We're Maryal and Chris Carter, the crazy-in-love couple behind the blog and the specs. Our love of chambray and mutual blurred vision unites us, and this is where we share our adventures in love, style, food, DIY and so much more, seen through our bespectacled eyes. Thanks for joining our journey!

Unique Home Design (And Cute Corners) in Arcadia, Phoenix, Arizona

Unique Home Design (And Cute Corners) in Arcadia, Phoenix, Arizona

You guys vehemently requested this post and, well, we’re just here for your reading and viewing pleasure so we weren’t about to deny the request! Truth be told the genesis of this post was pure, off-duty fun and in no way purposely blog related. It was our sunset walks or bike rides spent appreciating (and snapping) the incredibly unique, beautiful homes that line what seems like every street in this small pocket of Phoenix just for fun and exploring our little slice of heaven. And it seemed like every time we shared a peek into charming Arcadia on Instagram and Instagram Stories, you guys just couldn’t get enough!

And we don’t blame you. This neighborhood has totally made Phoenix feel like home for us and we’re constantly in awe of the pride people have for their homes here. The heart, passion and care they pour into every detail of their dwellings. Their willingness to take a risk and buck tradition to create something with character, with charm, and with soul. We always say that we’re simply professional appreciators -- we’re not professional designers, architects or anything in between, but we love and appreciate the artistry involved in creating these masterpieces that are at once striking and spectacular and so intimate and personal. The entire neighborhood looks like a scene straight out of a Nancy Meyers movie (if you don’t know her work and you love home design, you need her in your life) and we love absolutely love that.

So it’s with that sentiment and that love for this special place we feel so lucky to call home that we bring you today’s post. A look inside (well outside, really) at what has quickly become one of the most beloved neighborhoods here in Phoenix -- Arcadia! There are so many homes to love in this neighborhood, of all shapes and sizes and each with their own unique story and history, so it’s really hard to capture every beautiful home and corner we love (during the magic hours when they’re at their most stunning) without driving, riding or walking around for days on end. Which is why this won’t be our last post on this subject or the last homes we snap, if you guys are into it!

We’re actually sitting at one of our favorite neighborhood gathering spots right now, The Henry, as we write this so we’re feeling a little bit like that weird kid from Riverdale, blogging from the shadows about the goings-on in the community… “Our story is about a town, a small town, and the people who live in the town…” Those opening monologues are priceless. Priceless, I tell ya! Side Note: Are we really buying the notion that an angsty teenager named Jughead Jones who wears a wool hat in the shape of a perfectly proportioned crown and has ambitions in investigative journalism would actually be the leader of a serious, but decidedly low brow criminal organization? These are the questions that keep us up at night, CW!

You may notice that most of the photos included today are a corner, a slice, a portion, a piece of a home or a corner of the neighborhood (with an abundance of swoon worthy front doors) and not the entire exterior of a home or the entire street. And that’s because we love to appreciate and capture the small, distinct elements and design details that make each home unique or the tiniest corners of each street that bring us joy. There’s so much to love, and what you’re seeing is really a look around the beauty of the neighborhood through our lens… literally and figuratively.

A Little Arcadia History

One of the major draws of this neighborhood is that it’s green. It has what some would argue is the most green in the city, which as funny as it sounds to all you East Coast and Midwest natives, in a city with an abundance of brown, dirt, and desert landscaping is a hot commodity. Grassy lawns, mature landscaping and general foliage abound in this neighborhood that was built on former citrus groves and full of citrus farmers from 1919 to the mid-1950s. So many of those old ranch homes set on large, sprawling lots still stand today and spoiler… we live in one of them! Our home was built in 1954 and so many original elements of the home still stand.

In the strangest coincidence, Chris’ mom (despite the fact that his parents live in Tucson and she grew up in New York) actually went to Arcadia High and her teenage home in the heart of Arcadia still stands in beautifully preserved condition with the most incredible view of Camelback Mountain. How fun is that? The neighborhood has also long been loved for its walk-run-bike-hike-ability (Camelback Mountain sits right at the North edge of the neighborhood). There aren’t a huge amount of really walkable neighborhoods in Phoenix, so it makes for an especially neighborly and quaint atmosphere that residents have been enjoying for decades.

