inspiration ideas resources
at home with the
homes in the first-ever
far east meets
uncommon outdoor spaces a santa fe favorite
farm-fresh finds glamorous gardening and courtyard joy Vol. 17 no. 2 SPRING 2011
Photos by Kristine Massey
We inspire, surprise & amaze!
Appliances that inspire. Jenn-Air Pro-Style速 Stainless Robustly designed Pro-Style速 Stainless appliances bring a distinctive quality to your kitchen. Diamond-etched stainless steel handles and oversized knobs complement the striking, stainless steel finish, while an expressive badge and heavy-duty grates accentuate the bold details of commercial styling at its finest. Come explore our locally-owned showrooms at your own pace and discover the most innovative products on the market today.
Albuquerque | Las Cruces | Santa Fe
Albuquerque Showroom 308 Menaul NE Albuquerque, NM 87107 505.889.3001 www.builderssource.com
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EAGLE CST JOINS WITH
To Help You Go Green
We Are “The Eagle”
U.S. New Mexico is partnering with Consolidated Solar Technologies to make solar installations more accessible for homeowners. Take advantage of CST’s no money down program and pay less for your solar than you do to your power company. You may even get a monthly rebate check. Call CST at 505-792-6359 for your solar, and let The Eagle green light your green loan.
505-792-6359 gocstsolar.com 5225 Pino Ave NE Albuquerque, NM 87109
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Visit these ENERGY STAR homebuilders during the Spring Homes of Enchantment Parade!
DR Horton • Kayeman Custom Homes • Lee Michael Homes • Panorama Homes • Pulte Homes • Rachel Matthew Homes Raylee Homes • Renaissance Custom Homes • Scott Patrick Homes • Silverton Custom Homes • Skyview Homes Stillbrooke Homes • The Strosnider Company • Sun Mountain Construction PNM and New Mexico Gas Company are proud to work in partnership to sponsor an ENERGY STAR Homes Program in our electric and gas service areas throughout New Mexico.
32 life outside
Knowing the neighbors is just the beginning. Residents at Tres Placitas del Rio cohousing community in Santa Fe have created a natural paradise in their own backyard, complete with lush gardens, community goats and chickens, and verdant common spaces to share.
40 far east meets southwest
After years dreaming of designing his own place, Ron Griess brings his plans to life with an elegant contemporary house and garden he and his wife, Joanne, can truly call home.
74 the extraordinary ordinary
Behind its everyday appearance and unaltered footprint, the interior of this Santa Fe home reveals a spectacular showcase of Santa Fe-meets-modern design.
SPECIAL SECTION Spring Homes of Enchantment Parade Use this guide to attend the first-ever spring Parade of Homes in and around Albuquerque.
Su Casa (ISSN 1084-4562) is published four times a year (March, June, September, and December) by Bella Media LLC, 215 West San Francisco, Suite 300, Santa Fe, NM 87501 for $9.95 for 4 issues, or $15.95 for 8 issues. Periodicals postage paid at Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Denver, Colorado. POSTMASTER: Please send changes to Su Casa Magazine, P.O. Box 461393 Escondido, CA 92046-9952.
Above: Kirk Gittings; below: Amadeus Leitner
in every issue 12 Inside Su Casa
From the new spring edition of Albuquerque’s Homes of Enchantment Parade to a cluster of Santa Fe houses that share a richly landscaped and heavily gardened commons, New Mexico’s homes offer a little something for everyone.
14 Life Style Southwest
Get out this spring for farm-fresh finds, embrace your inner Luddite on the Antique Mile, and discover a Santa Fe gallery on a roll.
18 Finding Keepers
Embrace the season with glam garden tools that function with style.
21 Su Cocina
Start putting that convection oven to good use with a pinch of know-how and a generous serving of culinary inspiration.
22 Design Studio
Two outdoor experts share springtime inspiration for creating your own slice of high-desert heaven.
27 Home at Last
Around the world, wherever the weather suits them, courtyards and interior patios provide shelter from the elements along with the universal appeal of outdoor living.
