Driving up to the Thurston home, a 1932 Spanish colonial set back from a Phoenix street lined with towering, mature palms, one would never expect to see what they will once inside. Its manicured lawn, its sweet front porch, its flower boxes and planters all preview what most would assume should be a predictable, tame interior.
But, tame isn’t the right adjective. Eclectic is quite fitting. And for one specific feature, “saucy” might be the best bet.
Located in the Cheery Lynn Historic District, the 1,900 square foot home and casita had everything Mark and Sherry Thurston were looking for in a new place. Sherry was smitten from the moment she walked in.
“Before we were married, I made the mistake of taking her to Encanto,” Mark Thurston said with a laugh. “She’s wanted a historic home forever.”
The two-bedroom, two-bath home is accompanied by a studio-style casita next door, which the couple just finished renovating to showcase on Airbnb. The main house represents a shift in architectural preference in the district, as the Tudors and Bungalows of the early 1900s gave way to the Spanish Colonials of the 1930s.
The couple moved to the home about nine months ago after living in Mesa for some time and renting in Tempe, and when they did, they got to work.
“We white-washed the entire house,” Sherry Thurston said of the lath and plaster walls from the couch in the home’s front living room, which faces the charming palm-lined street. “We’re a little tired.”
Beyond paint, they ran into problems with the sewer lines. They removed massive hedges from the front lawn, replacing them with lower-profile, more colorful lantana and hibiscus. They deconstructed an air-conditioned wine closet and completely renovated the sweet casita they plan to rent.
And, just a few weeks ago, only days before the home was scheduled to be featured on a neighborhood home tour, they replaced a sizeable section of the ceiling in their master bedroom.
And, that wasn’t by choice.
“The ceiling fell on our bed in our master bedroom,” Sherry Thurston said, as Mark noted that the surprise repair job came after heavy rains. “We weren’t in the bed, though.”
So, it’s easy to see why they’re tired. Sherry has big plans for the kitchen, which is unabashedly anchored in the '70s, with its harvest gold stove, its gold hardware and its oaky cabinets. And, they plan to lay grass and build a game area in the backyard, which is simply covered in gravel at the moment.
And they have to figure out what to do with that tub. The red, oversized soaking tub, propped up by golden feet and fed by a golden faucet, that sits in a room that could conceivably be used as a third bedroom.
“It’s an $8,000 tub,” Sherry said of the Kohler Birthday Bath. “This house is known for this tub.”
As it should be. It’s the sauciest part of the house, what with the petite, oh-so-disco chandelier that hangs above it, swagged gently toward two windows, which open to a view of a custom-built outdoor atrium.
“There are stories about this tub, which aren’t true,” Mark Thurston said of the talk around town that pegs the tub to a 1980s Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds film about the best little adult establishment in Texas.
The vampy, seductive tub owns the room, which is filled out by a chair, a wicker bench, and a portrait of Campbell’s Tomato Soup. The couple thinks that when it’s time to renovate this area, they may move the tub into the part of the bathroom that holds the shower and toilet. But, that’s still up for debate.
“I didn’t even know what to put in here,” Sherry Thurston said with a lighthearted laugh. “It’s not like we have audiences when we bathe, but it looks like we do.”
Adding to the room’s regal feel is the master vanity, set down one step from the tub’s elevated showcase. The lacquered wood vanity, which apparently used to be a dresser, holds a sunken white sink accented with golden hardware. And the dresser, a holdover from the home’s previous owner, has been retrofitted to allow for easy access to its inner plumbing.
The master bath leads to the home’s master bedroom, which the previous owner set up with three full-size closets, enclosed by brass-trimmed mirrored doors, per the decade. However, what could be incongruous for some owners, what with the home’s gold accents and quirky lighting leftover from a previous era, flows in a way that adds a curious, endearing flavor to the entire home.
A gold elephant sits on the fireplace mantle. Vintage artwork and mirrors hang throughout the house. A stained glass window shines from inside the shower. Patterned saltillo tile covers the kitchen floor. A gate from the yard adorns a wall inside the casita. And, an exposed brick pillar leftover from a wood-burning stove in the kitchen, is covered with wine labels.
Of course, the one thing the Thurstons have no plans to change is their laundry “room.” With just the two of them in the house, it makes perfect sense to keep their washer and dryer tucked inside their master bathroom.
“I love it,” Sherry Thurston said.