Fresh off the heels of completing his first total home renovation, a project referred to as the “Concrete House,” Jake and I began searching for his next project. Jake knew he wanted a mid century home with a mountain view- potentially to create a home for himself, but likely for resale. By chance, the timing couldn’t be more perfect, a home popped up on the Modern Phoenix Marketplace prior to hitting the MLS; Paradise Gardens, Al Beadle designed, mountain views….complete gut job! Jake and I jumped in the car and saw the house right away. The project was pretty intense and would require more than Jake really wanted to invest it was just a bit too big for a personal residence, but our wheels were definitely turning.
We knew this was the house he should rehab next, it had history, it needed lots of help and knew it would be an incredible transformation. It was a big undertaking. What about a partner? Jenn, a close friend of ours was the perfect partner for Jake. I knew they had similar design sensibilities and Jenn had expressed a desire to get into interiors and home renovation in the past. I contacted Jenn that night, immediately she was in! We decided to round the partnership off with me as the third member in an advisory role- keeping them up to date on the market, pricing, buyer trends and being the tie-breaker when needed.
The neighborhood of Paradise Gardens has a unique history with a little controversy amongst the “MoPho” crowd. The land was originally bought by a developer, Robert Altherr, who contracted out Beadle’s firm to draw architectural plans for the tasteful, modern homes to be built in “Paradise Gardens.” The history is best explained by mid century historian/enthusiast Alison King of Modern Phoenix. The gist of the story is that when builders cut corners, architects are no longer happy and don’t want their name on the final product. The neighborhood, today, is considered a Beadle neighborhood and the homes are coveted time capsules.
When we started the project, it became clear, the already huge undertaking of renovating the home was actually bigger than planned; two poorly built additions needed to be completely removed down to the dirt, the roof that was recently recoated would not survive, we needed to consider an entire re-plumb, etc. Not much salvageable except the shell of the original footprint- 3 bedrooms 2 bathrooms and approximately 1800 square feet. The three of us decided to honor the house, the architecture and history by maintaining the footprint and overall look of the house but expanding in a Beadle-esque style- boxy with floor to ceiling windows, minimal esthetics and original style sunshades trimming the exterior. The new addition would incorporate a master bedroom wing, great room and powder bath off the entry. The finished product would be a minimalistic, organic, desert-modern style that could transition to work with many kinds of interior decor.
Over the course of 12 months, we met at the house weekly to review progress, make changes, discuss finishes and re-write the timeline. As with most projects, you end up over the time allotted and over budget- and the Onyx house was no exception. The home had to be done right- no quick fix-n-flip here, which I appreciate so much as an agent and a lover of older homes. The entire home lives brand new- new plumbing, HVAC, electric, insulation, roofing, sewer lines, pool plaster/tile, etc. No detail was too small, no stone left unturned. The end result is a 2800 square foot, 4 bed 3.5 bath- absolute gem. When the project wrapped, we walked through as a group and talked about the process.
N: What was your favorite room to pick finishes?
Jake: The kitchen. Originally the dining+kitchen area, the expanded kitchen transitioned the mid-century “shell” into the added open gathering space. It ended up halfway between the past and the present with clean lines and a soothing palette while interest was added with brushed wood grain textured cabinets, simple bronze and black details, and creamy honed quartz. I love how the sunlight floods the space from two skylights, placed flanking the central island. The counter space here is extensive, and the storage plentiful, this is the heart of the home and ready for a functional and fruitful future.
Jenn: The master bath was a big commitment, but it turned out amazing. The terrazzo-look tile used on the walls is another nod to the past but done in a way that brings in an organic/desert vibe. Another opportunity to bring in natural light with the skylight- which was key here- makes the European style shower feel like a personal spa.
N: I personally love the entry. Keeping the planters and repurposing them is a dream- it’s such a statement. Bringing the outside in is so appropriate in the desert and for this home. I imagine the owner will make the yards a xeriscape with the large windows framing sculptural cacti and native plants.
N: What was the biggest challenge of the project?
Jake: Always balancing the overall goals of the project with the resources at hand. Making things work.
Jenn: Time. It’s a challenge to make huge strides and then wait for the next phase, there was so much construction happening around the time we were in our framing phase, it felt like we were battling to get subs to the job site.
Then we staged- during the Covid-19 pandemic- when nothing was open and no one was working. The three of us banded together all our storage units and furnished the house. Calling in a major favor from Julia Buckingham of Julia Buckingham Interiors; we were able to use some fantastic art and furniture to add color and depth. We secretly all love this part of a job, seeing the home come to life.
Now, to sell the house during the pandemic… I truly believe that even now, with things being as upside down as they are, there are still buyers out there waiting for a fantastic house. A turn-key, gorgeous modern home tucked away behind the Phoenix Mountain Preserve and in the center of the valley. I always tell my buyers, “when they’re good, they’re gone,” and I know it will be the case with this home.
Although Jake, Jenn and the home all deserve a “wrap party,” we will settle for a socially distant champagne toast and a 6-foot-apart plunge in the pool when we get our contract!
Written by: Misha Renteria