81 Su Libro
Explore the thrift of growing your own, the lush life of luxury outdoor living, or the simple pleasures of the home—“where history ends up”—with these spring titles.
96 Dream On
Cover: Joanne Yoshimine-Griess enjoys one of the secluded courtyards at the home she shares with her husband, Ron Griess. Ron designed the house with a combination of Pueblo, contemporary, and Japanese influences. Photograph by Kirk Gittings
A traditional Japanese tokonoma creates a focal point where Ron Griess and Joanne Yoshimine-Griess display their collection of scrolls. Below: A rare-in-New Mexico English-style knot garden is just one among many wonders at Elspeth Bobbs’ Santa Fe residence. For more of Mrs. Bobbs’ home, see Dream On, page 96.
At Elspeth Bobbs’ storied Santa Fe home, the front portal holds a fanciful dreamscape as meaningful as it is lovely.
captivating Only GE Monogram offers the breadth and depth of design options to enhance any home. To learn more, visit monogram.com.
GE Monogram See our great line of GE Monogram速 and other GE appliances at: Builders Source Appliance Gallery 308 Menaul NE Albuquerque, NM 87107 Phone: 505.889.3001 www.builderssource.com
Builders Source Appliance Gallery 1608 Pacheco Street Santa Fe, NM 87505 Phone: 505.982.5563
Builders Source Appliance Gallery 760 West Palms Las Cruces, NM 88007 Phone: 575.526.5200
Published by Bella Media LLC Publisher
Bruce Adams Editor
Charles C. Poling Senior Editor
Alicia Kellogg Creative Director
B. Y. Cooper Managing Editor
Dianna Delling Contributors Elmo Baca, Emily Esterson, Gussie Fauntleroy, Joan Logghe, Jane Mahoney, Christine Mather, Marsha McEuen, Janice Myers, Carmella Padilla, Lesley Poling-Kempes, V. B. Price,
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S U C A S A S p r i n g 2011
H o m e B u il d e rs As s oci ati on of C e n tr a l N e w Me x i co B o a r d o f D i re ctors
President: Garret Price First Vice President: Mike Cecchini Second Vice President: Rob Hughes Immediate Past President: Otley Smith, CGP Associate Vice President: Stephanie Peterson Secretary/Treasurer: Jody Contreras Associate Member at Large: Ron Sisneros Custom Builders Council, Chair: Troy Howard Green Build Council, Chair: Robin Harder Home Builders Care, Chair: Bain Cochran Membership Committee, Chair: Diana Lucero Parade Committee, Chair: Jody Contreras Production Builders Council, Chair: David Newell Remodelers Council, Chair: Debra Speck
H o m e B u il d e rs As s oci ati on of C e n tr a l N e w Me x i co Staf f
Executive Vice President: Jim Folkman Vice President of Operations: Lana Alderson Events Specialist: Kimberly Johnson
Copyright ÂŠ 2011 by Bella Media LLC. Printed in the U.S.A. Editorial queries: Please send queries to the editor at email@example.com. Telephone: (505) 9831444. Website: www.sucasamagazine.com Su Casaâ€™s cover and text are printed by American Web in Denver, Colorado, on SFI-certified paper. The papers used contain fiber from well-managed forests, meeting EPA guidelines that recommend a minimum 10% postconsumer recovered fiber for coated papers. Inks used contain a percentage of soy base. Our printer meets or exceeds all federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) standards and is a certified member of the Forest Stewardship Council.
