Tucson Lifestyle Magazine Brick

Bricked & Beautiful

A little-used yard got a complete re-do to become a great space for entertaining.



The owners of a midcentury-style home wanted to create a landscape that would honor the design aesthetic of the house. They contacted Landscape Designer Kathryn Prideaux of Prideaux Design to re-envision their barren, 1,500-square-foot backyard. She reached out to Cimarron Circle Construction Company to build the pool, and Sonoran Gardens Inc. for the green spaces.

The plan was to retain one key existing element — the brick walls. They were in good condition, which helped with the budget, and also complemented the home’s architecture. However, the walls’ original wood panel inserts were too worn to save. They were replaced with rusted steel panels set within a one-inch frame. Continuing the rusted steel aesthetic, a new self-closing gate and steel screen panels were fabricated and placed at opposite ends of the garden.


The patio’s support beams were replaced with four-by-four-inch square steel posts. An integral color concrete patio with a pebble-etched finish was installed and extended to the pool’s edge. A small area adjacent to the pool features stabilized decomposed granite defined by steel strap edging. Prideaux’s jewel-like design of this raised-edge pool takes center stage, with its turquoise glass tile exterior and pebble finish interior. The stunning contrast between the rusted steel components and the glass-tiled pool creates a modern vibe.

Prideaux chose drought-tolerant plants in her design, such as Yellow Bird of Paradise and Palo Verde “Sonoran Emerald.” The shrubs included Artemesia, Desert Milkweed, Gopher Plant, Deer Grass, Lady’s Slipper and Rosemary. Agave “Blue Glow,” Weber’s Agave, Grass Tree and Mexican Fencepost added sculptural elements to the space.

Now, the backyard encourages entertaining and relaxing, plus it creates a beautiful space to view from indoors.


Landscape Design: Prideaux Design, Prideaux-Design.com

Garden Contractor: Sonoran Gardens, Inc., SonoranGardensInc.com

Pool Contractor: Cimarron Circle Construction Company, CimarronCircle.com

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This midtown house took its design cues from its famous neighbor.



This midtown house took its design cues from its famous neighbor.

Large steel-and-glass doors lead to a private entry courtyard at the home of Karol and Bob Gugino.

Tucked away on an elegant, pavered street across from the Arizona Inn is a group of homes that are classic in design, yet thoroughly modern in amenities. The 11 stately residences of Casa Seton do more than provide shelter. With their dramatic Spanish Colonial construction, which intentionally evokes their renowned neighbor, the homes instantly provide a distinct sense of place and history.

This is what drew Karol Gugino, owner of Elements Home Décor and Gifts, and her husband Bob to the neighborhood. “The homes were designed to complement the Arizona Inn,” she says. “We wanted to honor the Inn’s historic importance.”

Karol and her husband not only purchased a place at Casa Seton, they were a part of the development team with local builder Miramonte Homes. Karol’s store, Elements, provided interior design services at the floorplan stage and also worked with individual homeowners in the neighborhood. Ivan Escobell, Karol’s business partner, also was involved in the design process.

From the graceful courtyard that’s dotted with native plants, to the modern steel and- glass front door, there are numerous design cues to both the past and the 21st century.

The long hallway — leading from the front door through the center of the home — is utilized as an art gallery.

Upon entering the home’s zaguan — a long hallway leading from the front door through the center of the house — one immediately notices the sweeping 18-foot-high beamed ceilings punctuated with clerestory windows. Linen-colored limestone floors are part of the light and airy palette. The bright space is perfect for showcasing art, and Karol has hung a beautiful Día de los Muertos-inspired calavera by Jan Barboglio at the end of the hallway to greet visitors.

The home’s heart and soul lie within the kitchen and living room, which Karol modified to suit her family’s lifestyle. A two-way fireplace separates the kitchen from the living room while also maintaining a seamless flow that prevents either room from appearing isolated. The natural gas fireplace is equipped with LED lights so that it may be used for colorful ambience even in the hottest months.

The huge island is the hub of the kitchen, which works well when the homeowners are entertaining guests.

The kitchen features a huge island with leather-finish quartzite countertops, a six-burner stove and expansive cabinets for storage. A butler’s pantry holds a coffee maker, second refrigerator, dishwasher, sink and shelves for easy appliance storage and access. “It’s great when we have a big gathering because we can keep much of the food preparation in that kitchen, leaving the main one for gathering and serving,” she says. “It’s also valuable for staging.”


Retractable glass doors line the rear of the home and effectively transform the backyard and wraparound patio into another living space. With an outdoor heater and a natural gas fire pit, the area is perfect for entertaining or simply hanging out and having a glass of wine in the evening. Using the patio, kitchen and living room, Karol reveals she’s hosted as many as 50 people at her home.

