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For The Home

Modern Hacienda

Author: Roberta Landman
Issue: July, 2012, Page 68
Photos by Chris Loomis

Interior designer Amy Samuel brought an airy quality to the living room with new furnishings, including linen “parlor” sofas and a glass-top coffee table with a “glitzy” gold-leafed frame. The arched windows are new, as is the manganese Saltillo tile flooring, which replaced flagstone throughout. The butterfly painting (background) is by John Randall Nelson.

Hispanic Influences Mesh With New Amenities in an Updated Home

If this house could speak, it surely would thank current owners Donna and Steve Johnson for its new—and more exciting—lease on life.

Set against a mountainside in Paradise Valley, Arizona, the 1970s-era slump-block residence underwent a major face-lift both inside and out. Over five years, its tired-looking Southwest origins were enhanced with modern-day Hacienda styling and amenities one would expect at a posh resort.

Before the renovation, “We had no patio spaces on which to enjoy the beautiful Arizona mornings or evenings, and inside the house it was dated and dark,” recalls Donna Johnson. “By remodeling, we were able to add many interesting features to the exterior, including wonderful patio spaces and a beautiful pool built into the mountainside. On the inside, we updated every room and raised the ceilings. We added skylights and beautiful new floors. And we built a new master bedroom.”

Bringing the house and its environs to full potential were architectural designer Hector Ramirez Cortez, builder Michael L. Mendelsohn, and landscape architect Donna Winters, who redid the plantscape. Other specialists involved in the project include Mexican tile expert Karen Gosnell and interior designer Michael Perry, who helped choose finishes. More recently, interior designer Amy Samuel refreshed some living areas and brought noteworthy trappings to the outdoors, as well.

The remodeled kitchen has utilitarian conveniences and a hacienda ambience. Concrete counters, new cabinets and appliances, and a dual-level center island with room for storage and seating made the room more serviceable. Above the range, a mural depicts a setting the Johnsons visited in Guadalajara. The theme continues at the dining bar (foreground), where an under-counter niche is like those used to hold pots in traditional Mexican kitchens.
Raised in Mexico, Ramirez Cortez says he enjoyed bringing Contemporary south-of-the-border flair to the home and cherished the homeowners’ obvious love of his native land and Hispanic culture. Almost everywhere the eye settles inside the residence are reminders of the couple’s travels to Mexico and South America.

In addition to expanding the interior of the home and making it more habitable, Ramirez Cortez designed the outdoor spaces. “The Johnsons liked the character of their house but never felt like going outside,” he remembers. “There was no communion with nature and the desert.” The solution: Where a driveway once stood, he created a front entry patio complete with fire pit and conversation area. “Now they can take advantage of the view in front of the house.”

Before the redo, the backyard had been closed in with a high wall, so the mountain setting was not easily visible, says Ramirez Cortez. The old pool, now filled in, was situated too near the house and went unused. Today, a see-through rebar fence meanders along the yard’s slope, allowing a clear view of the natural surroundings, and a new tiered pool area climbs up the mountain itself.

With its clean architectural lines, deep shade-giving overhangs and multiple patios, their Contemporary Hacienda is even bettter than the Johnsons hoped it would be.

And they are now outdoors often, Donna relates. “We adore our patio spaces and, in particular, having coffee on the entry patio in the morning.

A full bath was converted to a spacious powder room. Mexican in spirit, the carved wood vanity contains a colorful Talavera sink. Following a motif seen elsewhere in the home, an arched-brick surround defines the separate commode area. An old baker’s rack provides storage and
display space.

With its focal-point cross collection, the family room also reflects the homeowners’ affinity for Mexico. The fireplace, formerly a beehive style, now has a brushed-stainless steel surround and a chunky wood mantel.
The master bedroom was inspired by a photo in a past issue of Phoenix Home & Garden, down to the same bed and bedding and a similar trunk. The room and its en suite bath were added during remodeling. Above the bed are retablos the homeowners found in Mexico and Peru. The round nightstand has a hammered-copper base, while lamp bases are made of mercury glass. French doors lead to a private patio.

Blue-and-white Mexican tiles enliven the master bath. They are paired with cantera trim at the vanity and bathtub edges. Adding more color and a juxtaposition of style is a Contemporary painting near the tub by artist Carol Hayes, Donna Johnson’s mother.
The shower is tiled floor to ceiling. Brick highlights its portal.

Clockwise from top left: A brick pier at the end of the driveway is topped with a metal agave in a stone-filled wok. • A new backyard ramada boasts a roof composed of rusted-corrugated metal panels and wood planks. Plantings in blue pots stand out against sloped masonry columns with brick bases. • Accented with colorful Mexican tiles, the reverse negative-edge pool doubles as a tiered water feature. The ground-level reflecting pool plays a functional role in helping to recirculate water; the upper level boasts a tiled spa, a trio of container plants, and a low cobalt-blue wall and banco. • This covered sitting area, bordered by natural desert and visible through a slump-block arch at the front of the house, offers views of the McDowell Mountains. Wood planks clad the new overhang; pavers unite the spaces.

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