Downsizing: a word that can often strike worry into the hearts of homeowners and renters alike. Even as a self-proclaimed “purge” professional, the thought of downsizing leaves me feeling awfully sentimental about the deepest corners of my junk drawer. This is not the case for Salima Boufelfel and Roberto Cowan, co-owners of Desert Vintage.
Two years ago, Salima and Roberto stopped by an estate sale in Central Tucson, AZ. They were on the hunt for vintage clothing to fill their shop, but in a strange twist ended up buying the entire home and all the mid-century modern furniture that filled its 2,000 square feet. “The previous owner had great taste,” Salima attests, though her and Roberto’s homeownership was short-lived. After one year, the couple decided to box up their seemingly palatial, four-bedroom home and move into the smallest place they had ever lived with one thing in mind: “What are 10 things we absolutely love?” With this as their mission statement, Roberto and Salima filled their adobe brick home in historic Barrio Viejo with an eclectic yet refined collection of modern furniture, contemporary art and a few necessities.
Barrio Viejo is one of Tucson’s oldest neighborhoods. The streets are narrow, front doors belly-up to the road, and facades sparse of windows lend an air of mystery to the blocks of colorful mud brick homes. Roberto and Salima live right in the center of a bright blue block, in a one-bedroom Row House built in the 1890s. Originally, the house was built as a temporary stay for Southern Pacific Railroad workers and consisted of a single room with a cast iron stove that served as a heater and cooking range. The stove still warms the house through the winter months, but more rooms, a kitchen, master bedroom and indoor bathroom were added as time necessitated — and in that order.
Square footage does not make a house a home, and perhaps you, too, love the corners of your junk drawer. But you’ll see how the timeless form and functionality of adobe brick, a swamp cooler, and Roberto and Salima’s favorite belongings make 600 square feet the perfect fit. —Brittany