Buying a 1958 home that was twice remodeled left Bobbi McMurry with one primary area to improve: the backyard.
“This house had tons of character and seemed to have everything else except for a pool,” she said.
One swimming pool with gorgeous tiling, colorful murals and some unexpected infrastructure work later, and the backyard of the south Scottsdale home is a playful oasis.
The interior of the 61-year-old home, with exposed brick walls and farmhouse touches, is inviting as well.
Here's a look at McMurry's journey to buying and improving this McDowell Parkway ranch.
Taking the plunge
McMurry and her family have called Arizona home for five decades. A few years ago, she was in the market for a place to fix up when she came across the home’s listing.
“We wanted a south Scottsdale location, a minimum of four bedrooms and two baths, a swimming pool and lots of character," she said.
They toured the home one day and made an offer the next.
The house ran standard for the Phoenix-area of its era: a practical ranch-inspired home that was spacious but not vast.
Past upgrades had doubled the home's size to 2,150 square feet with five bedrooms and 1.75 baths.
Once McMurry found the house to be structurally sound and mostly updated, her focus turned to a feature most Valley residents can get into: a swimming pool.
“We decided that was easy enough to add," she said.
'One thing leads to another'
Prior additions to the home had left the backyard an irregular shape, with a large storage shed squatting on valuable space.
“We removed the shed and completely demolished the backyard," McMurry said.
Complications to McMurry's plan for the space were discovered early on.
“As soon as we began meeting with the pool contractors, we learned that the power lines — which draped over the only location for the pool — would need to be moved,” she said.
From there, she embarked on a course of gaining permits, working with the power company, installing a new riser on her roof and rerunning the lines to a different pole.
"As is common with remodels, one thing leads to another … and another," McMurry said.
They soon discovered that previous owners had added an electric panel to accommodate additions, but they hadn't updated the panel on the original house.
"Our electrician took one look at that panel and informed us that we had a fire hazard on our hands,” McMurry said. The whole panel would need to be replaced and electrical grounds would need to be added.
“Simple, right?” McMurry said. “Not so much. The original panel was buried under drywall inside the house, and a host of other Band-Aids were used when the additions and remodel were done (before we bought the home)," she said.
In the end, though, everything was redone, correctly this time, thanks to McMurry’s attention to detail and an intense desire not to start any fires or zap any swimmers.
A playful space
The backyard is perhaps the home’s magnum opus given the trouble McMurry had completing it and the immense character packed into the humble space.
The backyard shines under classy outdoor bulbs strung across soft artificial turf, illuminating cornhole game platforms. Another seating area boasts an over-sized, outdoor Jenga game.
The playful attitude continues with colorful murals splashed across the back of the home. Big green and purple barrel cactus bounce along the crisp white walls.
"We painted murals on the house exterior, depicting abstract cacti to continue with the home’s uniqueness," McMurry said.
And the space made for enjoying an Arizona lifestyle now includes an L-shaped pool with resort-style recliners around it.
A beautifully decorated inside
Renovations inside the home have also created a unique space that includes:
- an attic removed in lieu of vaulted ceilings.
- a scattering of skylights, uncommon in ranch homes, that pour in natural light.
- sandblasted walls in the master bedroom and kitchen that revealed beautiful original red brick.
Along with the brick and skylights, McMurry loves the home’s open floorplan, which complements the natural light.
Her happiest memory in the home so far has been seeing everything come together.
“The décor is a bit ‘farmhouse,’ incorporating shiplap, red brick and earth tone hues, contrasted with a heavy use of black and white,” McMurry said.
The vibe is casual, comfortable and inviting.
Each room ties in with the next. Careful use of color, whether a bright red throw pillow or touches of green from well-placed plants, create a common thread throughout the house.
The living room features a dark wood and black felt billiards table, a rustic leather sofa, track lighting and a continuation of monochrome accents in the room’s art and decoration.
The kitchen continues the trend with black marble counters, white cabinetry, stainless steel appliances and touches of wood running adjacent to the ceiling.
Smaller details hint at traditional Arizona touches, such as a copper-toned kitchen faucet (repeated in the bathroom as well).
A hidden gem — but not for long
“Eventually, we’ll do some work on the front yard. Over the years, that clearly hasn’t been any of the previous owner’s focus,” McMurry said.
Soon enough, the front exterior will give an indication of what’s inside the home and outside in the backyard. –
For now, McMurry compares the home to opening a gift. “You have no idea what’s inside and are pleasantly surprised when you find out.”
Know of a unique home in metro Phoenix that is not on the market that should be featured? Email [email protected].
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