On first thought, Tucson, Arizona would seem like an unlikely place to feature a fireplace as a desirable amenity, either as a fireplace manufacturer or as a high-end home builder. In fact, the ‘selling ice to Eskimos’ analogy comes to mind.
After all, the average high temperature in the desert city and surrounding area is over 100 degrees in June. It cools down to an average of 99 in July. Not exactly inspiration to pick up the remote and settle down in front of a modern gas fireplace – especially a highly-efficient one capable of producing tremendous heat in addition to a beautiful flame picture.
But first thoughts aren’t always on the mark, are they? After a conversation with Dahee Kim, a branch manager for Fairfield Homes, Tucson’s highly acclaimed builder of luxury master planned communities, we’re much better informed on why there’s a demand for high quality fireplaces in places like Tucson – and reminded that building professionals who demand the best for their customers remain some of our best customers.
It turns out that – like many of the people who have moved to Tucson in recent decades – many of buyers of Fairfield Homes’ semi-custom homes are ‘snowbirds,’ those ubiquitous denizens of colder climates who find themselves on the same migratory route as birds and butterflies every winter – heading south for warmer weather!
Tucson’s population has doubled to over 500,000 since 1970, over a million if you add in the communities that have sprouted in the foothills of the five minor mountain ranges that surround the city. “Snowbirds’ aren’t counted officially as a demographic in the U.S. census report, but it’s safe to say there’s a fair percentage that make up the new residents of Tucson.
“The snowbirds are definitely a major customer segment for us. And let’s face it, they love their fireplace,” Dahee explained. “So yes, it’s warmer here – even though it will get cool at night – but it’s just something they associate with home. And we’re very happy to provide them with high quality fireplaces like the ones from European Home.”
Fairfield Home’s master planned communities consist of semi-custom homes with a full range of optional custom amenities. Numbering over a dozen – with three more slated to open in 2020 – they’re sited to look out over the stunning mountain views that surround the city.
The town of Green Valley, situated south of the city, is a leading draw for Fairfield Home’s snowbird customers and other retirees. There, the third-generation luxury home builder has built three communities overlooking the Santa Rita Mountains.
Up north in Oro Valley, Fairfield Homes has constructed two golf communities in the shadows of the Tortolita Mountains, including one with a course owned and operated by PGA golf great Phil Mickelson. Others are scattered in Vail, Marana and on the outskirts of the city limits.
With names like Rancho Soldados, Ocotillo Preserve and Solterra at Los Campanos, their style leans heavily on the native Sonoran Desert influence – the architecture, building materials and color palettes that are so deeply embedded in the region and the culture.
After all, Tucson, which sits at an elevation of 2,650 ft, was a part of the Mexican state of Sonora until 1853, when the U.S. government purchased over 30,000 square miles of southern Arizona and New Mexico from the Mexican government. That influence is unmistakable.
The builder’s clean, unadorned lines meet crisply with the style aesthetic that’s been the European Home signature from the day we produced our first fireplace. It’s a reminder that signature styles from continents and cultures thousands of miles apart often emulate and overlap – and, as in this case, complement each other beautifully.
The effervescent Dahee, who was born in South Korea and emigrated to Arizona at the age of four, sees evidence of that every day.
“We have a European Home fireplace in our design model, and the reaction is always very positive. People love the clean, modern, high quality look. It fits perfectly with the look and feel of our homes.”
Like us, the Arizona builder is focused on much more than just good looks. It recently introduced an optional package of custom amenities it calls, “Fairfield Balance, where home, health and lifestyle are integrated to improve your quality of life.”
The package consists of enhanced air purification and water filtration systems, lighting designed to simulate dawn and circadian sleep cycle rhythms, blackout blinds for deep sleep and other amenities.
This approach aligns perfectly with our emphasis on producing highly-efficient, low impact fireplaces, with a special emphasis on reducing emissions and maintaining air quality. Our multi gas burners, for example, offer users a wide turndown rate, instead of dumping excess heat and emissions.
As for those cooler nights in Tucson when the temperatures slip down into the 40s, snowbirds and native Arizonans alike will be happy for the bone-warming heat of our line of modern gas fireplaces – whether they’re snuggled up indoors or out on the patio looking at the amazing desert night sky.
“Just because it’s warmer here doesn’t mean that people don’t love to sit in front of a fire,” Dahee Kim reminded us. “Who doesn’t love to do that?”
Story by: Robert Conlin
Robert Conlin is a freelance writer living in Wiscasset, Maine. A former certified chimney sweep and retail stove shop owner, he has returned to his roots as a journalist/writer in producing enterprise reporting and online content for a variety of publications and companies.