By Mary Wakeford| November 13th, 2020
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Patti and Dale Schmitt headed West from Georgia after retirement to be near Dale's twin brother.

They initially thought they'd settle in Tucson, but ended up renting a home in Goodyear's Pebble Creek. From there, they took time to scope out their options and discovered Estrella Mountain Park's 55+ community of CantaMia in Goodyear.

The couple were looking to leave behind the bustle of city life.

A new way of life

The Schmitts instantly felt a sense of community with all of the clubs and offerings: cooking, ceramics, art and pottery. The community also has a winery and chef dining.

CantaMia features a manned gated entry, a 29,000-square-foot recreation center with an outdoor amphitheater, concerts, golf courses, a yacht club and 16 miles of walking trails surrounded by lakes in the Sonoran Desert. The HOA fees currently run $245 per month.

"We rarely leave our community. Everything we need is right here in a self-supporting infrastructure” Patti said.

The couple were looking to leave fast-paced city life behind after retiring in 2014. 

The couple, who had met at a radiology convention, were married in 1978 and built careers in the radiology field. 

Patti’s career spanned more than 40 years and involved extensive international travel. She was grateful to not have been aboard a plane headed for Europe when she received a call that would change their lives: Dale had suffered a catastrophic stroke on the golf course at the age of 42.

The medical event abruptly ended his career and, for a while, the mobility that many take for granted. 

Patti has conquered breast cancer, twice: the first time at nearly the same age as her husband’s stroke, and again 10 years later.

To survive such devastating events and continue to thrive redefines the term power couple. Both are inspiring in their attitude, sense of humor and determination to overcome.

Building the home around their needs

The Schmitts were sold on Avatar Homes (now Taylor Morrison) by its willingness to incorporate Dale’s disability requirements into their chosen floorplan.

“The builder was absolutely wonderful about wheelchair and master shower accommodations,” Patti said. 

They settled on a spacious 2,329-square-foot home with upscale amenities.  

The ranch-style territorial home with a stacked stone facade and concrete tiled roof sits on an 8,453-square-foot lot with a gated courtyard.

The home has separate garage suites, one containing their preferred wheels for navigating the community — a golf cart.

The Schmitts tweaked the floorplan to incorporate Patti’s home office in place of a third bedroom.

A generous entry hall leads to the kitchen/great room space with a screened Arizona room just beyond — Dale’s favorite room in the house.

The entire home features wall-to-wall floor tile in Lucerne Grasson, giving the look of travertine with the durability of porcelain. The interior walls are painted in Frazee’s Autumn Wheat.

Plantation shutters and six-inch baseboards bring an element of sophistication throughout the home.

When it came time to choose finishes at the design center, Patti’s nephew, a commercial interior designer, was teleconferenced in to assist.

“At one point, my nephew said, 'Auntie, let me handle this.'” 

Patti and Dale did just that — and he did not disappoint.

A home shopping spree

The home's furnishings might not be what you'd expect from a retired couple. The main living areas contain not one piece of obligatory furniture handed down from past generations.

That was intentional as the couple sold or donated most of their home furnishings when they sold their home in Georgia. 

“We moved here with only 99 boxes of clothes/personal items; three paintings from European travels, and the engagement cedar chest my father gifted my mother,“ Patti said.

Her nephew flew to Phoenix for a day of whirlwind shopping as construction neared completion. They ordered furniture and accessories, primarily from Living Spaces and Ashley Furniture. They purchased area rugs at Lowe’s. All within 24 hours. 

Deliveries were scheduled to coincide once the home was completed, when her nephew flew in again to set up their design plan, down to every stunning accessory they'd chosen weeks earlier.

A look around the home

The kitchen's granite countertops feature a blend of beige, brown and golds with touches of black that lend an earthy feel to the Schmitts' antique cream cabinetry. A rendering of their former Georgia home, gifted by a neighbor there, is displayed by the kitchen hutch.

The kitchen's curved island has seating for four, with a separate dining area for an additional six.

A butler’s station and walk-in pantry separate the formal dining room and kitchen. 

Dale had one requirement for the great room — his recliner had to be in direct line to the television. It is a beautiful room with a depiction of Old Glory featured above a sidebar for this patriotic couple.

The master bedroom suite is spacious, with a trey ceiling feature. Two contemporary wing chairs upholstered in a timeless houndstooth fabric are situated in front of a bank of windows offering backyard views. A single French door provides access to the Arizona room. 

The master bath includes a corner soaking tub, glass block and a large walk-in shower with handicap access and support bars.

The guest bedroom holds that long-ago gifted cedar chest, and access to a gated Spanish courtyard.

Patti’s home office — her favorite space in the home — offers clean lines and simple elegance. A framed photograph of European arched catacombs is a nod to her Catholic faith.  

A home and a community

Patti and Dale, and their rescue cat, Bart, have landed on their feet in CantaMia.

Patti is a fixture at the Goodyear Ballpark clubhouse during the spring training season.

And she has become a popular ambassador for the community. She was featured in the October 2019 issue of "Life in Estrella" magazine, along with three other breast cancer survivors sharing their stories.  

Know of a unique home in metro Phoenix that is not on the market that should be featured? Email [email protected].  

THANK YOU!!
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