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The Scottsdale architectural firm of Candelaria Design Associates is one of the premier luxury residential architecture firms in the country. Enjoy our blog which features our work, our travel, our recipes, wines, tips on design and decorating, and the lives of our clients and employees, etc.....its all the ingredients for the Candelaria Design Lifestyle. Contact Candelaria Design to start your dream residence 602-604-2001!

November 2017 So much to be Thankful for!

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Well it has been quite a different year than Isabel and I planned but it will also go down as a year we have learned so much and met so many amazing people. This past Wednesday Isabel completed her last chemo treatment – 16 in all! What a journey it has been and she still has quite a way to go but her courage and faith are guiding her forward with grace and continued hope and optimism. She is truly an amazing woman and I am so blessed to have my angel with me here on earth.


And so with this being Thanksgiving week, I want to continue thanking everyone with the wonderful dinners brought to our home on her Wednesday chemo nights, all the cards, flowers, books, posts, etc….I hope to have all of you to Casa Candelaria for dinner some time soon!  I want to also thank my entire Candelaria Design Team for coming out Wednesday to the clinic for a congratulations bridge for Isabel - she loved it. Finally, a special thanks to my mother-in-law, isabel's mom, Alette Thompson. She has been there all through this and has done so much for all of us. Thank you! You are also an angel on this earth for our family. You can read more on Isabel’s Caring Bridge

Alette Thompson, Isabel and MC on Isabel's final chemo treatment 11.15.17

Alette Thompson, Isabel and MC on Isabel's final chemo treatment 11.15.17

Last night, Isabel gathered the energy to make it to the Heart Ball and we were blessed to host a table for our own Vivian Ayala who served on this year’s committee. What an event and what a turnout. It was great to see my fellow neighbor, former Senator, Jon Kyle, and meet current Senator Jeff Flake. So many wonderful clients and friends and as I understand from the comments, a record night. Congratulations to all and thanks to my guests – we had a fantastic evening.

Mark, isabel, Jim and Jessica Audiss at the 2017 Heart Ball

Mark, isabel, Jim and Jessica Audiss at the 2017 Heart Ball

Paco and Vivian Perez

Paco and Vivian Perez

Arizona Heart Ball with Senator Jeff Flake

Arizona Heart Ball with Senator Jeff Flake


Last weekend we were fortunate to have a home on the Phoenix Home and Garden Magazine Home Tour! It was great to spend the afternoon there with builder Brett Brimley of Brimley Development who built this French Revival home for our client. A special thanks to our client who graciously offered her home for the tour. What a fantastic turnout! It was so fun to see clients I had not seen in over 25 years make it out for the day.


Brett Brimley of Brimley Development and homeowner, Laurie Hunter!

Brett Brimley of Brimley Development and homeowner, Laurie Hunter!

Such a special home and special client who has also allowed us to feature her home along with two other spectacular Candelaria Design homes for a new book by Patricia Hart McMillan called Christmas – At Designer’s Homes Across America. The 2016 edition was a best seller on Amazon and so we are so excited to be a part of this year’s edition. Here is the link to last year’s book and as soon as the new addition is available we will let you know!


Finally, we also squeezed in a fun run in Scottsdale for the TGen fight against pancreatic cancer in support of our client Nancy Hanley and her late husband Lee who lost his battle against this horrific disease. I am thankful for my crew who made it out during the weekend in support of Team Lee!!!  

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Team Candelaria Design all part of Team Lee!

Team Candelaria Design all part of Team Lee!

So many other things brewing and we will be posting some good recipes in the days and weeks ahead. We wish you all a super Happy Thanksgiving! So, so, much to be thankful for and I’ll be posting over the Holiday with more thoughts on that……

Time to Get Out and Enjoy!

Hanley Residence - Paradise Valley

Hanley Residence - Paradise Valley


We are blitzing our way through October and those busy months as we start to close in on the Holidays! But with the weather cooling it is time to get out and enjoy and we did plenty of that in the last couple of weeks! It was nice to spend a full weekend here at home given I have been traveling the last 5 weekends!

First – thanks for all the wonderful birthday wishes last week! You can still wish me a happy birthday by casting your VOTE for me and my team!


We also want to thank all of those who attended our co-hosted event Dietro la Maschera with Scottsdale Modern Luxury at Galleria Stone celebrating their Grand Opening! Unfortunately, Isabel and I could not make it but I want to personally thank my Candelaria Design crew for being their and hosting our table! I also want to thank Dave Stockett and Walter Spitz for helping our crew! I understand it was a wonderful evening!

The Candelaria Design Crew!

The Candelaria Design Crew!

Anthony and Hillary Castiglia

Anthony and Hillary Castiglia

April Lozevski and her Husband!

April Lozevski and her Husband!

Walter Spitz and Dave Stockett with a pretty lady in disguise!

Walter Spitz and Dave Stockett with a pretty lady in disguise!


Well that was two weeks ago – then we made the most of this past week! Tuesday, Isabel and I were the guests of Jason Monzcka and Anderson Windows at the Chef’s Table at The Omni Montelucia Resort. . What a special evening and so appreciated by Isabel and I. We had a wonderful group of friends, clients, and people from our industry and the food and wine were fantastic.