Inside Su Casa
By Charles C. Poling
make yourself at home
S U C A S A S p r i n g 2011
Left: Julie Dean; right (above and below): Kirk Gittings
ll of New Mexico got winter this year, so spring feels especially welcome. At last, we can get outside. The increasing daylight hours attend a lengthening agenda for most of us. And there’s so much to do: mind the garden, take the kids to soccer or celebrate the fact the kids have outgrown soccer, walk the dog, work on the house, maybe shop for a new one. We can help you with a few of those pastimes. If you’re thinking about a new home, the market is your oyster. You’ll find no better evidence than the first-ever Spring Homes of Enchantment Parade, staged by the Home Builders Association of Central New Mexico on two consecutive weekends, April 29–May 1 and May 6–8. With a couple dozen homes available for viewing, chances are you can find what you’re looking for. Prices range from the $100s to well over $1 million in a variety of styles, from classic New Mexico to Tuscan to contemporary, and many have green-building credentials. We also celebrate the joys of outdoor living in this issue with articles about an East Mountains home its owners call Casa Sukiya, the wonderfully landscaped Tres Placitas del Rio community in Santa Fe, our columnist Christine Mather’s ruminations on courtyard joy, and our Finding Keepers department focused on gardening tools—which never looked so glamorous as they do here. Who says a rake isn’t a fashion accessory? Casa Sukiya manages to blend a lighter-than-air Japanese aesthetic with industrial-contemporary-Pueblo elements and an amazing depth of green-building features. The place drinks up the sun—and the views—while offering quiet, sequestered spaces for private outdoor living and meditation. What a charmer. Tres Placitas, on the other hand, is all about communal living, with a group of residents owning their own homes but sharing a spacious commons that includes play areas for the kids, lots of gardens, and a place to gather as a group outside for potlucks and community meetings. See how these Santa Feans have found the best of shared-but-independent living. Closer to downtown on a quiet side street in Santa Fe’s South Capitol area, designer Lisa Samuel and architect Dan Featheringill have gone inside to work their magic on an older home, transforming it into a sleek treasure of fine craftsmanship and exquisite style. Like the other homes in this issue, it manages to express the wide range of lifestyles here in New Mexico while capturing the unique visions of individual homeowners. So come on in, take a look around, and make yourself at home.
Correction: What a goof! In the Winter 2011 issue of Su Casa, our Dream On department article described a home built by Harder Custom Builders in the Sandia Mountain foothills (see top photo above). So far so good. The trouble is, to illustrate it we published a photo of a home designed by Albuquerque architect Jon Anderson and builder Paul W. Kenderdine, Inc. (see interior photo above)—a project that has nothing to do with the Harder-built house. With a trace of egg on our editorial faces and a sheepish bleat, we apologize to Kyle and Robin Harder, two of the nicest and best builders you’ll ever meet, and to Anderson and Kenderdine, who have collaborated as architect and builder on many spectacular homes, commercial buildings, and educational projects in the Albuquerque area. Sorry for the inconvenience, folks.
There’s a green secret in Albuquerque. The alluring, year-round alpine environment of the East Mountains that is home to Paa-Ko. From the great green outdoors, to the custom-designed golf greens, to the gated green living of the Casita Community on the fairways. Green. It’s why some choose Paa-Ko. Others are just green with envy.
Life Style Southwest
By Alicia Kellogg
dig into this season’s fresh finds If you long for a shopping experience that’s free from pavement and predictability, The Farm Shop at Los Poblanos in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque might be your new favorite spot. On the property of the historic inn, organic farm, and cultural center, The Farm Shop occupies the white, window-filled dairy building (originally a site for Creamland Dairies) and carries a delightfully diverse assortment of items tied together by their connections to Los Poblanos. “It is meant to be a microcosm of everything Los Poblanos is all about,” explains Matthew Rembe, Los Poblanos’ executive director. Body products made with Los Poblanos organic lavender recall summertime on the farm. The shop’s carefully curated collection of kitchen utensils and gardening tools are used on the property. And where else could you buy an elegant teapot like the ones at the inn? You’ll find house-made granola, caramels, and candied pecans, raspberry jam, and farm-fresh eggs, as well as aprons, cards, and wrapping paper featuring the designs of Alexander Girard, whose estate is handled by an independent business located at Los Poblanos. Altogether, The Farm Shop’s fresh selection and bucolic setting add up to a unique taste of New Mexico. 4803 Rio Grande Boulevard NW, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, NM, lospoblanos.com.
barnyard animals 101 Intrigued by the backyard chicken craze but not quite ready to take the plunge? Consider getting your feet wet with Los Poblanos’ Barnyard Animals 101. For $5, this hour-long talk will teach you about raising hens, ducks, and goats. Held Saturdays from 11 a.m. to noon, weather permitting. See the events calendar at lospoblanos.com or call 505/344-9297 for more information.
