A grieving widower received a Father’s Day gift from his stepdaughter for ballroom dance lessons in 2015. It led to a new hobby, a new love and one really cool home with an unusual feature.
Penny and Larry Heinz's home, near Union Hills Drive and Loop 101 in Glendale, features a ballroom.
But that's getting ahead of the story.
Penny, a tenured dancer at the Arrowhead Arthur Murray dance studio, recalls the evening Larry entered the studio.
Penny had watched Elena, Larry’s stepdaughter, grow her dance skills through the years and was touched by her gesture in giving her stepdad lessons. The idea was to help him through his grieving process by way of dance.
He quickly earned the moniker Mr. Trouble.
Larry is a gentleman to the core, and a flirtatious one at that. Mr. Trouble was immediately hooked on ballroom dancing and, eventually, on Penny.
On Valentine’s Day 2016, Larry arrived at the studio with a bundle of yellow roses for all the ladies, and a single red rose for Penny.
The first “I love you” came three months into their relationship.
The following August, Larry proposed to Penny in front of a packed Las Vegas ballroom while he danced to Bruno Mars' “Marry Me” at an Arthur Murray event.
As Larry puts it, he knew what true love looked like and saw it in Penny.
The couple married Oct. 26, 2016.
Time was of the essence for the newlyweds to find their perfect home.
Larry’s Litchfield Park home closed within 30 days, and Penny’s lease was set to renew, so they had to act quickly.
Priorities were established right out of the box step: a gas stove, the ability to accommodate family members with disabilities, and dance space. Or at least a floor plan with ballroom potential.
They saw that potential in the second house on their viewing schedule, a home in the Arrowhead community. They visualized combining the living and dining rooms into their ballroom space.
A kitchen with a gas stove and a huge master suite with three additional bedrooms at the opposite end of the split floor plan nailed their landing.
They closed on the 3,000-square-foot home that December and moved in the following month, after several renovation projects.
Six rooms were renovated and new flooring installed within the first year.
Dated gold door hardware was exchanged for oiled bronze. The master bath was redesigned, security cameras outside the home and a wall-mounted 240-volt charging station for their electric car were added.
Ceiling fans were hung, three alone dedicated to the ballroom, which now features a wall of tall mirrors and recessed lighting. A bookcase at one end of the ballroom is filled with dancing awards and shoes — dancing shoes.
Between the two of them, the Heinzs' average four nights a week in studio dancing.
Even in her kitchen, a sign reads: "This kitchen is for dancing."
The couple also modified their home with family in mind.
Larry and Penny built a "Mother-in-Love" suite and moved Penny's 80-year-old mother in last May.
Standard 30-inch doorways were widened to 36 inches for her mother, who uses a walker.
Two bedrooms were transformed into a suite with an archway carved out of the common wall to connect sleeping quarters to a private den.
The bathtub was removed from a nearby bathroom and replaced with a large walk-in/roll-in shower, ample enough to accommodate a wheelchair if needed. A rubber bladder installed floor line at the shower entry eliminates water entering the dressing area.
The bathroom features tile work and a fixed shower head, plus a hand-held shower head. A product niche has been placed at a lower level for easy access, along with several handrails. All finished in oiled bronze.
The couple also has ensured their home is accessible to their son-in-law, who uses a scooter. Entries have ramps.
The Heinz home provides for what they love most, their family and dancing.
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