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For The Home

A Spanish Colonial Home Embraces the Outdoors

Author: Roberta Landman
Issue: October, 2011, Page 64
Photos by Art Holeman

A spacious patio, an inviting swimming pool, cushioned chaises, and a detached guest house make this backyard a veritable at-home resort. Spanish-style tiles around the edges of the pool and spa speak to the property’s architectural inspiration, as do the ornamental iron lanterns and stairway railings. Like the patios, the pool decking is made of Manganese Saltillo tiles.


Steeped in Spanish Colonial Revival Design, an Arizona Residence Offers Comfort and Beauty Inside and Out

Drawing raves for its remarkable interiors, a Spanish Colonial Revival home also boasts wow-factor amenities outdoors. A bocce ball court and putting green stand ready for players in the residence’s large backyard, and a sparkling swimming pool beckons with resort appeal. “We are always outdoors,” says the lady of the house. Her favorite spot? “I love the front patio, with its fountain and views.”

There are, in fact, multiple patios, serene courtyards and gushing fountains to enjoy here. These niceties and others lend the home a sense of romance, the kind of ambience found in Santa Barbara dwellings of the early 20th century, where the architectural style took hold.

Architect Mike Higgins, who designed the Paradise Valley home, says the mode harks back to prototypes that evolved in Florida and the Southwest during Spain’s colonization of the New World and its building of missions. A devastating Santa Barbara earthquake in the 1920s—and a need for rebuilding—sparked a revival of Spanish Colonial architecture, which, at the time, became the area’s official style, he explains.

That look—which spread to other areas of California and Arizona as well—has Moorish, Byzantine, Gothic and Renaissance influences, notes Higgins, a Phoenix Home & Garden Master of the Southwest. These qualities are seen in characteristic white stucco walls, bountiful arches, wrought-iron accents, shaded verandas and an abundance of decorative tilework.

Easily accessed from inside the house, the front courtyard is one of many amenities with a strong indoor/outdoor connection. The settees’ seat and back cushions are covered in weather-resistant Sunbrella fabric.
The owners of the residence grew up in Southern California, where homes of relatives they often visited reflected the Santa Barbara Spanish influence. When their Arizona Ranch house no longer served them well, they opted to raze it and build anew, and share with their three sons the “comfortable” architecture they loved.

 Along with Higgins, the design team that made the couple’s dream come true included builder Jeff Gatewood; interior designers Kim Bouton and Barb Foley, Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest who introduced several historic details; and interior designer Sydney Dye, who combined existing furnishings and antiques with new pieces to create an understated elegant whole.

The homeowners pored over books on Spanish Colonial architecture to get ideas for the new house, and, with design team members, visited old homes in the Santa Barbara and Montecito, California, areas that exemplified the essence of the original Santa Barbara look. Among them was the vintage 1925 Casa del Herrero, designed by well-known architect George Washington Smith. Bouton and Foley adapted many of the tilework designs they saw at Casa del Herrero and other distinguished old homes for the Arizona residence. 

Gatewood comments on the “boldness” and creativity of the designers. When you have a home where the design details are unique to it, he says, “the clients really do feel a sense of pride.” The builder also praises Higgins’ sense of scale. Because of factors such as well-planned ceiling heights and the flow of rooms, “The home is plenty big, but you never really feel its size.”

With a tiled banco and carved-mesquite and glass door, the draped entry suggests lingering for a spell. Interior designers Kim Bouton and Barb Foley based the banco on historic Spanish Colonial references.
More than a showplace for Spanish Colonial design, this house offers the cozy setting the homeowners desired. “Every room feels homey,” the wife says, adding, “We wanted a house where people love to hang out.” Their teenage sons and friends like to gather there often, she says, and happily “roar in and out in packs. I use the word ‘packs’ affectionately.” 

Two big dogs and a menagerie of other pets also seem to feel at home here. Outdoors, a pair of large African Sulcata tortoises have their own habitat, 13 lovebirds croon away in an aviary, and fluffy-feathered chickens, strutting their beauty, provide the family with fresh eggs.

Who, man or beast, could argue that it really doesn’t get any better than this?


At this end of the front courtyard, a cantera fountain stirs both visual and auditory senses, while a table and chairs invite conversation.

Just outside the living room, antique retablos painted on copper are displayed above an early-19th-century Spanish table.
Interior designer Sydney Dye coordinated the furnishings and fabrics in the formal living room against a backdrop of Spanish Colonial Revival architectural details. Among these are a crisscross network of dark Douglas fir ceiling beams, and bookshelf niches adorned with stylized plasterwork. Builder Jeff Gatewood notes that before installation, the beams were sandblasted with pecan shells to bring out the wood’s grain. Designers Kim Bouton and Barb Foley found inspiration for the carved-plaster shell motifs in a house they visited in colonial San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.



A stepped planter wall, ornamental ironwork and colorful tile risers distinguish this outdoor stairway.
Hispanic, Southwestern and Western influences in furnishings and art lend the dining room regional flair. French doors lead to a covered arcade and front courtyard.



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