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Editor’s Letter – October 2020

By John Roark

Photo by Jesse Reiser

Throughout the Valley, there are a number of houses that I consider my personal drive-by favorites. A sleek Paradise Valley rammed-earth contemporary with expanses of panoramic windows and dramatic rooflines; a rambling Arcadia farmhouse; a historic ranch in downtown Phoenix. Each pushes my buttons in different ways, but what they have in common is the ability to inspire daydreams about their backstories, how they came to be and who might live there.

The first abode I can recall that captured my fancy was on the same block as the one I grew up on. The homeowners had moved from Germany, had adult children and a son my age who attended a swanky private school. The family had a European mystique, cars that were nicer than any we owned and—what I considered to be the height of decadence—their own gardener. To an 8-year-old with grass-stained shoes who had logged countless miles pushing a mower, having someone tend your lawn and pull your weeds seemed like a privilege reserved for royalty.

None of my circle of playmates had ever gained entree to this manor, and we speculated that it must have ermine bedspreads and jewel-encrusted doorknobs. One fabled day, we were invited to attend a birthday party for the youngest son. My mother ironed a shirt for me, buttoned it up to my scrawny neck and plastered my hair down in an arrangement unnatural for any self-respecting child.

I was greeted at the front door by the lady of the house, who wore pink lipstick, had fancy orange fingernails and hair that resembled cotton candy. I remember marveling at a modest indoor fountain and a myna bird in a cage as I was ushered downstairs where the party was in full swing. The birthday fare seemed sublime—the finest fruit punch was served with a multilayer store-bought cake.

A couple of hours later, I returned to my drab life three houses away. My friends and I talked for weeks about our foray into that rarefied world, which in reality may not have been so much better than our own, just different. But my appreciation for exploring dream homes had been born.

On these pages, we invite you to cross the threshold of a collection of swoonworthy residences. And speaking of houses you want to see, November usually marks the annual Phoenix Home & Garden Home Tour. Current conditions have restricted our ability to host an in-person look at some of the Valley’s most distinctive dwellings, but we are working hard to bring the event to you virtually, at no charge. Stay tuned for further details.

John Roark
Editor in Chief

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