Indianapolis house is retreat and headquarters for designer, sculptor

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Busy professionals Carol Morotti and Scott Westphal don’t have the time to travel as much as they would like.

ahq-westphal03-15col.jpg Some of the many windows overlook the White River. A nearby levee has never broken, but the house is three stories high in the event it does. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

So it was on a long-ago trip to Hawaii that the couple decided to bring a little bit of vacation into their everyday lives, launching a design and construction process that would result in their dream home. Over six years, they planned and built a peaceful, contemporary haven on White River that at once serves as a house, workplace and retreat.

For a photo gallery of this home, click here.

Completed in 2001, their residence in the quiet, quirky Rocky Ripple enclave near Butler University is functional, airy and artistic. The idea behind the 1,800-square-foot house was to give Morotti and Westphal a place to feel comfortable and relaxed even as they juggled the demands of career and family.

“Scott and I were on the island of Kauai when we decided to build a ‘home as [a] retreat’ on this property,” said Morotti, a grandmother, avid cook and owner of a locally based residential design firm.

Several design influences are at play in the home, which features stucco walls, antique furniture and heated concrete floors.


ahq-westphal08-1col.jpg The second-floor main living spaces are linked to the third-story master suite by a spiral staircase. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

“We started with a Southwest feel, then got into more of a Mediterranean look,” Morotti said. A constant throughout the house are the neutral white walls selectively adorned with paintings by Morotti and other artwork.

Their home isn’t just a marriage of styles, but a blending of philosophies and design approaches.

“I am spontaneous and Scott is analytical, so when we select something for our home, our process is to explore all possibilities and that often seems to take forever,” Morotti said. “The decision made, we love it.”

The house was a personal and professional mission for Morotti, who brings residential design clients to her home office to explore a range of design possibilities for their own projects.

“Because of what Carol does, we kind of designed this house as what we wanted to showcase,” said Westphal, the owner of two local Great Frame-Up shops and an accomplished sculptor and metal worker.

ahq-westphal07-15col.jpg Scarves hanging on a wall adjoining the master bath double as functional art. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Toward that end, the house features a variety of elevations, roof lines and ceiling heights that inspire the owners and visitors alike to think outside the architectural box.

“We wanted to show what is possible,” Morotti said.

She said clients are often drawn to the ceiling choices. In the Morotti/Westphal home, those include angled ceilings, vaulted ceilings and beamed ceilings, all of which she has used in her client work.

The design and construction was a true collaboration, and such a successful one that the two decided to keep working together on outside projects. Westphal converts Morotti’s designs into scale models that she says help envision a project before it takes shape.

The seamless combination of work life and home life envelops not only Morotti’s love of architecture and painting, but her husband’s passion for sculpture as well. Though Westphal maintains a full-time schedule running his frame shops, he still finds 20 to 30 hours a week to spend in his home studio over the garage.

ahq-westphal20-15col.jpg Westphal turns metal into sculpture when he isn’t running his frame shops. Morotti designs homes in her office nearby. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

The 600-square-foot studio—where the couple actually lived while the rest of their house was under construction—is a creative, industrial space for Westphal to conceive and produce his metal pieces, all of which are inspired by the lines of the construction I-beam.

When the large, heavy pieces are finished and sold, Westphal can lower them to the ground through a garage door at one end of the second-story studio. Smaller pieces are on display throughout the home.

The realization of his home studio and private retreat was a long time in coming for Westphal, who eyed the riverfront property for years before purchasing it in 1988. Together, he and Morotti embarked on their second marriages when they wed on the property in 1993. It was another six years before they tore down the existing house and began construction.

The previous structure, which covered less than 1,000 square feet but shot up five stories, acknowledged the unique considerations of a riverfront property. Though an 85-year-old levee has never been breached, the threat of rising water prompted Morotti and Westphal to build up, as well.

ahq-westphal31-15col.jpg A screened-in porch on the second story. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Their main living space—which includes the kitchen, dining room, Morotti’s office and a screened-in porch—occupies the second story. A curved staircase leads to the third-floor master suite, an open-concept space with ample windows and natural light.

A “bridge room” extends from the kitchen between the second and third floors. A view from the outside of the house best illustrates the room’s name, as it can be seen bridging the main living space with garage and studio space.

The bridge room used to serve as Morotti’s office. When she moved to the lower level, the couple converted it into a sitting room, library and home theater.

Above all, the home is the expression of the couple’s design sensibility and shared love of design.

“We must have really gotten it right,” Morotti said, “because there is no place we would rather be.”•


  • Beautiful House...beautiful people
    As a friend of Carol and Scott, and having visited the house many times, I must say, the pictures don't do it justice!! It's such a beautiful house, created by two wonderfully talented people!
  • Lovely Home in a Lovely Setting
    Beautifully appointed and decorated. Love the views in harmony with the architecture. Congratulations to the owners for a job well done!
  • Great Article
    Love getting insight into local homes and their inspiration. The article left me wanting more pictures though. Thanks for giving us a taste of the architectural talents in Indy!

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. The Walgreens did not get a lot of traffic. It was not located on the corner of the intersection, and not really visible from Emerson. Meanwhile the CVS there is huge and right on the corner. I am guessing a lot of people drove by a million times and never knew the Walgreens was there. Although, with the new Walmart market going in, that area could really see a lot of increase in traffic soon.

  2. You folks don't have a clue. There is a legal way to enter this country and to get aid. This left unchecked could run us to ruin quickly. I also heard that 'supporters' were getting major $$ to take them in? Who's monitoring this and guess who pays the bill? I support charitable organizations... but this is NOT the way to do it!

  3. Apparently at some time before alcohol has been served at the fair. The problem is that beer or wine used to be a common drink for people before soft drinks and was not thought to be that unusual. Since many folks now only drink to see how much they can drink or what kind of condition they can end up in it becomes more problematic. Go to Europe and its no big deal just as if you had sodas of milk to drink everyday. Its using common sense that is lacking now days.

  4. To address the epic failure of attracting race fans to both the Indy 500 and Brickyard 400 would take too much of my time to write. Bottom line Boles is clueless and obviously totally out of touch with the real paying fan base. I see nothing but death spin coming for the Brickyard, just like Indy. Get somebody in a place of power that understands what race fans want.

  5. I am a race fan through & through. It doesn't matter if it's Indy cars or Nascar. I love a great race. I go to several other tracks each year and you can see the entire track. I know Indy has tradition, but fans want to see the entire race. I sit in the Penthouse, am almost 60 years old, and would like to see a better TV screen in turn 1 so you can see the entire race. Then I think Indy needs to install an escalator so us old folks can make it up to the Penthouse and down again if we want more options to purchase food and drinks. Just a race fans opinion. Lights won't make the race any better, but you might be able to see the TV better at night. Turn 1's screen needs replaced with a better and bigger screen.