When foothills homeowners approached Pro Remodeling to replace their existing pool, they also had the firm build a pool house.
By Romi Carrell Wittman | Photography by Robin Stancliff
The owners of a beautiful Catalina foothills home wanted to have a nicer pool to replace their existing one. They also decided to
add a pool/guest house. The project was designed by local architect Jake Boen of In Place Architecture. Local contractor John Almond of Pro Remodeling, Inc. completed the construction.
The homeowners wanted the new structure to be built near the pool, so they could relax after a refreshing dip. It also would serve as an inviting spot for entertaining, as well as accommodating overnight guests. Accent lighting, travertine pool decking and the interesting patio overhang design make this a truly special addition.
The first phase of construction involved tearing out the old pool and prepping the land. The pool house was new construction, so additional utilities had to be run to the site. Heavy rocks and caliche made the job more difficult.
“That stage took big equipment to level and buttress the ground,” Almond explains. Extensive rip rap retaining walls had to be removed and, as a precaution, the crew cut a new road onto the property to avoid destroying the homeowner’s existing driveway with all the heavy equipment.
The center-piece of the house is a row of tall windows that make up an entire wall of the home.
Once the ground was ready for the pool construction to begin, Almond and his crew stepped aside as the subcontractor completed his work. “The pool is between the residence and guest house so it had to go in first,” Almond adds. “We had to work with each other so we weren’t getting in their way, but we worked well together.”
The finished product is a stunning backyard retreat. The pool house features a kitchenette and a bedroom with full bath, making it perfect for outdoor entertaining as well as hosting overnight guests. The centerpiece of the house is a row of tall windows that make up an entire wall of the home. They fold back, effectively disappearing, creating a seamless indoor/outdoor space ideal for temperate days.
“The windows are 10 feet tall and have a mechanism that makes them very easy to operate,” Almond says.
For cooler evenings, the pool house has a Rumford fireplace, a specialty hearth that is tall and shallow, reflecting more heat than a traditional fireplace. The fireplace surround is stacked travertine.
Custom-made cabinetry and natural stonework can be found throughout the house. “The homeowner picked the colors and the finishes, and we used Chris Trainor, a former employee of ours who is now a custom cabinet maker,” he notes.
Almond says the job, which took about 10 months to complete, is one of his personal favorites and is a signature project for his company. “I enjoy the awesome look of it. The finished product is so nice,” he adds.
A dark and dull outdoor area was transformed into spaces of openness and light.
By Elena Acoba | Photography by Matt Vacca
Beach serenity and desert views. Lightness and shade. Openness and intimacy. The desires of a couple changing their Foothills home’s backyard appeared to pull in different directions. But landscape designer Elizabeth Przygoda-Montgomery, APLD, saw the potential of meeting them all in the redo of the 1993 hacienda-style home.
The pool’s facelift includes a cantilevered edge and light-blue paint job. New pool edging is accented with a border of black beach stones.
“They were just a pleasure to work with,” Przygoda-Montgomery says of the homeowners, she a Canyon Ranch employee, he a University of Arizona professor.
“She really drove the bus,” Przygoda-Montgomery adds. “She was adamant about being very involved with the color choices.”
The palette leans toward light and monochrome, the direct opposite of the old landscape that was filled with red brick, green grass, dark wood and a dark-blue pool surface.
To the homeowners, that old color combination said hot and overbearing. With a south-facing backyard that already was subject to intense sun, it wasn’t the relaxing feel they were after. “They wanted to take advantage of their city views and lush vegetation,” the designer explains about the desired ambiance.
There were several other landscaping issues that the couple wanted to tackle after living in the house for two years. A gathering area with a non-functioning fireplace was enclosed on two sides by a solid wall, and a ramada made it so dark and isolated that Przygoda-Montgomery called it a cave.
Additionally, a solid wall extended the length of the backyard, obscuring the mature eucalyptus and the desert beyond the barrier. There were other issues, as well. Even the plants were surrounded by walls that visually blocked the bottom of the planters and chopped up the space. The grass was contrary to the homeowners’ desire to conserve water. Lastly, the pool had been abandoned.
Grass, brick, the planter walls and the ramada were taken out. A big section of the wall perpendicular to the fireplace was cut out, allowing light to flow in and providing a view of the pool, the planters and the rest of the yard on the other side of the pool and to the desert in the distance.
Small windows on the wall with the fireplace added more light.
