Stepping into another world- into the mind of a prolific talent, a collector, a storyteller and a dear friend, the home of , Michael Prepsky, is like no other. Every space is filled with thoughtful detail, emotion and saturated color- fine art mixed with children’s toys, student art, antique furniture and colorful rugs collide into a most unique space- one that is perfectly imperfect and absolutely suited for its owner.
Meet Michael Prepsky, a Phoenician by way of Indiana- a retired ceramics/arts teacher of 40 years, a celebrated ceramics artist, a collector, a father and a beautiful human. We invite you inside this home/art installation and introduce you to someone so special we just had to share.
Watch this video by Steven Yazzie for a look into Michael’s important history with Phoenix schools and the arts.
We spent a sunny, early summer morning with Michael and his dog, David, chatting about how this house came to be and how he gave me my first sale as a Realtor. Michael, always the gracious host had his favorite incense burning, music on and the house looking just so.
N: What started this whole thing? Since a move was not in your future at all…
M: I leased a townhome for 12 years, it was near the entrance to South Mountain Park, because the market was getting hot, the owner decided to sell. It threw me for a loop, I had really built something special there, I knew all my neighbors, the place was full of my things. I didn’t know what to do. The owners asking price was a bit unreasonable in my opinion, so it wasn’t an option for me to purchase due to what I knew about the home. I thought my only option was to find an equivalent space and lease again. You were just starting out in real estate so we chatted about my options and looked around for rentals- which wasn’t too promising. You suggested I try to get pre-qualified for a loan and after much nudging, I finally spoke to a lender and to my surprise, I qualified.
N: What was on your list of must haves for the new house?
M: Location was the most important for me. Since I had been living at the entrance to South Mountain Park all those years, I wanted to be near a big park, close to a health club, good restaurants, etc. Of course I wanted to make sure we kept the budget in mind, rates were pretty good when I was looking and I was surprised at how much rentals were costing vs. .purchasing and carrying a mortgage. I also wanted a certain size, not smaller than my previous house, needed a garage and a great yard.
N: What was your initial reaction to the house? Do you feel like you knew right away?
M: The house was a blessing, a perfect fit on so many levels- tons of potential, affordable, clean in a twenty year old community with mature landscaping, near St. Francis Park, the Highline Canal, had a pool, shopping nearby and a health club all within mile. It was really a blank slate inside and very well taken care of by the previous owner who only lived here in the winter
N: Had you owned a pool before? What sort of advice can you give to new pool owners?
M: Yes, they can become a nightmare- so get to know the basics and hire a good pool person. It’s nice to have though, to cool off, have friends over to swim and David loves it!
N: How on earth did you get all this moved?
M: Once I started looking for a new home, I began breaking down my townhome and yard. After two months of packing, it was time to move. The house hunting process only took about a month before we found the right one, my offer was accepted and we closed 30 days later. My new house location was only four miles away, so that was helpful. I rented a 28-foot U Haul and hired four guys that were recommended by the U Haul rep. It took four trips, the first load was 500 boxes. The ceramics had to be individually packed in protective boxes and all the art was carefully moved, it was painstaking to go through everything, but such a treasure as well to look through all of my collections. I found so many things I had documented from my teaching years, really incredible pieces of art and memorabilia. It took a while but ultimately it was a good thing that I went back through everything.
N: Did you have a vision for what you wanted the house to look like? Or has it organically come together?
M: Some things I wanted to do immediately before I moved in, like painting accent colors on some walls and removing the carpeting to paint the cement floors. After that, it just took time and money which allowed me to develop the house and yard.
N: What is your favorite room? Corner of your home? Most treasured piece of art? Proudest improvement?
M: Room, I would say the front room, the color and light in there are fantastic- it’s the entry to the whole house. Favorite corner is with James Randle’s New York Painting with my two ceramic pieces. Most treasured art has to be John Cooper’s Archangel Michael. Proudest improvement here goes to the yard and pool- I have put a lot of work out there and it’s a constant source of happiness for me in the garden.
N: What was different about buying this house vs. your previous homes?
M: This house is my third home since moving to Phoenix in 1971. I was married during the purchase of the first two homes and family was a consideration. My first house was purchased in 1972, it was located about 16th St and Northern on 1/2 acre. The house was small, maybe 900 square feet with a one car garage. I purchased it for $9,600. It required a down payment of $600! I had just left getting my taxes done and had money in hand, I drove by a for sale sign, so I called and bought the house that day.
This time around, I am retired with state pension and social security, so I had the funds for a down payment and income coming in to afford the house. The process has definitely changed, the contracts and time periods are all new to me.
N: What is living at South Mountain like? What are some of your favorite local spots?
M: South Mountain Park is the largest inner city park in the US- it offers hiking, biking trails, gorgeous vista views and at the Central entrance horseback riding in season. The park has so many rock art sites to discover as well. I take David out early in the morning before sunrise to let him run around the park and we walk the canal. Our evening walks are also beautiful along the canal and around the old churches down here.
The Farm at South Mountain is one of my favorite spots to dine- originally a 10 acre pecan farm that has been transformed into a unique place for breakfast (in season) and lunch and dinner is available year round.
N: How has owning this home affected your life?
M: When you rent or lease a house you are restricted as to what you can do to the house and yard which boxes you in. Buying this property has given me freedom to create the kind of space that is personal to me and for that I am grateful!
Michael continues to build his dream home, one piece of art at a time. He has recently decided to put a small kiln in his yard and continue creating. It was such an honor to help Michael purchase his home and I am so thankful to him for supporting me, especially when I was brand new!
We hope you are inspired to try something new with your interior, to look into local artists or to build a beautiful garden of your own. If you need help finding that perfect spot to create your one-of-a-kind home, contact us firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by: Misha Renteria
Photos by: Allie Smith