Tina Majerle, Nick Ferrara, Isabel and MC

Tina Majerle, Nick Ferrara, Isabel and MC

Then Thursday we had two fabulous evening events with our clients. Of course, you cannot be everywhere at the same time – although I try all the time! Tim Mathewson and several members of our team attended the Colten Cowell Foundation fundraiser at Molina Fine Jewelers Special thanks to Al Molina and Black, Starr & Frost for hosting an amazing event for a charity that we at Candelaria Design are very passionate about!  The food and drinks were great and it was a gorgeous setting to meet with the some of the Valley’s most influential people to discuss the mission of the Colten Cowell Foundation and our designs for their future headquarters, which will be known as “A Monument to Compassion.”  It will be a landmark for Phoenix and for our state and we are very proud to be a part of it.  Check out their website to see more about the joy that they bring to children and families battling disease as well as the grants they provide to other local charities.

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Our mission is to help them raise funds in order to build their new foundation headquarters designed by Candelaria Design. We welcome all donations to this amazing cause and If you are a distributor of building products, a subcontractor or installer and would be willing to donate your time or materials to this great cause, please reach out to me or my staff on how you can help.  We would love to have you on board.


Then at the same time part of the crew was at Molina’s there was a group of us filming an episode for our upcoming third season of SKETCH at one of our classic Candelaria Design homes in Paradise Valley. This home was completed about seven years ago and it was about time to get this home well documented with our show and at the same time reunite the design team for interviews during the day and a reunion dinner that evening prepared by my partner, Evelyn Jung, and myself. The footage shot by WedgieMedia will be spectacular This LEED certified home also received the Pacific Coast Builders Gold Nugget Award in 2011 for the best home over 6000 sf in the country. What an amazing team – Vallone Design Interiors, Berghoff Design, Creative Designs in Lighting, and Desert Star Construction – the Dream Team for sure.

Finally, we finished the week with our Candelaria Design Tour Spain post trip dinner. It is always so fun to get the group together and relive the tour with a dinner, a book, and a video of the trip. We still have a few spots for our June 2018 Candelaria Design Tour Spain but don't wait!!!

Enjoy the 2017 June Spain Tour video by clicking the link below:


Looking ahead, we are happy to invite you to join us for the Phoenix Home and Garden Magazine Home Tour and we will have a very special French Revival Candelaria Design home on this year’s tour benefitting the Humane Society. Get your tickets and I will be there all afternoon!


Update on Isabel

Isabel has now completed 14 chemo treatments including her second treatment of the Red Devil – the heavy duty chemo concoction! She has two more Red Devil treatments to go and then her surgery is scheduled for late December. As always, she continues to stay positive and strong but she is definitely feeling the effects of these new treatments and I know these next three months will be tough. Her mom, Alette, continues to be such an amazing help for both Isabel and I and we are so blessed to have her. 

Gicela Dulcich with Is at the Honor Health Chemo Treatment Room

Gicela Dulcich with Is at the Honor Health Chemo Treatment Room

Thanks for all of your continued thoughts and prayers. They truly make a huge difference for us both.

You can read more on Isabel’s Caring Bridge

Make the most of each day! 


October 2017 - On the Road


It is definitely busy – we are cranking away at Candelaria Design with amazing projects just completed,  underway, and on the boards…and not just in Arizona.

We just got some fantastic aerial photos of our project in Kansas City build by Grand Construction who built this Tuscan Style Estate in less than 14 months featuring its own private golf hole. We have another home for this family underway right here in Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale and they are cranking on that home too.

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This morning, I am in Northern Idaho, touching base on our Gozzer Ranch spec home! We have two versions designed, a traditional mountain design and a contemporary mountain design. Curious as to which style you prefer??? Love it up here – this is our seventh design in the area. While here, I had all of my Candelaria girls rendezvous for some Dad time. We used to have a summer home here so my girls have lots of many memories here and it is nice to have some one-on-one time with them.

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At the same time my associate, Meredith Thomson, is in Beverly Hills this morning with another project team doing a little “research” and building material sourcing. We go to great lengths to make our homes as authentic as possible and this estate we currently have under construction with Schultz Development is going to be spectacular.

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Meanwhile, my other associate, Mat Grove, just returned from Venice, Italy where he went with the Arizona Residential Architects group as the guest of host Brombal Steel Windows and Doors Thank you to Brombal for hosting this amazing tour of their factory and the lovely area around Venice.

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Last week, was crazy as I was in Vail, Colorado over the weekend getting up to speed on two projects there – one a seven story condo project and the other a custom home about 30 miles west of Vail. Growing up in Colorado, it was nice to return to one of my Mom’s favorite weekend getaways. Who would have thought when I was 9 years old when we would come here and visit and then return home and sketch ideas for villages inspired from the visit that I would someday actually be designing projects here! So cool – I love how life works. Anyway, it was a quick trip but I was able to enjoy the architecture and the beautiful fall colors of my home state, Colorado.


Then two days later, Meredith and I were off to Los Gatos, CA to begin work on a new home there – our third home design in the Bay area. I just love Los Gatos as it is right out of a Hallmark Channel episode. Quaint, charming, and fabulous residential architecture, from California bungalows, to mission revival, to Victorian so much fun to just get up early and enjoy a morning walk soaking up details.