The walled backyard needed a touch of color and interest. The garden designs were the work of landscaper Tom Black of Plants of Distinction. He brought in many mature plants, such as oleander, yucca and queen palms. Unusual varieties of columnar cacti add height and texture to the narrow, raised beds. Several walls are covered with colorful bougainvillea.

With his-and-hers closets, a spa-quality rain shower, sumptuous vanity, as well as a large laundry room that leads to the den, the master suite serves as an elegant oasis away from daily life. When asked if noises from the nearby laundry room or den ever interrupt their sleep, Karol explains, “This house is very well constructed and insulated. I don’t hear anything and, even better, I barely even turn the heater on in the winter.”

The master suite also features a second fireplace, this one more classic in design than the one in the living room, but with a decidedly modern twist: a timer. “I can turn it on and set it for 15 minutes so I can go to sleep with the fireplace on,” she says with a smile. “It’s so cozy.”

Karol furnished the home with Escobell’s design assistance. Nearly all the pieces — furniture to artwork — came from Elements. The net is playful sophistication and simple beauty.

“This house is a wonderful living space,” Karol concludes. “It’s very comfortable and a pleasure to be in.”


Interior Design: Elements Home Décor and Gifts, 733-3399

Landscape: Plants of Distinction, 721-4577

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June Garden Calendar


As the weather warms, we Tucsonans get busy in our gardens.

Hot and dry … a challenge for our gardens.

Sweet Basil
Thai Basil
Dark Purple Opal Basil
Camphor Basil
Holy Basil


Sow seeds of cantaloupe, corn, green beans, summer squash, native melons, Armenian cucumber and okra.

Plant warm-season color annuals such as cosmos, hollyhock, marigold, salvia, sunflower, zinnia, gaillardia, gomphrena, coreopsis, vinca and gazania.


Water turf efficiently by soaking 8-10 inches deep to moisten the Bermuda grass root zone.

Bedding plants will need water more often this month.


Transplant herbs such as basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary and thyme.

Plant desert-adapted plants this month. The roots readily expand in the heated soil.


The first fig crop starts ripening this month. Fruit matures only on the tree, so keep birds away by covering with netting.


Feed cacti and succulents during the warm months. Apply a fertilizer formulated specifically for cacti and succulents every month.

Apply fertilizer twice monthly to vegetables. Do not add to dry soil.

Cut back on fertilizing roses to encourage plants to slow down for the summer.


Apply pre-emergent to avoid weeds when the monsoons arrive.


Prune back mature bougainvillea, lantana and hibiscus to stimulate blooms.

Cut back spring bloomers such as brittle bush, penstemon and salvia. Prune young trees early in the summer to slow growth and correct structure.


Cover vegetables with 50-70 percent shade cloth to reduce temperatures, prevent sunscald and increase blossom set for better fruit production.

Cover citrus trunks to prevent sunburn damage.

Drape plants with netting or shade cloth to protect from birds and insects.


Basil is referred to as the “king of herbs” for its culinary versatility. It has more than 50 cultivars, with a few mimicking the flavors of other spices or even fruit. This tropical herb is a must for even the smallest kitchen garden. Its name, Ocimum basilicum, is difficult to say, but it’s easy to grow. Basil only requires full sun for at least six hours a day, warm temperatures (above 50 degrees F. at night) and moist soil. Your local garden center probably offers a few basil varieties as seedlings, but to grow the more unusual cultivars, you’ll need to start from seed. Harvest the top leaves to keep the plant growing and to prevent flowering.

Sweet basil is most common and used in Italian dishes and is the main ingredient for pesto. Thai basil variety has a distinct, spicy, anise-clove flavor. Often used in Asian cuisine. Lemon basil has a citrus flavor and enhances chicken dishes. Lime basil can be a fresh addition to teas and margaritas.

California Dreaming

Santa Barbara’s distinctive architectural style was the inspiration for this Tucson home.


Sitting at the end of a quiet street, shaded by a dense canopy of mesquite trees, is a home that looks as if it was plucked from picturesque Santa Barbara, California. This was exactly the look that Georgann and John Munic aspired to when they built their 6,000-square-foot home. Santa Barbara architecture fuses design elements from many regions, most notably Spanish Colonial, Italian and Mediterranean. These iconic elements can be seen throughout the Munic property.

Inside and outside, no detail has been overlooked. The landscaping— using mostly native plants such as succulents and Golden Barrel cacti — ensures that the main focus remains on the home itself. Pea gravel, a staple in European gardens, was used in the outdoor spaces to evoke an Old World feel. Cantera stone accents further enhance the outdoor spaces.