You might be familiar with Ben Forgey’s custom furniture at the three Range Cafes in the Albuquerque area, but you might not have seen the contemporary, rustic pieces this Bernalillo-based artist and designer creates out of driftwood he collects from lake shores around northern New Mexico. “I especially like to use driftwood in combination with surprising materials: Plexiglas, fake fur, real fur, mirrors, and rubber,” he describes. “Right now I’m working on chairs with seats made from hot-rolled steel and driftwood legs and backs.” You can find Forgey’s pieces at The A Store in Albuquerque’s Nob Hill area (3500 Central Avenue SE, 505/266-2222, theastore.com) and at Santa Fe Modern Home in Santa Fe (1512 Pacheco Street, Suite A104, 505/992-0505, santafemodern.com). For a look at Forgey’s latest work, check out facebook.com/benjamin.eric.forgey. 14
S U C A S A S p r i n g 2011
Bare Bones Ghost Chair
Left: Jade Leyva; above: Sergio Salvador
designer to watch
Beautiful bathroom. Spectacular savings.
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shop the antique mile Jacqueline Smith
As spring blossoms and you’re primed and ready to get out of the house, one area ripe for exploration is the Antique Mile, a collection of shops along 4th Street Cabin & Cottage offers vintage home and garden pieces. between Ranchitos and Osuna roads in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque. Here you’ll discover an eclectic assortment of antiques stores featuring different styles, products, and time periods. (Look for the “Antique Mile” signs to identify members of the group.) You just might find a Saturday of nostalgic enjoyment stepping back in time through the everyday objects that once filled our homes. Typewriter, anyone? For details and locations, visit albuquerqueantiquemile.blogspot.com.
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Fresh off a write-up from the New York Times, Axle Contemporary in Santa Fe is on the move with an original art-viewing opportunity to keep on your radar. The gallery operates out of an old Hostess delivery truck that Jerry Wellman and Matthew Chase-Daniel transformed into a mobile exhibition space with clerestory windows, a wooden ceiling, and track lighting. Exhibitions include established and emerging artists of all ages, and the gallery visits schools and communities around northern New Mexico. The goal? To bring a range of contemporary art to a broad audience. Axle Contemporary updates its website daily with location and schedule information, so you can visit axleart.com for details about upcoming exhibitions, to view exhibition galleries, and to purchase artwork. You can also check Axle Contemporary’s schedule on Facebook and Twitter. The gallery’s spring program includes Kathleen McCloud’s installation on communication and mass media, through April 10, and Steina and Woody Vasulka’s video art April 15 through May 2. May 6 through 8, Madelin Coit will seal herself inside the gallery and read from The Wind in the Willows around Santa Fe. On May 12, Axle Contemporary will head to Albuquerque for an exhibitition of the community art studio ArtStreet. And from May 14 through 31, Caleb Lee Bowman will transform the gallery into a kaleidoscope to celebrate the completion of the new wing at the Santa Fe Children’s Museum. Visit axleart.com for more information.
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Story and photography by Julie Dean
down to earth design Step out this season with glam garden tools that function with style. Below: A day in the garden can leave your hands sore, dry, and scratched, unless you wear the proper gloves. Bionic Blooms were designed by a hand surgeon to reduce calluses and hand fatigue and move with your hand as it opens and closes. Besides being quite lovely, these HandMaster gloves will protect your hands and forearms during the brutal job of pruning roses, pyracantha, and junipers. Left to right: Bionic Blooms in blue, $29.99. HandMaster gloves, $14.99.
