Inside Alice Cooper’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Residence
Alice and Sheryl Cooper’s beloved Paradise Valley home receives a Southwestern update—with a rock ’n’ roll twist.
By Rebecca L. Rhoades | Photography by Michael Duerinckx | Portrait by Michael Woodall
“Every Archie Bunker in the world has a place where he can walk in and sit down. This is my seat.” Alice Cooper, referencing TV’s irascible everyman from the 1970s, settles into a plush leather sofa in the living room of his long-time Paradise Valley home. His laptop, phone, reading material and Diet Coke are within easy reach on the end table, while a tufted leather ottoman stands nearby, ready for him to kick up his feet and relax. “I’ve worn out two couches in this spot,” he adds. “When I’m on tour, I’m thinking to myself, ‘I can’t wait to get home and sit in my place.”
Comfort is key for the Godfather of Shock Rock and his wife, dancer/choreographer Sheryl, following years of a peripatetic life spent traveling the globe. “We live on a bus or in hotels 90% of the time, so when we come home, it’s our vacation,” Alice explains. And following a year-long remodel that brought the house back to its Arizona roots with a warm and welcoming Southwest-influenced aesthetic, the couple’s home is more than a place to rest and rejuvenate. It’s an elegant sanctuary befitting one of the Grand Canyon State’s most celebrated residents.
Born Vincent Furnier in Detroit, Alice moved to the Valley with his parents when he was 12 years old. While a student at Cortez High School, he and some classmates formed a band—first as an entry for a talent show and later as a real musical act. By the time young Vincent got into his second year at Glendale Community College, he and his band mates were spending most of their time performing in Los Angeles. The group permanently relocated to California in 1967 and, shortly thereafter, the character Alice Cooper was conceived.
It took about five years for the band to find success, and Alice didn’t receive his first paycheck until 1972, but when he did, he decided to invest it. “I was going to buy four Ferraris, but my manager said, ‘No, you’re going to buy a house.’ That’s how managers think,” he recalls with a chuckle. “So I bought this place for $90,000. It was the coolest place I could find for the money, and I think I did okay.” Three years later, Sheryl joined Alice’s show, and the couple married in 1976. In 1985, they decided to move their growing family into the home, which until this time had been occupied by Alice’s parents.
“I want guests to feel as though they can sit down anywhere, relax and be comfortable.”
Tucked into a hillside on 2 acres in the Goldwater Estates neighborhood, with views of Camelback Mountain to the southeast, the once 2,000-square-foot cinder-block dwelling has been expanded and modernized over the years. In the late 1980s, the Coopers hired interior designer Tony Sutton to execute a radical makeover, expanding the structure’s footprint to 5,000 square feet, adding a second story and, at a time when mauve, busy floral prints and country decor were on trend, transforming the interiors from orange shag carpets and avocado appliances into a sleek contemporary showpiece, the style of which Sheryl dubbed “new wave Navajo.” The renovated home was featured on the cover of the August 1991 issue of Phoenix Home & Garden.
“This home has so much history for them, going back to when it was just a modest little house that Alice purchased at the right time in the right neighborhood. The walls have stories to tell.”
—Tony Sutton, interior designer
As the couple’s son and two daughters grew into adults and began families of their own, Alice and Sheryl contemplated moving, but they knew that their cherished home would continue to serve them well as they aged. “We raised three kids here, and now we have three grandchildren and a fourth on the way,” Alice remarks. “We thought about downsizing after the kids got married, but they keep coming back, and they bring babies with them. So this house still gets a lot of use.”
Sutton, a Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award-winning interior designer notes, “This home has so much history for them, going back to when it was just a modest little house that Alice purchased at the right time in the right neighborhood. The walls have stories to tell.”
But after more than 30 years, it was time to give those walls—and the entire house—a refresh. Once again, the Coopers turned to Sutton who, for a second time, gave the interiors a look that’s both unexpected yet perfectly suited to the homeowners’ lifestyle.
“In 1988, maybe 10% of design was contemporary, so that was unique for them,” Sutton explains. “Whatever you have, you want it to be different the next time.”