Both walls were covered in raw concrete stucco, providing texture and a neutral gray background for colorful pillows and potted plants. The fireplace was repaired so that it burns either gas or wood, and a built-in concrete bench was installed.
A light-colored rug dresses up the area around the dining table, which is surrounded by six white molded-plastic chairs.
Brick pavers have been replaced with ivory-colored ones, in which pearlized shells are embedded. They cool down the space, both to the eye and to the touch. By using a color palette of white, gray and blue, Przygoda-Montgomery bucked the trend of adding accents in vibrant Southwest hues that pop in the design.
“When you do reds and oranges, you’re seeing those hot colors,” she says. “I really love bringing in agave blues and seaside colors. It’s a relief to the eyes.”
The outdoor kitchen, a new feature, is of minimal size since a place to cook wasn’t a priority. “She wanted the tiniest barbecue,” the designer says of her client. A short countertop, made of recycled glass, surrounds the 24-inch-long barbecue.
The stunning feature that commands attention is the replacement for the ramada. White-painted wood beams radiate from the fireplace wall and end well past the dining area and over the kitchen.
They are held up by cross beams that seem to float above the walls. It’s engineered so that only one slim post was added, keeping the space open.
They’re topped by a five-sided piece of corrugated metal designed to provide as much shade as possible during the times the couple are likely to use the space. Przygoda-Montgomery says she was glad she was able to add this bit of rustic feel to the modern, minimal design. “Maybe it’s the Bohemian girl in me,” she says, “but I love the sound of the rain on a tin roof. It’s like a musical instrument.”
The pool was put back into service and given a facelift with a new cantilever edge and a light-blue paint job.
Next to it is a new gathering spot that features a square concrete fire pit. The area is defined by groundcover of stabilized decomposed granite.
Part of the back wall was cut away at this spot so that nighttime city views can be enjoyed by those seated in white Acapulco chairs or big pillows. It also allows the professor to see out of the yard from his home-office window.
With the planter walls gone, Przygoda-Montgomery could add low-growing cacti and flowering shrubs to complement larger trees and cacti.
A few stair steps from the fire pit is a lounge area with furniture that mirrors the pool in color and the dining area in style. Strings of light snake up the mesquites on this side of the yard, as well as hang from the beams of the metal roof at the fireplace. Globes of white light in the dining area and in the pool provide soft illumination for nighttime gatherings.
The project was completed nearly two years ago and the designer feels it has held up well. “What I love about this design is that it’s relatable for most people,” she says. “Sometimes designs can be so over the top that most people couldn’t afford it. This is practical, beautiful and affordable design.
“I call it barefoot luxury.”
…and the Winner is…
2018 HGTV Ultimate Outdoor Awards. As the editors’ pick in the Stunning Scriptures category, the project is described as a “backyard turned private paradise,” according to the HGTV website. “This outdoor space…seems like something out of a dream.”
2018 Landscape Design Awards. The project earned a gold award – the highest of three levels of recognition – from the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. The international program honors excellence in landscape design.
2017 Gardenista Considered Design Awards. A panel of judges picked the finalists, who then were voted on by the public. As the winner of the best Hardscape Project, the project was described by judge Deborah Needleman this way: “This striking hardscape creates a sense of place.”
TOP A large opening in the wall created a window for additional light and views of the surrounding garden.
RIGHT Cacti and succulents add texture and sculptural forms against the patio’s hardscape.
Elizabeth Przygoda-Montgomery, APLD,
Boxhill Design, boxhilldesign.com
Pavers: Artistic Pavers Mfg.,
Accessories: Today’s Patio,
Installation: Turf Tek, LLC,
Shade Structure: Made for Shade,
Pool tile: Noble Tile Supply, nobletile.com
Photo Styling Assistant: Hot Cool Vintage,
One couple’s regular trip from Mexico to Tucson led them to take up residence in a new (old) community.
BY DEBBY LARSEN
PHOTOS BY AMY HASKELL
Over the years, Dhana and Gene Waken have owned houses in scenic places, including Napa, California, and Maui, Hawaii. But four years ago, while traveling between their Alamos and Tucson homes, they stopped in Tubac and discovered another place to put down roots. The drive from Alamos to Tucson sometimes seemed very long for the Wakens, and on one trip Gene joked, as they were approaching Tubac, “If we lived here, we’d be home by now!” They pulled off the interstate and took a quick drive through the newer Barrio de Tubac neighborhood, falling in love with — and eventually purchasing — a Spanish Colonial home on a quiet cul de sac. The village, known for its arts community, provides a tremendously convenient location for the couple — just 60 miles to Tucson and 17 miles to the border. Although they sold their Tucson property, they periodically visit the Old Pueblo to see their physicians, friends and acquaintances. The couple kept their Alamos home, too, and Dhana still has an antique shop in that area. When asked how she selects items for her shop, she notes, “I buy things I would love in my home and hope someone else is inspired by my finds.”
