Designer for Hire

Vintage shopping: the experts spill

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You love vintage, and your wardrobe and living room are crying out for it. But how do you get started? We asked three experts for their tips on vintage shopping in Tucson. By Joan Calcagno. Cover photo courtesy of Francine Vacca Smith/Hot Cool Vintage

The three vintage mavens we spoke to have lots in common: they are hunter-gatherers; they love the thrill of the find; they shop at many types of places – thrift stores, second-hand stores, vintage specialty shops, Craigslist, rummage and yard sales. And they all consciously developed their eye for vintage.


The fashion stylist

syd leopard

Syd Ballesteros in a 1960’s satin jumpsuit from Desert Vintage. Photo by Puspa Lohmeyer

Sydney Ballesteros is a vintage stylist, creative director, buyer, and consultant extraordinaire. This Tucson Modernism Week, you’ll see her styling an exhibit of 1950’s and ’60’s fashions at the opening reception at Chase Bank.

Syd has had “an appreciation for old things” since she was a girl; her stylish grandma and mother took her to yard sales foraging for clothes and other treasures. When she started shopping for herself in high school, she went for the cuts and styles that appealed to her from many eras. That was the start of building a wardrobe, jewelry and handbags included, which is now 90% vintage.

Mix it up. Wearing or displaying all vintage can be a bit much. Syd blends in contemporary, buying various “filler” pieces, like jeans or a good black turtleneck. And since it’s hard to find vintage shoes that fit, she likes to use modern shoes to add that “mix it up” element. She also mixes “high”  – expensive, designer, mint condition (finding a piece like that is “a really good day,” she says) – with “low” – inexpensive things she likes.

Syd in a brocade suit from Black Cat Vintage. Photo by Puspa Lohmeyer

Syd in a brocade suit from Black Cat Vintage. Photo by Puspa Lohmeyer

Invest in staple pieces. Buy a good vintage dress, possibly a little black dress (expect to pay $50 to $75) and a coat in good condition ($50 to $200, unless you come across a killer deal at a thrift store for $15), some jewelry and a handbag.

Go for what you love. Look through vintage magazines, read books, watch old movies and see what you like. “Everyone’s eye favors a certain aesthetic. Vintage just gives you the opportunity to be original with styling it. Wear what you love. Wear it with confidence. Express your individuality!”

Where she shops in Tucson: : Buffalo Exchange, How Sweet It Was, Desert Vintage, Razzle Dazzle, Black Cat Vintage, OZMA Atelier.

For more on Syd, read our feature, Golden Girl of the West. 

The blogger


Francine displays some of her spoils. Photo by Joan Calcagno

Francine Vacca Smith writes the blog Hot Cool Vintage in tandem with running her Etsy shop, which focuses on home accessories – “smalls”, as they are called in the biz. She grew up in a family of antique jewelry sellers and in a home with stylish pieces that sparked her aesthetic senses. Over time, her taste moved to Scandinavian/Danish-modern, partly because she grew up with it.

She is particularly fond of Catherineholm enamelware – those lovely pieces with the leaf-like design you see in the photo. Moving from New York to Tucson three years ago with “virtually nothing” and a spacious home to furnish, she looked to the second-hand market. Then it occurred to her, “Hey, I could be selling this stuff”, and her Etsy shop was born.


One of Francine’s finds: a like-new vintage snack set and Blenko bottle. Photo courtesy of Francine Vacca Smith/Hot Cool Vintage

Research it. See a particular piece you like? Root around on the web so you get to know designers’ styles and price ranges. If your research says an item might be worth its price,  but it’s outside your budget and you love it, you might ask if there is “any room” on the price. Sometimes a seller can do better and sometimes not. Sometimes a knock-off can be touted, and priced, as the real thing. So if you’re not sure, do research on the spot. Look for the telltale details, and use your smartphone to help.

Mix it up. Like Syd, Francine likes to add modern to her vintage collection. Her dining room chairs, for example, are from Target.

francine glassware

Some of Francine’s Scandinavian glassware. Photo by Joan Calcagno

It’s OK to make mistakes. Francine loves mid-mod Scandinavian glass, but it can be hard to find authentic pieces because they aren’t marked. Over time, she developed an eye for the subtle differences. For example, maybe you can see that the tall piece on the left in the photo is a bit thicker on the rim. It’s just less refined throughout, even though it is the same pattern. So it’s possibly not an Oiva Toikka Flora piece like the one on the right. If you are decorating for yourself, it doesn’t really matter, unless you are set on having designer pieces, says Francine. What does matter is that you don’t want to pay designer prices for a knock-off. Although “it happens. You just have to get out there, have fun and make mistakes, that’s how you learn”.

Where she shops in Tucson: She’s not telling! This lady is in business, after all, and doesn’t want to reveal her sources. But she did tell us she likes the Tanque Verde Antique Fair, at 11100 E. Tanque Verde Road, first Sunday of every month.

The B&B owner


Charlotte in the ‘Atomic Room’. Photo by Joan Calcagno

Charlotte Lowe-Bailey is the proprietor of Bailey House, an artist B&B/retreat near the Tucson Mountains. A year ago, when she moved from Patagonia back to a family home, planning to open the B&B, she was faced with furnishing five guest bedrooms, as well as common and outdoor spaces. The house was built in 1966 and has good mid-century bones: floor-to-ceiling windows, angular styling, floor tiling indicative of the era. So Charlotte chose mid-century décor as the focus. While she enjoys houses where people have absolutely everything of an era, she used a more pragmatic, practical approach – starting with some pieces she had and some which reflect the sentimentality of blending in family heirlooms.

Look for bargains, but don’t haggle Charlotte, like our other experts, usually doesn’t haggle if the price is reasonable. She will make an offer if things are overpriced or have been on display a long time. She also tracks various thrift stores that have percent-off days, like The Girls Estate Sale Shop. “They mark things down on an announced schedule, so you know what the opportunities and risks are,” she says.

Be on constant lookout. Hitting the thrifts and vintage shops is usually part of any travel itinerary for these gals. Charlotte checks bulletin boards whenever she’s in small towns, looking for rummage and estate sales. At home, she – like the others – integrates vintage shopping into her week by stopping at a thrift or secondhand store when running other errands.


