Macdonald Residence

When it comes time to settle into your castle, it helps to have someone who has worked for the royal family.

Frank and Cynthia Macdonald knew that a dream home would leave little room for compromise. They wanted a house that truly reflected their openness to the world and their lifelong obsession with rare and well-crafted objects. And they knew that vision will only get you so far — that exacting standards, that careful execution, was the only way to turn an empty lot into the house of their dreams. They knew Marana could pull it off, because they had already done it, on a kitchen renovation completed a decade before.

A perfect kitchen is one thing, though: they were after the perfect house. “We knew what kind of job this would be,” Cynthia says, noting that it took three years of planning and building to get to where she is standing, in a billiard room whose custom-milled panels were built on site and personally overseen by a Marana craftsman who helped restore the wood in Windsor Castle.

Building a 36-room home, every inch of it custom crafted and uniquely sourced, took planning as intricate as the craftsmanship. Marana coordinated dozens of top-tier tradespeople, found manufacturers who could deliver on tight schedules and were available any time, day or night, to handle the inevitable complications. “We knew Marana was up for it,” is all Frank can say.

Working with Bill Hicks of Hicks Partners, Marana helped transform the entire property. Sometimes literally: reclaimed elm from the lot was refashioned into a bar finished with hand-beaten metal. It’s a perfect conversation piece for when the Macdonalds host lavish dinner parties. Guests can wander through their 36 rooms, admire the books on the bespoke wood shelves in the study, relax on couches tucked into custom-built alcoves, lounge by the pool and still see what’s waiting for them in the kitchen. (The soaker tub in front of the fire in the master bathroom, though, that is just for the Macdonalds.)
Like all great hosts, the Macdonalds know the kitchen is the pièce de résistance, and it was made to suit everything from catering soirees to cooking dinners for two. An open layout, overlooking the pool and the living room, lets them keep an eye on their guests or the view. Two zoned islands for prep and cooking — carefully designed so that everything is within reach, but nothing is in the way — give them space to be as elaborate as they like, the custom dovetail drawers as perfectly constructed as their meals.

The cabinets that line the walls are made with exotic wood selected just for them — and so customized, the inserts are carved specifically for their cutlery — set off against polished chrome hardware for a look that’s not just harmonious, but classic. That attention to detail reverberates out: the vaulted kitchen canopy was honed to dampen noise, so the space they need still feels as intimate as leaning over a dinner table.

Standing in their kitchen, the Macdonalds admit they appreciate these touches all the more because they know what went into them. “The big picture doesn’t come into view until you’ve made every little brushstroke,” Cynthia explains. Everyone’s home is a castle, but not everyone’s is a masterpiece.

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