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An Arizona Native Buys and Rebuilds Her Childhood Home

A new home brings back childhood memories.

By Marilyn Hawkes | Photography by Michael Duerinckx

There’s a well-known expression, “You can’t go home again,” but for one Arizona native, nothing could be further from the truth. When her childhood home at the foot of Camelback Mountain went up for sale, she and her husband, who were then living in Tulsa, bought the Arizona ranch-style house. They toyed with remodeling, but ultimately tore down the structure to build a charming Santa Barbara-style home with the help of architects Mark Candelaria, a Phoenix Home and Garden Masters of the Southwest award winner, and Meredith Thompson. They situated the home on the lot to showcase the spectacular mountain and city views from every room. “The house has a nice, simple feel to it,” Thompson observes. “It just feels intimate.” 

The couple engaged another Master of the Southwest, Isabel Dellinger Candelaria, and Nikka Bochniak to design the 4,800 square-foot home’s interiors. Before the original dwelling was demolished, the designers were able to salvage nostalgic items to incorporate into the new build, from light fixtures to doorknobs. “It was heart-tugging to say goodbye to the old house, but I’m delighted by how it turned out,” the wife says.

Entry/Living Room

Initially, the walls between the living room and entryway were closed, but Isabel Dellinger Candelaria suggested exposing the space and designed wrought iron, art deco “corn stalks” to open up the room. “It’s breezy and lets in a lot of light from the front entry,” she notes. The designers chose authentic Saltillo tile, stark white walls and chamfered edges, all hallmarks of Santa Barbara style. The living room, accented by a wood fireplace mantle and wood-accented niches, is crowned by exposed arching box beams. “We were able to go rich on the dark woods because of the juxtaposition of the white walls and all the light coming through the windows and front entryway,” Bochniak says. Overhead, they added a wrought-iron chandelier bedecked with candles that plays off the entry’s open panels.


For durability and easy maintenance, the designers suggested black leather granite with soft white veining for the island and countertops. To save storage space on the island, a minimal hood descends from the ceiling, giving the kitchen a clean, streamlined look. Dellinger Candelaria and Bochniak carefully designed kitchen. “We planned everything out so that it would be both aesthetic and functional,” Bochniak says. On one side of the kitchen, a vivid tile backsplash inset brightens the wall next to the butler’s pantry, which has a diamond cutout and original stained-glass piece. The chandelier, salvaged from the former home, hangs over the island as a sentimental reminder of the wife’s childhood.

Dining Room

The custom-made dining room chandelier is fashioned from elements from the home’s original entry gate. The designers strapped the repurposed hinges and hand-hammered candelabra lights to a wooden beam that matches other beams used throughout the interiors. The gate’s whimsical scrolls crown the fixture. “We added a decorative chain for pattern play from some of the surrounding tiles in adjacent rooms,” Bochniak says.


Because the mountain behind the house is so imposing, the homeowners sought a cozy and lush courtyard where they could retreat and relax. Weather-permitting, the couple enjoys opening the doors of the dining room, theater room and the husband’s office to hear the gurgling fountain and smell the fragrant jasmine, rosemary, roses and mint planted around the courtyard. The fountain is edged with vibrant decorative patterned tile. To make the space even more inviting, the designers bordered the courtyard with bistro lighting and added an overhead powder-coated metal trellis that frames the sky. On one side of the courtyard, the home’s original wood front door now opens up to a small art-deco theater where the couple watches TV and listens to music. On the opposite end, a Moorish fireplace provides an enticing spot to unwind. “We wanted this to have a warm haciendalike feeling, and the designers ran with it,” the wife says. “It’s wonderful being back in this space.”

Master Bedroom Suite

To capture the view, the designers positioned the transom above the doors to perfectly frame Camelback Mountain, giving the homeowners a glimpse from the two-poster bed. A Saltillo tile hearth and bold box wood beams echo the home’s Santa Barbara vibe. In the master bath, a playful design using full-body blue porcelain tile and poured concrete countertops match the Saltillo tones in the backsplash. “The design is minimal but has just enough pattern and interest without going too far. It really fits their style,” Bochniak says.

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