The “Atomic Room” at Bailey House. Photo by Joan Calcagno

How she puts a room together. Charlotte’s “Atomic Room” (pictured) started with the blond console piece given to her by a family member. Then she found the atomic-patterned convertible chaise/bed on Then she started doing what she usually does – filling in. An authentic swag lamp (from Tom’s Fine Furniture and Collectables. $95); the marble coffee table (from The Girls Estate Sale shop. $85); the Flokati rug (she loves these wool shag rugs because they are iconic to the 60s, easy to clean and easy to find. This one’s from Craigslist, $75); two black side tables (one from a rummage sale, the other from St Vincent de Paul thrift, about $5 each. “They weren’t great, but I sprayed them black and they work”); a TV (from HabiStore, $3); rummage sale side chairs, and smaller accessories, like the ashtray (Goodwill, $5); and, of course, wall art – an Albert Kogel poster, an abstract painting, and vintage album covers she displays in cases from Target.

Where she shops in Tucson: Charlotte seems to have good luck at what she calls “junk shops” – places that have a lot of inventory scattered outside, like Gersons Used Building Materials or the back yard at St. Vincent DePaul thrift, 820 S. 6th Avenue. Some of her favorite places are thrifts where wealthy, stylish clientele provide the donations, like Assistance League Thrift Shop. “They have killer sales”. Other places include: The Girls Estate Sale Shop; HabiStore; Goodwill;  Savers; Tom’s Fine Furniture and Collectables, 5454 E. Pima Street. When she is reupholstering: SAS Fabrics and Baca Upholstery, 2100 South 4th Avenue.

And lastly…

* Let the experts’ advice inspire you. Watch some old movies. Check out some vintage magazines. Get out there. Before you know it, your foraging instincts will kick in and your reward center will light up when  you find something that is a good fit at a good price. And you’ll know: you are hooked.

* Speaking of movies… We see that Grace of Monaco, with Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly, is coming out around Christmas. Judging from the promo pics, it should be full of 1960s eye-candy.

francine egg cups

Photo courtesy of Hot Cool Vintage/Francine Vacca Smith

* Vintage and mid-mod shopping in Tucson is easy when you know where to go. There are mid-mod booths at the  22nd Street Antique Mall and Copper Country Antiques (and don’t miss Fred’s Recycle Bin in the back). You can find mid-mod things at second hand stores like Betty Blue’s Junk Shop (Betty’s a bulldog. Say hi to her!), Kismet and Diamond Lil’s Vintage & Gifts, 2201 E. River Road, and in Trail Dust Town, 6541 E. Tanque Verde Road.

* And there are lots of thrifts where you might find a vintage bargain.  Try Miracle Center Thrift Store (great for glassware), 1st Rate 2nd Hand Thrift Store, Humane Society of Southern Arizona Thrift and Speedway Outlet Thrift, 5421 E. Speedway.

* Retro Renovation and eBay. While our experts were not using eBay much, we note that Pam Kueber, the woman behind the Retro Renovation website, peruses eBay every day and creates curated lists of the mid-century vintage items she finds.

The Mid Century Marketplace and Expo at Tucson Modernism Week is a must. Visit it at the Murphy Building,  2959 East Broadway, Sunday October 6th from 8.30am to 4pm.

* There are always vintage delights to be had at Shop Your Girlfriend’s Closet. This Voices for Education benefit takes place October 25th, 26th and 27th, 3822 N. Oracle Road. We’re told Linda Ronstadt has donated a couple of purses, so make sure you get first dibs.  More here.

Square Feet

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Michelle Hotchkiss, real estate agent and mid-century fiend, has square feet and a nose for great property. Each issue she brings us her pick of properties for sale. Photos courtesy of Michael Fassett.


Listed by:  Nordstrom Group

Where it is: Windsor Park on Tucson’s far east side.
Michelle Hotchkiss. Photo by Casey Sapio

Michelle Hotchkiss. Photo by Casey Sapio

The damage: $1175 a month.

How many square feet? 1649

dexter5 You’ll love it because: At the time Windsor Park, a hidden enclave of well-preserved MCM homes northeast of Speedway and Camino Seco, was being developed by J Herbert Oxman in consultation with Tucson architect David Swanson, the newest thing on the market was “a push-pull measuring tape with thumb lock which keeps the extended blade from creeping back into the case.” (Tucson Daily Citizen, 3.25.56). Oxman’s ads (see below) next to this news about hot products said “with landscaping by Nature, (sic) your home in Windsor Park has a setting that sends poets searching for new words.” He had put a glass window wall in every room, giving the three-bedroom house 575 sq ft of glass area. “Which is almost like living outdoors,” said Oxman. These houses were meant for entertaining.
I often get asked by out-of-towners where to drive around to see mid century modern properties. If you have not ever visited this subdivision and you, like me, are a fan of quintessential Tucson MCM burnt adobes (southeastern Arizona’s unique local building material), this is definitely at or near the top of my list. This particular model, named Camelot, was voted “Best Home for the Money” by American Home Magazine in 1963.
Here comes the but: This rental is not for sale!  And not many of my buyers will look this Far East anyway…but I have to break it to you, that’s where you’ve got to go!

Read more about Michelle, a RE/MAX Catalina Foothills Realty agent, at Atomic Tucson.


The house retains the original kitchen…



… including the cooker.


Et Cetera

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Architecture Week, Tucson Modernism Week, a mega Tucson home tour… we’re loving the events of the next two weeks. Delve in, and enjoy.



One of the homes on the mega-AIA home tour is designed by its owner, Mary Hardin. Photo courtesy of AIA Southern Arizona.

Architecture Week is a game changer

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” So said Stephen Hawking. And change is the theme of this year’s Architecture Week, organized by the American Institute of Architects’ Southern Arizona chapter. We think it couldn’t be more appropriate in a city that’s seen so much change lately.

Here are our Archi Week picks:


Photo courtesy of AIA Southern Arizona

* The third annual Hike and Bike Tour. A huge hit in past years, these guided bicycle and walking tours feature maps and speakers along the way. This one takes you up Tucson’s 4th Avenue, around the 1920’s neighborhood of Sam Hughes, and into the University area. It’s organized in collaboration with the Living Streets Alliance and takes place Sunday September 29th, 9am-11am. Click here for tickets and registration, and more info.

