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  • Our World

  • April 20, 2023 4 min read


    This new journal series celebrates distinctive homes and their owners, showcasing their individuality and creativity while uncovering the secrets behind each unique abode. 

    Meet Emily Tartaglia, our first featured interviewee whose subtle, desert-toned style embodies the quiet beauty of the arid landscape she calls home. As someone who's always dreamed of building her own custom home, Emily shares with us the journey of turning her vision into a reality, and the joys of living in the desert. She also opens up about her passion for shopping from ethical and sustainable brands. Join us as we delve into Emily's world.


    Who is Emily Tartaglia?

    Hi! I'm Emily Tartaglia - a native Tucsonan living in our newly built home with my husband David. We both work and help run a family construction business that my parents started more than thirty years ago! In my "spare time" I love taking photos and working on our home (the projects seem to never end). 

    Where did you grow up and why did you decide to settle in Tucson, AZ?

    I'm born and raised in Tucson and specifically have made my way back to the eastside of town where I grew up! It's so nice being close to family but still only a small drive to downtown and some of our favorite restaurants. 

    harly jae x Emily Tartaglia

    Favourite thing about living in the desert?

    Everything nature related -- the sunrises and sunsets, the smell of the desert after a monsoon rain, the weather (besides a couple months during the summer). Tucson has a beautiful community filled with passionate people who bring so much delicious food and fun to our little-big city. 

    As anyone would know if they followed your Instagram, you had started building your custom home about a year ago! What impacted your decision to go custom?

    As I mentioned above, our family owns a construction business, so I've been around the process of building my entire life. Building a custom home was always a dream of mine that I wasn't sure could actually happen. We looked at homes for a while before deciding that the budget between the two weren't incredibly different for us -- so once I found a lot that we loved closeby to family it was settled!

    harly jae x Emily Tartaglia

    Could you share with us a bit about the process of building a home from scratch?

    For us it was a little non-traditional. I created the floor plan on Microsoft Paint (hah!) and handed it to a draftsman family friend to turn it into plans for the city for permitting. From there we worked with subcontractors to bring it all together in a little over a year. 

    What is something unexpected that came about or challenged you during your home build?

    We closed on our construction loan only a few months before the pandemic. We had no choice but to move forward. Material delays and substantial price increases really pushed us to have to do a lot of things ourselves and put other things on the back-burner (our backyard is currently a dirt pile!)

    harly jae x Emily Tartaglia

    Do you have any interior designers you look up to? Or perhaps homes that inspire you?

    Our incredibly talented friends Sara and Rich renovated an inn here in Tucson before our build and it sparked so much inspiration for us! While I don't have any specific interior designers in mind, my instagram saved folder is full of beautiful interiors from around the world. Orca Living is a landscape designer that inspires us as we look towards landscaping our yard!

    Tell us about a piece in your home that has a meaningful story behind it.

    I'm a pottery collector and have a lot of fun memories behind specific pieces that we've collected throughout the years or that friends have made. Ironically, one of my favorite pieces is a $3 pot that sits above our bed that holds some sand & rocks from a trip we took to New Mexico around my 30th birthday. I found the pot at a souvenir shop and the sand and rocks were from Ghost Ranch -- where one of Georgia O'Keeffe's homes and many of her paintings were created.

    harly jae x Emily Tartaglia

    We noticed that you (too) like wearing clothes from ethical and sustainable companies – why is this aspect important to you? Does it tie into the purchases you make for your home too?

    Over ten years ago I predominantly stopped shopping fast fashion for clothing. Around that time I had a small online clothing and homewares shop and became passionate about supporting small makers and knowing where my clothing was made. While we're not perfect by any means, we try our best to purchase items for our home from sustainable and ethical companies. As with clothing, it's really special to know the thought and love it took creating a certain piece and that we are lucky enough to own someone's art!

    How does your clothing style tie into your interior styling?

    I gravitate towards neutrals both in clothing and interiors. I love natural fibers like linen and cotton and natural textures in my home like clay, grass baskets, etc. Just like my style I like to keep things minimal to create a calm and relaxing environment to come home to after a long day. 

    harly jae x Emily Tartaglia

    What’s next on your home “to buy” wishlist?

    I'm taking a break on the inside to put some budget into working on our exterior landscape! I am so ready for some native desert plants and trees to transform our yard! 

    To close, and for fun, what harly jae design do you love to lounge around your beautiful home in? 

    The Nightie tank is such a practical piece for out in the Arizona heat and comfy for lounging around at home. I just know I'm going to live in it this summer paired with shorts or linen lounge pants!


    Emily wears our Poésie Top Taupe with Tristan Pants Mylk / Nightie Tank Natural Embroidery with Tristan Pants Brunette

    Follow her home journey through Instagram