At Home in Tucson: Dorado magazine


I particularly enjoy writing articles about homes and their owners because the core components of such pieces are elements that I enjoy and respect:

    • First off, the properties are beautiful. I admire the designers and architects who have the creativity and talent to plan and execute these projects, and how they get to create such lovely tableaux on a regular basis—and make a career out of it.
    • Then, I get to ask these brilliant folks questions about their work: What was the most challenging part of this project? How did you tackle it? What’s your favorite part? Why? Where did you find these components? Where do you find inspiration? Tell me your stories and secrets! Teach me your ways!
    • I always end up learning new facts and terms. In a previous At Home article, it was about the manufacture of Saltillo tiles; for this article, I discovered what encaustic cement tiles were. (I also learned how much I love the starburst pattern on the aforementioned encaustic cement tiles, pictured below.)

Encaustic cement tiles on an outdoor fireplace. (This photo, by Matt Vacca, appears on the final page of the magazine layout. Click it to go to his website.)

  • The homeowners almost always end up being people whom I don’t begrudge having a beautiful house. (And I can be seethe-y about things like that: “They don’t deserve that house,” he mutters, driving past his favorite house on Encanto Boulevard. “They’re probably rude, and don’t even appreciate it as much as I would.”) These are emergency-room physicians and start-up owners who’ve put in the hours.
  • I get to ask those homeowners about the process, too—the decisions and opinions, the surprises and sacrifices, and the advice and lessons learned.

Being a features and entertainment writer for years let me connect with hundreds of people so I could tell their stories to readers. It gave me the opportunity to ask smart questions, and dumb but fun ones, to try to ascertain what made each person different and interesting and … well, newsworthy. It’s one of the only jobs I can think of that encourages you to cultivate your sense of curiosity for professional gain, and I miss that sometimes.

Luckily, when I’m writing the At Home features for Dorado magazine, the goal is to share as much about the people as the property they built or live in. (Maybe even more!) I love being able to work in little revealing details that might help readers understand a decision or direction the project took, like in this case how Tim grew up working on golf courses, so he had strong feelings about the smart way to use grass in the desert … and the unique underground watering system that reduces evaporation but keeps that grass alive.

And I always treasure the opportunity to include illustrative words and phrases, especially if they fall trippingly off the tongue. Mountains loom impressively and imposingly. That watering system minimizes evaporation and maximizes hydration. Arroyo and emblazoned, subterranean system and sawtoothed point … so much fun to find the precise words!

Dorado magazine, November/December 2016 (interactive issue here)

Download the PDF version of the article here.

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