Above: Excellent design is the trademark of this group of tools. The clean lines and simple design of the Japanese hori-hori knife function so well that it is considered an essential for any gardener. Because of the serrated blade and sturdy handle, hori-hori knives can efficiently dig and cut the roots of anything from a dandelion to a small elm tree. On the more delicate side, the Dramm cutters have the strength and sharpness to swiftly deadhead your flowers and offer the comfort and colorful choices associated with all of Drammâ€™s products. The Japanese hand hoe could be hung on the wall as a work of art. This handy tool has a forged steel blade made to cut into the dirt and uproot any unwanted guests in your garden. Left to right: Hori-hori knife with snap-on cover, around $30. Dramm garden scissors, $12.99. Japanese hand hoe, $19.95.
S U C A S A S p r i n g 2011
11 These really are the sharpest tools in the shed. Pruning tools must keep their edge to cause the least damage to a tree, shrub, or plant, and these three are all excellent choices for a good, clean cut. The Felco brand of pruners is considered the gold standard among landscapers, and Felco is one of the few companies to accommodate left-handed gardeners. This model has a rotating handle that moves with your hand as you prune. Once you try these pruners, nothing else will do. For bigger jobs, the Corona two-handed bypass pruner, part of the mini bypass pruner series, gives you the leverage and scope you need when pruning high and difficult-to-reach branches. The padded handles give your hands a break. The Corona pruning saw folds for safe and easy storage and handling. The saw locks open when in use, and the wooden handle is comfortable to hold. The folded saw is compact and easy to carry along with your other garden tools. Left to right: Felco pruner with rotating handle model 7, approximately $100. Corona two-handed bypass pruner, $39.99. Corona 10 1/2-inch folding pruning saw, $20.99.
where to buy 3, 6, 9, 10, 11 Agua Fria Nursery 1409 Agua Fria Street, Santa Fe, NM, 505/983-4831. 1, 3, 4, 5, 12 High Country Gardens 2902 Rufina Street, Santa Fe, NM, 505/438-3031 and 6921 Pan American Freeway NE, Albuquerque, NM, 505/8678585, highcountrygardens.com. 2, 7, 8, 11 Payneâ€™s Nurseries & Greenhouses 715 St. Michaelâ€™s Drive, Santa Fe, NM, 505/988-9626 and 304 Camino Alire, Santa Fe, NM, 505/988-8011, paynes.com. 6 Plants of the Southwest 6680 4th Street NW, Albuquerque, NM, 505/344-8830 and 3095 Agua Fria Street, Santa Fe, NM, 505/4388888, plantsofthesouthwest.com. 20
S U C A S A S pr i n g 2011
An established garden requires tools that can navigate the tight areas without damaging the existing plantings. These shovels and rake are designed to do just that. Small-scale blades and tines function well for planting and cleaning in close quarters. The ergonomically designed hand trowel moves with your hand as you shovel, causing less stress to the wrist area. Left to right: Extenda rake, $17.95. Grizzly shovel, $35. Radius hand trowel, $15.95.
The classic vegetable garden includes markers for each row planted, partly for identification but also because they are an attractive addition to a kitchen garden. These long-lasting weatherproof labels come with their own zinc pencil. Plant markers, $7.99 for a package of six. Also available in copper. 12
By John Vollertsen
s home kitchens get more sophisticated, so too do the cooks who use them. As a consulting chef in Santa Fe, author of the cookbook Cooking with Johnny Vee, Food + Dining editor for the Santa Fean magazine, and director of the Las Cosas Cooking School, I am constantly exploring kitchen components that make food preparation easier, faster, and much more fun. In this column, I’ll examine some of those features and serve up recipes that might inspire you to check them out as well. Many savvy home chefs are clever enough to purchase ovens that include a convection setting but often don’t understand when or why to use them. Activating the convection option improves the results of anything baked this way. Fans at the back of the oven circulate hot air around the food, which creates an even temperature and avoids problems caused by the cool areas or hot spots often found in standard ovens. Cookies, biscuits, scones, and cakes benefit from this function as do other delicate dishes like soufflés and meringues. This fast-moving air also speeds up the cooking process by as much as 25 percent and acts on food as if you had raised the temperature by 25 degrees. Using the convection setting is an extra boon for folks living at high altitudes. For every 500 feet you live above sea level, you lose 1 degree off the boiling point. In Santa Fe, which sits at 7,000 feet above sea level, for instance, water boils at 198 degrees instead of the sea-level temperature of 212 degrees. You are in effect cooking with cooler liquid, and any recipe that contains liquid is affected. To counteract the effects of high altitude (above 3,500 feet), raise the temperature in a regular oven by 25 degrees. Or simply activate the convection setting on your oven set to the recipe requirement to facilitate hotter cooking. Conversely, if you are baking at sea level and want to use the convection setting, you must reduce the temperature called for by 25 degrees. Remember that whenever you use the convection setting, items will cook faster by about one-fourth the time called for in the recipe, so check for doneness early. Try this delicious New Mexico dish that rises to fabulous and tasty heights with the use of a convection oven. And remember, a slightly soft and underdone soufflé is always preferred to a dry overdone one. Buen provecho!