Ok – its time to get moving here as my girls are starting to stir. Plenty to follow up on here in Northern Idaho. I get back Wednesday and then Thursday night, October 12th, we have an amazing event set  kicking off the fall season with Scottsdale Modern Luxury Magazine promoting their grand opening of Galleria of Stone right there in their off the chart warehouse where we will have a fun Venetian masquerade evening.  Me and my team along with Dave Stockkett from Stockett Tile and Granite will be making pasta live in the stone slab warehouse, in the midst of fabulous Italian sports cars, fashion from Italy, with plenty to eat and drink. Everyone is invited so stop by! You can order your Candelaria Living pasta maker for your favorite foodie right here or at the event:

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Update on Isabel


Isabel has now completed 13 chemo treatments including her first treatment with the Red Devil! She has three more Red Devil treatments to go and then her surgery is scheduled for late December. As always she continues to stay positive and strong. She is still working away with her team and we have some beautiful projects underway with her.

Your thoughts, prayers, meals, flowers, plants, books, cakes and cupcakes are all so wonderful and remind us of how blessed we are to have the wealth of good friends who offer so much love and happiness in our lives.

You can read more on Isabel’s Caring Bridge

Today is the only day that matters. 

September time in Santa Fe


It is SO nice to be in late September now and some cooler weather. Us Arizonan’s finally come out of our summer hibernation be it we were trapped indoors or away to escape the summer heat, but now we can open things back up and truly enjoy why we live in this magical place.


Isabel and I are suffering from Italy withdrawal as we are normally in Italy on our Candelaria Design Tour Italy this time of the month. Given Isabel’s battle we are taking this year off but we have nearly SOLD OUT our 2018 tour which will feature our base trip of Florence and Umbria but we will finish in Venice and will also offer a bonus trip extension to Lake Como and the Villa d’Este where we will celebrate our 5 year anniversary at the very spot we tied the knot. You can do the entire trip or just join us for the last three days in Lake Como. Don’t wait because I think the base trip is sold out but we have room for the Lake Como portion.

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One final note - We have an amazing event coming on October 12th where we will be co-hosting a celebration kicking off the fall season with Scottsdale Modern Luxury Magazine promoting their grand opening of Galleria of Stone right there in their off the chart warehouse! I was also honored to be featured in the Scottsdale Modern Man article – pick up a copy for sure and come on out to this fun Venetian masquerade evening where we will be making pasta live in the stone slab wherehouse, in the midst of fabulous Italian sports cars, fashion from Italy, with plenty to eat and drink. You can order your Candelaria Living pasta maker for your favorite foodie right here or at the event:


Ok given our Italy withdrawals we were able to escape for a little five-day jaunt to one of our favorite places, Santa Fe, New Mexico. This place is special to both Isabel and I as she was born just north of Santa Fe in Española, New Mexico and my ancestors from Spain were one of the first families to settle in the Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1690 and in fact a major boulevard in Albuquerque is Candelaria Road. We will be adding a Candelaria Design Tour Santa Fe next summer which will feature a five day escape to this lovely destination and will include architecture, art, cuisine and spa with day trips to some of the nearby sights. Stay tuned for more details.

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Santa Fe is for the most part frozen in time. It cannot grow due to limited water supply and the architectural controls are quite strict so not much ever changes at least in the 45 years I have been coming here. Nonetheless, it is beautiful, charming and for a one hour flight and an hour drive up from Albuquerque you actually feel like you have taken a trip to a foreign country. In addition to the lovely architecture and plethora of art galleries, the food in this town is off the charts and it does not just include New Mexican cuisine, although that is nothing to miss either. So this definitely quenched our thirst for some travel.


This trip we rented a beautiful three-bedroom, two kitchen/living room adobe on Artists Road. So cozy and charming and definitely in the character and layout we are used to on our Tour Italy time in Umbria. For our tour we are scouting a three house compound with a courtyard where we can do morning yoga, exercise, massages and evening cooking classes…..get the picture!


So of course anyone who has traveled with me knows I love to go explore with the corner of my eye always on the look out for fabulous dining venues be them casual or formal. This trip has not disappointed. With the help of Isabel’s cousin Jarred Conley who lives here in Santa Fe, he turned us onto some fantastic dining venues for this trip and for our tour. You cannot start a trip to Santa Fe without experiencing the authentic New Mexican cuisine at The Shed This is always a first stop for us. Delicious enchiladas with red and green chili and a cold cerveza. The prefect fix to get the trip started.


Our next morning we enjoyed some home cooking in our kitchen and then it was off to the Plaza to do a little sightseeing and enjoy the architecture and of course a little shopping. One of our favorite stops to Mediterrania Antiques run by our old friend Marc Galante who used to have a showroom in Scottsdale. Beautiful items from Spain, Italy, Portugal and France adorn this showroom right in the heart of Santa Fe and Marc has fantastic stories to go with each authentic item.


We couldn’t go too long until we needed lunch and another of our favorites is dining in the courtyard at La Casa Sena What a fabulous and relaxing setting under a giant cottonwood tree enjoying the fall breeze and a delicious light lunch with good friends and Isabel’s cousin Jarred who joined us.


More shopping and sight seeing and then back to the casa for a siesta.  With some rejuvenation it was off for tapas at La Boca Ok this saved a 12 hour flight to Spain! Fantastic menu and wine list and the tapas were off the chart especially the chicken liver pate and the caramel and salt flat iron steak. A little more shopping and enjoying the fabulous fall temperatures and we called it a day.


The next day was Saturday and it was time to do some art gallery hopping and there is no better spot than Canyon Road. Wandering from gallery to gallery and artist to artist with the smells of fall and the hint of piñon  smoke in the air it is easy to lose track of time and get mesmerized by it all – great way to relax, unwind and get inspired.