Tall glass double doors serve as the home’s entryway and are framed by concrete cast stone. As Georgann explains, guests enter a canvas of crisp, white walls framed by 14-inch mahogany moldings and baseboards. A stretch of hand-scored and waxed concrete covers the floors.

At the home of Georgann and John Munic, a cus-tom metal pergola casts geometric shadows.


A carved cantera stone table imported by Holler & Saunders is located in a side garden.

This formal living room, or salon, has an immaculate, high-contrast design aesthetic. White slipcovered sofas and chairs are positioned to create intimate seating areas, while an eclectic array of antiques and artwork, some from Latin American art purveyor Holler & Saunders Ltd., provides visual interest.

Georgann handled the interior design of the home. Her approach reflects juxtaposition, and the unexpected surprise of contrast can be seen throughout. An example is the way she has designed certain rooms, such as the library and the master suite having their own foyers. This adds both elegance and privacy.

One of two dressing rooms off the master bedroom foyer. Artist Becky Hengsteler painted the decorative motifs.

Each room also has double doors to afford access to exterior personal spaces. Arguably, the most stunning of these spaces is located off the library. Here, the patio is covered by a custom-made metal pergola that casts geometric shadows onto the concrete pavers below. These shapes change as the sun moves across the sky, creating an ever-changing art show. This garden holds a stunning array of barrel cacti planted en masse.

Located on opposite sides of the master bedroom foyer are identical dressing rooms, complete with mirrored doors. The walls are embellished with delicate, handpainted art created by Becky Hengsteler.






The master bath en suite was designed to have a spa-like ambience.

Two handcrafted mahogany vanities featuring Rosso Levante marble flank opposite walls of the space.

The master en suite includes a soaking tub and a pair of mahogany and marble vanities.

“The master en suite is a quiet, sunlit sanctuary with double doors leading out to a private garden and fireplace wall, which can be enjoyed from the soaking tub,” says Georgann.

The home always has been shared with the community during many charitable events and celebrations, including the wedding reception of their son and daughter-in-law.

As Georgann says, “I’ve always felt one’s home should be a reflection of its owners. In building, you leave a bit of your soul, a watermark for all those who follow to enjoy.”


Del Sol Tucson Landscaping, LLC., delsoltucson.com

Holler & Saunders Ltd., hollersaunders.com

A Collection of Colorful Cacti

People who claim that the desert landscape is boring have never been here in spring when the cacti blossom into a palette of many hues.


Cacti are one of nature’s dichotomies; their thorny sculptural spheres, spiraling columns and flat paddles are paired with beautiful tissue-paper-like flowers, creating a glorious contrast.

Some species, such as the ubiquitous prickly pear, cover the landscape with displays ranging from yellow to pink. Most species of cacti bloom in April, while others are late bloomers, extending the colorful show.

 Beavertail Prickly Pear (Opuntia)

Low-spreading and slow growing, this cactus has blue-gray pads covered in tiny brown barbs rather than spines. It displays lovely pink to magenta blooms.







Torch Cactus (Trichocereus)

Trichocereus hybrids are columnar cacti that are admired for their brilliant flowers in a range of colors. Some cultivars produce magnificent displays in flushes (the period when all of a plant’s flowers are in bloom) over time.







Hedgehog Cacti (Echinocereus)

Heavily spined and short statured, this cactus forms dense, low-clustered mounds. It produces large, brightly colored flowers, such as this variety, called Claret Cup.







Saguaro (Carnegiea)

Easily recognized as the iconic sentinel of the Sonoran Desert, this slow-growing, columnar giant reaches up to 50 feet. A corona of large, night-blooming, white flowers appears in May, followed by red edible fruit in June.






Fishhook Barrel (Ferocactus)

This basketball-shaped, long-lived cactus has ridges of curved red or yellow spines. Yellow or orange flowers form a crown, followed by a crop of yellow-pineapple-shaped fruit with many tiny black seeds.







Staghorn Cholla (Opuntia)

This very spiny, tree-like cactus has rod-shaped branches that are favored by native birds for nesting. The cholla species should not be planted in high-traffic landscape spaces!









Pincushion (Mammillaria)

Small and spherical in shape, this species is covered with tiny spines. A ring of pink flowers appears at one time, followed by a circle of oval-shaped, red fruit.






Santa Rita Prickly Pear (Opuntia)

This low-growing, clumping variety has flat, round, reddish-purple pads and fewer spines than others in its family. The pads’ hue deepens when stressed by drought or cold.

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Tucson Lifestyle

Tucson Lifestyle Magazine is Tucson's only glossy, monthly city magazine, targeting Southern Arizona’s affluent residents. With over 35 years of publishing experience, Tucson Lifestyle is committed to showcasing the people, places, local flavors, and attractions that make our city unique.

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