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Masters in Quarantine: Designer Isabel Dellinger Candelaria and Architect Mark Candelaria

Sonoran Scout is checking in with some Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award winners to ask them how they are spending their days at home.

By Robert Danielson

If you have to live under stay-at-home orders, there are probably few better places to endure quarantine than with Isabel and Mark Candelaria. Both Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award recipients, these two have a broad range of projects under their belts, both as individuals and as a formidable team.

Isabel Dellinger Candelaria has been in the design industry since 1998 when she moved from New Mexico to Scottsdale, and won the Masters of the Southwest award this March. She is owner of her home furnishings showroom, Earth and Images, and her interior design firm, IDID & Associates. Mark has nearly 40 years of experience in architecture designing homes, restaurants and resorts. He received the Masters of the Southwest designation in 2005.

These two have perfected living and entertaining at home. As someone who has had the pleasure of sampling their cuisine, these two know how to live. Both are celebrated home chefs and are known for hosting fabulous meals for friends and clients. Their home speaks to their love of travel, with artwork from their many travels to the Mediterranean and beyond.

Here, they talk about working through these times in quarantine.

Robert Danielson: How are you spending your days?

Candelarias: We have been hunkering down and working from home. We have been diving deeper into our love of cooking. We’re taking lots of walks in our neighborhood and have been exploring some beautiful hiking trails here in the valley and throughout the state. We’ve had lots of video meetings and design time. And, of course, we’ve been lavishing more than the usual amount of time on our house cats, Alan and Kiki.

What has been most challenging? Probably the most challenging thing for us has been not being able to entertain. We love having people over for cooking and conversing. As an alternative we have hosted several virtual happy hours and have delivered food to friends that we have prepared ourselves or purchased from our favorite restaurants. We miss the direct connection.

RD: Have you acquired a new hobby or conquered a long-term goal during the past weeks?

We have been lucky, I guess, in that we have both stayed incredibly busy. We both did some purging of old things and have started dreaming about our kitchen, entry and master bath remodels.
Mark: I was hoping to tackle some long-term goals but haven’t gotten to all of them.
Isabel: I have fasted from online shopping, which I found was a stress response for me. I would go online to veg out. I wanted to be more intentional with my time and correct this occasional habit. During quarantine it was easy for me to be more focused.

RD: Have you learned anything enlightening by spending this time in quarantine?
I think our biggest takeaway has been to take time to slow down a bit and be grateful for everything we have, and especially how important it is to make our home as special as possible. One of the big changes in the industry we foresee coming in the design industry is a focus on the mud/laundry room spaces that are now becoming delivery and decontamination/sterilization spaces. Home offices are taking on even greater use, and technology and home schooling are taking on greater importance. All of these spaces are being redefined.

As we go forward, people will be more discerning to choose which meetings need to be in-person and which can be a video call.
RD: What is your opinion on re-opening the state? How and when?
We think we need to get people back to work and students back to school, but definitely in a slow, safe and measured manner. Without widespread testing we are at a real disadvantage. I will not be surprised if we see a repeat performance of the virus as we head back into fall. We are taking it slow and having our teams return to work 30 days beyond the return to work order, and just use the extra time to prepare and learn from the mistakes of others.

Financially this has been so damaging for so many people and businesses. We have got to get things moving again in a regimented way. Team members are taking turns working from home and working in the studio through the rest of the year. (Isabel said she will continue mostly working from home.)

RD: What is the best advice you would give to others who are isolated?
Take time for yourself through exercise, meditation, prayer, eating healthy and rest. Basically, take care of yourself and use the time to get strong in all ways possible. Stay connected by using technology to ZOOM and FaceTime.

This is temporary and it will pass. It may last longer than we want it to but it won’t last forever. We will get through it!
RD: What have you missed the most during the past weeks?
Traveling and connecting with our family, friends and clients.
RD: What have you missed the least?
Well we have enjoyed no traffic and the resulting cleaner skies.
RD: What do you think Arizona will look like when this crisis has passed?
It will take some time for us to return to how things were, if ever. We all have a new consciousness of cleanliness and we all think twice about being around other people, especially crowds. We are lucky we live in Arizona, with 100+ degree temps and all of our wide open spaces. We miss how simple and easy it was to go to a restaurant, hop in an Uber, or take a flight to some magical getaway. All things we took for granted – but not anymore.

Robert Danielson is a 35-year career journalist, marketing and public relations expert. He joins us here at Phoenix Home and Garden Magazine as he explores the Valley as a newcomer to our region. Please welcome him by e-mailing him at


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