A little-used yard got a complete re-do to become a great space for entertaining.
BY DEBBY LARSEN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MATT VACCA
The owners of a midcentury-style home wanted to create a landscape that would honor the design aesthetic of the house. They contacted Landscape Designer Kathryn Prideaux of Prideaux Design to re-envision their barren, 1,500-square-foot backyard. She reached out to Cimarron Circle Construction Company to build the pool, and Sonoran Gardens Inc. for the green spaces.
The plan was to retain one key existing element — the brick walls. They were in good condition, which helped with the budget, and also complemented the home’s architecture. However, the walls’ original wood panel inserts were too worn to save. They were replaced with rusted steel panels set within a one-inch frame. Continuing the rusted steel aesthetic, a new self-closing gate and steel screen panels were fabricated and placed at opposite ends of the garden.
The patio’s support beams were replaced with four-by-four-inch square steel posts. An integral color concrete patio with a pebble-etched finish was installed and extended to the pool’s edge. A small area adjacent to the pool features stabilized decomposed granite defined by steel strap edging. Prideaux’s jewel-like design of this raised-edge pool takes center stage, with its turquoise glass tile exterior and pebble finish interior. The stunning contrast between the rusted steel components and the glass-tiled pool creates a modern vibe.
Prideaux chose drought-tolerant plants in her design, such as Yellow Bird of Paradise and Palo Verde “Sonoran Emerald.” The shrubs included Artemesia, Desert Milkweed, Gopher Plant, Deer Grass, Lady’s Slipper and Rosemary. Agave “Blue Glow,” Weber’s Agave, Grass Tree and Mexican Fencepost added sculptural elements to the space.
Now, the backyard encourages entertaining and relaxing, plus it creates a beautiful space to view from indoors.
Santa Barbara’s distinctive architectural style was the inspiration for this Tucson home.
BY ROMI CARRELL WITTMAN | PHOTOGRAPHY BY AMY HASKELL
Sitting at the end of a quiet street, shaded by a dense canopy of mesquite trees, is a home that looks as if it was plucked from picturesque Santa Barbara, California. This was exactly the look that Georgann and John Munic aspired to when they built their 6,000-square-foot home. Santa Barbara architecture fuses design elements from many regions, most notably Spanish Colonial, Italian and Mediterranean. These iconic elements can be seen throughout the Munic property.
Inside and outside, no detail has been overlooked. The landscaping— using mostly native plants such as succulents and Golden Barrel cacti — ensures that the main focus remains on the home itself. Pea gravel, a staple in European gardens, was used in the outdoor spaces to evoke an Old World feel. Cantera stone accents further enhance the outdoor spaces.
Tall glass double doors serve as the home’s entryway and are framed by concrete cast stone. As Georgann explains, guests enter a canvas of crisp, white walls framed by 14-inch mahogany moldings and baseboards. A stretch of hand-scored and waxed concrete covers the floors.
This formal living room, or salon, has an immaculate, high-contrast design aesthetic. White slipcovered sofas and chairs are positioned to create intimate seating areas, while an eclectic array of antiques and artwork, some from Latin American art purveyor Holler & Saunders Ltd., provides visual interest.
Georgann handled the interior design of the home. Her approach reflects juxtaposition, and the unexpected surprise of contrast can be seen throughout. An example is the way she has designed certain rooms, such as the library and the master suite having their own foyers. This adds both elegance and privacy.
Each room also has double doors to afford access to exterior personal spaces. Arguably, the most stunning of these spaces is located off the library. Here, the patio is covered by a custom-made metal pergola that casts geometric shadows onto the concrete pavers below. These shapes change as the sun moves across the sky, creating an ever-changing art show. This garden holds a stunning array of barrel cacti planted en masse.
Located on opposite sides of the master bedroom foyer are identical dressing rooms, complete with mirrored doors. The walls are embellished with delicate, handpainted art created by Becky Hengsteler.
The master bath en suite was designed to have a spa-like ambience.
Two handcrafted mahogany vanities featuring Rosso Levante marble flank opposite walls of the space.
“The master en suite is a quiet, sunlit sanctuary with double doors leading out to a private garden and fireplace wall, which can be enjoyed from the soaking tub,” says Georgann.
The home always has been shared with the community during many charitable events and celebrations, including the wedding reception of their son and daughter-in-law.
As Georgann says, “I’ve always felt one’s home should be a reflection of its owners. In building, you leave a bit of your soul, a watermark for all those who follow to enjoy.”
People who claim that the desert landscape is boring have never been here in spring when the cacti blossom into a palette of many hues.
BY DEBBY LARSEN
Cacti are one of nature’s dichotomies; their thorny sculptural spheres, spiraling columns and flat paddles are paired with beautiful tissue-paper-like flowers, creating a glorious contrast.
Some species, such as the ubiquitous prickly pear, cover the landscape with displays ranging from yellow to pink. Most species of cacti bloom in April, while others are late bloomers, extending the colorful show.
Beavertail Prickly Pear (Opuntia)
Low-spreading and slow growing, this cactus has blue-gray pads covered in tiny brown barbs rather than spines. It displays lovely pink to magenta blooms.
Torch Cactus (Trichocereus)
Trichocereus hybrids are columnar cacti that are admired for their brilliant flowers in a range of colors. Some cultivars produce magnificent displays in flushes (the period when all of a plant’s flowers are in bloom) over time.
Hedgehog Cacti (Echinocereus)
Heavily spined and short statured, this cactus forms dense, low-clustered mounds. It produces large, brightly colored flowers, such as this variety, called Claret Cup.
Easily recognized as the iconic sentinel of the Sonoran Desert, this slow-growing, columnar giant reaches up to 50 feet. A corona of large, night-blooming, white flowers appears in May, followed by red edible fruit in June.
Fishhook Barrel (Ferocactus)
This basketball-shaped, long-lived cactus has ridges of curved red or yellow spines. Yellow or orange flowers form a crown, followed by a crop of yellow-pineapple-shaped fruit with many tiny black seeds.
Staghorn Cholla (Opuntia)
This very spiny, tree-like cactus has rod-shaped branches that are favored by native birds for nesting. The cholla species should not be planted in high-traffic landscape spaces!
Small and spherical in shape, this species is covered with tiny spines. A ring of pink flowers appears at one time, followed by a circle of oval-shaped, red fruit.
Santa Rita Prickly Pear (Opuntia)
This low-growing, clumping variety has flat, round, reddish-purple pads and fewer spines than others in its family. The pads’ hue deepens when stressed by drought or cold.
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