While structural changes were minimal compared with the previous remodel, no surface was left untouched. Gone are the black lacquer, white chenille, brushed aluminum and hand-painted Indian motifs, now replaced by chunky wood furnishings, cowhide and embossed leather, fabrics and tiles in rich shades of black and terra cotta, creamy hued cabinets, and stone and iron accents. Warm wood planks now cover scored concrete flooring, and the formerly dark painted ceiling has been refinished in a light stain. “Any time you introduce organic elements, the space becomes more approachable,” says Sutton.
Interior designer Lynette Willett worked with Sutton on the project. “We kept the walls a neutral palette because there was already lots of color,” she says. “In the living room, we used a patterned rug with bright shades and brought in the Southwest through fabrics and soft leathers.” She notes that it was important to both Alice and Sheryl, who are well-known in the Valley for their philanthropic endeavors, that as many elements and the furnishings removed from the home be repurposed or donated to charity.
The once-unassuming fireplace was given a larger presence in the room by covering it with stacked stone and creating an arched design over the firebox that’s punctuated by a steel keystone. On the adjacent wall, a large-screen TV surrounded by a framework of custom cabinetry is flush-mounted into the plaster.
“We have deep roots here. Every time our plane lands at Sky Harbor or we cross the state line, there’s a sense of ‘ah, we’re home.’”
“There are touches throughout the house of who we are and what we’ve been over the years,” notes Sheryl. From Alice’s upstairs office, which is filled with photos, platinum and gold records, and other memorabilia from his more than 50-year-long career, to the grandkids’ playroom, which features deep blue walls, primary-hued furnishings and a hand-painted ceiling that mimics a circus tent, there is no denying that this is the home of a rock ’n’ roll legend.
One of the most dramatic spaces is a powder room located just off the front entrance. Blood-red silk-covered walls, a carved stone sink and an iron dividing wall serve as the backdrop for a floor-to-ceiling Dia de los Muertos wallpaper mural that was inspired by one of Sheryl’s characters in Alice’s stage show. “When you walk in there, you feel in a sense as though you’re looking at her, right down to the stitches on the lips,” notes Willett.
Paintings by local artists, such as Anne Coe, James Gucwa and Susan Olson, share wall space with vintage posters and a large anatomical chart of a snake that Alice picked up in New Orleans. Additional thrift store finds, from a cow skull that often sports a set of dentures to a lamp crafted from a knife-wielding baby doll in a blue dress to a taxidermic peacock that the couple have had for 45 years, showcase the Coopers’ sense of humor. “I like to go to the [local second-hand store] Brass Armadillo and find the most bizarre things that I can,” says Alice with a laugh. “I’ll buy that one piece that makes you go, ‘What? Why?’ At Christmas, our family has this tradition where we’ll draw numbers, and whoever wins has to display the item in a prominent spot in their house for the next year.”
Even the exterior hints at the creative personas that reside within. A sizeable mural of boa constrictors by Phoenix-based decorative artist Jimmi Lou Stack coils around an arch above the front drive, an homage to Alice’s use of the snakes in his performances.
In the backyard, cool travertine pavers replaced dated Saltillo tile. “The Saltillo had its day, but the house was on the verge of becoming cowboy kitsch. We wanted a more streamlined and clean look,” Sheryl explains. “Luckily, the landscape designers didn’t have to demo the old tile. They just laid the new stone on top of it.”
Large French pots filled with annuals and kumquats add year-round color and fragrance to the property, while newly installed custom steel trellises will soon spill over with textural elephant’s food (Portulacaria afra). “Alice and Sheryl lead very busy lives, so they wanted something that was clean and simple,” says landscape designer Dan Waters. “They’re surrounded by a lot of native desert and mountainside, so being able to soften their outdoor areas was important.”
Looking back over the last year, the Coopers are glad that they didn’t give into the temptation to downsize. “We were thinking about selling, but we had some real estate agents come in and they all said that there was too much of our personality in the house and we’d have to get rid of everything,” Alice says. “So we redid it, but once again we did it with our signature on it.”
He continues. “I just love where we live. Sheryl enjoys looking at Camelback Mountain, especially as the sun sets and the rocks change colors, all the different reds. I don’t think we’d want to live anywhere else.” Sheryl concurs, “We have deep roots here. Every time our plane lands at Sky Harbor or we cross the state line, there’s a sense of ‘ah, we’re home.’” π
Contractor: Jerry Goodman, Goodman & Associates. Interior Designers: Tony Sutton and Lynette Willett, Est Est Inc. Landscape Designer: Dan Waters, Creative Environments.
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