To finish off our day on Canyon Road we reserved dinner at one of the best restaurants I have ever been to. . . and I have been to some good ones, Geronimo on Canyon Road. Voted one of the top 100 restaurants by Open Table I could not agree more – I would put it in the top 10. We all tried a different started and entre and we were not disappointed. I started with a leek and white asparagus bisque served over a buttermilk biscuit with jumbo lump crab. Amazing. Then I topped it off with the elk tenderloin. Spectacular. Service impeccable. Setting is very quaint yet sophisticated and the space is broken into small rooms line with dreamy curtains so the acoustics are perfect. A heavy thunderstorm pelted the roof with rain only interrupted now and then with a clap of thunder. Romantic and memorable. I most definitely recommend Geronimo for sure.

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The storms passed and Sunday morning we all slept in. We awoke to brilliant sunshine and fresh cool air. Relaxing with a cup of coffee and catching up on emails and then the troops rallied and we were off to the famous Plaza Café for breakfast . Of course, my favorite Sunday breakfast dish in New Mexico is a big bowl of beef tripe menudo with red chili and freshly made flour tortillas just like my Grandma Rose use to make. Some of our travelers had the enchiladas with eggs and others chili relleños with eggs. Spot on. A little more sightseeing and shopping and then it was back to our casa for a power nap and this afternoon we are off to the mountains above Santa Fe and Chimayo for guess what… more New Mexican food at Rancho de Chimayo -

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Back to the gym next week!

Update on Isabel

Isabel has now completed 11 chemo treatments and has the tough five treatments to go. She continues to stay positive and strong and I have a tough time keeping up with her which I am most thankful for. This has been quite the experience but it has reinforced our belief of living each day to the fullest no matter your situation or condition and never complain. There are obvious and hidden joys everywhere you look and its important to keep your focus on these aspects of your existence and time. It makes all the difference.


Your thoughts, prayers, meals, flowers, plants, books, cakes and cupcakes are all so wonderful and remind us of how blessed we are to have the wealth of good friends who offer so much love and happiness in our lives.

You can read more on Isabel’s Caring Bridge

Today is the only day that matters. 

Happy Labor Day 2017


Ok, I know its September, but those of us who live in the Arizona desert know there is not a lot of difference between August and September….it’s just another month of summer. Not until Halloween are we officially done with the potential for 100º temps. Yes, we are watching football and we are tempted to plant geraniums but don’t get fooled.

I am looking forward to fall though, and being able to open everything up, driving with the sun roof open, and wearing fall sweaters, sport coats, and of course cooking!


This week we celebrated our 18th year of Candelaria Design! From that first year with just me and my two dogs, Lulu and Nacho to our 15 person firm now we have come a long way and it’s been quite the ride! More on that in a bit….


Plenty going on here at Candelaria Design. In addition to the three homes we had featured in August in the national publication, Elegant Homes Magazine we have another featured this month in Country French Magazine. This Candelaria Design ~ DeCesare Design ~ Berghoff Design collaboration features a beautiful home masterfully built by Schultz Development for none other than himself and his lovely wife, Denise. We will be featuring more of this home this Fall in one of our episodes of SKETCH on




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We have an amazing event coming on October 12th where we will be co-hosting a celebration kicking off the fall season with Scottsdale Modern Luxury Magazine promoting their Modern Man Issue which I will be a part of and the grand opening of La Galleria Stone right there in their off the chart warehouse! We will be making pasta live, and there will be fabulous Italian sports cars, fashion from Italy and plenty to eat and drink. You can order your pasta maker for your favorite foodie right here:

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So being it’s Labor Day I thought I would tribute this blog to those who make Candelaria Design go! My amazing Team! First and foremost, I love these guys and all they do to always improve and grow. As I mentioned we just celebrated our 18th anniversary on August 29th and my team gave me a nice celebration on Friday. So this blog is dedicated to my team!


First, my partner, Vivian Ayala, has been with me nearly 18 years as has my associate, Jeff Kramer. These two have been there during the good times and through the tough times. Add Evelyn Jung to this mix who has been with me 12 plus years and runs the business operations. They get it. It’s not about what can you do for me, its about what can we do as a team. I rely on them for their hard work, their caring attitude, their talent, but most importantly their friendship.

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Then let’s add Tim Mathewson, Meredith Thomson and Damon Wake who are my Team Directors and do a fantastic job not only with their projects but managing, mentoring and inspiring their teams. It has been so rewarding to watch them grow and mature into strong members of our team.


The next wave includes our Project Managers and Job Captains which include Mathew Grove, Hector Medina, Tyler Bulriss, Peter Ekema, Rebecca Struchen, Samar Kattan and our newest addition Jochen Walther. Let’s not forget our intern, Jake Ernst and of course our Director of First Impressions, Caitlin Cunningham who runs our front desk and does so much for all of us. This whole crew keeps the train moving working many times late into the night and sometimes into the early morning hours to get the job done.


What a great team! Let’s see…. Did I forget anyone???? Oh wait, my assistant, Stacey Payne!!!! I could not function without her. We start our days around 4am with texts to each other working out the details of the coming day and that continues many times until 10pm at night, including weekends many times. Not only does she manage things at the office but she keeps track of my personal affairs too and trust me, many times that’s more of a job than her tasks at the office. I am most grateful for all she does every day to keep me moving.