Arcadia Home Styles

Ah yes, the raison d’être! As we mentioned, historically, Arcadia was comprised of traditional ranch homes. Long, single-story homes with modern-meets-western details and open floor plans. But today, the home styles throughout the neighborhood run the gamut, so it would be impossible to summarize. Seriously… just about every style is represented, from ranch to craftsman, contemporary craftsman, farmhouse, mid-century modern, just plain modern, traditional, Southwest, tudor, cottage, adobe revival, Mediterranean, mountain, French and more. It’s all here, which is one of the things that makes the neighborhood as a whole so unique!

But one standout sort of “signature” home style that seems to be delightfully rising in popularity and popping up on just about every street in the neighborhood for the last decade or so is what I think some call “modern” or maybe more appropriately “contemporary” craftsman. But for visualization purposes, I’d describe it as more of a ranch-cottage-farmhouse-contemporary-craftsman mashup style all its own, possibly with some French, Tudor and mountain elements thrown in if they’re mixing it up. Frequently, though you’ll see sprawling ranch homes with a lot of white board and batten mixed with white brick, wood shake or metal roofs, fun, colorful front doors and shutters, cool farmhouse exterior light fixtures, adorable, cottage-like front gates and walkways, charming cottage-like landscaping, an emphasis on creative, fun, functional outdoor living spaces, and garage doors with personalities all their own. That’s the best way I can describe it, but hopefully the pics will help paint a clearer picture of what I’m talking about!

What We Love

We actually live just on the very edge of Arcadia proper in what we’re pretty sure is considered the North edge of what they call “Arcadia Lite”. Slightly less fancy, still just as awesome. But one of the many, many things we absolutely love about our street in particular that makes us insanely happy is that our backyard backs up to the high school football field. We hear every drum, every cheer, every touchdown, every name as they cross that stage on graduation, every firework, every huddle and we love every second of it. It makes us feel connected to our community in a way that we probably wouldn’t if we weren’t right there in that exact location. We’re also less than a mile away from my sister’s house, a stone’s throw and a short walk from the dog-friendly brewery, nestled right up against the greenest stretch of the city carved out for dog walking, running, biking and more, walking distance to the grocery store and our favorite coffee and tea shops, and a short bike ride away from what we think are the best restaurants in the city.

And that’s a subject all its own. The small Arcadia quadrant has some of the most delicious, creative, charming restaurants and cafes Phoenix has to offer. And that’s in part thanks to the fact that one of the restaurant world’s coolest (Hippest? Dopest?) visionaries, Sam Fox, not only calls Arcadia home, but operates his fast-growing restaurant group’s entire business, Fox Restaurant Concepts, out of their offices above The Henry, which as I mentioned is nestled right in the heart of the neighborhood. Pretty cool, right? It adds so much life and community to the neighborhood, and we feel so fortunate to have an almost unfair concentration of the best food in the city right at our fingertips!

So Who Builds These Homes?

We’re admittedly not exactly experts on the who’s who of Arcadia home builders nor have we personally worked with any, but what would this post be if we didn’t mention a few of what seem to be the favorites? The builders/contractors/remodelers who are dreaming these beauties up with the homeowners and bringing them to life! And of course there are so many more incredible builders/contractors that are worthy of praise outside of the ones mentioned below, and we’ll update this list when we inevitably become familiar with more that are doing incredible things in the neighborhood!


Arcadia Custom Builders

Bent Nails Inc.

Green Street Communities

Santorini Homes

So what do you guys think? Are you ready to become Arcadia’s next resident? Come be our new favorite neighbor (especially if you have a cute pup we can hang with)! Comment below and tell us what your favorite home, design choice or cute little corner is from the pics included in today’s post -- we’re dying to discuss! And if you’re interested in seeing more of Arcadia, homes or otherwise, make sure to shout it out in the comments, too.

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