06 Jul Daybreak and Sundown
Clean lines, references to traditional Pueblo architecture, and locally sourced materials that organically tie the home to its setting characterize a recently completed residence in the Las Campanas golf community west of Santa Fe, New Mexico. High Desert Architecture designed and built the house, resulting in a united vision that included everything from the lot selection to landscaping and choice of furniture.
“Traditional Santa Fe natural materials, like flagstone, exposed unfinished wood, and tongue-and-groove wooden flooring, bring warmth to a home that is very modern in its lines,” says principal architect and builder Ramón Gabriel Martinez, co-founder of High Desert Architecture and High Desert Homes. He describes the design as “New Mexico Modern.”
Martinez’s business partner and co-founder, Paul D. Sidebottom, explains that the long peninsula-shaped lot and its extraordinary views determined the design and orientation of the living spaces. “The hilltop location enhances unobstructed views, and at the same time, it serves as a stage that demands a dramatic design. The lot’s long shape defined the home’s long, lean footprint,” Sidebottom says, noting that the structure stretches 165 feet across.
At the entry, a pivoting front door opens to a foyer. To the right, a glass bridge leads to the open-plan kitchen, dining room, wet bar, and great room.
“Entering the great room, it was as if we were standing out in nature amid phenomenal views,” says homeowner Cindy Allen.
Beyond the great room’s double-sided fireplace is a large covered outdoor living area, known as a “portal” in Santa Fe. “The openness, glass, disappearing folding doors, portal seating, and al fresco dining are all specifically designed to focus on the sunsets and the views,” explains Martinez. “The 180-degree views look to the Sangre de Cristo peaks to the east, Bandelier to the west, and the pinon, rolling hills, and distant Ortiz Mountains to the south.”
From the foyer to the left, a long gallery hallway leads to a pair of luxurious guest suites and the primary bedroom suite and office. “The bedrooms are positioned to be bathed in morning light,” says Martinez. The soaking tub in the primary suite has the best views to the north and west. He adds that the single-level home flows without steps, planning for accessibility later in life.
For the open-floor living spaces, Martinez drew upon his commercial architecture experience to define rooms through flooring and ceiling treatments, such as the latillas in the living room. Floor-to-ceiling glass allows for views, and 20-foot-tall sliding doors open to the portal near the dining room table and kiva fireplace. “Commercial design experience heightened my awareness of how to meld the interior with the exterior, and it also gave me a strong interior design background,” says Martinez. “A house is born out of what you can do with the site.”
Martinez and Sidebottom like to design and manage every aspect of their projects; in this home, that includes the lighting, interior design, and landscaping. The outdoors emphasizes the desert environment, with water-wise choices and the development’s covenants driving selections. From the roof, water flows to an underground cistern pond that stores and provides 85 percent of the water used for landscaping.
Homeowner Brent Allen says his connection to Santa Fe began with his mother, who made annual trips there since the 1960s and shared a deep appreciation for the area’s culture and history. As the family grew, Brent continued the tradition of taking regular vacations to Santa Fe, eventually inspiring his youngest daughter to move there.
The Allens’ art collection was made specifically for this home by Skyoti Studio, a collaborative art group that includes Andrea Allen (the couple’s daughter) and Bryan Allen (Brent’s brother). Cindy and Brent recount how the artists interviewed them about their experiences living in the home, and the Allens described their favorite moments of the day when the sunrises and sunsets filled their home with warm light. “The art purposefully relates fully to the architecture,” Cindy says, “further uniting the home and site, but more — because it is so personal — it also unites us to place and home.”