S U C A S A S p r ing 2011
Start putting that convection oven to good use with a pinch of know-how and a generous serving of culinary inspiration.
green chile cheddar soufflé 5 tablespoons butter + 1 tablespoon for dish 6 tablespoons flour 2 cups whole milk, warmed 6 egg yolks 8 ounces grated sharp white Cheddar 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese 1 teaspoon Kosher salt 1 teaspoon mild ground New Mexico red chile ¾ cup roasted, peeled, and finely chopped hot New Mexico green chile (if using frozen chile drain well) 10 egg whites Preheat oven to 350° on convection setting or 375° at high altitude. If you are using a regular oven, preheat to 375° at sea level and 400° at high altitude. Remove extra oven racks so that only one remains, and set it in the lower third of the oven. Butter a 2-quart soufflé dish with 1 tablespoon butter. Cut a 30-inch piece of parchment paper, fold it in half along the length, and butter one side of paper. Create a collar around soufflé dish by wrapping paper around dish with buttered side facing in, and affix with kitchen twine. Dust bottom and side of dish with Parmesan. Melt remaining butter in medium saucepan and whisk in flour. Cook for two minutes. Whisk in milk to form a smooth sauce. Remove from heat and whisk in yolks, one at a time. Return to low heat and stir in Cheddar, cooking until cheese melts. Fold in salt, red chile, and green chile. In a large bowl, whip whites until peaks form that droop slightly. Take 1 cup of the whites and gently fold into the cheese mixture. Place the cheese mixture in a large bowl and fold in the remaining whites in broad sweeps with large spatula. Make sure mixture is well combined. Pour batter into prepared soufflé dish. Bake for 30 minutes or until the soufflé is set but still jiggles slightly when dish is shaken. Remove paper collar and serve immediately. SUCASAMAGAZINE.COM
Edited by Alicia Kellogg
high-desert heaven Steve Biernacki & Jackie Hall
ur thoughts tend to collectively turn outside this season, but Steve Biernacki and Jackie Hall focus on outdoor spaces throughout the year at WaterQuest Landscaping, an Albuquerque-based company established in 1981. WaterQuest offers a range of residential and commercial landscape services from design to installation and maintenance. Steve worked as a custom home builder for 15 years before transitioning to the role of landscape manager at WaterQuest in the mid-1990s. Jackie comes from a background in creative fields and has been a landscape designer with WaterQuest for seven years.
What is the best thing we can do to improve our outdoor spaces? Steve: That depends on the individual. For a family, honestly the best thing you can do is to add some grass in the backyard and a play area that’s not broken up with trees—kids can’t play soccer in the middle of the trees. If it’s an area primarily used by adults, it might be adding a bigger patio so when you entertain you don’t feel like you’re falling off your patio. A beautifully landscaped front entry adds major curb appeal. This WaterQuest Landscaping design in Albuquerque’s High Desert area leads to a private courtyard and the home’s front door. The Belgard pavers provide a durable and attractive hardscape solution.
