Category: Home & Garden

Richardson Home

Homeowner Nina Richardson photographed by Amy Haskell.
Homeowner Nina Richardson photographed by Amy Haskell.


Holiday décor enlivens the Richardson home each year, with special help from a local floral designer.


Nina Richardson’s home portrays their personalities year-round, but this time of year it shines with holiday spirit. She and her husband David, a local anesthesiologist, purchased their place in the Catalina Foothills in 2011. As part of the renovation process, the Richardsons enlisted the expertise of interior designer and artist Kim Coffman of Fine Art Interiors. Her creativity is evident in the elegant décor — especially the formal living room, dining room and master suite.

The elegant formal dining room shimmers in tones of blue. Silver and glass ornaments and table décor complement the room’s ambience.
The elegant formal dining room shimmers in tones of blue.
Silver and glass ornaments and table décor complement the room’s ambience.
 The massive front entry door is framed with garlands of glass balls, ribbons and lights, flanked by toy soldiers. Design by Jacque Askren
The massive front entry door is framed with garlands of glass balls, ribbons and lights, flanked by toy soldiers.
Design by Jacque Askren
Bright red and chartreuse dominate this whimsical themed room, complete with Santa figure. Large-scale candy ornaments adorn this tree.
Bright red and chartreuse dominate this whimsical themed room, complete with Santa figure.
Large-scale candy ornaments adorn this tree.
A large flocked tree glimmers with garlands of brightly colored glass ornaments.
A large flocked tree glimmers with garlands of brightly colored glass ornaments.

“I have been working with Nina for more than four years,” Coffman notes, “and we just finished the complete remodel of the master bedroom. It really was a pleasure to work with Nina because she has a natural inclination toward design and attention to detail. She and I share a love of fabric, so when we were choosing textures for the custom bedding and headboard, we made sure the fabrics had a beautiful texture and aesthetic. It was amazing to see how perfectly Jacque Askren’s Christmas tree design works in the space.” Coffman also has worked with Askren and Nina in putting together vignettes throughout the home for other holidays, as well as everyday décor. Nina’s passion for creating lovely Christmas vignettes began with a prize she won at a Ballet Tucson fundraiser — a fully decorated tree donated by Askren & Sons, Inc. Nina met floral designer Jacque Askren when Jacque delivered the tree, and a friendship grew out of their shared appreciation for the traditions of the season. Every December, with Jacque’s help, the Richardsons’ home is filled with amazing theme trees and all types of décor — from the front entry to the back patio. Nina begins the process of creating her holiday scenes in November. For eight days, she unpacks the carefully categorized and labeled bins and starts her “labor of love.” This process is conveniently coordinated with her husband’s annual hunting trip to Vermont. When Jacque arrives, the duo gets to work adding or subtracting from last year’s collections. After a year in storage, some items need a bit of TLC. Nina’s favorite is a flocked tree she calls the “bubble gum tree” — a 10-footer that glistens with long garlands of glass balls. Jacque explains that when decorating voluminous trees, the use of large ornaments creates depth. “Sometimes when designing a new tree, a particularly beautiful ribbon will catch my eye and dictate a new theme.” On a tall tree, wide ribbons, tucked in and out of the branches, add movement around or down, and clusters of large bows, flowers or ornaments create pockets of interest.

The master bedroom suite shines with subtle tones of gold and taupe.
The master bedroom suite shines with subtle tones of gold and taupe.

In the master bedroom resides what Nina calls her “‘bling’ tree — lots of gold, shimmering ornaments of crowns and stars,” she says with a laugh.

The formal living room echoes the blue tone of the dining room, situated across the entry hall.
The formal living room echoes the blue tone of the dining room, situated across the entry hall.

The latest additions include nine-foot garlands, sporting oversized ornaments, to surround the large front doors. The entry hall chandelier is embellished with strands of LED lights, which hover over a large table display. Decorating is truly a family affair. The Richardsons’ two young daughters, Darya and Natalie, also get into the act by choosing their favorite color theme to coordinate with their bedrooms. Even Nina’s mother Mimi joins the fun. On the last tree, she sewed wide ribbons together to create a custom tree skirt. In the master bedroom resides what Nina calls her “‘bling’ tree — lots of gold, shimmering ornaments of crowns and stars,” she says with a laugh. The media room decorations are the most traditional, in reds and greens, complete with a life-sized figure of Santa. Here, whimsical figures seem to climb among the tree’s branches, with dozens of ornaments fashioned by Darya and Natalie. Giant red and white candies are placed among the chartreuse ribbons. The candy theme is repeated in the kitchen, with gingerbread house-style displays on both the center island and soffits. The collection started with just one house, and years later it has become a village. By the middle of December, each room gets a final nod of approval from Nina and Jacque for the Richardsons’ annual holiday event. “Let the party begin!” HG

Askren & Sons Inc.,
Fine Art Interiors, (520) 975-2947,

Letter from the Editor: Home & Garden

Thorn and Bred

Debby Larsen on the photo shoot at the Munic residence. Photo by Amy Haskell.