So, what is the common thread with all the members of my team? They have a passion for what they do and they all think Team First. We all work hard but we also all have fun together. They respect each other and they are kind to each other. It’s a wonderful family and I am so proud of all of them. Happy Labor Day to you all.

Of course, there is always some time to get some cooking in – especially over a three day weekend. This weekend we went with grilled and sliced ribeyes over arugla, then Saturday we went with grilled halibut then bathed in tomatoes, fennel, onions, capers and white wine and last night we made a herb cursted leg of lamb with a mint and Hatch green chile sauce. All to be posted over time.

MC's Limoncello Cream Pie


So what about another dessert to finish off the summer??? Plenty have been asking for my Limoncello Cheesecake Pie. So here we go:


 Let’s start with the crust. I like to but a box of triple chocolate biscotti’s from AJ’s and grind them up in the food processor – you want about 200 grams of crumbs. While grinding the crumbs, melt about ¾ of a small stick of butter. Pour the butter into the crumb mixture and then work the mixture into the pie pan bottom to form your crust. Refrigerate the pie pan crust for about 15 to 10 minutes so it all firms up.


While the crust is in the refrigerator, make the pie filling. Using the mixer, whip the mascarpone, sour cream, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice, limoncello, salt, vanilla until all well mixed and smooth.


Pour over the pie crust and then back in a 325º oven for 40 minutes or just to the point where the sides of the filling start to brown. Then remove from the oven and set on a cooling rack and let cool. Once cool, set in the fridge to cool and set for about 4-5 hours.


To serve, cut into pie wedges and using a pie server, place on a dessert plate, top with vanilla or lemon whip cream, add a lime wedge and serve.

MC’s Limoncello Cream Pie

Crust –

One box 200 grams of Triple Chocolate Biscotti

¾ small stick of butter – appro. 90 grams

Filling –

8 oz. Marscapone Italian Cream Cheese

1 cup of sour cream

3 eggs

¼ cup of lemon juice

2 table spoons of Limoncello

1-1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest

½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

a pinch of salt



Update on Isabel

Isabel has reached her halfway point on her chemo treatments. Eight completed and eight to go. We both share the same hair style now so it doesn’t take either of us long to get ready. She has some cute and wild wigs so she is having fun with her different looks. She is amazing and so positive and so strong and keeps it going. Thanks to all of your thoughts, prayers, meals, flowers, books, wow! It has made such a difference to both of us to know we have all of your support.


A special thanks to Jennifer Gage and those who came to her treatment with a little surprise party last Wednesday. She loved it.

You can read more on Isabel’s Caring Bridge

On to the second half – the tough half. 


Gliding through August

Well we are only about halfway through August and it’s been an exciting month!

First, thank you to Sources for Design for naming me a Design Icon! What an honor and what a great turn out at fellow Icon of Design David Neishabori’s, Azadi Fine Rugs this past Thursday night. I cannot think of a better group to be inducted with:

Fred Unger – developer of the Royal Palms Resort and the Hermosa Inn

Anne Gale of Wiseman & Gale Interior Design.

John Schultz of Schultz Development Corp.

Craig Pearson of Pearson & Company

David Neishabori of Azadi Fine Rugs

Mark Boisclair of Mark Boisclair Photography

Isabel, MC and client, Phyllis Lerner

Isabel, MC and client, Phyllis Lerner

The CDA Team is support of their Icon!

The CDA Team is support of their Icon!

Post event dinner at Rancho Pinot with Isabel, Anthony and Gicela Dulcich from Long Beach and our sweet friend Rebecca. 

Post event dinner at Rancho Pinot with Isabel, Anthony and Gicela Dulcich from Long Beach and our sweet friend Rebecca. 

I thank all who attended including several of my friends, who came from beyond Arizona to celebrate with me, my team at Candelaria Design, and my wife and her crew from Earth and Images.




We also were happy to see three of our homes featured in the national publication, Elegant Homes Magazine. Our Zona Verde residence built by Desert Star Construction     was featured along with a home built by Schultz Development – our Santa Barbara Modern in Paradise Valley, and our Ranch Hacienda with a transitional twist built by Ron Barney. Three fantastic homes – all different styles.







To add to this, we had two of our homes win First Place ASID Awards at the gala last night at the Arizona Biltmore. Both homes are contemporary in style so yes we do design contemporary and these awards clearly demonstrate we are here to stay and proudly add this style to our repetoire. First, Interior Designer, Claire Ownby, ASID, received a first place award for a residence between 3500-6000 sf for this Candelaria Design contemporary home in Paradise Valley. We then also congratulate Interior Designer, Anita Lang, ASID, of IMI Design for receiving a first place award for the best Kitchen for our Village at Mountain Shadows project featuring a Bulthaup Kitchen . Two fantastic designers and two over the top projects.

First Place Best Residence between 3500-6000 sf, Claire Ownby Design, Candelaria Design. Architect, Schultz Development, Builder

First Place - Best Kitchen Design , Village at Mountain Shadows, Anita Lange, ASID, IMI Design, Candelaria Design, Architect, Cullum Homes Builder and Developer

We also see out HGTV Smart Home was featured in Scottsdale Modern Luxury Magazine and the home has now been given away!