S U C A S A S p r i n g 2011
Jackie: You want a space where you can actually put some tables and chairs or a barbecue grill or a water feature. Outdoor kitchens are huge—people love them. But I think the initial factor is having enough space.
Top left: Dale Hart; bottom left and right: Chipper Hatter
A thoughtfully placed fire pit and seating area enhance the outdoor living area at this Albuquerque home.
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What can we be doing to save water? Steve: We encourage everybody to try to be water conscious. The first thing is to have an automatic irrigation system with a timer. Jackie: People go to artificial turf to get the green as part of their water-conservation efforts. A lot of people are xeriscaping— taking out the sod, putting in what I like to call lush xeriscaping. Unfortunately when people hear xeriscaping, they see a sea of gravel with two plants, and it can be done so much better than that. How do you go about designing a beautiful xeriscape? Jackie: With any landscape design, the most important thing is looking at both functionality and aesthetics. When it comes to aesthetics, you always want a mixture of not only evergreens but also color so you have some winter interest as well as spring, summer, and fall. The biggest response I get from people when I talk to them about xeric is the perception of what xeriscaping is. The perception people have is that it’s basically an expanse of gray gravel, so they find it uninteresting, boring, stark, sparse. That’s the perception we want to guide people away from. You can have a lovely, interesting, welldesigned yard and still be xeric.
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Jackie: The key word is stages these days. We can do landscaping in stages to accommodate the budget. We tend to
Trees Chinese pistache Desert willow Vitex
Butterfly bush S U C A S A S p r i n g 2011
How do we determine what is going to be most functional? Steve: Most of it is finding out what you like and thinking about your lifestyle, and some of it is education. If you build in a fire pit in the middle of a patio, which a lot of people ask for to start with, you later realize you can’t put a table there ever again because that fire pit is in the way. Maybe we set the fire pit off to the side a little bit, and you still get the same use out of it. A water feature is a wonderful thing to have in a yard, but sometimes people want it way in the back, where you can’t see it or hear it unless you’re outside. We try to place the elements people are really going to use in the places where they will be the most functional, and we consider what works into a budget.
In New Mexico, your xeric plant choices are beautiful and plentiful. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
(505) 275-3040 (800) 375-9101 8421 Osuna Road NE Albuquerque, NM 87111 www.ameriplexmortgage.com
What makes an outdoor living space great? Steve: Functionality. You want to put in what you’re going to use. I try to steer people away from gazebos in the back of their yard because they really don’t use them that much. Let’s bring your living space back down toward the house. You can put in an outdoor kitchen or a barbecue near the door, where you’re actually going to use it.
Plants & grasses Butterfly bush Karl Foerster grass Maiden hair grass Red-tipped yucca Spanish broom
recommend that hardscape go in first, whereas plantings might come later. Steve: What I always tell people is establish a plan, and then work toward the plan. What is your most important design tip for front yards? Jackie: Curb appeal. Many houses have an older, dated appearance, so you want to contemporize the house to give it a fresher look. That could mean something as simple as changing to a more updated style of gravel. You’ll tend to find plant species that were planted by a lot of landscapers many years ago, such as junipers and evergreens, and not enough color. Color is an important factor to provide curb appeal. We also do a lot of pavers, which are a beautiful and durable way to update an older concrete hardscape and upgrade your home’s appearance. How does a well-designed outdoor space affect your living experience? Steve: The key is the enjoyment you get out of the space. So many people don’t use their backyard because it’s not inviting; it’s not where they want to go. We want you to be encouraged to live outside. There are so many days you can enjoy the outdoors here.
Left: iStock; this page: Chipper Hatter
WaterQuest Landscaping, 5018 2nd Street NW, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 505/792-3600, waterquest.com.
