Summer Series: Desert Moon Retreat

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This week I spoke with Maria and Carla, owners of Desert Moon Retreat, 55337. Designed by a renowned architect, this house has shape and character. Take a look at the story behind this Tucson, Arizona abode:

What’s your homes history?

Desert Moon Retreat was built from 1982 to 1984 by architect Alex Riley and designer Roger Harned. From what we have determined the house has been published in Architectural Digest three times. There were two owners between Riley and Harned and ourselves. Carla and I purchased the house at a foreclosure auction last September and closed escrow at Christmas.

How long has it taken to get the house up and running?

Carla is an interior designer and landscape designer and I’m an architect and contractor so we’ve been able to combine our talents in the house and the landscape. When we purchased the house, it was in bad shape having been vacant for a year. We worked like mad to get the house and the guest house in order to start renting by the end of January. We have continued to make improvements when time and finances have allowed. Everyone that has stayed at the Desert Moon Retreat falls in love with the architecture of the house. All of the walls are curved and the curves move and undulate to form other walls, spaces and forms such as bath tubs and showers. The designers carefully sited the house, placing windows that frame spectacular views.

What’s your decoration inspiration?

The house plan is in the shape of a crescent moon which is why we named it the Desert Moon. There are a great many built-in cabinets and shelves that extend the curve motif throughout. We worked with the existing architectural elements and took the curved idea to fabrics and artwork. We have many other projects that we’d like to get completed before we feel the house and property is complete and in its top form. We’re hoping to be finished by next winter in time for our busy season.

While staying at Desert Moon Retreat how can visitors spend their time?

While at the Desert Moon, people relax by the pool or out on the viewing deck that sits above a wash with large saguaros almost close enough to touch. Our guests have seen mule deer, Gila monsters, bobcats, coyotes, a great horned owl, and of course plenty of birds, rabbits and ground squirrels. Some of our guests spend time hiking in the Coronado National Forest which rises to 9000 feet and is practically outside our front door. Some also downhill ski on Mount Lemmon which is just 20 miles away and then come down and sit by the our pool after lunch or play a game of golf at one of the nearby golf courses.

What’s your favorite part of the home?

When we get a chance to stay at our beloved Desert Moon, our most enjoyable place to sit is on the viewing deck. We also love to float in the pool at dusk and watch the moon rise over the Rincon Mountains which creates a picturesque view as it rises up between the many fingered saguaros.

What do you hope your renters get from a week at the Desert Moon Retreat?

What we hope people take away from their experience here is a connection with nature and feeling totally relaxed by their stay. Even though we’ve only been open for 5 months, we’ve had people return because they love the architecture, ambiance and relaxing nature of the property.

If the architecture is not remarkable enough, how about the pool and the outdoor landscaping. If you are traveling with less people, but still want the impressive architecture you can rent the guesthouse. It looks like the perfect place to unwind. Where would you spend your day while staying at Desert Moon Retreat?


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