Reviving The Revival

Romi Carrell Wittman

This 80-year-old home and its landscape have seen many changes over the years. And the current homeowners aren’t quite done yet.

Graceful queen palms enliven the courtyard garden while bright bougainvillea covers the walls.

When Marty and Renee Capanna decided to purchase their home in a historic Tucson neighborhood back in 1980, they loved not only the house, which was built in 1939 in the Spanish revival style, but the feeling of community that infuses the area.

“This neighborhood is very alive,” Renee says. “Our passion is living where we can walk to games, restaurants and the Rincon Market. We take full advantage of all those things. We even walk downtown to restaurants for dinner and take the trolley home.“

At just 1,380 square feet with two bedrooms, the Capanna home was compact and offered relatively little storage space. Over the years, the couple expanded the footprint by 1,000 square feet, including the addition of a second story master suite and a family room at the back of the home.

As the Capanna family grew — the couple raised their two children here — they took on renovating the home in stages. In fact, the kitchen has been completely remodeled twice, most recently in 2015. Kim Rosborough of KR Interiors was the interior designer for that project. SHM Construction was the contractor for the project.

“Renee loves to cook and entertain,” Rosborough comments. “It’s fun to put together something you know the client will appreciate and use.”

Additional kitchen cabinetry was included to increase storage space.

Renee wanted white cabinets, so Rosborough designed the kitchen in a neutral palette. The white countertops are honed granite from Arizona Tile, while the backsplash is a glass mosaic from Artesana Tile. Rosborough added a peninsula as well as a wall with dove gray built-in cabinetry to increase the amount of storage space. A bay window and custom table became part of the makeover, giving the space a natural gathering area.

“The idea was to create a seamless flow from inside to outside,” Renee explains.

The Capannas turned to Phil Van Wyck of Van Wyck Projects for help reimagining the home’s outdoor spaces. Previously, the front yard was fairly basic, all grass with a small patio. Van Wyck turned it into another living area.

“We had to install all new windows,” Renee says of the project that started the outdoor renovation. “That inspired the addition of the French doors and the patio off the kitchen.”

The Capannas were concerned that, with two doors at the front of their home, visitors would be confused as to which entrance was the home’s front door. To address this issue, Van Wyck added a pillar and an overhang to subtly demarcate the home’s front door from the kitchen entrance.

“Remodels have boundaries,” Van Wyck observed of the design process. “You have to work within that.” Renee says her main goal was to add some privacy, while at the same time allowing interactions with passersby. As Renee put it, “We didn’t want a fortress.”

Beautiful chocolate brown flagstone guides visitors from the front of the home, to the side and rear yards. The side yard features a wonderfully private space with a Jacuzzi and outdoor shower. “People call our side yard enchanting,” Renee remarks.

Landscape Designer Phil Van Wyck designed the outdoor living spaces, including this private spa retreat.

Van Wyck designed all the hardscapes in the front, side and backyards, and he installed the permanent plants, including the trees and shrubs. Additionally, he is responsible for the ironwork that appears throughout the outdoor spaces, from the beautiful curved gates to the sconces and lights, and the water and fire features.

Wendy Lee of Garden Designs by Wendy installed all the pots and flowering plants, which she updates seasonally. “I call her Magic Wendy because she brings magic to the yard. She is a true artist with the flowerpots and all the plants around the fountain,” Renee says. “Wendy did the desert landscape on the north side of the wall and people stop every day and compliment it. They want to know who our designer was.”

Marty Capanna does the regular maintenance of the yard himself. “He loves to work in the yard and takes a lot of pride in it,” Renee reveals.

As with most homes, the renovation and remodeling process aren’t complete. “We’re still not finished,” Renee adds. “We do it little by little.”


KR Interiors,

SHM Construction, (520) 349-3761

Arizona Tile,

Artesana Tile,

Van Wyck Projects,

Garden Designs by Wendy,

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