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1970s Central-Phoenix Home

Author: Roberta Landman
Issue: August, 2013, Page 70
Photos by Karen Shell

Furnished with items from the owners’ previous larger home, the great room features a new custom wall unit with space for a TV, shelving for books and collectibles, and cupboards for storage. The fireplace was revamped with a carved cantera surround accented with decorative tiles. The painting is by Enrique Espinoza.

An Empty Nest Leads to a Smaller Home That’s Big on Livability and Luxury

With three children grown and on their own, Phoenicians Olinda Young and Marty Johnson did what many empty-nesters have been doing. They downsized. And in a big way.

The two traded living in a 7,500-square-foot two-story Spanish Colonial-style house on 2 acres, complete with horses and chickens, for a residence less than half as big. What they gave up in space, they more than made up for in a highly livable floor plan and a bounty of amenities.

To get exactly what they wanted, they purchased a late-1970s single-story residence in a gated central-Phoenix community and set about turning its dated interior into the gem they half fondly, half humorously call “The Cottage.”

Smart changes, including the addition of an elevated patio with a fireplace, turned the compact backyard into a mini resort. In addition, travertine patio flooring and pool decking was chosen to replace slippery tile. New rounded pillars dressed in green glass tile complement the existing checkerboard tile work. And planting beds filled with bird of paradise plants and wok bowls brimming with aloe and elephant food succulents add a layer of softness.
The couple engaged architect John Midyette, interior designer Linda Roepke Cebulski and contractor Barry Bennett to make their dreams a reality. High on the homeowners’ wish list were an open floor plan with a large, well-equipped kitchen overlooking a main living area; double guest suites with their own baths; a library/office; powder room; and luxurious his-and-her separate master baths; all of this and more had to fit within a footprint of 2,800 square feet. A total interior redo, with a reconfiguration of original spaces, accomplished it all.

“We basically gutted the entire house,” says Midyette, a Phoenix Home & Garden Master of the Southwest. “Ninety percent of the interior walls were taken down to the studs.” The former living room became a library/office with two work stations, and pushing back a wall here allowed for a larger dining area that is open to the living room and kitchen.

New roof tiles and a small walled courtyard increased curb appeal and functionality, note the homeowners. The man of the house, an avid gardener, planned the lush-looking landscape.
Moving from a large house to a smaller dwelling, the couple already had most of the furnishings they needed, and also a collection of fine art. They wanted to keep the Spanish Colonial sensibility they had enjoyed in their previous residence and in a second home in Santa Barbara. “The biggest challenge was to be able to take all the items and make them gel—to make everything work in a different venue,” notes the interior designer, who had worked with the couple on several previous projects. Giving each room a sense of drama with major works of art and select existing furnishings made the design cohesive, as did the homeowners’ input, she adds. “Olinda loves design and being involved in it and knows what she wants.”

Johnson, a physician who has long enjoyed gardening as a hobby, had a half acre under cultivation at the former home. Downsizing has not squelched his avocation. Tucked here and there are lovely vining plants, palms and citrus trees of different varieties, and raised garden beds filled with arugula, basil, chives, cilantro, tomatoes and more. “We are moving on,” he says with a smile.

Photos - Top photos: Light-colored cabinetry contrasts with a new walnut-topped center island in the updated kitchen. Countertops are honed black marble; backsplashes are white subway tile. A cafe table for two separates the kitchen from the adjacent great room.

Bottom photos: Cross beams added to the dining area’s ceiling unite the space with the adjacent beam-ceilinged great room. The shapely niche is home to a buffet made from reclaimed pieces of carved wood, and the iron chandelier hints of Santa Barbara’s Spanish Colonial flair, which the homeowners love. Above the buffet is an oil painting by Doris Patty Rosenthal titled Mexican Woman With Child.

With a carved-wood chest made in Mexico serving as a vanity, and a collection of retablos reflected in the mirror, the powder room offers south-of-the-border appeal. Pale-brown walls here are lit softly with sconces. The sink is crafted of travertine.

Displayed above an antique inlaid Dutch desk in a corner of the dining area are paintings by John Budicin (top) and Nikolai Efimovich (bottom).
A soft palette of gray and taupe defines the master bedroom. Next to the bed, a writing desk doubles as a nightstand. Above it is a painting by Marc Chagall. An 18th-century oil-on-copper painting depicting the Virgin of Guadalupe hangs over the kiva-style fireplace, which was added during the remodel.

An interplay of stone materials is evident on “her” side of the master bath. Honed Silver Moon marble clads the countertop and tub deck, and marble flooring is configured in a basket-weave design. Wainscoting is ceramic tile. “It was the icing on the cake,” says Olinda Young of her personal retreat. The works of art are by Salvador Dali.

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