The couple’s dogs, Blue and Kikkoman, love to romp from the main house through the courtyard to visit Gene in his office.
The Frenchstyle graveled courtyard is a terrific space for outdoor entertaining.
It was Tubac’s scenery that drew them to the city, but they really fell for the house, which was featured on a recent home tour. Dhana has decorated their three-bedroom casa with treasures in a mix of styles from many cultures. “I love unusual pieces, such as a 15th century Bishop’s robe closet,” she says. She has found interesting and beautiful items in local shops, including Pancho’s Resource & Design, Angeles y Diablitos and Jane’s Attic. One of the appeals of the home is how interior and exterior spaces blend. “I love the inner courtyard and open floor plan,” says Dhana. “It has lots of windows and doors that lead to the center garden.” There’s even a casita for Gene’s office off the center space. He owned an engineering firm for more than four decades, and still consults. The couple’s dogs, Blue and Kikkoman, love to romp from the main house through the courtyard to visit him in his office. The backyard slants down toward the wooded Anza Trail on the Santa Cruz River. “We would like to build a bocce court in the backyard someday,” observes Dhana. The area is visited by local wildlife, and the Wakens have sighted deer, javelinas, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions and coatimundi. In addition to being a Master Gardener and floral designer, Dhana also is a dedicated and enthusiastic hostess. Gene is of Lebanese heritage, and Dhana enjoys utilizing his family recipes in her entertaining (see Entertaining at Home on page 26 for some of her favorite recipes).
Southern Arizona proved to be the perfect location for a couple from California to build their future.
BY DEBBY LARSEN | PHOTOGRAPHY BY AMY HASKELL
Russell Palmer and Alec White lived and worked in Santa Barbara for many years, but they dreamed of building a home in Southern Arizona. Their combined creativity is on full display in their Spanish Colonial casa south of Tubac in the Morning Star Ranch development.
Imagine a central courtyard-style hacienda — with modern amenities — sited to take advantage of views of the nearby mountain ranges. Surrounding this fabulous home are 40 acres dotted with native mesquites, Mexican blue oaks and ocotillo. Who wouldn’t want to live there?
Russell, who had worked in the music industry and studio electronics, recently began selling real estate. Alec is a landscaper who managed the grounds of a major historical home when they lived in Santa Barbara. For several years prior to moving to Arizona and starting the building process, the duo made a lengthy list of their must-haves for a desert home, borrowing extensively from favorite features in their previous residences. “We chose what we liked best in each one,” says Russell. “Luckily, we have the same taste so most decisions were easy.” They continued revising the list until the first shovelful of soil was unearthed. The hacienda, built by Dorn Homes and nicknamed “Las Montañas” due to its surroundings, combines everything they love. The couple’s knowledge of architecture, horticulture and art history have been blended together perfectly to create a cohesive whole.
Built of concrete block and color-matched to the desert to mimic adobe, the result is a rustic aesthetic. Many elements of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture in the Andalusian tradition are evident, such as wrought-iron metalwork, painted ceramic tiles and lavish landscaping.
A wide tiled stairway leads down to the front patio. The entryway features a large iron double doorway with a cantera stone surround.
Most of the home’s rooms can be accessed from the interior courtyard. Casement windows and French doors were carefully aligned to capture views and open to shaded loggias. Greta, the couple’s 17-year-old heeler, enjoys lying on the home’s stained and polished concrete floors.
A Rumford-style corner fireplace with cantera stone mantel is the focal point of the expansive Great Room, with its 22-foot-high ceilings. At its far end is an open-concept kitchen with a large central island topped with honed granite. Travertine backsplashes, a copper farm sink and colorful talavera tile give the room a casual feel. “We love to cook, and this design is perfect for entertaining,” Alec notes.
Off the courtyard, one of the inner vestibules was designed to accommodate a large antique glass bookcase from Myanmar. This and a similar piece were purchased from Colonial Frontiers several years ago, and were chosen specifically for their Arizona home.
