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For The Home

Spanish-Style Tucson Home

Author: Roberta Landman
Issue: October, 2012, Page 68
Photos by Tim Fuller

Framing grand mountain views, the gazebo is dressed with cushioned bancos, Moroccan furniture and cement—or encaustic—mosaico tile flooring.



A Spanish-Inspired Tucson Home Is Built With Comfort and Outdoor Entertaining in Mind

Lacy-looking wrought iron. Courtyards with splashing fountains. Colorful tiles in eye-catching configurations both indoors and out. These charming elements—rooted in Spain of centuries past—were on Sally and Ben Perks’ wish list for their new Tucson home.

Much of the couple’s inspiration for their residence came from places with romantic Spanish appeal, such as Santa Barbara, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and—closer to home—Tucson’s Arizona Inn and Phoenix’s Royal Palms Resort.

“We snapped pictures in these places and took ideas from them,” says the wife, commenting that many of their home’s creative ideas also began with the design team: architect Ron Robinette, AIA; builder Jeff Willmeng; and interior designer Christy Martin.

The Perkses wanted the house to be comfortable, light, open and airy, with an Old World feel, and with plenty of space for outdoor entertaining. Complete with multiple courtyards, and even a gazebo, it has all that and atmosphere galore.

Robinette says the home was designed in the same spirit as old Spanish Colonial Revival and Santa Barbara-style houses that exist in Tucson’s Colonia Solana historic neighborhood. Such dwellings have layouts that are simple but well-thought-out and ordered, he explains, and their details are very important.

Steps with blue-and-white tiled risers lead to the home’s entry courtyard. Interior designer Christy Martin, a Phoenix Home & Garden Master of the Southwest, notes that the Mexican tiles were made to withstand cracking during freezing desert temperatures. Straddling wooden entry gates, tall Mexican pots mimic
the tiles’ colors.
“So, we incorporated detailed ceilings for each room, including cove ceilings, wood beams, and cross beams integrated with skylights,” he states.

Against this architectural backdrop, Martin supplied myriad details. She looked to the New World’s Spanish past, including the early Spanish missions, for inspiration. “Classic mission style always looks and feels so great in the desert,” she remarks.

Mexican tiles used on stair risers both indoors and out are unifying elements and reminders of the “allure” of old Spanish/Moorish-style tiles. “We also used vintage and antique mosaicos from Argentina and Cuba for fountain and niche backdrops, which gave us instant age and grandeur,” the designer points out.

Willmeng describes the house as timeless and recalls the homeowners’ involvement in its design and construction. “They seemed to really enjoy the process. We spent hours deciding on ways to do things.” A case in point is a patio ceiling that has a complex interplay of tiles, beams and metal pieces. It is one of the wife’s favorite elements.

Both she and her husband did indeed love the process of building. She recalls one special memory: “We sent our family all over our lot to collect stones for the powder room floor. One little granddaughter came in with a stone and said, ‘Will this work?’” It now has a special place in the center of the floor. “It is Abigail’s rock. She always comes in and checks it out.”

The homeowners say that their house is “great for entertaining, everything from intimate dinner parties to events with over 250 people.”

“It is just what we wanted,” says the lady of the house. “We wouldn’t change a thing.”

Situated off the breakfast room, a patio with a vintage iron chandelier invites informal dining. Frames of chairs, painted with a durable exterior pigment, are in a woven material. Cushions are covered in weather-resistant fabric, and the embroidered tablecloth is from Puebla, Mexico.

With a beamed ceiling and walnut flooring, the expansive great room reflects the classic taste of the lady of the house, says Christy Martin. “I love the great room,” states homeowner Sally Perks. “It is floor-to-ceiling glass windows and doors. You can see out and over the patio’s pool and across to the city of Tucson. People come in here and see this view, and they say ‘Wow.’”
Under the great room’s beamed ceiling, the fireplace invites personal reverie or group conversation. Filled with silver items, the built-in carved bookcases are antiques from India and were part of a set of five semi-attached units, says Christy Martin. Looking like gilded wood, the chandelier is made of resin that was painted gold.


The powder room radiates subtle elegance. Walls are clad in a trio of glazed terra-cotta Mexican tiles; one patterned tile acts as a border between the others, creating a visual wainscot. Framed with antique molding, the mirror contains a perforated-stone jali (or window) from India, also antique. The vanity, made of teak, has a marble counter. Upon it sits a figurine from Mexico. Iron sconces and a curlicued lantern reflected in the mirror add Hispanic flavor.
The ceiling of the master bedroom, embellished with hefty trusses and carved corbels, is among defining details of homes with Spanish Revival inspiration, notes architect Ron Robinette, a Phoenix Home & Garden Master of the Southwest. An iron four-poster and corner fireplace lend further charm to the room. Doors open to a patio with a wall fountain.


A covered patio off the master bedroom has a coffered ceiling that comes with a story. Designed by architect Ron Robinette, it is made of intersecting wood pieces, insets of colorful cement tile and metal braces. As the story goes, because the homeowners love to be outside, “We decided to treat the patio as if it were indoors and we just forgot to put in windows,” says Robinette. The elaborate feature’s genesis: “We asked ourselves what we would do with the ceiling if it were inside?” Flooring, a complement to the ceiling, is solid encaustic tile with colorful corner dots. A fireplace and grilling area add more comforts of home.

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