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By Christine Mather Photography by Charles Mann
Home at Last
the best little courtyard of all Around the world, wherever the weather suits them, courtyards and interior patios provide shelter from the elements along with the universal appeal of outdoor living.
n a perfect May day, it was love at first sight—not exactly my true love, but almost. I was being swept away by the warmth, the perfect proportions, and a sense of being enveloped, cared for, and secure in the courtyard of my about-to-be home, into which I had just stepped. Forget about the house for a second; it was all about the courtyard. The buildings that went with it were an enticing package, but brother, that courtyard was enough to carry the day on its own. Perhaps it had something to do with the crab apple tree in full pink flutter, or the burble of the fountain, or the big warm walls, or the sweet secret surprise of entering this private space. Altogether it formed one pure ecstatic, aesthetic experience. What’s more, it was a place we could possess; so, eventually, we did. From that moment forward there was no looking back in my relationship to courtyards—to know them is to love them. This entire form of relating a house to an outdoor space comes with a very long and impressive pedigree, being birthed in some long-ago time in a desert clime not so very different from ours, and then traveling across oceans only to discover itself again in an Old World meets New World reunion of equals. The home with an inner courtyard surrounded by a variety of rooms found itself from ancient downtown Rome and Athens to seaside villas near prevolcanic Pompeii,
An inviting courtyard design offers privacy, outdoor living space, and a significant dose of charm.
from country haciendas in Mexico to Middle Eastern palaces, from Moorish castles to main street Chaco Canyon. Some of the world’s dreamiest homes of all time, such as the Alhambra, epitomize the form, and with good reason. In a classic home with an inner courtyard or patio, rooms surround and open onto a contained inner space. Windows on exterior walls are rare or minimized, and a central door leads into it from the outside. Loggias or portales might form protection for the inward-facing rooms and provide shade and greater living space. In an urban setting, this style of home allows the family privacy and outdoor living, while in a rural setting the courtyard home might have a large protected area for work, guarding animals, and preventing incursions into the important supplies of the working hacienda. Throw in a fountain, some nice leafy, viny plants, and bam! You have the perfect formula for a stellar home design universally popular—wherever the climate is sunny and warm, that is. Don’t try this if you live in Germany or downtown Oslo. In fact, Santa Fe is just on the margin of making this livable. I can personally attest to the fact that the shade that is oh-so-nice in summer provides a meat locker effect in January, which may be why some courtyards in areas with true winters eventually get a nice glassy roof.
What enriches the courtyard both in a domestic or public setting is the sense that the outside world is as important to the overall space as the inside rooms or buildings that create and define it. This is the good news. The bad news is that you have to be sure you lavish just as much care on the design of the outside-in part as the inside-out part, otherwise you might be staring into a drab cellblock of a patio or a prisonyard-style plaza. The prison metaphor is particularly apt since what keeps some out can also be used to keep others in; the form can be used as a not-so-glamorous holding pen. There can be just a wee bit of glam to this, however; this style of building had particular allure for the harem set since the ladies—if that’s what you want to call them—could be sequestered within and could perhaps peek out from a second-story window but could not be seen from without. My personal favorite of this form is what I lovingly refer to as the Nun’s House in Oaxaca, Mexico. Probably an 18th-century structure, it has no windows at street level, just a formidable heavy plank door. The second story has a few windows with elegant ironwork grills from which the inhabitants could look down on the passing world. One
sees a glimpse of the courtyard that is dominated by what appears to be the world’s largest urban tree—sign me up for the nunnery. In general, low buildings work best, as do flat roofs. The form does not lend itself well to multistoried buildings unless the courtyard is large. Even then, with porches all around, the space might be too shady, to say nothing of rather gargantuan, for a home. However, it does work for public spaces such as a plaza—is this starting to sound familiar? Could we be in downtown Santa Fe? Of course the large form, the plaza—which finds itself in the same climes and cultures—really works well with that second story, especially if covered porches can be incorporated. This adds protection for pedestrians as they stroll around the plaza’s interior perimeter—perfect for sunny, hot, and dry or hot and rainy places: here is a townscape that can be found from North Africa to South America and huge swaths of the Middle East and Central America. Throw in a moat or citadel, make your wall of stone, beef up the gates and entryways, stick a tower wherever strategically sensible, make sure you