Building a dream house, finding friendship, and making dreams come true
By Hilary Dartt
Photos by Larry Kantor
It all started with a pair of cocktail napkins. Then, with a healthy dose of serendipity, a lot of hard work, and a dash of small-town warmth, the Newmans’ Prescott Lakes home took shape.
Two years ago, Tina and Frank Newman went looking for the perfect place to retire. They lived in Memphis, where they still work, Tina having come from the Chicago area, and Frank hailing from near Los Angeles. They call theirs a Route 66 Marriage (more on this later).
They began their quest in May 2015, just before visiting various locations in the southwest: St. George, Zion, Flagstaff, Sedona, Jerome, and Prescott.
The Cocktail Napkins
They were at the airport, and decided it would be fun and informative to write down, on cocktail napkins, what they wanted in a retirement destination.
“We wrote down what was important to each of us,” Tina said, “and then we shared it.”
When the two of them compared napkins, they found that eight or ten of their items were the same, including access to golf courses, four seasons, proximity to national parks, access to quality health care, nearby bodies of water, and readily available activities like hiking and fishing.
As the Newmans explored the southwest, they spent time in Prescott, and their realtor, Brian Monksfield from Flex Realty, set them up to golf at Prescott Lakes. One of the members of their group happened to be from Tina’s Illinois hometown, and another was in aviation, like Frank.
They attended a reception that evening, and ended up meeting people from Illinois and California.
“It was so exciting,” Tina said. “It felt like we were back home again.”
The next day, as they prepared to leave town, they stopped by the Prescott Lakes office to pick up a map, and they ended up going to check out a lot for sale. Their own realtor knew the person who was selling the lot next door, and they made what they called, “the fastest business and life decision we’ve ever made.”
They bought it. They had a flight to catch, so they hit the road to get back to Memphis.
“We were negotiating in Ash Fork,” Frank said, and Tina added, referring to their “Route 66 Marriage,” “It all kind of happened on Route 66. That’s how you know it was meant to be.”
They later learned that their next-door neighbor is from Tina’s hometown, and attended high school with her parents.
The Hard Work
From Memphis, the Newmans began to orchestrate the building of their new home in September 2015. They interviewed several builders and chose Marty Messenger of MD Builders.
Tina joked that she was looking for floor plans one evening, and Frank “was just laying there.”
(“I was doing email,” he said.)
“You could really help here,” she told him.
“So he goes on the Internet,” she said, “and five minutes later he hands me his iPad and says, ‘How about this one?’”
They wanted a plan with attached-but-separate living quarters for Tina’s mom, Nadene, as well as the space and layout for entertaining. Local draftsman Carlos Leyva modified the plans Frank found to ensure the home would meet their needs, and building commenced.
The Newmans had never built a home from halfway across the country, and they were impressed with how well everything came together.
They attribute the success of their home-building experience to the professionalism and kindness with which all the subcontractors worked.
“In Prescott, it’s really about word of mouth,” Frank said.
When Marty began to recommend local subcontractors for work on the house, Frank said, “I thought, ‘Let’s see if we can source one hundred percent of the house in Prescott.’”
Country Bank’s Suzanne Giles worked on the construction loan, JoeMcNaully from Terra Sole stepped in as the landscape designer, and Cathy Howden from Interior Logic took care of the flooring. Builders Wholesale provided the doors and windows, and Prescott Window and K’s Lighting brought in window treatments and lighting, respectively. Audio Plus wired the entire house, and even put controls for the stereo system and the cable TV in a hidden closet, out of sight. MCK Woodworks’ Mike Lough took care of the cabinets and designed a unique curved black walnut bar in the kitchen, among other special projects.
“We had to trust people,” Tina said. “Everybody really worked together, and it just really worked out.”
When it was finally time to move in, Tina, Frank, and Nadene made the long road trip with their dog and two cats, and were welcomed by a stocked fridge and bottles of wine to celebrate.
“Everyone called to check in,” Tina said.
It was exactly what they wanted: an open living space, perfect for entertaining and having guests, a house that felt like home, and a community that embraced them immediately.
The design is eclectic, Frank said, but they call it “Mountain Craftsman.” It features arches similar to the Spanish Colonial style, and natural beams on the ceiling. The home is 3,600 square feet ofindoor living space, expanded to 5,000 square feet including the decks and garage.
“It’s so beautiful but it’s still our home,” Tina said. “That was important to us.
Because “everyone congregates in the kitchen,” Tina said, the Newmans incorporated a seating area between the formal dining room and the kitchen.
The curved black walnut bar provides more seating and complements the two different types of granite on the countertops. Smart details like a foldaway cupboard for the stand mixer, an in-the-drawer microwave, and two dishwashers make the kitchen functional.
The dining room features a built-in wet bar, and the guest bathroom’s Western theme meshes Frank’s love of the Old West with a local flavor.
In the living room, a sofa and chairs in green, red, and yellow offer a cheerful atmosphere, while generous windows offer a view of the ultra-spacious outdoor living area, including an outdoor kitchen and a patio.
Frank said Joe McNaully’s vision is to create separate “rooms” within the landscape, so the Newmans’ yard is home to a fire pit, a seating area, and a pergola.
Nadene’s living quarters feature a master bedroom, a small kitchen area, a separate bathroom, and a living room. She has her own outside entrance, too.
Frank and Tina each have an office, and the sofa in Frank’s pulls out into a bed.
With walk-through closets and Jack-and-Jill bathrooms, the home is designed to be comfortable for company. Tina said she grew up in an Italian family, “where, when someone stops by, there’s always food in the fridge, and something to drink if you want it.”
So, “Whether people are invited, or they’re just stopping by, we want them to feel welcome.”
In addition, “There isn’t one piece of the house that isn’t us,” she said. From cowboy posters to photos of Chicago, and model airplanes to bright paintings by local artist Dave Newman, the décor reflects Tina and Frank.
“We wanted this to be our home, and we accomplished that.”
Frank and Tina pointed out that not only can a person (or a couple) make a dream come true as the Newmans have, but also that in doing so, “You don’t have to go outside of Prescott.”
“If it wasn’t for all these people, it wouldn’t be as great as it is,” Tina said. “It’s hard to put into words how happy we are. We’re very blessed.”