A Fantasy Family Getaway in Arizona
A design team breaks new ground with a home that combines rustic luxury and innovative custom comforts
When a well-traveled Arizona couple decided to renovate their Gilbert ranch with luxuries that rivaled those of the five-star hotels they love, it sparked a burst of creativity.
The original structure and its Tuscan-style detailing didn’t fit the young family in floor plan or aesthetic. They envisioned a new place—which they would name Mae’s Ranch in honor of a beloved grandmother—that would feel like an authentic rustic mountain ranch with a distinctive tone of opulence.
They assembled a team, including interior designer Angelica Henry of Scottsdale-based Angelica Henry Design, Rick Chafey and Brett Blauvelt of Red Rock Contractors, and Jon Poetzl of Carson Poetzl Architecture, and tasked it with dreaming up an array of new design ideas that were at once inventive and inviting.
“They wanted all the luxury and comfort of a high-end hotel while maintaining a sense of intimacy and warmth for their young family,” Henry recalls. And innovation was absolutely essential: The clients wanted bespoke elements unlike any they had seen before. “It was a challenge to find unusual materials and bring them together in unexpected ways, or to use traditional materials in new ways,” she says.
The designers paid meticulous attention to every detail and finish, right down to the custom cattle ranch brand that serves as a logo for the home. “Much of the furniture was custom,” Henry explains, “and I worked with skilled wood, metal and glass artisans to create one-of-a-kind pieces tailored to each setting. Even the powder room’s tissue holder is a custom design.”
A century ago Gilbert, Arizona, was known as “The Hay Capital of the World,” and references to the area’s rich agrarian history appear throughout the home and its adjoining grounds, which include a chicken coop and windmill. “Given the project’s ‘ranch’ theme, we thought it would be fun to use some of the old vernacular, like the entry foyer’s silo form, and create a strong feature both inside and out,” Poetzl explains.
In keeping with the unconventional rustic approach, the design team mixed century-old ceiling timbers and reclaimed oak floors with metal and concrete, then gave each room a gloss of Southwestern glamour. They used steel extensively—and imaginatively—from the funky front gate and laser-cut panels flanking the entrance to the living room’s I-beam-shaped, patinated mantelpiece. In the master bathroom, “rebar rods cap off the tile baseboard instead of a tile trim,” Henry says. “And to help illuminate the main hallway, we used galvanized pipes to create kick lights.”
While there’s no shortage of dramatic spaces at Mae’s Ranch, the jaw-dropping glitz of the master suite’s two-story closet is unmatched. Designed so that each handbag, shoe and blouse is easy to view and reach, it includes an upstairs sewing and craft space, a hidden washer and dryer, and a special display for the owner’s wedding dress. “The concept was to create the look of a high-end department store,” Henry says of her design, which incorporates embossed leather stair treads, antiqued brass accents and glazed cabinet finishes to create a feeling of “aged luxury.”
This timeworn, “beautifully imperfect” aesthetic is evident in the materials used throughout the home, Henry says. “Aged finishes, ceiling details, patterns and wall textures were all key in maintaining the scale and intimacy of the interiors.” For though this ranch was designed to dazzle, it is first and foremost a comfortable family home. Says Chafey, “This is the place where friends and family will always convene.”
A massive slab of peroba wood makes a stunning dining room table, which designer Angelica Henry paired with a cozy leather banquette and chairs.
Century-old timbers and reclaimed sheets of corrugated glass embedded with chicken wire (sourced from oldegoodglass.com) combined with faux brick, patinated steel and star-shaped earthquake washers, give the kitchen old-fashioned charm. Pale cabinetry fitted with antique hinges blends easily with the modern concrete counters and sink, and treated suede chairs are paired with a custom table.
A steel powder room vanity provides the base for a petrified-wood vessel basin.
The master bedroom’s bigger-than-king-size bed is bracketed by a custom headboard and a buffalo hide bench.
A two-story closet resembles a private department store. Bespoke details highlight each garment and accessory, and an antiqued-mirror-clad island has a built-in glass jewelry case on top.
Hexagonal slate tiles, painted and glazed cabinets and a copper tub add rustic character to the master bathroom. The concrete countertops have “erosion” sinks.
Builder Rick Chafey designed “a very Zen-feeling garden” as a private oasis adjacent to the master suite.
A steel-canopied walkway is flanked by water runnels evoking irrigation ditches once common in the area; the garden also provides sanctuary for adopted desert tortoises.
“We set out to create something no one else would ever imagine to house chickens,” Chafey says of the stylish chicken coop they dubbed “the Mother Clucker.”