* Home tour on steroids. For the first time, AIA Southern Arizona is joining forces with the organizers of Tucson Modernism Week in what promises to be Tucson’s most diversified home tour yet.  We’re jazzed about the fact that we’ll be getting historic homes and examples of contemporary living on the same ticket. Don’t miss the Paulo Soleri-designed chapel, an Art Brown house, a remodel by Tucson architect Bil Taylor, and UA Architecture Professor Mary Hardin’s downtown home. The tour takes place 9am to 2pm, Sunday October 6. Tickets for sale online at 

canstruction 2012

A canned structure from last year’s event. Photo courtesy of AIA Southern Arizona

* Canned food ‘art’ to feed the hungry. Approximately one in four children in Southern Arizona is food-insecure, making our state the third highest in the nation when it comes to hungry kids. A group of architects, designers and engineers are doing something about it this Saturday at Tucson’s Park Place Mall when they turn their hand to making sculptures out of food cans. The cans – and there are expected to be tons of them – will then be donated to the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. Watch the spectacle this Saturday. The sculptures will be up until October 7th. Details here.


Calling all mid mods…

tucsonmodweek logo

3 Story Magazine is a proud sponsor of the second annual Tucson Modernism Week, a three-day extravaganza of films, lectures and events, including a swanky cocktail party. TMW highlights and celebrates Tucson’s mid-century modern design and architecture.  In the southern Arizona desert, the movement has come to be defined as Sonoran Modern. For TMW’s full schedule click here. For registration and tickets,  click here.

Highlights you won’t want to miss:

1. Opening Reception: Chat and imbibe with fellow afficionados and enjoy the lovely night air at the beautiful Chase Bank building (above), built in 1971. Sydney Ballesteros, vintage stylist and consultant extraordinaire, will be staging a vintage fashion exhibit.  Models will be on display decked out from head to toe in fabulous fashions from the 1950s and 60s.

When: Friday October 4th, 6:30-8 pm

Where: Chase Bank, 3033 E. Broadway Blvd at Country Club

Cost: Free. But reservation required.

SpacemanRobot (2)

Photo courtesy of Patricia Katchur, Yikes Toy Store

2. Robots! Atomic through the Space Age: Patricia Katchur, owner of Yikes Toy Store, talks fun facts, fantastic photos and the astonishing history of robots – both vintage and space age. We’re not talkin’ the Tin Man (or are we?)

When:  Saturday, October 5, 1-2pm

Where: Evangelical Lutheran Church, 115 North Tucson Boulevard

Cost: Free

3. I’m a Harwood Steiger Addict: Cynthia deVillemarette, a quilter and lover of the creative arts, will tell us all about the life and work of this mid-century icon of Southern Arizona fabric design and production.

When:  Saturday, October 5, 2-3pm

Where: Temple Emanu-El, 225 North Country Club Road

Cost:  Free

4. Design is One: Kathy Brew & Roberto Guerra’s film brings us into the world of Italian-born Lella and Massimo Vignelli who are among the world’s most influential designers. You have probably seen their work – now you’ll know all about it.

When:  Saturday, October 5, 10-11:30am

Where: Loft Theater, 3233 East Speedway

Cost: $10.00. Ticket Required

5. Paolo Soleri Beyond Form: In this cinéma vérité-style documentary, take a fresh and intimate look at the legendary and multi-talented artist, philosopher, urban theorist and architect Paolo Soleri who pioneered the dream of creating an environment in harmony with man.


Photo by Ken Howie

When:  Saturday, October 5, 1-2:30pm

Where: Loft Theater, 3233 East Speedway

Cost: $10.00

6. Mid-Century Marketplace and Expo and Max Jules Gottschalk Furniture Exhibit: Check out the marketplace featuring vendors from around the southwest offering a variety of vintage furniture, accessories and lighting from the 1950s through

The Max Gottschalk 'K' chair. Photo by Madeleine Boos

The Max Gottschalk ‘K’ chair. Photo by Madeleine Boos

the 70s. And be sure to visit the special exhibit celebrating the industrial furniture design of Tucson based Max Jules Gottschalk. Read about him in 3 Story’s article, The Wild Mod West.

When:  Saturday, October 5, 9am – 6:00 pm and Sunday, October 6, 8:30am-4pm

Where: Murphy Building, 2959 East Broadway

Cost: Free











Love Letters to Tucson logo


Dear Tucson…

“There’s not another Tucson. We broke the mold,” writes Councilman Steve Kozachik in the latest Love Letter to Tucson. And while Steve is no stranger to making headlines, it’s refreshing (we think) to see him wax lyrical on matters other than city politics.

Here’s an excerpt: “I run and bike all over town. In a single workout I can see architecture that is a hundred years old, built last week, sitting on a river bed or nestled in a downtown environment. I pass residential single family homes, student housing, military base housing, territorial form, adobe, brick, block, wood shake and tilt-up metal. There’s even a double deck container house on my running route.”

Photo courtesy of Rachel Miller

Steve Kozachik. Photo courtesy of Rachel Miller

In his mini essay, he celebrates the city’s history, midcentury vibe, cycling and walking, the University, and more. And on the eve of both Architecture Week and Tucson Modernism Week, it couldn’t be better timing.

We’re delighted to be partnering with Rachel Miller’s Love Letters to Tucson blog every month.

‘Why we love our vintage trailers’

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They’re a piece of Americana, and nobody can deny their charm. But with every vintage trailer comes a story. By Samantha Cummings. Cover photo courtesy of Shady Dell.

Shady Dell

Photo courtesy of The Shady Dell

When crowds gather to celebrate the second annual Tucson Modernism Week, all eyes will be on the Vintage Trailer Show, where owners will flock from all over the state to show off their mid-century throwbacks.

“It’s Americana,” says Demion Clinco, President of the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation, which is organizing Tucson Modernism Week. “Trailers, neon signs, classic cars – they all kind of represent this idyllic notion of what America was like in the 1950s and 60s. It represents this exuberance after World War II. It’s this idea of, ‘Let’s go see the future. Get in our cute little airplane designed little tin can and experience the United States’.”

But vintage trailers – especially nowadays – are not just for travel. We talked to four owners about why they love their piece of the past.

“This is just the big piece of our funky collection.”

Doug & Doug

Doug Striggow & Doug Harbaugh. Photo by Samantha Cummings

Doug Striggow and Doug Harbaugh are avid collectors of anything mid-century. One step into their home and you’d think you just traveled back in time.

With a room dedicated completely to Dr. Seuss memorabilia and a plethora of vintage finds, this couple was ready to crank their antiquing up a notch and purchase their largest mid-century find yet: a 1966 Airstream Caravel Land Yacht. Doug Harbaugh describes it as “the big piece of our funky collection”.

The couple plans to use the Airstream as a guest quarters, and will possibly take it on a few camping trips. But first, they have to find out if they even like to camp. If they don’t it’s no sweat, because they already set up a campground of their own – one they know they’ll like.

