back to top
Homepage / Interior Design  / Outside Is In at This Garden-Centric Spanish Colonial Residence

Outside Is In at This Garden-Centric Spanish Colonial Residence

“The homeowners wanted that feeling that guests were bringing the outside in with them,” says interior designer Nikka Bochniak of the couple’s Spanish Colonial residence.

Outside is in at this garden-centric Spanish Colonial residence.

By Robrt L. Pela | Photography by Austin LaRue Baker

One morning late last year, as she walked the lush property of her Biltmore-area home, Stephanie Parker stumbled on a shiny green guava. She says it was like finding a long-lost treasure.

“The people we bought this place from told me there was a guava tree here,” Parker recalls. “But I could never find it. That guava felt like a message: ‘I’m here! You’re getting warmer!’ It took me another 15 minutes to find the tree, though.”

It’s easy to understand how one might need a couple of years—Stephanie and her husband, Jay, moved into their home in early 2021 after a two-year renovation—to find a guava tree on their property. The former owners of the 8,000-square-foot home planted its lawns with a thoughtfully placed but eclectic thicket of more than 40 handsome peach, apricot and pomegranate trees. A trio of mulberries throw shade not far from a row of blackberry trees and several citrus-bearing beauties. 

“There are some rare plants here,” Stephanie says. “That’s a mahogany, and this one’s a cork tree. I’ve also got bananas and pecan and macadamia.” 

She points to a trio of palms that have grown together beside a shady magnolia. “When we have parties, people congregate around those trees, because they look like a little stage.”

Around a corner is a stretch of land the Parkers have dubbed The Orchard. A long table is surrounded by fig, persimmon and star fruit trees. A plant-lover anxious to bone up on horticulture, Stephanie is enrolled in the University of Arizona’s master gardener program.

“I grew up in apartments on the mean streets of Chicago,” Stephanie says. “We had concrete and houseplants. This kind of gardening never called to me, but I’ve always liked to play in the dirt, doing yardwork and putting flowers in.”

Lately, she’s learning to love growing food. Just past the grove of trees, 25 raised-bed planters sprout celery, carrots, artichokes and pineapples. Nearby, a greenhouse stands waiting for the cucumbers and peppers Stephanie plans to plant.

1. The home features several indoor and outdoor dining spaces, though Stephanie admits, “Jay and I are so busy, we usually end up eating at the kitchen counter.” 2. An entry hall off the main cove-ceilinged hallway shows off the home’s original oak herringbone floors, which the Parkers had stripped and stained a lighter hue. 3. Bochniak removed a dark-wood banister and replaced it with wrought iron railings that open up the space. The rondelle-patterned stained-glass was designed by the homeowner, while the chandelier and shell-shaped niche are original to the house. 4-5. Bold, plant-themed wallpapers make small rooms pop, such as the laundry room and a pair of powder rooms.

What Stephanie doesn’t serve to guests, she takes to the uptown farmer’s market on Saturdays, where her limequat jelly and homemade celery salt have gained a following. Lately, she’s been making tinctures from the leaves of her ginkgo biloba tree.

The owner pauses beside a huge Texas laurel. “This blooms with giant purple flowers that smell like grape soda,” she says. “That makes me so happy.”

There’s much about the Parkers’ new home that makes them content. They love the tranquility; the trio of outdoor dining spaces where they can entertain the friends
Stephanie calls “our tribe”; the Zen garden and the studio where she sews and makes preserves. The five-bedroom hacienda-style residence, originally built in the early 1980s, was recently redesigned by Phoenix Home & Garden Master of the Southwest interior designer Isabel Dellinger Candelaria and partner Nikka Bochniak.

“The place had great bones and beautiful grounds,” says Steve Watson, who oversaw the rebuild. “Tying those two together was what we were after.”

The Parkers collaborated with Dellinger Candelaria and Bochniak to bring nature indoors. “For the main living areas, we went with the greens and blues and terra cottas of the grounds,” Bochniak says. “We opened up the space with taller ceilings, glass transoms and custom stained-glass pieces to bring that big-sky feeling into the house.”

The owners kept the home’s parquet flooring, which they had sanded and stained a warm honey color. They also retained the pocket doors and the wide, arched doorways that joined the living and dining areas. “Those arches were originally trimmed in plaster bump-outs,” Dellinger Candelaria says, “but we warmed them up with hardwood trim hand-carved with leaves.”

