Southwest Home Build: A Look at the Design Inspiration

Oct 01, 2021 | By New Darlings

desert home build

finally sharing about Building our southwest dream home

It feels so good to finally talk about the house and begin sharing what we’ve been dreaming up for the last year and half now. If you missed the post announcing that we’re building a home in Tucson, take a second and read it here. I feel like a toddler, just learning to speak, wanting to blurt out every word all at once. I have so much to share, but first, let me rewind a bit… 

Building a House from the Ground up in Tucson Arizona

Building a House from the Ground Up in Tucson, Arizona

Never did we think we would be building a home from the ground up. It wasn’t something that was on “our list” so to speak. I have a lot of goals but this wasn’t a project I thought I was ready for, but as each part of this process started to unfold, and we learned a little bit more about what we could potentially create, it began to be so clear that it was what was right for our family. For our first wedding anniversary we took a trip to Tucson and immediately loved the “rough around the edges” vibe we felt, with so many of the buildings having so much character. We spent some time there after we had Oliver as well, and that was when I knew it was where we should be. Every time we were there I just felt good. I loved the historic neighborhoods and the people and the way I felt rejuvenated and inspired after every visit. “This would be a good place to raise our son”, I would think as we would make the drive back to Phoenix. 

Building a House in Arizona

Moving From Phoenix to Tucson

Phoenix has been a special place for us. It has the city feel with an amazing community, which is what originally helped me fall in love with Arizona from the beginning, when we first made the move in 2013. Now, with where we are at in our lives, Tucson seems like the right choice. This particular lot, our lot, has a pretty magical and private feel, while still just being minutes from the downtown area. It’s the perfect balance for our family. There’s horseback riding not too far away and we’ve already scoped out a school for Oliver that makes us all excited (and a little less nervous) for when that time comes. New Darlings Southwest Desert Home Sketch(“Concept 3” by Brock O’Neill: After two other concepts and a few revisions, this was the sketch that made us say “yes! Let’s do this!”)

Our Modern Southwest Home Inspiration

Anyway, you’re here to read about inspiration for the home, right?  It started when we began talking to our friend and designer Joel Contreras. We have admired Joel’s designs in Phoenix for quite some time now and he’s kind of a legend in his own right around these parts. The way he can add modern additions to historic homes, as well as create new homes that feel soulful is an incredible talent. We knew we couldn’t do this project alone, and we were ecstatic that Joel and his business partner Amy, were down to work on this with us and collaborate on it every step of the way. We initially shared some moodboards and inspiration photos, similar to the below and they got started on the exterior design with Brock O’Neill, our draftsman, who is talented beyond words. We know what we like in a home: tall ceilings, specific flooring materials, decor, general window ideas, etc, but seeing Brock bring that to life from our moodboards to his sketches has been so exciting. They all understood our vision and brought their own amazing experience and ideas to the table to create a space that truly feels like a home.

New Darlings desert new build
(A super rough sketch-up model of the first rendition of the house, on the land, by Brock O’Neill.)

Positioning the Home on the Land

The first part was figuring out how the home would be situated on the property. We all mutually agreed that we loved the design situated facing west, so that we can catch the sun going down over the peaks from our main living area.  This also allowed us to create a courtyard feel to the home, with the main outdoor area being the first thing you see when you walk through the gates. The above image is pretty barebones but you can get an idea as to how we will build everything out in the front of the home. A stucco wall (see below) will be built around the property for privacy as well. We will have a small yard in the back of the house off the kitchen, for dining and (hopefully) a vegetable and herb garden. 

New Darlings tucson home build

(A little bit more polished and starting to take shape: another sketch-up model by Brock O’Neill.)

For the overall aesthetic we were completely inspired by Georgia O’Keefe’s homes in New Mexico. Our home, Westward House, will have a slight horseshoe shape, with the main living area in the center of the home, bedrooms to one side on the main level, with a breakfast nook and an appliance pantry/coffee bar on the other. Main bedrooms will be upstairs. Something we love about working with Joel is he has helped us incorporate some modern elements and finishes, which beautifully compliment the earthy and rough natural elements which we have been gravitating towards. Having this mix definitely keeps things fresh and keeps your eyes scanning each space. We are going to have a mix of concrete and wooden floors, textured walls, and some interesting tile through out. You can bet there will be some incredible built-ins and a fireplace in the main living area which might just be my favorite design aspect of this project yet. (Stay tuned for more there – its going to a fun one!) On the exterior, smooth stucco, and some fun clay lights. All of these choices and finishes will reflect the aesthetic of our surroundings, creating a truly peaceful place to rest our heads.

**Follow along on Pinterest to see what we’re loving for the house. 

**Missed any of the previous posts about building our dream home? Click here to read all about Westward House.



3 comments on “Southwest Home Build: A Look at the Design Inspiration”

  1. Hi. I love your blog and the style information you share. FYI – Your Joel Contreras hyperlink redirects to World Market. I would like to know more about his services.

  2. Have you been to Hacienda del Sol in Tucson? So much of your house reminds me of the original historic part of Hacienda. Check it out. The place is amazing and their landscaping will inspire you.

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