Watch a Haver Home Be Restored to Its Midcentury Glory
Breathing new life into one of the famed architect’s midcentury modern homes.
By Michael Jortner | Photography by Grey Shed Studio
In Uptown Phoenix, in the Mayfair Manor subdivision designed by architect Ralph Haver in the 1950s, sits a wonderfully restored midcentury modern home.
Before architectural and landscape designer Joel Contreras intervened, the house had fallen into disrepair. It was an eyesore that a longtime neighbor said prevented Mayfair Manor from attaining registered historic status. “This project had been bastardized at some point in time,” Contreras says. “It didn’t resemble a Haver at all.”
Nic Bacani and Lizette Ramos purchased the 1,200-square-foot home in 2020 and knew they had, as Nic puts it, “a diamond in the rough.” Sitting on a 9,400-square-foot lot and hiding behind a wall of unkempt bougainvillea, the exterior was painted baby-aspirin orange. The original vertical wood posts supporting the eaves were surrounded by red brick, while the interior had cheap wood paneling, low-pile gray carpet and dated, utilitarian off-white tile.
Contreras originally turned down the remodel, despite knowing Nic since sixth grade—but it only took a day for him to reconsider. The architect called his friend later that night. “You know what?” he declared. “Who else would do this for you?”
But before the pair could get started, they needed to reassure a next-door neighbor who had concerns. Most homeowners in Mayfair Manor, as in other “Haverhoods” such as Marlen Grove and Starlite Vista, care deeply about architectural integrity and have seen historic homes throughout Phoenix altered beyond recognition or demolished. “Many of these Haver neighborhoods will probably never get on the historic register as a result of these drastic alterations,” says preservationist and Modern Phoenix founder Alison King. Nevertheless, Contreras assured Nic’s neighbor that he would remain faithful to the original.
The remodel involved restoring the original façade while adding 1,000 square feet in the back with higher, slanted ceilings and modern amenities. Contreras says it’s important to learn the language of the original architect when tackling these types of projects. “For additions, you always want to be compatible but distinguishable.”
In front, the orange paint was sandblasted off to reveal both the original masonry underneath and the pine beams. The outdated kitchen was removed and a new one was built in the rear of the original structure. Nic and Lizette wanted an inside/outside connection, so large sliding glass doors now open onto a new concrete pool deck.
One consistent design choice throughout the home is the use of American walnut. The medium-dark wood wraps the kitchen and graces the wet bar in the new, larger living room and the cabinetry in the master bath.
“I wanted it to feel like it could be of the same era,” Contreras says of the addition. The expansive main living room features three dramatic choices. First, a tongue-and-groove blond wood ceiling is bisected by hemlock beams, creating warmth. Oversize sliders with black anodized aluminum trim, and transom windows above, erase the boundary between inside and out. But the focal point is the muscular column of stacked masonry. Beneath the flat-screen TV is a custom-built two-way fireplace. With a unique picture window akin to a movie screen, the homeowners can see through to the pool while also opening the outside door to access the fire pit.
The new landscaping has red yucca marching alongside concrete pavers leading up to the glass front door, while Parry’s agave and Mexican fencepost cactus stand in front of the newly added pony wall. Along the eastern and northern perimeters, rows of young ficus trees will grow over time to create more privacy and lushness.
The final outcome was a hit for the homeowners—and their once-concerned neighbor—who now marvel at the bright, lively dwelling. “Joel really took that idea of light and played with it,” says King, who featured the home on the annual Modern Phoenix Home Tour this past March.
Reflecting on his history of restoring midcentury modern treasures, Contreras says: “There’s something about the joy that comes with helping to polish these gems. I managed to turn it back into a Haver.”
Builder: Scott Bannister, Iron Eye Builders, Scottsdale, ironeyebuilders.com. Designer and landscape design: Joel Contreras Design, Phoenix, joelcontrerasdesign.com.
MAIN LIVING ROOM—Sofa: ethnicraft.com/us/en. Coffee table: mad-usa.com. Fireplace: pfweldingllc.co. Sliding doors: milgard.com. Stacked brick: MD Masonry, Buckeye, markdobay79.wixsite.com/mysite.
MASTER BEDROOM—Nightstands: cb2.com. Outdoor chaise lounges: cb2.com. Artwork: Sourced by amywilliamsinteriors.com.
MASTER BATH—Wall tile: bedrosians.com/en. Mirror cabinets (custom): jraymondcustom.com. Bathtub: signaturehardware.com.
KITCHEN—Barstools: potterybarn.com. Range: frigidaire.com/en. Lights: roveconcepts.com.
DINING ROOM—Table and chairs: cb2.com.
SMALL LIVING ROOM—Sofa: westelm.com. Chair: potterybarn.com. Coffee table: roveconcepts.com. Poufs: article.com. Artwork: Sourced by amywilliamsinteriors.com.