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New to Arizona? Here are Design Do’s & Don’ts

Are you new to Arizona? I know…it’s very exciting!!  The views, the climate, the different home styles…oh the possibilities!  I completely understand the feeling – I moved here about 15 years ago from New Jersey and was thrilled about the differences.  Arizona is another planet…a really nice planet…just different.  So to help with your transition, here’s my personal Arizona design do’s and don’ts.

North Scottsdale Custom Window Treatments & Interior Design

Arizona Design Do’s & Don’ts

Let’s start with the Don’ts…sorry to be a buzz kill!


  • Don’t bring everything you own. It’s expensive to move. I’ve lost count of the clients that moved everything and then eventually sold half of it because it didn’t fit here – either in size, scale, color or their “new” style.  Try to edit before you move by bringing only those items that you love and can envision exactly where to place.  Otherwise, you’ll struggle with placing something that just doesn’t work – and you’ll struggle with guilt over parting with it later.
  • Don’t bring items that are old and worn, or unwanted – Old and worn is easy to jettison. Unwanted usually means, “I kept it before because someone gave it to me and I couldn’t get rid of it.”  Now you have an excuse…pass it on before it hits the moving van.
  • Don’t buy new items without a plan – This is especially true for second homeowners and winter visitors. It is very tempting to run out and buy furniture “off the floor” so that you have a place to sit, eat, and sleep.  I recommend getting the absolute minimum number of pieces if you don’t yet have a plan.  I have seen too many clients keep those “temporary” items for years longer than they intended…there’s that guilt thing again!
  • Don’t paint without a plan – Many clients think the very first thing they need to do is paint.  Yes, this is most convenient when the home is empty.  If your home is not empty, I say choose paint colors last!  We have every color of the rainbow in paint – it’s much easier to select the exact right color(s) after everything else is chosen.


  • DO consider the climate – It is very sunny and warm here.  And dusty.  And often windy.  So lightweight glass tables by the pool are not a great idea.  The same goes for really dark-colored floors.  Heavier weight outdoor furnishings are in order – these are outside all year – requiring very high quality, sun-resistant, washable fabrics.  Tinted, shaded, or shuttered windows are necessary to keep the sun from fading your furnishings and to keep your home cool in the hot summer months.
  • DO consider the scale of your furnitureHigh ceilings and open floor plans are very common.  This often makes our furniture from “back home” appear dollhouse-sized.  You may need to add taller pieces – and make certain that the backs of seating look just as good as the front since we frequently “float” these in the room.  Often your old furniture pieces work well in guest rooms and home offices where the scale isn’t as large.
  • DO resist overdoing the “Southwest” thing – I know it’s easy to get caught up in the “Arizona” look.  Try to resist.  A FEW well-loved, high-quality Southwest accessories are terrific, fun, and whimsical.  Dozens of howling coyotes, Kokopellis, feathered items, turquoise embellished items, cowhides, and such will only make your home look like the Rawhide Gift Shop.  Whips and cowboy hats are not art.  I’m OK with the hat on the wall if it’s going on your head on your way out the door.  Less is more.  The same goes for most décor styles.  (Disregard if you really ARE a cowboy/girl – then you already know what’s right and what’s really wrong!)
  • DO mix things up!  Most of you have terrific, cherished items you want to keep. And you are ready for something different than what you’ve had for years.  It’s really fun to blend your existing furnishings with new items that pull everything together for a whole new look!  
  • Do consider going a bit less formal We are more casual here than other parts of the country.  My theory is that since we live in a magnificent, tourist area, we like to feel like we are on vacation at home.  This means low maintenance, less cluttered, easy living. 

What are some of your Arizona design do’s and don’ts?  Let me know in the comments below…

Need help incorporating your existing items in your new home? Contact a certified interior design decorator or give us a call at 480-683-0200.

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