Candelaria Design, Architect, Tiffany Brooks, Interiors, and Eagle Luxury Properties, Builder

Candelaria Design, Architect, Tiffany Brooks, Interiors, and Eagle Luxury Properties, Builder

Plenty of amazing projects on the boards and the remodeling work is booming. Yes, we do a ton of remodels and they actually make up about 70% of our workload. We love them. We have remodels as far away as Long Island so they don’t just have to be here.

And of course there is always some time to get some cooking in. As you know I love to cook – the gratification is a lot faster than architecture and I enjoy eating the creations…..not sure I would enjoy eating a set of plans. With this week’s posts on our social media its seems the smoked peaches got the most attention and requests for the recipe so here it goes:

Smoked Peaches over Cinnamon Swirl Ice Cream

Purchase some nice fresh peaches – not too firm and definitely not too ripe. Split the peaches in half and remove the pit. Brush the peaches with canola oil and sprinkle with cinnamon, brown sugar and some ground clove. Go easy – just a nice dusting.

You can then grill these on your weber or gas grille or even on a grill pan on the stove or a panni press. Or you can set them on your smoker and smoke them for about an hour and soak up that smoky flavor.

Serve a scoop (or two) of cinnamon swirl ice cream, and dice the smoked/grilled peaches and top the ice cream. Add a sprig of mint and fresh whip cream and you can always add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Delicious!

Update on Isabel

Again thank you for all the calls, posts, cards, flowers, dinners, and most importantly, prayers!!! We appreciate them so much and they definitely make a difference to both of us. Isabel continues to do great. Her hairline is in fact catching up with mine and she wore some of her fun wigs this weekend. Her attitude constantly inspires me and lifts me up. The side effects are still, thank God, minimal so that is good. Five treatments completed so we are done with the first quarter. Thanks everyone for your energy. 

Candelaria Design Wine Tour in Spain

Wine Tour in Rioja and the Basque Country

A couple quick updates, my three Team Directors attended a three day workshop on management, goal setting, and strategic planning in Newport, CA and then my Associates, Vivian, Evelyn, and I joined them after they completed the program for a weekend retreat where we could all work together to lay out our one year, five year, and ten year goals. We had a very productive weekend and we have some super exciting goals and plans for the years ahead! I am so proud of this group and their commitment to our company’s vision, their team members, and each other. Such fantastic energy and the future of Candelaria Design is set for years to come.

Ok so I have not finished the Spain blogs so let’s get back to that…..

Halfway through our Candelaria Spain Tour now and settled in at our hotel in LaGuardia in the wonderful Basque Wine Country. Today is Monday and our day to get into the wine of the region and some of the fantastic architecture just a stone’s throw from our village.

Our first stop was the spectacular Ysios Winery with off the chart architecture. Designed by Spanish architect, Santiago Calatravas, the structure celebrates and mimics the undulating Sierra de Cantabria mountains that form the backdrop to this architectural sculpture.

The 8000 square foot building feels like a church and I could not but help feel the spirituality and celebration of wine in this space. To top it off the wine was spectacular but not available anywhere outside of Spain so we purchased several bottles to enjoy while here.

From San Ysios we drove a few miles to the Hotel and Bodegas Marque’s de Riscal designed by American architect, Frank Gehry. This place is amazing and I have always admired Frank Gehry’s work but never been like a huge fan but that changed on this trip. This hotel, like most of his work, is a sculpture, a piece of art, you can walk into. But beyond that his work incorporates cutting edge technology – with glass, metal, structure. The perfect blend of art and technology – the embodiment of the word “architecture”

We enjoyed a nice lunch on the terrace with the old architecture of the neighboring village in the distance – the perfect contrast. What a fabulous light lunch of an egg over roasted red peppers in oil and garlic, smoked octopus, beef cheek sliders all topped off with some spectacular wine. Delicious.

We then made our way to the nearby village to just relax in the main plaza and simply enjoy the people and a Monday afternoon. Many times it’s the simple things like this that just put a trip like this in perspective – its real.

After our day in wine country it was time to come back to LaGuardia and catch up with the rest of our crew for dinner. Everyone went on their own little adventures – another big advantage to having your own cars. What is fun now is sharing our stories and experiences from the day. We all gathered in a fun little restaurant right in the heart of LaGuardia. Quiet and only locals including the town priest enjoying a glass of wine at the bar on what I’m sure he thought would be just another uneventful Monday evening. Little did he know the Candelaria Tour Spain was ready for some fun. Fabulous food, fantastic wine, which led to singing, transitioning to dancing, and we had no choice but to get the town priest involved in our festivities! What a fantastic evening, finishing with cigars and port back at the hotel with the owner of our hotel where we discussed travel, architecture, life, and cooking! Through it all I was offered the opportunity to spend an evening in the kitchen with the hotel restaurant chef….but that’s another blog to come!


Update on Isabel

First and foremost, thanks for all the cards, flowers, dinners, and most importantly, prayers!!! They are all appreciated so much by both of us and its so nice to not feel alone in this journey. You are ALL wonderful and we are truly blessed. Isabel is doing great – her hairline is catching up with mine but I must say I love her new do! The side effects have been minimal so far and she is a quarter of the way through her chemo treatments. She inspires me with her attitude and sense of humor. She is amazing! 

Summer Adventures

Happy July to you all. I hope you are all managing to get some escape time from the Arizona heat and now let’s tack on the monsoon!