When we think of the Sonoran Desert, images of cactus immediately spring to mind. And with good reason: with so many varieties that either are native to our region, or have adapted to the terrain, they can be easy to grow. And dur-ing the spring, they produce a lovely payoff: brilliant blossoms in a wide range of hues. Turn to page 24 to see our colorful collection of cacti that thrive and bloom in and around Tucson. Strolling through your neighbors’ gardens (and talking to the designers) can be one of the best sources of inspiration for your own landscaping. Preview the 20th Annual Master Gardeners’ Home Garden Tour —taking place on April 13 — starting on page 13. Another great tour occurs on April 6, sponsored by the Tucson Botanical Gardens. Guests are shuttled to several garden destinations as part of this annu-al fundraiser. Get the details on page 27. Homeowners Mateja de Leonni Stanonik and Andrej Spindler undertook
a very ambitious makeover of their outdoor spaces, with stunning results. Checkout their project, beginning on page 18. We also were captivated by both the outdoor and indoor style of the home owned by Georgann and John Munic. See why beginning on page 32. In the same neighborhood, we met with Jackie Bomberger, a landscape designer who has a special talent for working with desert plants. Enjoy a view of one of her projects on page 28.

A Casa Comes Full Circle

This northwest-side home merges family history with renovated amenities.

By Romi Carrell Wittman Photography by Robin Stancliff

trio of wrought-iron signs greets visitors to the Esparza home on Tucson’s northwest side. One has the family name, Casa Esparza; another says, “Est. 1962,” and yet another says “Re-est. 2016.” In many ways, the home, located in a small subdivision, has made a complete revolution.

A wall was removed to create this open-concept design, which is perfect for family gatherings.

The home has special meaning to Sam Esparza, who grew up there with his parents and five siblings. His parents, Leo and Connie Esparza, built the home 56 years ago and lived there until they passed in 2014 and 2016, respectively. That was when Sam and his wife Jennifer purchased it and began renovations.

“This is the family house,” Sam says. “We’ve been having holidays here with everyone for years. This has been, and will continue to be, a central meeting spot for family gatherings.”

Jennifer is no stranger to the home. She and Sam met while students at Canyon Del Oro High School and, long before they married, she became something of a family member. She loves the history and tradition of the place.

The couple’s primary goal was to update it and make it more functional without obliterating its period charm and elegance.

A classic 1960s ranch-style, the 3,200-square-foot, 5-bedroom, 3-bath home featured the sunken living spaces popular in that era, along with a semi-open layout that fused modernist lines with a casual informality. The Esparzas wanted to maintain the comfortable vibe while remodeling the home and making it more functional.

With Sam serving as the de facto general contractor and Jennifer, a Realtor, serving as the designer, the couple moved into a rental home across the street so they could supervise all aspects of the work.

Homeowners Jennifer and Sam Esparza with their dog Remy.

“That was really lucky,” Sam says, of finding a rental property so close by.

They gutted nearly everything, taking the home down to studs. “We re-plumbed the gas and water lines, replaced septic lines, installed all new systems, A/C, electrical,” says Sam. “And we did all the demo ourselves. I can still feel it in my back!”

They modified the floor plan a little bit, but kept the basic footprint. They also leveled out the floors so there’s no more going up and down as you walk through rooms. They raised the roof lines to match the higher ceilings in the dining room, which brightened the entire house and made it feel even larger. They expanded the kitchen into the space that was once an Arizona room, making a large, well-illuminated and inviting Great Room that easily can accommodate dozens of people. They added an elegant mesquite bar, which hides behind pocket doors when not in use. Skylights — some new, some original — give virtually every corner of the home a sunny warmth.

Columns in the original formal living room were removed, and a large Douglas fir beam was added to support the roof.

The dated Ionic columns on the front and back porches as well as inside the front entry were removed as were two load-bearing walls, which necessitated the installation of a 35-foot steel I-beam to support the roof weight. Sam had a 24-foot Douglas fir specially milled and stained to clad the I-beam so that it perfectly matches the original beams.

One of the biggest changes to the floorplan was the master suite located at the rear of the home. They converted that space into a guest suite with two bedrooms, a fireplace and a kitchenette. Long-term guests can very comfortably reside in this part of the home.

The new master bedroom is located toward the front of the home. They converted the smaller guest rooms into one large, elegant master with a spa-like en suite with outdoor access to a private side patio and hot tub.

To house their vehicles as well as provide a workshop for Sam, they enclosed the original carport and also built another garage. “Yes, we have his and hers garages,” Jennifer jokes. Sam, who often works from home for his education technology business, also has a large office that’s accessible from the backyard.

Two small guest rooms were combined to create an elegant en suite master bath.

