"Our family has always lived side by side,” says Pat Petznick, the Phoenix philanthropist who founded the Fresh Start Women’s Foundation with her sister, Beverly Stewart. When one family member moves, the others generally follow—which is what happened when Pat’s son, Earl Jr., purchased property in Paradise Valley and Beverly bought land two doors down. “There remained a lot between the two of them,” Pat says, “so what else could my husband and I do but buy the middle lot?”
The home Pat and her husband, Earl, were leaving was a refined European-style estate near Phoenix. But for their move to the desert hills, “we thought we would enjoy toning down the formality of our lifestyle,” she says. To make that happen, the couple’s longtime designer, Anne Gale, along with fellow veterans Patty Burdick and Jennifer Campos, set about making the Petznicks’ fine furnishings, artwork and antiques settle into a more relaxed environment.
To start, the team had to make decisions about interior architecture that would mesh with the development’s required stone-and-stucco exteriors. “My first focus was to create an interesting interior space that was all about shape and shadow, working with only whites and creams,” says Gale, who came out of retirement for her fourth project with the Petznicks. For project ideas, she turned to the fanciful organic lines of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí. “His work inspired my design of the grand staircase and the vaulted ceiling of the central hallway—all soft, flowing curves in plaster,” she says.
Architect Greg Schouten produced many sets of drawings to land on the final design for the sculptural statement-making staircase. “Anne described a family of details—things like scrollwork; elegant but bold,” he says. “I just tried to draw what she was describing.” Plaster artisan Dennis Hopper of Hopper Finishes oversaw bringing the design to life, in addition to plastering the distinctive beams that crown the double-height great room. The latter elements frame clerestory windows that form a “spine of light” down the long space, Gale describes. The room is bookended with huge windows and dramatic views toward the mountains on one side and the city on the other.
Designing every room with a beautiful view was critical, Gale says—and Schouten, working with builder Rod Cullum, delivered. “A piece of glass specially made for the living room window measuring 110 inches by 110 inches was craned into place to provide maximum city light vistas,” Cullum says. The outdoors can be admired from the room’s inviting chairs and sofas, which Gale had reupholstered in caramel-colored wool for a smart and fashion-forward look. But given the owners’ significant collections of precious objects and artwork, Schouten was also mindful of the interior views. “We thought it was important to add some detail in the circulation spaces,” he says, citing the chairs and painting in the entryway as an example. “When you’re entering or leaving a room, your mind shifts, and you can enjoy those details more.” New wide-plank floors also set off the furniture pieces. “The gold-leaf furnishings look marvelous on them,” Gale says.
In determining the home’s floor plan, the design team decided to leave a formal dining room out of the mix, just as the welcoming great room replaced a proper living room, Campos says. “As we worked on the plans, things started changing, getting less and less formal,” she says. “Here, the dining room is part of the kitchen.” However, elegant touches appear throughout: In the kitchen, for instance, the designers refinished a ship’s table from the couple’s former guesthouse and surrounded it with re ned seating. “The formal kitchen chairs look really good with the more casual table,” says Burdick, who worked with Campos to design the molded terra-cotta fireplace that anchors the space.
Such juxtapositions also can be found in the terraces and gardens. Neighborhood regulations required landscape architect Greg Trutza to use desert plantings to surround the property. But within the sloped backyard, he built retaining walls and filled them with fertile soil to grow roses, shrubs and trees that wouldn’t otherwise survive the rocky terrain. He also designed a terraced fountain with a statue from the previous house and a checkerboard patio of turf and hand-chiseled pavers. “Before, the Petznicks wanted European style done to the nines,” Trutza says. “Here, it’s southern Mediterranean and Spanish Colonial with rustic stone veneers—but we wanted some elegance as well. It was a very delicate way to landscape.”
That casual elegance begins at the home’s courtyard entrance, where an elaborate tile mural depicting scenes from the Petznicks’ Page Springs vineyard, D.A. Ranch, hangs above a stone bench; artist Jim Schroeder interpreted Gale’s ideas for the mural using an ancient Portuguese tilework technique. With this feature, the stunning stairway that greets visitors inside and the sophisticated interiors throughout, the Petznicks’ new home is a career highlight for their celebrated designer. “After 55 years,” Gale says, “I count this as one of my starring designs.”