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Into the Woods

After returning to their hometown, retired professional baseball player Andre Ethier and his wife, Maggie, purchased this rustic retreat to serve as an escape from the hustle and bustle of life in the Valley. They were drawn to the remote location’s mountain scenery and spend many afternoons relaxing on the expansive front porch, watching deer, elk and the occasional javelina and listening to bird calls, the rustle of leaves and the laughter of their children.

After living more than a decade in the Golden State, a pro ball player and his  family find joy and serenity in Arizona’s northeastern forests.

By Judy Harper | Photography by Mark Lipczynski

The winding dirt road leading to this remote cabin, which is framed by pristine national forest and dense ponderosa pines, is long, bumpy and slow-going, especially in winter. But the views along the way are breathtaking, and you never know when you turn a corner if there will be a small herd of elk to greet you. It’s a peaceful retreat where fresh mountain breezes, scampering squirrels and curious deer fill the days, and bonfires and fireflies punctuate the starry skies at night. Enchanted by the location, Andre and Maggie Ethier purchased the home in 2014 as a high-country getaway to leave the stresses of day-to-day living behind and regain balance in life.

Andre, a Phoenix native, and Maggie, who moved to Arizona as a child, met at a freshman athlete orientation at Arizona State University and married in 2006. While the couple’s hometown roots run deep, they relocated to California when the outfielder was tapped to play major league baseball, eventually becoming a marquee player for the Dodgers from 2006 to 2017. “We lived in West Hollywood but maintained a full-time residence in Chandler during my 13 years in the major leagues,” Andre says. “We always knew Los Angeles would not be our permanent home.”

Now settled into a traditional-style abode in Arcadia, the Ethiers, who have four children, had holiday gatherings and weekend guests in mind as much as solitude and escape when they acquired their cabin in Heber-Overgaard. But the interiors were drab, and the dwelling desperately needed updating. They turned to builder Rick Chafey and interior designer Angelica Henry to bring their vision for a relaxing family compound to life. Andre and Maggie had worked with both professionals before and were confident they could create unified spaces that were inviting to their friends and relatives yet still retain a sense of intimacy.

“Our realtor was reluctant to show us this property because it had been on the market a long time and needed a lot of work,” Andre recalls. “It had outdated green carpeting with peach tones, there was drywall in every room, and the entire space was broken up by walls. A little wood pellet stove in the corner heated the whole house. I told Rick we wanted a true cabin feel and the more wood used in the interior the better. I didn’t want to see drywall anywhere.”

Combining the rustic look of a log home with modern technology, the refurbished dwelling emphasizes an open, family-inspired layout where large gatherings take place and memories are made. The great room, dining area and kitchen flow into each other and are illuminated by natural light that streams through strategically placed windows and skylights. The generous use of slate flooring, wood beams, leather and wood furniture lend a sense of warmth and cater to the family’s playful lifestyle.

“They wanted this to be a comfortable place for family to gather and everything in the cabin has an ease to it,” Henry explains. “Maggie and Andre like unique things, and I wanted to give it a more collected feel with warm cabin colors and pieces that looked as though they had had them for a long time.”

1. The home’s lodgelike interiors suit its setting. A Southwest-inspired artistic cow skull watches over the custom front door, which showcases a raw slab of wood. The slate floors feature radiant heating. 2. A rugged stone fireplace flanked by a wall of windows underscores the home’s mountain vibe. A 900-pound custom console made from chamcha wood and adorned with a pair of burl lamps anchors the space, while an antler chandelier calls attention to the high ceilings. “I wanted the deer antlers,” says Andre. “This may sound corny, but I love the movie “The Great Outdoors” with Dan Aykroyd and John Candy, and I had my heart set on creating a similar cabin theme.” 3. The hefty raw-edge dining table and benches are complemented by a pair of primitive twig chairs. Another antler chandelier hangs above the setting. 4. An old-fashioned custom pie cabinet, antique reproduction gas stove and refrigerator, copper fixtures and a shelf for displaying copper accessories creates a collected, quaint feel.

Maggie enjoys working her culinary magic in the updated kitchen, where Henry created an old-fashioned aesthetic without sacrificing function and modern amenities. “I love that it’s open to the main living area, and I feel like I’m still involved in Thanksgiving football game action or Hallmark Christmas movies,” Maggie notes. “It has such a charming feel to it, yet it’s so modern and convenient.”

