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2011 - Volume 1 Issue 2
Casas Bonitas
Feature Home
Article: Joe Burgess
Photos: Bill Faulkner
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Not everyone needs or even wants a large home, but if you can put the space to good use …why not? Larger rooms accommodate the custom furniture that you had been designing in your mind for years and the additional space allows for special purpose rooms and features that support the activities you previously had to schedule for trips into town. With Koi, cats, salt-water fish, children and an entertainment agenda, one can always utilize more room.


Design and Build:
RC Baeza & Associates
Robert Baeza

Western Wholesale


Bathroom and
Kitchen Fixtures:
Senger Design Group

Counter Tops:
Trinity Marble

Carpet West

Arizona Stone &
Architectural Products


Fireplace Inserts:
Rawson Builders Supply

Heating and Cooling:
Mechanical Technologies

Gale Insulation

Hoover’s Landscaping

Pool, Pond and Spa:
Paradise Pools

Pre-Wire and Security:
Home Theater &
Security Experts


Pella Window Store

Foxworth Galbraith

Glass Enclosures:
Home Products

The lot for this Ventanas feature home was chosen for the view. On the east side, there are not many lots with a view, but this one sits sufficiently high to look across the El Paso and Juarez valleys, which is especially impressive at night. Lights from the international metropolis seem to go on forever.

The Italian/Mediterranean architecture, with high ceilings and lots of arches, was derived from travels in Italy. Much vacation time was spent photographing villas and hotels for ideas. The choices were narrowed down and then presented to the architect for the final touches. The 17-month construction project was awarded to El Paso builder, R.C. Baeza.

“The entry to this home deserved striking workmanship,” stated Baeza. A grand staircase of wood and custom wrought iron curves up one side of the entry below a large, hand-painted dome by Ruthie Lowen, depicting an Italian monastery that had been converted into a hotel once booked by the owners. A heavy chandelier hangs from the center of the dome.

The overall décor of the home was coordinated by Cindy Senger of Senger Design Group in Colorado Springs. The custom murals that she recommended are among the most elegant features of the home, appearing both on ceilings and walls. Intricate stencil-plaster work by Katie Catalin formed a majestic faux finish band between oval fur downs in the ceiling of the formal dining room, softly illuminated by indirect lighting. A large hand-painted medallion graces the ceiling of the great room and a forest scene on the walls of the library/office enhances an array of hunting trophies. The artistic murals are by Ruthie Lowen.

The great room has the appearance of a European hunting lodge. Cultured stone walls flank the cantera fireplace mantle that climbs all the way up to the 23-foot ceiling. An elk head with an impressive rack hangs over the fireplace and is almost dwarfed by its surroundings.

A large game room includes a circular bar, pool table, foosball, slot machine, computer game station and a 500-gallon fish tank. Installation of the 1,000-pound empty fish tank required a specially built platform. The theater room has two levels of plush seating, requiring the slab to be dropped 12 inches in that area.

In the master bedroom, the edges of the custom floor-to-ceiling wooden cabinets are formed around the river-rock fireplace. The master bath has back-to-back sink and vanity areas and separate toilets.

An elongated back patio is separated from the yard by a cultured stone wall with custom brick arches that appear to never end as they disappear around a 45-degree bend. The relatively narrow back yard ends at a drop off overlooking the eastside valley. There is still ample room for a water feature and Koi pond at one end of the yard and a custom pool and Jacuzzi at the other. Next to the Jacuzzi is a rock “cave” with a fire pit in the center. An outdoor kitchen and change room are housed in the cabana.

Larger homes are significant dollar investments, and for the builder, they are not easy projects to complete. The 12,700 square foot feature home is like building three large standard houses. Even though there would be some savings negotiated from volume purchases, the margin is narrow and often consumed by the many variables that can emerge from large home construction. Robert Baeza responded to the results of six soil test bores, staged the delivery of 430 yards of concrete, found a source for 15,000 square feet of cultured stone and 7,000 feet of flagstone, balanced the zones of eight air conditioning units, achieved an R-23 insulation rating for exterior walls, R-38 for the ceiling, and developed sound barriers for the second story floor and the walls of the theater room – it was exciting, challenging, and in the end, an accomplishment to be proud of. So if you can…why not – you can’t take it with you. ///
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