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For The Home

Home Sweet Hacienda

Author: Terri Feder
Issue: April, 2014, Page 84
Photos by Art Holeman

A central courtyard, accessed through a custom iron gate, is replete with Saltillo tile flooring in an Old World pattern, beefy cantera columns, and a tiered fountain. Adding to the Mexican Colonial ambience is a statue of Saint Francis of Assisi in a sheltering niche.



Charming Details and Cozy Nooks Define a Courtyard Home That Reveals Itself in Stages

Designed to evoke the look and feel of a
small village in Mexico, this winter getaway in the Tonto Verde community in Rio Verde, Arizona, incorporates design elements borrowed from Mexican Colonial-style architecture. These include exposed rustic wood beams and columns, varied ceiling heights, brick-embellished archways, and la pièce de résistance—a brown schist wall that traverses the interior and exterior of the structure. Says the owner, “I saw a house built around a stone wall in Mexico, and I wanted to replicate that Old World look.”

Over a several year design and build process, builder Tom Alexander, who describes the home as being “one of the most challenging projects that we’ve completed in three generations of building,” along with architect Greg Schouten and interior designer Jana Parker Lee, ASID, created the 4,800-square-foot hacienda-style retreat, which encircles a central courtyard. Says the man of the house, “We went to San Miguel de Allende and spent a lot of time looking at the architecture. Most of the homes have courtyards, but you wouldn’t know it because they are hidden from view. You walk through a plain gate and suddenly there’s this beautiful space.”

Adjacent to the Tonto National Forest and the Mazatzal Mountains, northwest of Scottsdale, the property is surrounded by breathtaking views. One of Schouten’s primary tasks was to site the house to maximize those vistas and allow for ample connection between interior spaces and exterior ones. “Greg promised us that we would never look anywhere, either inside or outside, that doesn’t end in a view,” relates the lady of the house.

Embedded in the schist wall at the back of the courtyard is an iron accent inspired by a classic scroll detail originating in Greek and Roman capitals. Says Greg Schouten, “The scroll echoes similar elements throughout the house and helps unify the design as a simple family of details.”
To that end, the architect and builder worked together to lace interiors with arched wall cutouts that frame works of art, niches housing other fine art and furniture, and intimate hallways ending in visually pleasing vignettes, such as handcrafted cantera and plaster fireplaces. In addition, Schouten incorporated a spate of windows—some floor-to-ceiling, some clerestory, and some made of leaded-glass and set at eye level—all leading to and capturing the residence’s exterior spaces. For example, floor-to-ceiling glass doors in the dining room look upon and lead to the outdoor living room. Says Tom Alexander, “The dining room’s exquisite steel and glass doors open to the circular courtyard, unveiling a cozy outdoor dining area perfectly placed between the warmth of the courtyard’s natural stacked-stone fireplace and the coolness of the elegant cantera stone fountain.”

To ensure that the home had just the right spaces for the owners’ collection of Russian art and other furnishings already chosen for the residence, Parker Lee joined the team before the blueprints were drawn. Thanks to her efforts, the interiors reflect the collected yet lighthearted aesthetic the couple desired. “They wanted me to interpret their vision of Mexican Colonial style so that things are colorful and whimsical yet still cohesive,” the designer explains. Thus, she selected a palette that she describes as “just shy of primary colors.” Muted yellows, reds and greens appear throughout, including in the ceramic tiles cladding the bathrooms and kitchen backsplash, and in the vibrant textiles used to dress accent pillows, chairs and beds. Underscoring the historic feel are carved wood furnishings, wrought-iron sconces and chandeliers, and a combination of wood and Saltillo tile floors.

Says the man of the house, “We love everything about it. It functions well when we’re alone and when we have guests. A lot of our friends extend their stay because it’s so nice.”

In the foyer of the main home, this angled concha, or shell, niche was designed for the carved chest and the painting entitled Babushka by Valentina Saveleza that inhabit it.

A box-beam ceiling, cantera fireplace, media wall with open niches and hand-carved cabinetry radiate warmth and elegance in the living room. Accent chairs upholstered in what designer Jana Parker Lee describes as “fun, whimsical fabrics” play off hues in the painting by Armen Atoyen.
Tiles in a palette of yellow, blue, terra cotta and green clad the kitchen’s backsplash. The five-sided beadboard island is painted antique white and topped with walnut. Hand-formed plaster was used to create the hood and matching corbels. Alder wood cabinets boast a natural finish.


Above a carved reproduction buffet is a gilded mirror dating to 18th-century Italy. Displayed on the buffet are a silver Bolivian coca box and a Talavera vase. To the right are floor-to-ceiling steel and glass doors leading to the courtyard.

Photos - Clock-wise from top left: Beams and an iron chandelier adorn the dining room’s ceiling. Framed by an arched cutout is a Russian painting. A Contemporary painting contrasts with the other Traditional pieces. The dining table was designed by Jana Parker Lee. • A double-arched cantera fireplace serves as the focal point in the master bedroom. Set into an angled niche is an iron bed boasting a Tuscan style. Wood shutters artfully conceal an enclosed television. A sisal-like carpet dresses the floor. • In the courtyard’s outdoor living room, a stacked-stone fireplace is an inviting focal point. Cut into the schist wall is an eye-level, oval-shaped leaded-glass window offering a view of the space from an interior passageway. • Layered cantera plant sills on a street-side wall of the home were designed by architect Greg Schouten to display potted plants. Currently they hold a favored pachyderm snack—variegated elephant’s food. Fairy duster adds a touch of red. Set within deep recesses are leaded-glass windows.

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