“It’s a comfortable getaway, and everything in the cabin has an ease to it.”

—Angelica Henry, interior designer

A handsome game room with a wet bar, billiards and theater-sized screen caters to the lighter side of life in the basement, which was unfinished and originally housed only a washer and dryer. Noticeably missing are Dodger-blue jerseys, baseball gloves and other mementos from Ethier’s
standout career. “That’s how we live in general,” Andre comments, “with few reminders of that my career. We wanted this to be for communal use and an escape for everyone.”

A balcony deck with a fire pit, rocking chairs and prime views is a prized place to kick back and relax. “A classic cabin moment is sitting out on the deck under the heaters with a warm beverage watching the children run wild,” Maggie says. “I love the off-the-grid, unplugged feel.”

Andre also relishes the home’s outdoor spaces. “I spend 80% of my time on the deck, smoking meat or barbecuing, listening to music, having an early morning cup of coffee and seeing elk and deer run through,” he says, adding that last year was especially memorable because there was enough snow to build a sledding ramp from the elevated structure.

“We wanted the space to feel cozy while giving our guests places to retreat to when staying for three to four days.”

—Andre Ethier, homeowner

1. Chafey’s team expanded the back of the cabin to make room for the master bathroom. “We added butt-glazed glass and leathered soapstone shower walls that remind me of branches,” Henry notes. “It’s like a forest bath.” 2. Henry made sure creature comforts and attention to detail abound in the high-country haven. The cozy powder room features a carved stone sink supported by a one-of-a-kind locally sourced juniper stand. The designer maximized the small space by adding a shelf to the custom mirror to hold soap and towels. The pine cones were gathered on the property. Rusted metal sconces add to the country aesthetic. 3. Lighting integrated into the live-edge juniper stairs and steel balusters forged to look like tree branches are among the high-end finishes. Large windows bring in copious natural light, making the space feel open and airy.
1. This luxury cedar log cabin sits on 10 acres of fenced woodlands, providing a peaceful respite for the entire family. 2. The soaring great room is the heart of the home where cedar cladding, tree posts and rustic accessories combine effortlessly with seating that is curl-up comfortable. An open staircase with underlit treads leads to a distinctive loft area that features double bunk beds and a separate guest suite. “The large tree post that holds up the loft and the log bunk beds exemplifies the true depth of craftsmanship involved in creating the space. I feel it’s the crowning jewel,” says builder Rick Chafey. 3. The kitchen is a functional showpiece ideally suited for regular entertaining. Interior designer Angelica Henry added an island with decorative columns that conceal a structural beam. The window above the chiseled granite farmhouse sink opens to the outside deck for ease of serving. “I absolutely love our kitchen. It has such a charming feel to it, yet it’s so modern and convenient,” says Maggie Ethier. 4. A fairytalelike haven for the family’s four children, the cozy and welcoming loft is the perfect setting for late-night chitchat and laughter. Each bunk, crafted of chunky tree trunks and branches, has its own night light. “The kids love their private upstairs area, especially when cousins and/or friends join us. It becomes a never-ending sleepover,” Maggie says. 5. The master suite on the main level is a self-indulgent escape filled with natural woods, Native American-inspired bedding and sumptuous leather and cowhide accents. A pair of columnar stone luminarias serve as bedside lamps. 6. A pass-through fireplace connects the bedroom to the bath, where a free-standing copper-clad clawfoot tub is positioned to capture views of the forest beyond.

“It’s such a great feeling to drive up here. We look at each other and pinch ourselves when we realize what a great piece of property this is—to have this escape available and most importantly for our friends and family to use,” Andre remarks. “It’s two-and-a-half hours from our children’s school to the front door, so we’ll pack the car, pick up the kids and have time to put a pot of camping stew on the stove. We can enjoy dinner and at least the first half of Sunday Night Football and be home by 9:30 p.m. to put the kids straight to bed and call it a great weekend.”

Design/Builders: Rick Chafey, Ben Haught and Brett Blauvelt, Red Rock Contractors. Interior Designer: Angelica Henry, Angelica Henry Design.

For more information, see Sources.


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