Tempe's lofty lifestyle

Vital statistics

PROJECT: The Orchidhouse.
LOCATION: Sixth Street and Mill Avenue, downtown Tempe.
SQUARE FOOTAGE: The main 78 units range from 600 to 2,100, some with balconies or patios. There are five developed penthouses, each about 2,400. square feet. A sixth penthouse, 3,000, -foot penthouse remains undeveloped and is the only unit still available.
FEATURES: A mix of standard floor plans and to fully customized construction. Underground parking, secure entrances and elevators.
DESIGN: The common-area interior architecture and custom designs of many individual units by Kristine Woolsey, Woolsey Studio Inc., architects, (480) 945-3440 or woolseystudio.com . Individual interior décor by each homeowner.

Three great things from units in the Orchidhouse Lofts in Tempe...

1) Goran and Deborah Ryden's smart use of space: When they sold their Sun Lakes home and moved into this loft, at 916 square feet, the couple had to seriously downsize. The master bedroom also does duty as a computer station, TV-watching area (using a space-saving LCD monitor) and art gallery. That leaves room in the living room for a leather sofa and chairs to enjoy the downtown Tempe view, to play the baby grand piano or to read or to watch a second LCD TV in a small study nook.

2) Donna Niemann's master bath: A curving wall of glass block adds architectural interest at the entry to this 1,070-square-foot loft. On the other side, it's the backdrop for a full-size spa tub in the bathroom. The tub surround was finished in concrete, then stamped with patterns using old fabric blocks from India. Niemann converted a decorative CD cabinet to hold extra toiletries, and sewed a gold curtain to hide her stackable washer/dryer unit.

3) Wally and Liz McClure's kitchen: At 1,492 square feet, this loft is still small compared with the average detached Valley home. The kitchen, however, would fit right in with a custom home five times larger. A split island gives access in or out of the main cooking area in three directions - at each side and through the middle. There's also seating for six around the split granite-topped island, halogen cable lighting and a pot rack above, a six-burner professional-style range below, and two sinks.