Once they purchased the trailer for $6,500 from RV Oasis, located off the Benson Highway, the couple wasted no time creating their dream campground. Take three steps out of the trailer’s front door and a path of pavers leads you straight to their version of a ‘campfire’: bright, fun yellow plastic chairs, a red awning, and salvaged steel dividers.

“I just wanted a spot to roast marshmallows,” says Striggow. outside With an appreciation for all things mid-century and wanting to stay true to the trailer’s origins, they made sure their renovations reflected just that. New curtains were made out of vintage 1960’s fabric, a reddish-orange countertop replaces the original white Formica, with new floor tiles to match, and new mustard yellow seat cushions pull the entire look together.


Doug and Doug’s renos stay true to the trailer’s roots. Photo by Samantha Cummings

Striggow, a visual display manager for Dillard’s, and Harbaugh, a former visual display manager and now a men’s supervisor for JC Penney, have yet to spend a night in their prized Land Yacht.

But, if the trailer never moves an inch, both agree it was still worth every penny. “At the end of the day, it’s perfect for us,” says Harbaugh.

“I want to leave the city and the time period behind.”

When Alex Mastrangelo travels with his wife, Michelle Haller, and son Dash in their blue ’59 Cadillac, towing their 1957 El Rey, heads are sure to turn.

The family of three typically travels in the 24 ft. trailer anywhere from five to eight times a year, having stayed in the El Rey for as long as twelve days at a time. “Dash grew up in the trailer,” says Alex. “He used to take baths in the sink.”

Dash and his trailer

Dash and his trailer. Photo courtesy of Alex Mastrangelo

The trailer, an eBay buy for $2,300, was originally purchased with the intent to rarely move an inch. “When I first met my wife, she was living downtown and was going to make a house out of trailers,” says Alex. “So we were designing this house that was solely made out of travel trailers and this was actually going to be the bedroom and dressing room. It ended up she didn’t do that house, so we ended up traveling with it.”

Their one-bedroom home that was specifically designed to house a 35 ft. Spartanette trailer next to it.

Their one-bedroom home was designed to house a 35-foot Spartanette trailer next to it. Photo courtesy of Alex Mastrangelo

Instead the couple, in order to abide by building codes and regulations, built a one-bedroom home that was specifically designed to house a 35-foot Spartanette trailer next to it. The trailer provides an additional working bathroom, a bed, and living space. If the trailer is “travel ready,” it’s technically considered a vehicle – meaning they were able to circumvent permits for an addition or guest house.

Because of the home’s small size, Alex and Michelle use this house as a rental, and say that the Spartanette addition is a huge selling point to the right tenant.

Inside the trailer.

Inside the trailer. Photo courtesy of Alex Mastrangelo

Now the family of three resides in a traditional ranch-style home in Tucson. But Alex refers to the 1959 El Rey as their home on the road, providing his family with the opportunity to drink a lot of beer, eat a lot of food and just relax.

“I love to travel. Also, I’ve always really escaped to the past to take a vacation. My aesthetics have been that way since I was kid. I don’t like modern things at all, so when I go on a vacation I want to leave the city and leave the time period at the same time. I don’t think I could have the same amount of pleasure in a new trailer. Everything is very much authentic.”

Alex's ’59 Cadillac. Photo courtesy of Alex

Alex’s ’59 Cadillac. Photo courtesy of Alex Mastrangelo

He adds: “Trailer people are kind of like Civil War re-enactors, in their own way. They all go out to the battlefield and they try to get in the zone of what the soldier felt like in 1864. That’s what they’re doing, but just a much more modern time period. They are escaping from everything that’s driving them crazy at home. When I get in here, I can relax. For the most part, you can kind of forget that you’re in 2013.”

* If you want to check out Alex and Michelle’s trailer for yourself, catch him at the Vintage Trailer Show at Tucson Modernism Week on Saturday, October 5th and Sunday, October 6th. For more information and tickets, click here.

“A lot of people have stayed here that I don’t think I would have ever met… we’ve become close friends.”

A night at The Shady Dell in Bisbee, a former mining town two hours south of Tucson, is the closest thing to actually teleporting back to 1950.

One step into the 1951 Mansion, a Spartan classic, and you are greeted with a leopard print rug, two martini glasses and a 1955 University yearbook.

Justin and Jennifer Luria are the third set of owners to take over the campground, comprised entirely of vintage trailers. It dates all the way back to 1927, where fatigued travelers on Highway 80 used to rest and set up camp.

Shady Dell, Bisbee, AZ

The Shady Dell, Bisbee, AZ. Photo by Samantha Cummings

Now, the couple welcomes guests from all over the world who are craving the romantic and mystique experience of 1950’s Americana. You can choose from nine fully restored vintage trailers. Their collection ranges anywhere from a 1957 Airfloat to a restored 1947 ‘Tiki Bus’.

Tiki Room at the Shady Dell

Tiki Room at The Shady Dell. Photo courtesy of The Shady Dell

“The Airfloat is neat,” says Justin. “That was pretty luxurious back then. Nobody could afford that except for celebrities and movie stars.”

Jennifer, a former graphic designer, and Justin, who graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Hospitality and Tourism, both fit right in with their vintage settings. Both have a ’50s look to them, she with her short bangs and bright red lipstick, he in plaid shirt and jeans.

But never did they think they would end up in a place with a population of 5,600.

“I’ve wanted to work at a hotel or have a little hotel in Central America or another country,” says Justin. “All I wanted was to get out of Arizona, and then I was like, ‘How’d I end up in this small town in the middle of nowhere?’ But I’m five miles from Mexico. Almost got there!”

Elray Radio at the Shady Dell

Elray Radio at The Shady Dell. Photo courtesy of The Shady Dell

While Justin is responsible for most of the landscaping and maintenance duties, Jennifer enjoys rummaging through Bisbee’s vintage shops for finds to show off in each trailer (and it doesn’t hurt that it’s a business write-off).

“Sometimes people leave things,” says Jennifer. “I’ll be like, ‘I don’t remember picking this up.’ They’ll also send stuff, because it’s been sitting in their closet for years. So, we’ll put it on display so everybody can see it. It’s nice to be able to do that.”

Because Justin and Jennifer run everything completely by themselves – except for some cleaning help on the weekends – they have decided to go seasonal. The Shady Dell is open during Fall and Spring and closed for several months during the summer. This gives the couple the opportunity to make necessary improvements, and time to recuperate.

“We’ve met people from all over the world,” says Justin. “Really interesting people – a lot of people who have stayed here, that I don’t think I would have ever met, that we’ve become really close friends with.”

