A Chicago couple builds a Southwestern retreat that blends right in with the existing landscape of cactus groves and massive boulders.
Eleven years ago, Illinois natives Kathy and John Andersen decided to build their dream home in Marana, Arizona, about 35 minutes northwest of Tucson. “We both went to college in the West, where we developed a deep love of the West and Southwest cultures, artwork, and history,” Kathy says. “During the time that we raised our two children in the Chicago area, we often vacationed in Colorado and Arizona. It was this love of the West that made us decide to move to Marana.”
To design their ideal home, the Andersens hired architect Marc Soloway of Soloway Designs Architecture + Interiors and interior designer Lisa Reeves of Talents Interiors LLC. “When I first met John and Kathy at their lot, I was floored by how amazing it was,” Soloway says. “It was a sheer cliff of huge boulders, many that seemed they could fall at any minute. I love the integration of the home into its environment. Because the slope is made up of boulders as big as cars, we wanted to use any boulders we were removing and place them around the home, pool, and yard so it felt that the house had been built right out of them. When you are at the house, you question how a house could be built with all those boulders surrounding it. It gives you such a warm feel because of it.”
Inside, they settled on a vibrant palette and Southwestern artwork by Cowboy Artists of America members, including painter Howard Terpning. “Our desire was to build a Southwestern-style home that combined a contemporary feel with components of the Old West,” Kathy says. “Lisa introduced us to many wonderful Southwest artisans who designed plumbing fixtures, cabinetry, lighting fixtures, furniture, and metalwork for us. We love color, so we incorporated reds, turquoise, and copper features into the home and colors that define the Southwest.”
Construction of the wood frame, masonry, and stucco residence and guest house took three years to complete. Now that they have settled in, they feel right at home. “There is so much to love about living in Marana,” Kathy says. “The sunrises and sunsets, the amazing weather, the desert animals and cacti, and the aroma of the desert after a rainstorm.”