Alec’s expertise in landscape design shows in the home’s wraparound patio gardens, displaying native and desert-adapted species for year-round visual appeal.
The duo remains busy since finishing their home. From his home office, Russell is a realtor with eXp Realty in Tubac and Rio Rico. He enjoys assisting clients in finding retirement homes in quaint towns near Tubac, while Alec currently manages some of the grounds at Morning Star Ranch.
Their hacienda provides a restful ambience that both gentlemen adore. Russell concludes, “Even in the summer when everyone else wants to leave, we love watching the monsoons from our covered patios.”
From new appliances, to updated cabinetry, to custom islands and countertops, these kitchen makeovers have all the right ingredients.
The homeowners found their kitchen to be uninspiring, as well as lacking in functionality for their cooking and entertaining needs.
The kitchen sported cherry-stained cabinets, glass mosaic backsplash and granite countertop, along with basic pendant lighting.
The kitchen’s footprint was changed, with the island shape redesigned to offer more storage and better traffic flow. Revised elements include a new pantry layout and built-in appliances. Slate-gray painted cabinets and white marble-look quartz countertops add a fresh look. The hood was replaced with an inset version covered in drywall layered with oxidized copper, which added a bright punch of turquoise. Brass cage pendant lights were added above the island.
The homeowner recently purchased this abode, and a kitchen remodel was at the top of their wish list. The result was a fresh new look with a modern white and gray color scheme.
The kitchen’s style was reminiscent of the late 1990s. The overall layout worked, but the homeowner disliked the look of the perimeter cabinets. The island was oddly shaped and lacked function. Dark knotty alder cabinets, travertine floors and backsplash, granite countertops appeared dated.
The island and peninsula cabinets, pantry door and the stove hood were replaced. The layout of the island was changed to include seating. The pantry cabinet was converted into a coffee bar. The perimeter cabinets were retained but updated with custom doors and drawer fronts to match the new cabinets. The ceiling was redone with shiplap. Subway tile was installed, spanning from the new quartz countertop to the ceiling. A white hood with stainless steel trim became a focal point for the kitchen, along with the adjacent floating shelves. Dramatic chandelier pendants were added above the island, and the recessed can lights were updated with LEDs.
The homeowner wanted a redesign to result in a lighter and more modern look through the use of materials such as quartz, marble and granite.
The home was built in the late 1980s with raised panel oak cabinets, Corian counters and dark blue mosaic tile backsplashes. The existing island, which was too large and bulky for the scale of the space, was the biggest challenge. Outdated appliances and light fixtures needed to be replaced.
The first order of business was to redesign and replace the kitchen island and incorporate a free-form raised granite bar counter. A full slab of marble was installed above the cooktop for a dramatic accent. The original doors and drawer fronts were replaced with Shaker-style versions in maple that were painted white. Polished chrome hardware finished off the look.
The previous kitchen was dark, dated and too cramped for the needs of a growing family.
The home was built in the late 1980s. The kitchen had dark, heavily grained cabinets. The lower soffits made the room feel closed in. The small-scale ceramic floor tiles and dated appliances needed replacing.
Two partial walls that separated the kitchen and family room were removed. The basic layout was reconfigured, and the refrigerator relocated to an opposite wall. The soffits above the cabinets were taken out, and an archway closed off and replaced with a door. Larger windows, cherry cabinets and sleek stainless appliances were added. The limestone subway tile backsplash creates a contrast with the wood tones. Wood-look flooring differentiates the kitchen from the family room. New lighting was installed, including under-cabinet LEDs, low-profile fixtures and recessed LED lighting in the ceiling.
This ’90s-era Southwest-style home’s kitchen required re-working to increase its functionality.
The custom, energy-efficient mud adobe home features exposed brick on the inside. The kitchen had a utilitarian feel, with a stainless-steel backsplash. The interior finishes included honey-colored shaker cabinets and outdated appliances. The original L-shape design only allowed for a tiny island and pantry. The layout did not work well for entertaining.
The old kitchen was completely gutted. The sink and stove locations were reversed to create a better flow. The pantry wall was removed to open up the space, and an island was constructed using five mesquite pieces. A new hutch was made of mahogany and stained to match the mesquite countertop. A porcelain tile backsplash complements the adobe walls. Rustic golden alder cabinetry enhances the ranch-style concept.
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