“Sometimes it’s like Groundhog Day,” says Jennifer of the steady stream of visitors. “I try to remember everybody’s names, but it’s hard because somebody new is coming in every day.”

One couple who made their mark was Alex Mastrangelo and Michelle Haller (mentioned above), who rented out the entire park for their wedding ceremony and reception. Guests were able to mingle at the common area and then at the end of the night were able to return to their own trailer.

Shady Dell

1951 Mansion at The Shady Dell. Photo courtesy of The Shady Dell

Jennifer and Justin are currently living in the back of the main office with their two dogs. They plan to build a house adjacent to the property. Steps towards creating an outdoor movie theatre are also already in the works, where they will use their 1957 Dot’s Diner (sadly, out of commission as a diner) as a place for guests to purchase concessions.

Says Jennifer: “To be able to be surrounded by this stuff that we love everyday… we like the style, we like the period. That’s our job, and that’s what we love.”

“There’s an emotional aspect to this. It’s sentimental.”

1979 Silver Streak

1979 Silver Streak. Photo by Samantha Cummings

We know. It’s pushing it a little to call this last trailer vintage; it was made in 1979. But we loved this story so much, we had to squeeze it in.

When Susan Delaney knew her snowbird parents from New England were moving into her family of three’s Tucson home for the winter, she and husband Michael thought they’d renovate the two-bedroom house.

Their plans to add onto the home fell through, so Susan decided to move her parents into the master bedroom and convert the Arizona room into a third bedroom. But in doing so, Susan’s already tiny house just got smaller.

The solution: a 1979 Silver Streak that not only provides extra space – acting as an extra wing on their house, – but will be a place where the family can escape and spend quality time together.

“There’s an emotional aspect to this. It’s sentimental. Life goes fast and you should try to at least stay a little near your family,” she says.

For Susan, a clay artist, half the fun has been finding vintage items to fill the trailer, which they bought for $5,700 on Craigslist.  On the table lies a 1978 version of The Mad Magazine Game and Bonkers. Old cassettes and books are lined up under the window and a stack of Arizona Highway magazines are near the beds.

“I must say though, you try to stay hip about it, but in this trailer you definitely find yourself listening to Hank Williams and Patsy Cline,” says Susan.

Interior of 1979 Silver Streak

Interior of the Delaneys’ 1979 Silver Streak. Photo by Samantha Cummings

With the Internet connection reaching out to the trailer, her son Spencer, 13, and his friend had no issue being guinea pigs and testing out the trailer for a night. Although Susan thinks more YouTube videos were watched than actual board games were played, she’s happy to see her son be able to claim a little space of his own.

Because of the trailer’s pristine condition, Susan wants to leave the Silver Streak as is and just slightly change and add to its original 1979 décor. This means a lot of burnt orange and avocado green – cheesy, but she loves it. “I graduated from high school in 1978, so that’s kind of fun,” says Susan. “I was a freshman in college when this came out, so I have some fun memories.”

Office Memos Not Required

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How architecture firm Taylor Design + BUILD is rebounding from the recession. Bil Taylor tells their story.


One of Taylor Design + BUILD’s creations. Photo courtesy of Taylor Design + BUILD

With the gradual ending of the great recession come hopeful stories like the myth of phoenix rising, back from the ashes, regeneration etc. Surprised as we were after many uneventful years in the home building industry that we needed to seriously hunker down, a couple years later we find ourselves much altered. As architects and builders, not mythical birds, we at Taylor Design + BUILD have a story to tell.

Sadly, it began when several great employees had to leave to find other venues for their creative urges and to make a living. Principal Bil Taylor taught in the design/build studio at the U of A College of Architecture for several years to make ends meet and keep us in the game. We downsized from our old spacious dig$ at 178 E. Broadway, where we’d been for 20+ years, to another downtown locale – Redondo Towers. Though much reduced in size, it’s a great place to collaborate. Cozy, or claustrophobic, office memos are no longer required.


The firm’s new offices. Photo courtesy of Taylor Design + BUILD

A fortunate opportunity arose for Bil and his designer wife, Carole Hunter, to design and build their own home. This they did with the help of Matt O’Bright and Steve Gonzalez. This “Tuesday-Thursday Project”  was named for the two days Bil was on the site. On Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays, he was teaching design/build classes at the architecture college.  Completed in 2012 and first featured here in 3 Story Magazine, it was inspired and influenced from many sources, not the least of which was Michael Reynolds, founder of the Earthship.


Bil Taylor’s ‘Tuesday-Thursday’ project was carried out on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when he wasn’t working. Photo courtesy of Taylor Design + BUILD

Earthships are self-sufficient, off-the-grid homes generating their own electricity, dealing with their own wastes, passive solar heating and using only rainwater for everything!

The “Tuesday-Thursday Project” is a hybrid of  ideas – Michael’s ideas.  A yet-to-be-built greenhouse will phyto-remediate gray water for a secondary internal use in the toilets.  The house already collects rainwater for drinking and all household uses and do the typical solar remedies.

From the “ashes” of our small studio space, Alec Kennedy, husband-and-wife team Carole Hunter and Bil Taylor, and a cast of collaborators, still design fine homes, including interiors and, recently, furniture.

bt11final Furniture design and fabrication is a new direction for our firm. Bil apprenticed with wood sculptor Wharton Esherick, generally recognized as a leader of American craftsmen, and influential in the Studio Craft Movement. Bil also operated the woodshop at Arcosanti  for two years, while apprenticing with world-renowned architect Paolo Soleri.



This Taylor Design + BUILD table receives an 11-feet long piece of 1-inch thick glass, to carry settings for eight people. Photo courtesy of Taylor Design + BUILD

As the building industry continues to revive, we find ourselves with tightened belts but wider scope, and ready for new opportunities.  The recently completed remodeling and large addition near Tucson’s Arizona Inn will be on this year’s AIA home tour. and a full feature article on the firm will appear in Tucson Lifestyle’s January 2014 issue.

You can find Taylor Design + BUILD at 425 W. Paseo Redondo, Ste. 7, Tucson, AZ 85701. Call 520 792 9544; Fax 520 792 2029; Email [email protected]; or go to

Resisting the urge to lick your walls

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When color experiments go ‘wrong’, homeowners tend to blame themselves. But really, it’s the fault of a misleading paint-picking process and underwhelming colors, says Tucson-based Citron Paint.

encanto -- master bedroom after #96, c=#15

Hours of thought and experimentation go into developing Citron’s paint colors. Photo courtesy of Citron Paint

When people paint their walls and the color turns out ‘wrong’, they tend to blame it on themselves, thinking they made the wrong choice or just aren’t creative enough.  But the folks at Citron Paint are here to tell homeowners not to be too hard on themselves – that it’s actually the fault of the paint company.


