The Decor of This “Modern Eclectic Southwestern Desert Oasis” Was Inspired by the Arizona Landscape

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Living room with large fireplace and large window
Credit: Kaela Elise

Name: Madeline Cragin, husband, Matt, and dog, Tui
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Type of home: Single-level house
Size: 2,377 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, owned

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: The first time Matt landed in Tucson, he turned to me and asked, “Is this Mars?” The sweeping mountain landscape dappled with dancing saguaros was unlike anything the native New Zealander had ever seen. After his first road cycling ride up Mount Lemmon, followed by a Barrio Blonde and In-n-Out burger, the dream was cemented: One day, we would create an oasis in the desert for our friends and family to gather and adventure.

Credit: Kaela Elise

Fast forward six years, and we found our perfect spot — albeit a bit sooner than we expected — and took the leap. As millennials in love with our dog, we naturally named our house after our cockapoo puppy, Tui (pronounced Two-E). Matt, while waiting for his green card, re-landscaped the entire backyard, and I set to work decorating the place. When we bought this home, I pushed myself to design a home from a totally blank canvas and leaned into the natural colors occurring around us as well as the bright, vibrant colors and patterns seen in Southwestern artwork.

Credit: Kaela Elise
The Frida Bedroom

Some of the best times of our lives have been in the short-term rentals we have stayed in around the world — from a Motu in Tahiti to a jungle bungalow in Bali — and it was essential we offered a space up to par with our traveling experiences. Casa Tui was established out of a mutual love of cycling, trail running, tacos, craft beer, art and sunshine.

Credit: Kaela Elise

What is your favorite room and why? The living area and kitchen. We have a routine when we’re at the house. We wake up, make coffee, meditate on the couch while watching the sunrise over the mountains, then turn on some tunes (Los Espliffs is a local band we love), and cook breakfast. As much as I love the design of these rooms, the full view of the mountains through both our industrial doors and picture window is really the star of the show.

Credit: Kaela Elise
Open space living, dining & kitchen (and the Nieto painting!)

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? We designed our entire house around a painting, “Rain in the Face” by John Nieto, a renowned Southwestern Contemporary artist of Mescalero Apache, Navajo, and Hispanic descent. This, combined with the Novogratz rug were the catalysts for creating a bright, colorful house. I couldn’t love them more.

Credit: Kaela Elise

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Modern Eclectic Southwestern Desert Oasis

Credit: Kaela Elise

Any advice for creating a home you love? A lot of people say to design slowly, but we gave ourselves a three-month timeline to fill this place (and re-landscape our backyard by hand), and it really worked. We had nothing — all of our personal things are in storage — so we started from a completely blank canvas.

Credit: Kaela Elise
As my Grandpa always said, "When the Mountains are Pink, it's time for a drink"

We had to pull the trigger on rugs, furniture, art, and duvet covers faster than I would have ever done (I’m pretty indecisive). Doing it this way meant that every weekend was spent moving gravel in the morning and heading to the antique malls in the evening, which was so much fun. We’re still adding little things here and there, but by ourselves we got it to the place it needed to get to quickly.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.