One of the property’s distinctive features they kept is a 140-foot-tall Aleppo pine in the backyard. Family lore has it that it was the tree from the family’s first Christmas in the home. Its tree well is original, too. “We built it with rocks we got from the end of Magee,” Sam notes, smiling at the childhood memory.

The end result is a home that wears its history proudly while also providing modern amenities. And the extended family approves. The Esparzas’ three grown children are frequent visitors, as are Sam’s sisters, one of whom said, “You’ve kept enough of the charm, but you’ve put your own stamp on it.”

Jennifer even relocated the dining room chandelier so it hangs above the kitchen island. “I call it rustic formal,” she says with a laugh. “And I love that it’s original and something that’s been part of the family.”

“It was a labor of love for sure,” Sam says of the project, which took roughly nine months to complete. “It feels good to keep the flame going.” HG

Feather Report

Southern Arizona is a birder’s paradise, and even in the heart of Tucson, you will experience a bevy of winged visitors. Here, we profile some of the “usual suspects” you may see in your garden.


The Mourning Dove is known for the soulful cooing sound it makes at dawn and dust. Its neutral coloration offers camouflage as it searches for seeds.


Roadrunners can be seen racing across the landscape as they chase their prey. They usually prefer lizards, but are brave enough to even take on a rattlesnake.


Gila Woodpeckers excavate holes in saguaro cacti, which provide homes for several bird species. They often can be heard as they peck at eaves and evaporative coolers (a territorial signal). Photo by Amy Haskell


The Cactus Wren, Arizona’s state bird, is well known for its brash and inquisitive nature, as it daringly perches on cactus spines.


Lesser Goldfinches have yellow breasts, and the males have black backs (females have olive ones). They feature white bars on their wings, and are particularly attracted to a feeder full of Nyjer (or thistle) seed.
Photo by Amy Haskell


The colorful Hummingbird darts around plants with brightly hued, tubular flowers in pursuit of nectar. Many species of hummers inhabit our area.
Photo by Ben Wilder

A Growing Family

These homeowners and their kids are living a mini-farm lifestyle.

By Debby Larsen  |  Photos by Justin Carrillo

Emma, Lenny, Jennifer and Sophia Fest pose in front of their goat house.

Along the Mount Lemmon highway on the far eastside of Tucson, the Fest family has embraced the farm life —in a scaled-down form.

Lenny and Jennifer Fest invested time and patience to locate the perfect property for a bucolic lifestyle with their daughters Sophia and Emma. After three years, the Fests’ spread now boasts lush vegetable and flower gardens, as well as 30 chickens of various breeds, three Welsh Harlequin ducks, three Nigerian dwarf goats, one mini Blue Heeler and one rescued calico cat.

A Barred Rock chicken, one of the Fest family’s flock.

The house was constructed by the previous owner, and had been added to in bits and pieces over many years. Although it was not their dream home, the Fests believed it had lots of potential for their family. Jennifer remarks that it was the wrap-around porch that sold them on the purchase.

However, the house reno was going to have to wait. They immediately began work on their outdoor projects, building several raised wooden beds for vegetables. Jennifer’s parents, Jim and Cindy Willis, offered help, gardening expertise and encouragement during their many weekend projects.

A collection of colorful plants spill out of a vintage wheelbarrow.

In addition to other crops, several seed varieties from Native Seed Search were utilized. Gardening has become an adventure, with lots to learn in the process. “One year we planted Dragon Carrot and Scarlet Nantes seed. They cross-pollinated and the next year’s result was a lovely, ‘ombre’ carrot in purple, pink and orange,” Jennifer says with a laugh. Each season, their garden yields bountiful produce.

After getting the gardens started, they set about acquiring hens, but first needed a chicken coop. The Fests built a shed from a kit, but added a little Southwest charm in the form of a shiny, tin roof. Their chickens now provide beautiful multi-colored eggs that Sophia and Emma sell at their flower-bedecked “Farm Stand” on their property.

Jennifer studied interior design in college, and her touch can be found in the carefully crafted signs throughout

Emma and Sophia Fest show off their wares at their Farm Stand.

the garden. She often recycles old wood and vintage windows for her palette. Photos from Pinterest were the inspiration for the recently added goat house. Leftover parts from their daughters’ pre-fab playhouse were utilized in this project. An old tractor tire became a favorite addition to the goats’ playground.

Native trees, along with shade and fruit trees (some 50 in all), dot the property, watered in large part with rainwater collected and held in a giant tank just for this purpose. Grapevines cover a hillside ramada — a lovely site for a party.

When Jennifer and Lenny are asked what is next on their long list of projects, they mention plans for a small greenhouse to nurture tiny plants during the cool season.

Daughters Sophia, now eight, and Emma, six, obviously enjoy this lifestyle. When the family entertains, the girls — in their cotton frocks and their best mini-work boots — proudly show off the eggs they have collected that morning and offer tours of the gardens.

About Us

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.

General Information

Phone: 520-721-2929 x 102
Address: 7000 E Tanque Verde Rd # 11,
Tucson, AZ 85715

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