Quick update on Isabel – First, thank you all so much for the prayers, kind words, and healing energy she is getting. We feel so blessed to have so many wonderful friends and the power of this is definitely felt and appreciated. Isabel had her first chemo treatment this past Wednesday and so far, she is doing well and has had no adverse side effects so please keep those prayers coming. She is busy attending meetings, designing, and working away with her team at Earth and Images which she loves so much. She has set up a Caring Bridge account at and so I invite you to follow her battle there!

Meanwhile, we did get away to Colorado for the week of the Fourth with some family time in the high country off the grid with no cell service or wifi for nine days! I made it….and actually really enjoyed it. We stayed in a wonderful cabin compound in a small mining village of Platoro, Colorado up at about the 10,000 foot elevation. Ok this is not Park City, Telluride or Tahoe….. no this is Platoro. Simple, isolated, unpretentious and totally casual and just what we needed given the last few weeks.

As we always manage to do in Candelaria Style we threw in some excitement. This time in the form of rolling Isabel’s Highlander down a 40’ embankment while jeeping in the high country. Fortunately, Isabel was not with us but I had my two girls and Isabel’s mom in the car when we went over the edge. Basically, another car was coming up while we were going down and as we nudged over for us both to pass we got a little too close to the edge and the next thing we knew we were rolling down the embankment. Fortunately, a spruce tree stopped us or we would have gone a lot further. We landed upright, crawled out of the vehicle and shimmied up the embankment which was actually more of a challenge than the roll down the hill. We all made it without a scratch and the people who passed by us kindly helped us with the rescue and then took us back to our cabins. Needless to say, it was a miracle we all survived and especially with no injuries.

We had a great time the rest of the trip. All of Isabel’s cousins and their kids, and her Aunt and Uncle, all made it up towards the end of the trip and we had some fun jeeping, caught some fish, did some hiking, plenty of good cooking and I also had time to paint a painting of my Isabel while on a boat on Lake Como on our wedding day! I hadn’t painted in years so it was nice to draw/paint something other than roof tiles and stucco! I am definitely going to do more so get ready as I plan to paint my friends and clients, travels, and of course – architecture. 

We are all safely home now and back to work. Lots of cool projects on the boards and under construction now with projects from the Hamptons to the Oregon Coast line. I love it. We also are very proud to be featured in the current issue of Luxe Magazine with a beautiful home we created with Vallone Design , Berghoff Design  and masterfully constructed by Schultz Development on the Paradise Valley Country Club. Outstanding job by my associate, architect, Jeff Kramer! What a wonderful home for absolutely fantastic clients and friends. Pick up a copy and check it out!

We also just had a remodel featured in Houzz. This project was a whole house remodel built by True Performance with interiors by my wife, Isabel and her team at Earth and Images. The project was spearheaded by our Project Manager, Damon Wake. Houzz featured the Kitchen Makeover – our Kitchen is number three – Transitional  More to come on this makeover I am sure.

We are also happy to see the winner announced on our Candelaria Design HGTV Smart Home 2017 right here in Scottsdale, AZ. So exciting to see her happiness and I look forward to cooking a Candelaria meal in her new kitchen! 

Finally, make sure to give us your VOTE on the Ranking Arizona site for best residential architect! We have ranked number 1 I believe 5 out of the last 6 years so THANK YOU for the votes. Go to Real Estate – Residential, then Architectural Firms Residential, then scroll to Candelaria Design and cast your vote. You can vote every day for the next 15 days!!!!

Finally, this week a group of our Candelaria Team will be heading to Newport Beach, CA for our second year of leadership, management, and career development training with MAPS I first did this program in 1999 and have loved what it has done for me. A group of us did this last year and we are excited to get more members of our team on board. So we may be a bit shorthanded as we head to the end of the week as Vivian, Evelyn, and I will also be flying out to do some long term planning with our other team members.

We are excited about the second half of the year. It is definitely getting busier and the Phoenix market is picking up for sure. Ok off to the drafting table! Have a great July everyone! 


Life's Challenges - Our Unique Journey

Life is never truly real. Our perception of the world is unique to us and only exists in our reality and through our experiences. As much as we think everyone sees and experiences the world as we do there can really be nothing more further from the truth. We are born, we grow, we love, we mate and some of us create offspring and then we die….no different than any of the plants and animals of the earth. I have been fortunate to have really done it all. I have lived and continue to live a full life. I have done far more than I ever imagined as a child. I have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams with three beautiful daughters who I love more than they will ever know. I have married and divorced, married and divorced and finally married my dream love of my life – my Isabel. It is all my reality…..No one else can understand my experience and none of us have any idea where life will take us from here.

What I have learned is life is constantly changing, evolving, and provoking us. Just when you think you have made it through all the potholes and hurdles of life, God in his infinite wisdom finds new challenges to confront you with. And so God, and his unfathomable sense of humor, has set before Isabel and I a whole new reality that we will now deal with. You see a few weeks ago, my lovely Isabel, the love of my life, my angel on earth, was diagnosed with cancer. It doesn't even seem real that I’m typing this yet in some strange way it is so therapeutic to get this out and share it with all of you. I know how much I love her and I also know how much you all do too. There is so much strength in sharing this and the healing energy it will manifest.

In the weeks and months ahead this will be of primary focus along with the needs of my family. My team at Candelaria Design and Isabel’s team at Earth and Images are ready and more than willing to help us through this. Isabel and I will still be designing and working on all of our shared projects as our work is really who we are, but we will be doing so more from home and calling in for meetings so I hope you all understand and we both thank you all in advance. We will likely have some meetings at Casa Candelaria and of course will do our best to keep up with the Sunday Family Meals at Casa Candelaria. We hope you can all come by as these are so healing for both of us.