Colors are mixed with the same formula used by fine artists. Photo courtesy of Citron Paint

When C J Vohs, founder of the Tucson-based boutique paint company, was trying to understand why most paint colors looked bad, she found that they were mixed for budget, not beauty.  Worse, the big paint companies use black, a dirty colorant that deadens color, says C J. Not only that, trying to replicate a paint color on a tiny paper swatch is nigh on impossible, because they’re printed from ink. And so it’s no wonder homeowners are beating up on their decorating selves.

Citron Paint does it differently, following the technique of fine artists with a color blend of at least eight pigments, and no black or gray. The result? A richer, deeper color, and thicker, more milkshake-like consistency. It’s all summed up by the company’s slogan: “Resist the urge to lick your walls.”  After putting Citron on the walls, it may be tough to resist.

Once C J’s eyes were open to nature’s colors and the possibility of replicating them in paint, she couldn’t stop herself. She’s a person who can’t just walk down the street in one straight line, or flick steadily through a magazine. She’ll stop to pick up a leaf that’s not quite turned brown yet and shows signs of summer and fall. She’ll save fashion pages and make a trip to the fabric store to find more textiles so she can create a new paint color, inspired by the color of a beautiful silk gown.

Coming up with gorgeous paint colors is a time-consuming business, and C J and her son, Kevin Volk, who joined the company this year, put hours of thought and experimentation into getting the colors exactly right. And she’s quick to point out that mama nature is usually her muse, so she can focus on creating paint of real beauty.


C J Vohs. Photo by Gillian Drummond

With  Kevin’s arrival, C J is happily concentrating on color consultations, in which she guides clients to a beautiful “color story.“ Kevin, a born and bred Tucsonan, recently returned to the city after some years away. “I grew up in a house with 20 to 30 constantly changing colors,” he jokes of being brought up by a color maven. “I realized it wasn’t exactly average, but I did get used to being surrounded by good paint.”

Kevin is a graduate of Brown University, where he majored in economics (funnily enough, so did his mom). His path back to Tucson snaked its way through California (where he was a Teach For America corps member), Mexico (as a Fulbright scholar), and Virginia (working on new media for Virginia governor Tim Kaine’s successful campaign for the U.S. Senate). “I’m excited to be back home in Tucson,” he says. “There’s a new energy in the city, and people are more and more supportive of local business.”

alhaja console

Citron’s paint has fans in Mexico and Canada, as well as all over the United States. Photo courtesy of Citron Paint

Now a partner in the business, Kevin is working on expanding Citron’s online presence and national sales.  C J and Kevin are both proud to point out that their paint has been shipped to every state but Hawaii, and internationally to Mexico and Canada.  Kevin also wants to increase Citron’s community presence and continue to grow its relationships with the best painters, contractors, builders, designers & architects in Arizona. To him, it’s a matter of maintaining the highest level of quality. “If they’re designing or building beautiful spaces, they should be using truly beautiful paint.”

Citron is one of the sponsors of the second annual Tucson Modernism Week, which takes place in October. As part of this celebration of mid-century modern design, they will overhaul the colors in the lobby of The Loft cinema, which will screen Modernism Week’s films and documentaries, with a fresh coat of luminous paint.

* Find Citron Paint at 7041 E. Tanque Verde Road, Tucson or online at Tel:  520 886 5800 or toll free 877 418 5800. C J is available for color consultations nationwide.

adelaide -- office after #33

Citron is a proud sponsor of Tucson Modernism Week. Photo courtesy of Citron Paint


Pleased to Meet You

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Adam Call, national sales manager for the Herman Miller Collection, is a visitor to Tucson Modernism Week with a talk on the company’s head designer, George Nelson. Here, Adam talks modernism, Mad Men and metal.

adam call herman miller

Photo courtesy of Adam Call

Early bird or night owl? “I’m more of a night owl. I get most of my work done after dark. I love working late. I hate getting up early, but most of the time when I travel I have to get up really early. I don’t compartmentalize work and life. I work all the time.

“I started working at Herman Miller in high school as an installer. Then I worked at their outlet store in Michigan. I went off to college and then took a job with the company.”

tumi duffle

Adam never leaves home without his Tumi duffel bag. Photo courtesy of Tumi

Favorite accessory? “Probably my bag. I have a Tumi duffel bag that’s my best friend. It’s black nylon and black leather. Wherever I go in the world, this comes with me.”

Favorite faux pas? “I have so many. One of my favorite things to do is to be self-deprecating [with customers], which can sometimes work and sometimes not.  I have pretty youthful features and I often break the ice by [saying] I’m one of the interns.

“Especially with the collection I work with, this is such a high design job. But you shouldn’t take yourself seriously. And it disarms people a little.

“There’s so much posturing in corporate America where you’re trying to position your product as the very best. Just show your colors, we’re all human beings.”

Who is your dream customer? “Someone who is really tuned into their needs, who is willing to take risks, who is open and adaptive, and who understands that the common solution you see and experience might not be the best.

“When Herman Miller started, modernism wasn’t a thing. It was just trying to get people to think differently about what these requirements were. Today we’re talking about it as a style. We’ve definitely got a cult following of people who really believe in that lifestyle, and that helps our business. Mad Men has definitely helped the Herman Miller Collection. But George Nelson absolutely rejected the idea of change for the sake of style.”

If I wasn’t a Herman Miller collections specialist I would… “I think I’d probably be in communications, for an agency, something akin to writing. But if I had it to do all over again I would be a fabricator or welder. I love working with metal and fixing cars, finding things someone threw away and making them useful again. So some sort of a mechanic.”

If I could change one thing I would…  “Change perceptions about what mid-century design is about. I think it’s really misunderstood right now. It was about  understanding commonality between human beings and designing as simply as possible. I really like to pull back the layers and help people understand what great designers do and help people understand it’s really about the products and utility.”

* Adam Call will present a free lecture, George Nelson: Icon of American Furniture, on October 5th, 10am-11am, at Evangelical Lutheran Church, 115 N. Tucson Blvd. George Nelson served as design director for Herman Miller from 1945 to the mid 1960’s.

Ground Floor

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What’s HOT for your desert yard

Boxhill brings us its product picks of the month.


