – for example, valuable paintings hanging near the living area’s wood-burning fireplace are accompanied by a retro-style, metal sign placed above the bar. And it is interesting that the sign, which reads, “Order Here,” is from an old Pizza Hut in Cottonwood.

A unique Morris fetish, massive doors that pivot on a floor hinge, is evidenced in the large front foyer, where such a door is installed at a height that allows Phil and Pamela to look out without unknown visitors looking in. However, a greater love, the creation of small, private parks adjacent to riparian areas – especially near Oak Creek – is apparent “behind the barn,” so to speak. And while there is no silo nearby, there is the haunting, singular presence of the 112-year-old stone chimney of Red Rock School, which stands as a proud, historic sentinel on a hill across the creek. Without question, Phil and Pamela created an unbelievably beautiful, natural looking “barnyard” – and certainly, even Thoreau would be impressed!