I ask you to all hold Isabel in your prayers in the weeks and months ahead. She had her first surgery yesterday to get her “port” installed for her chemo delivery system and is resting this weekend. Overall she is feeling fine and is strong and ready for this challenge. Of course we are both apprehensive of what lies ahead but we are filled with faith in God’s path for us and knowing our friends and family are there makes an enormous difference. God bless you all and we will do our best to keep you informed of her progress with her fight ahead. 

A Free Day in the Basque Wine Country

It's about this point on our tours where everyone just needs a good down day and given it was Sunday and we had all settled into the Basque Wine Country it was the perfect day to just chill.

Our Hospederia de los Parajes has a lovely spa so Isabel and I decided that today we would sleep in and then start our day with some spa time at 11 am followed by a massage. Not a bad way to unwind for sure. The spa here is down in the basement in essence a cave – what a great feeling, dark, cool and because your reserve the spa area it was nice and private. Alternating between the spa and the steam shower for an hour followed by the massage was absolute heaven.




We then went for a walk through the village and a wonderful lunch on the street – likely one of my best meals of the trip. So nice to just chill and have nothing on our agenda but to sit an chat about our lives, our futures, and our dreams to the sounds of conversations in Spanish that we cannot understand so they sort of become this lovely non distracting background noise.

Another afternoon siesta and then it was time to gather our troops, who had also all had a free day, and head to the Rioja capital of Haro. Isabel, my good friend Laurie, my girls and I stayed here over the Holidays on our scouting trip and so it was quite interesting to see it now in the summer. Just as lovely but definitely with a more upbeat and lively vibe. We enjoyed cocktails first at our rendezvous spot, the Hotel Los Agustinos  and its lovely atrium courtyard. Gradually all of our travelers made it and we all began to compare notes on our free day. It was wonderful to hear all of the stories from spa time for some, to some who got an early start on the wine tours, another two went and explored nearby villages and then finally two of my travelers who found a golf course and got 18 holes in and buried a golf cart in quicksand along the way! Like I say, having our own cars is the best and I could see my travelers starting to get their wings underneath them and starting to explore!

Hotel Los Augustinos in Haro

Hotel Los Augustinos in Haro

With our initial cocktails enjoyed we then walked the streets of Haro past the main plaza to the street with the cathedral and our restaurant, Beethoven II . My family and our good friend Laurie had a fabulous dinner here during the Holidays, and it did not disappoint again!


With dinner completed along with several bottles of wine it was time to make our way back but not until I caught the sound of a local gentleman singing to a friend. I could not resist and came up on them to capture his singing in a video, whereby when he finished I commenced to offer my own part to this composition! I loved the look on his buddies when I broke into full opera. What fun and what a great way to make more friends in Spain!

On the Road to Laguardia and the Basque Wine Country

We had a fantastic time in San Sebastián – its pretty hard not to!

So now it was time to head to the country just like we do on our Italy tours. Of course most tours would charter a bus but I have found that my travelers love having their own cars and the freedom and privacy it affords them, especially in the country. So we did board several vans at the Hotel Londres for the San Sebastián airport and Europcar where we rented our sedans. Each couple has their own car and we get our convoy in order and head out for the Basque Wine country.

First, I cannot tell you how nice the roads and highways are in Spain! Impeccable! Wider than Italy, well marked, and not one pothole this entire trip. Yes there are tolls along the way, but I would say well worth the price.

The road trip from San Sebastián to the Basque Wine country starts with lush greenery brought to life from the sea. As you rise in elevation the trees transition to pines and if I just woke up from a nap you would swear you were on I-90 driving through western Montana. Absolutely beautiful.

Once you cross the divide the mountains act as a dam for the sea moisture just like the Sierra Nevada do in California and then the air dries and the greenery slowly diminishes to what then looks like the landscape around Cordes Junction which also has now a number of wineries. Rolling hills line with vineyards all embraced by lovely mountain ranges.

We drive up and down the hills and slowly make our way to our next venue, Laguardia. Laguardia is one of many little walled, medieval, hilltop villages that time has forgotten. Of course we were arriving on a Saturday and let’s just say the tourists as well as the locals have not forgotten this town – it was packed. No place to park so we just had to wait our turns for stalls to open in the parking lot at the bottom of the hill. With the cars parked we needed to schlep our bags up the hill, through the walled entrance, and through the narrow streets to our hotel, the Hospederia de Los Parajes.

What a lovely spot right in the middle of the village and a very cool mix of the old with the modern. We got settled in and then all made our way outside to explore the village, grab some lunch and then a nice siesta….yes we were all unknowingly embracing the life of a Spaniard!

Well, one true trait of Spanish culture is the fact that dinner does not start until 9 pm. Usually, Isabel and I are just wrapping up for the evening as we both like to get up at 4am. But not here in Spain. Our first dinner in the country was a welcome dinner hosted by Candelaria Design right here in the hotel and starting at 9pm and finishing sometime around midnight! Fabulous way to start our time in the country and the food was fantastic.

The evening finished with a walk around the village perimeter and then down the narrow streets with a nightcap and a cigar and stories shared by all of our journey to the Basque Wine Country.