The Desert Collection by Steel Life was born from the desire to create a perfect planter for cacti, succulents and other drought-tolerant plants.  The shape of the bowls eliminate the need for excessive soil and unnecessary water usage that is typical with deeper containers.  The designs also reduce the chance of over-watering your plants and having their roots rot in the process.

The planters are manufactured in the Pacific Northwest and assembled in Central Oregon.  Each bowl is individually spun by one set of hands and with the use of machinery that dates back to the early 1900’s. The mod dish (lower right in photo) is partially made from locally salvaged and upcycled steel.

But, more than that, we love the simple mid-century style of these. One or two will bring a pop of color and some mid-century functionality to your yard or home. For more, visit Boxhill’s online store.

* For a chance to win one of these planters, visit our Mid-Mod Giveaway here!


Olive Grove with Seating Located within the Upper Plaza North of the TCC (Photo Credit:  Red

Olive Grove with Seating Located within the upper plaza north of the Tucson Convention Center.
Photo courtesy of Red Bark Design LLC

Every month, landscape designer Darbi Davis digs deep to bring you stories for your outdoor space. Here, she reveals some mid-century landscaping treasures in the heart of Tucson’s downtown.

Darbi Davis. Photo by

Darbi Davis. Photo by Jen Long Photography

As Tucson’s mid mod fans gather for the second annual Modernism Week, they might want to take a little stroll downtown. There, spanning over five acres, lays a mid-century surprise: a rare and exquisite example of classic mid-century landscape design known as the Tucson Community Center Landscape.

The space, located south of Broadway, connects several new and old structures around the Tucson Convention Center. It is the work of Garrett Eckbo, a founding father of classic mid-century landscape design.

Garrett Eckbo and James Rose. Photo courtesy of Arline Eckbo

Garrett Eckbo (left) and James Rose. Photo courtesy of Arline Eckbo

The age of Modernism as it defines Landscape Design was a decade where science and technology reigned, mass-produced materials ruled, and America was seeking an identity within a Modern world laced with radical art, architecture, literature and theory. Thanks to Garrett Eckbo, James Rose, and Dan Kiley, the Classic Modernist Landscape was born.

The Walkway Linear Fountain Links the main Plaza to the Pedestrian Bridge, La Placita Village, and Government Buildings (Photo Credit:  Red Bark Design, LLC)

The walkway linear fountain links the main plaza to the pedestrian bridge, La Placita Village, and Government buildings. Photo courtesy of Red Bark Design LLC

These irreverent lads all went to Harvard Graduate School of Design. Most graduated. One was expelled. Literature was their primary weapon against the system, and writings with headings such as “How to Prevent a Garden,” and “Landscapes for Living” surfaced.

Who knew landscapes and gardens were not for living prior to Modernism? Indeed, they were reserved for the elite and rarely, if ever, considered the social lives of humans.

Here’s what we love about them:

 1. The Space The landscape was sculpted as a form of social art, and designed to serve as a gathering place for the people. General design characteristics of modern landscapes include a tight connection between indoors and out, ecological elegance, spatial sensibility, authentic materials – and, most importantly, people. Yes, these spaces were designed for you.

2. The Materials Materials were the finished product. Can you imagine the delight in not having to choose a paint color with your partner? Well that’s the reality of a mid-century design – no need to paint or stucco that wall, the concrete is the finish. Simply genius.

Looking at the Upper Plaza between the TCC and the Leo Rich Theater (Photo Credit:  Red Bark Design, LLC)

Looking at the upper plaza between the TCC and the Leo Rich Theater.
Photo courtesy of Red Bark Design LLC

3. The Plants The vegetation consisted of drought-tolerant choices, and was placed in groves or allees to provide shade and respite from our hot climate. Sound familiar? These guys were xeriscaping way before their time.

Fountain Plaza - View 2 - Looking North (Photo Credit:  TPAC)

Fountain Plaza – View 2 – Looking North
Photo courtesy of TPAC

4. The Fountains There were fountains and boulders, and for Tucsonans whose summer season lasts a full six months and into triple digits, that’s a lot to love.

5. The Buildings All of the buildings surrounding this space had cultural significance (then and now), bringing together the Convention Center,  theater, hotel, and adjacent open spaces.

So the next time you find yourself at Cinema La Placita, the Leo Rich Theater, or on jury duty, take a walk through this historical landscape, wander through the spaces, and recall that you are walking among a rare bit of history.

* For more mid century Tucson spaces, don’t miss the Tucson Modernism Week Home Tour on October 6th. For the first time, TMW is collaborating with Architecture Week for a tour that combines historic and contemporary. Details and tickets here.

For more on Darbi, visit her website,

My Space

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Thom Sherwood’s favorite space is at the wheel of one of America’s first muscle cars, a 1960s Pontiac GTO he inherited (sort of) from Vin Diesel.

car solo shot


“I first became cognisant of cars at about six years old, but it wasn’t until high school that I started paying attention to a broader range of cars, including the Pontiacs. My first car, when I moved to Tucson at the age of 19, was a 1971 GTO convertible. Today I own four Pontiac GTO’s.

Courtesy of Revolution Studios

Thom’s car had a starring role in xXx. Photo courtesy of Revolution Studios

“I bought this car, a 1967 Pontiac GTO, from a collector in Malibu. It’s one of five cars built for the movie xXx. It was supposed to look as if there were lots of unsophisticated additions to the dashboard, to give it a rocket launcher, a parachute, a flame thrower and so on for Vin Diesel’s spy character.

“When you analyze the storyline, it’s as good as any James Bond film could have been. The plotline, everything falls into place, there are no gaps. And the car is a character in the movie.

“Driving a muscle car is a very visceral experience, it’s a very tactile experience. To feel the torque of acceleration is an adrenalin rush. But I think the real enjoyment is if you’re driving in town in this muscle car, the thrill is when you pull up to a stop light and you look around and people are staring at the car because they see something unique. You get a lot of thumbs ups. I’ve had people almost drive off the road.

“More than anything else it’s a beautiful car and it represents a completely different mindset of design. The styling, the power, are pretty much unrestricted. Today there are so many regulations in terms of side impact, bumper height. There are so many things that dictate car styling today. Back in the 1960s there really was no federal legislation that said you can’t design something a certain way. The only limitation was financial.

