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For The Home

Tucson Mountain Retreat

Author: Maria Matson
Issue: June, 2013, Page 82
Photos by Michael Woodall

The front elevation and sculptural desert landscaping of this house in the Tucson foothills was more or less all Melissa Siegel saw before purchasing it and undertaking a major interior remodel.



A Temporary Home in Tucson’s Foothills Becomes a Childhood Dream Fulfilled

Life doesn’t always turn out as planned ... or does it? In 2007, Maryland residents Melissa Siegel and her then-husband started making plans to retire in Arizona. They bought a lot in a canyon in Tucson, as well as a house in the foothills to stay in until the new place was built. But then they split up. He got the lot; she got the house.

“I grew up in the Sam Hughes neighborhood in Tucson, and I had a straight view of this area in the mountains,” Siegel says. “I always dreamed that one day I’d live in a house in these mountains—by myself, oddly enough—and be able to see the house I grew up in. And here I am.”

Since the house was originally going to be a temporary second home, the couple bought it without seeing the inside; they were going to fix it up their way anyway. That turned out to be a good plan.

“It was probably beautiful when it was built in 1994, but it had a very Aztec theme, with lots of pink inside,” Siegel says. That she chose interior designer Linda Robinson of Robinson Perry Design Group to help make the house more to her liking also seems to have been part of some greater plan. “Since I grew up in Tucson, I knew of Linda,” Siegel recalls. “My mother and I used to go check out as many of her projects as we could. My mother used to say, ‘Someday, I’m going to have her come and help me redesign my house.’ Then she got really sick and that never happened. But when I needed a designer, I called Linda. I interviewed a couple of people, but I really felt like Linda and I understood each other.”

“The house has a particularly beautiful view of the city,” Melissa Siegel comments. “I wanted to capitalize on that view with the things in my home and the way everything flowed.”
What Robinson understood was that the house was due for a total remodel, and McCaleb Construction was retained to help in the process. In addition to “pop-outs,” niches, plant shelves and unusual ceiling treatments, there were low, wide pony walls that broke rooms into small areas. “Everywhere you looked, there was sheetrock—in, out, up, down,” Robinson reminisces. “It was so busy that the only thing that could be done was to take all of it out. We did a huge demo; then we started putting it back together again.”

With the distractions gone and the interiors opened up, city views poured in, setting the stage for the Zen feeling Siegel was after for her part-time home in the desert.

The homeowner was also after a kitchen that better suited her needs. “The kitchen was especially important to me,” Siegel notes. “After my divorce, I traveled to India and Turkey and learned to cook. Once I got back to the States, I started catering Indian food and giving cooking lessons out of my kitchen. Linda reworked the island in the Tucson house so that I can do the same when I move there full time.”

Throughout the remodel, the designer and homeowner collaborated long-distance, between Maryland and Arizona. Siegel shared photographs of Contemporary furniture she liked and fabrics she had to have, and Robinson pulled it all together to create the home Siegel has been daydreaming about since childhood.

The master bedroom combines traditional fabrics with clean-lined furnishings. Displayed on the wall is a trio of tinted, textured floral photos on aluminum by artist Karen Musmeci.

Cherry cabinetry, granite countertops and travertine flooring create a quiet, neutral master bath. “This travertine floor is exquisite; it has a huge pattern and a lot of movement, which is unusual in a travertine,” notes interior designer Linda Robinson. A pair of oval mirrors provides a feminine note.
“I wanted to use all organic fabrics, so most of the fabrics throughout are linens or blends of linens,” Linda Robinson explains. “And a lot of the furniture is made from plantation wood, so it’s all green in that respect.” The existing carpeting and porcelain tile flooring were replaced with Brazilian Tigerwood to imbue spaces with warmth and drama. The sofa is angled to face the corner fireplace and take advantage of the views. An original oil painting by Ross Stefan dresses the wall.

Photos - Clock-wise from top left: The color of the custom walnut dining table was chosen to blend with the wood floors. “The dining room is not big,” explains Linda Robinson. “I didn’t want the table to dominate the room. The chairs have a lower back and clean lines; I used a soft color with no pattern to keep the room very Zen.” The light fixture over the dining table is one of many copper accents found throughout the house. Artist Dennis Carney’s acrylic painting on canvas, Aura, adorns the wall. • In the breakfast area, custom chairs encircle a handmade table that is “just natural, so there’s no formality to it at all,” says the interior designer.  The chandelier is handmade of silk. On the wall is a duo of mixed media paintings by Debra Scolari. • In the remodeled kitchen, an enlarged island with a cooktop and elevated glass dining bar allows guests to “sit down and watch Melissa do her magic,” Linda Robinson says. Other materials include cherry cabinets featuring lighted display nooks, granite countertops and a copper backsplash. “Copper is just wonderful in a home in our state,” the designer notes. “It adds warmth and brings a bit of the Southwest, of Arizona.” • Down sofas in the family room are covered with chenille. The coffee table is made of sheet steel with an antique copper finish; the rug is a silk/ wool blend. One chair and ottoman were upholstered in a geometric pattern that plays off all the calmness in the room.

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