“I like to think of this as our well-traveled home.”

—Stephanie Parker, homeowner

1. The home features several indoor and outdoor dining spaces, though Stephanie admits, “Jay and I are so busy, we usually end up eating at the kitchen counter.” 2. The Parkers’ home is filled with objects they’ve collected on travels around the world as well as items Stephanie has found at local estate sales. 3. Palm trees give the main entry courtyard a lush, tropical vibe, made homey with a variety of potted plants and antiques. 4. The kitchen combines modern materials and rustic finishes. Accordioned kitchen windows open up to a backyard patio where the Parkers love to entertain. 5. The home’s patios are planted with tropical and subtropical plants, says Stephanie (shown, with her dog, Otter), “so the garden follows you wherever you go.” 6. Bold, plant-themed wallpapers make small rooms pop, such as this powder room. 7. A backyard patio features a fountain filled with tropical fish and surrounded by plants that reference the dense garden just beyond.

Bochniak removed a heavy wood banister from the spiral staircase, replacing it with graceful wrought iron that opened up the space. She lightened the interior walls with Tuscan plaster that reflects the afternoon light and provides a calm background for the Parkers’ collection of fine art and personal effects.

“I like to think of this as our well-traveled home,” Stephanie says. “Some of the pieces are from our travels around the world, others are things I scored at local garage sales or hand-me-downs from my past.”

In a dining room hutch, her grandmother’s china shares space with Stephanie’s baby rattle and silver pieces her mother gave her. A parsons table near the entry hall displays two foo dogs from Thailand alongside Ecuadorean and Southwestern ornaments.

These small details are Stephanie’s north star: burnished iron air conditioning registers and rough-hewn wood countertops reflect the building’s Spanish Colonial vibe.

She convinced the former owners to leave behind a pair of ancient, ornate mirrors in the living and formal dining rooms and, in her favorite of the home’s eight bathrooms, papered the walls with a bold banana-tree print to complement a 19th-century-Belgium marble sink.

Stephanie admits that as much as she loves her new home, she’s always thinking about the grounds just past her front door.

“We’re talking about maybe building a small barn for chickens,” she muses. “My dream is to have alpacas. I would love to have their wool made into yarn. Then I could sit under my boojum tree and learn to knit.”

She pauses for a moment. “I haven’t found our boojum tree yet,” she says with a laugh. “But I know it’s out there.”

INTERIOR DESIGNERS: Isabel Dellinger Candelaria and Nikka Bochniak, Earth & Images. REMODEL BUILDER: Steve Watson, True Performance Construction.


Interior designers: Isabel Candelaria and Nikka Bochniak, Earth & Images, Phoenix, Renovation builder: True Performance Construction, Phoenix,
DINING ROOM—Sconces and pendants: Plaster walls: Saguaro Drywall, Phoenix, Accent chair fabric:

LIVING ROOM—Chaise (by Selamat): Chandelier:

ENTRY HALL—Art lights: Circa Lighting, Scottsdale,

STAIRWELL: Stained glass: Bob Berg, Chanikva Studio, Scottsdale,

KITCHEN—Wall tile: Studio Ressource (sic), Scottsdale, Chandelier: Cabinet hardware: Clyde Hardware, Phoenix, Natural wood island: Telluride Natural Stone and Reclaimed Wood, Phoenix, Island countertop: Cactus Stone, Phoenix, Perimeter countertops: The Stone Collection, Phoenix, Appliances:

SERVICE POWDER ROOM—Wallpaper: Countertops: The Stone Collection, Phoenix, Tile: Faucet and sink: Central Arizona Supply, Phoenix,

LAUNDRY ROOM—Wallpaper: Countertops: Arizona Tile, Phoenix,  Flooring: Handcrafted Tile Inc., Phoenix, Cabinet hardware:

GUEST BATH—Wallpaper: Sconces: Vanity counter: Telluride Natural Stone and Reclaimed Wood, Phoenix,


Sign up for the Phoenix Home & Garden Newsletter

Stay up to date with everything Phoenix Home & Garden!

Our newsletter subscribers will have early access to things like:

  • Upcoming Events & Pre-Sales
  • Special Promotions
  • Exclusive Giveaways!