Thom regularly gets a thumbs-up from passers-by. Photo by Gillian Drummond

Thom regularly gets a thumbs-up from passers-by. Photo by Gillian Drummond

“But the special connection I have to this car is really in sharing its story, the magic of a movie car, the back story, the uniqueness. Two years ago I had the car at a classic car cruise night that’s held regularly at Little Anthony’s Diner in Tucson. I see a young boy of maybe ten or twelve years old, he’s walking towards the car and as he’s walking he’s mouthing something, like he’s trying to make sure what he’s seeing is what he’s really seeing. This kid must have watched xXx twenty times. I invited him to sit in the car and he thought it was Christmas. He refused to get out until his mother went home, got her camera, and came back and took a photo of him in it.”

*Thom is organizing  Jim Ewen: Highway of Tomorrow, a discussion and gallery about the modern transportation concepts of Jim Ewen, retired General Motors designer and Tucson resident. The event, part of Tucson Modernism Week, takes place at Intermountain Academy School, 555 South Tucson Boulevard, October 5th from 4pm to 5pm.

* Also on October 5th, classic car enthusiasts can attend a free car show  and luncheon as part of Tucson Modernism Week, 11.30 am to 1.30 pm at Chaffin’s Restaurant, 902 E. Broadway Blvd. All attendees will receive a complimentary pass for Sunday’s Home Tour.

*You can read more about Thom’s car in his car movie blog. He is working on turning the story of the xXx car into a book.


The pimped-up dashboard of the Pontiac including, at right, a parachute. Photo by Gillian Drummond

Photo by Gillian Drummond
Photo by Gillian Drummond



Something old, something new

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Taking over an iconic Tucson store is no mean feat. But the new owners of Desert Vintage are succeeding in making it their own. Story and photos by Gillian Drummond. Cover photo by Adam Rodriguez.

As a twelve-year-old, Salima Boufelfel would stop by Desert Vintage with her mother. Salima would have money saved up from babysitting that she’d spend in the 4th Avenue thrift shops. Little did she guess that, a little more than a dozen years later, she would be at the helm of one of Tucson’s iconic vintage stores.

Salima Boufelfel & Roberto Cowan

Salima wears a 1950’s dress by American designer Claire McCardell. Roberto wears a 1940’s shirt from his store and replica 1920’s Levi’s from Bon in Tucson.

Salima and husband Roberto Cowan stumbled into the ownership of the store last summer after then owner Kathleen Lauth told them she was retiring. Salima was well-known to Kathleen as a customer, so she asked if Salima would be interested in taking over.

The couple had designs on owning a store, but their first thought was to do it in Paris, a city they had fallen in love with after traveling there in 2012. A year after taking ownership in their home town (both were born and raised in Tucson), they’re delighted with the public’s reaction to what is the same fabulous old store, but new as well.

Carpet was pulled up, some wooden flooring installed to match the original, new changing rooms put in, new clothes racks and rails put up, and the round racks that made the previous store space busy have been removed. The idea is that the cleaner, more uncluttered merchandising reflects their own aesthetic – vintage yet modern, stylish yet “not costumey”, as Salima puts it. They have also set up a Desert Vintage online store.

Inside Desert Vintage

Inside the new Desert Vintage

“This is a landmark in Tucson. Since 1974 people have known it as Desert Vintage, and going into that we kind of were taking a risk in changing so much so quickly. But when we opened I think people responded really well to the changes and the shift and the energy in the store,” says Salima.

Salima and Roberto acquire most of their clothes from people calling them up – usually after a relative has died. Just six weeks after they opened, some 4th Avenue shoppers came in to tell them they had a lot of 1920s clothes they didn’t know what to do with. The original owners had been affluent, and the cuts and quality of the clothing were top notch, says Roberto.

“The ’20s is not only one of my favorite times in fashion, it’s increasingly hard to come by,” says Salima. “We bought one of the most amazing estates we’ve ever seen,” says Salima. “It was incredible, it was such a good first buy to get that first year.”

Desert Vintage - 636 N 4th Ave  Tucson, AZ 85705

Desert Vintage – 636 N 4th Ave, Tucson

Clothes_Desert_Vintage Salima and Roberto met when they were working at Buffalo Exchange in Tucson, where both went on to be buyers. Working at the clothing exchange exposed Roberto to vintage clothing and its power to make a wearer stand out from the crowd. “I had always been a thrifter, I always did it for the individuality,” he says.

At Flowing Wells High School he was voted ‘Most likely to become a fashion designer’, he says. He taught himself sewing – the only one in his family who knew how to, he says. “My family come from a retailing background, all of my family shops at malls.” Roberto was attracted to the fabrics and cuts of older clothing.

“We’re very much aware of how things are made and where things come from. It just goes with the territory. We have a different value for things now,” he says.

Salima hopes the public is coming around to that sensibility too. “I think there are a lot of people becoming a lot more conscious, and taking decisions into their own hands. I’d like to think we’re moving in a direction where people want to invest more money in things that they are going to have forever,” she says.

In high school, Salima would thrift-shop, and swap clothes with her vintage-loving best friend. Salima’s mother is local artist and self-described “eco-creative” Linda Cato, who had a more bohemian style but owned a few choice vintage pieces.

Says Salima: “I loved the [vintage] styles, and it struck me as really different, really wearable. I love that it’s something that nobody else is going to be wearing. But I always loved to wear vintage in a contemporary way, it was never in a theatrical way, and I was never just in one era.”


Mixing it up, shaking up a look and a style, celebrating the very old as well as the new, the classic as well as the funky, is what this couple is about. Their rented house in Tucson’s downtown Barrio Viejo is a study in all of that. A comical modern seat (in the shape of a hand) sits close to a 1950s sofa, newly upholstered in leather.

Plain oatmeal fabric is used as window coverings. A silver pouffe hails from Morocco. The bedroom is stark: neutral shades of cream and white, a painting standing against a wall.


In their bedroom, they favor neutral shades and simple lines.

Color comes in the form of accessories: antique Navajo rugs; vivid beaded armchairs from Ghana (a Gem and Mineral Show find); and an old shelving unit – possibly a Post Office fixture – displaying nick-nacks like a 1950’s camera and early edition books.


This shelving unit in the living room is possible an old Post Office sorting shelf. The beaded chair is a Tucson Gem Show find.

You can’t blame Salima and Roberto for not really knowing what the future holds; at age 26 and 23 respectively, it is their job to be keeping their options open. But for now, they’re glad they answered the pull of Desert Vintage.

Says Salima: “No matter what’s in store for us ten or fifteen years from now, I feel it was the right time and the right place.”

* Desert Vintage’s new Fall hours, starting October 1, are 11am to 7pm Monday through Saturday, and 12pm to 6pm Sunday. Visit their website and online store at

* Salima and Roberto will be taking part in the opening night event of Tucson Fashion Week on October 17th. More details here.