1954 Vintage Spanish Colonial Cottage


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Name: Melanie Wagner, husband, Scott, and our cava-poo puppy, Major
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Type of home: Vintage Spanish Colonial
Size: 1,632 square feet
Years lived in: 5 years, 6 months, renting

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Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: Our home is a vintage Spanish Colonial cottage built in 1954 by a locally famous architect, Josias Joesler. Joesler was at one time the apprentice to famed Santa Barbara Architect George Washington Smith. He was hired by Tucsonan John Murphy, a developer who had a specific vision for the foothills of the Catalina Mountains.

The home only had two other owners prior to becoming a rental, and retains numerous original fixtures and finishes that have stood the test of time. It has a wonderful north-south orientation that gives the cottage the most beautiful light no matter the season. A deep back porch adds to the homes square footage during the winter season and many days are spent entirely out in this space. There is a constant “Shangri-La” vibe here that is quite addicting and sometimes feels as though we are living on a movie set.

I am a “hobby” interior designer with my experience cultivated within the interiors of my own homes and studying of design editorial. Only recently have I been paid to do design work outside of my home, and it has been an unexpected realized dream. All of the furnishings in our home have been collected over 35 years and have incorporated both design and function into every home we have lived in (Texas and Arizona). The color palette has varied little, and I try to stay with white, black, blue, green and tan. I love how fabrics can enhance a room and that is the one thing that has always changed. Can’t tell you how many times our sofa and accent pillows have been re-covered, creating an entire new look.

What is your favorite room and why? I have to say I have many favorite rooms, but to pick just one, it would have to be the dining room. I love the handmade French doors that bookend the room, allowing one to see all the way through the house. It has a beautiful, timeless, concrete floor and beamed ceiling. It also has artisan carved doors that lead to the living room. With the abundance of light, it feels like a greenhouse and plants thrive in this room. It has an element of surprise in that the front door leads directly into this room, and I like the unpredicted use of the space. According to the original blueprints and a conversation with the last owner, this room, along with the guest casita, were added around 1969 and the integrity of the home was not altered — only enhanced. The owners honored the original architect’s design using the same materials and concepts as were used in 1954. There is so much beauty in that.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Endless Collected Cottage

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The last thing I purchased for our home was the day bed and cover in the guest casita. I used euro pillow inserts with euro bed shams for the back pillows and standard size bed pillows for the arm pillows.

Any advice for creating a home you love? I would say it has a lot to do with being able to identify your style atheistic. Sounds cliche but start a Pinterest board or an old fashioned cork board collage or an album of screenshots on your phone and fill with all of the interiors that make you happy. This could be anything from a kitchen to a hotel lobby. Be sure to include spaces you have actually experienced in real life, and how that space impacted you or made you feel. A specific genre will emerge. A color palette will start to stand out. Be sure to study these elements from your photos so you are able to make discerning style choices when out in the marketplace.

Functionality is also very important and just because there is a proper dining room and living room doesn’t mean you need to utilize those rooms in that manner. Don’t get boxed in by the conventional ways to use ready made items. Use a bed sheet as a curtain, use a curtain as a shower curtain, use a bed euro sham as a pillow cover on a sofa. Utilizing items in this way is a great hack to get a designer look without purchasing custom items at designer prices. And always, always, shop at flea markets, yard sales, consignment shops, vintage stores, your mom’s closet. The treasures you find will really personalize your home and give it a signature style that is yours and yours alone. What is not to love about that?





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