Page 1

warm, rustic lighting

El Paso & Southern New Mexico


inspiration ideas resources

Andalusian dream in El Paso

high-tech kitchen hillside paradise

   one yard, six gardens VOL. 2 NO. 1 WINTER 2014


El Paso & Southern New Mexico


inspiration ideas resources



34 square peg, round hole

An El Paso interior designer transforms a modern space into an Andalusian dream.

44 meeting in the middle

After almost three decades, a reunited Las Cruces couple’s personal style breaks through.

54 living it up Trading the East Coast’s hustle and bustle for Southern New Mexico is even sweeter when you’ve built an ideal family home.

64 la dulce vita

A shared love of all things Italian drives the design of a Tuscan-style home in Las Cruces.


Bill Faulkner

Quality Builders of Traditional New Mexican Homes * Remodels * Casitas * Grand Haciendas * Design Services * View hundreds of photos at

Wayne and Kiki Suggs 575-525-9530 575-644-5327

in every issue

6 Inside Su Casa

8 Life+Style Southwest A hillside backyard’s lush makeover, tips for winter gardening, an intelligent kitchen, Steve Thomas’s tips for smart remodels, and a roundup of rustic lighting. 24 Design Studio

Artist Yeunhee Lee’s cultural journey, colorful recycled glass surfaces, and tips on integrating books into your home’s décor.

76 Su Libro

A new book by interior design bloggers brings remodeling advice from the Internet to the printed page.

78 Live Performance Calendar

Music, theatre, and comedy come to El Paso and Southern New Mexico this winter.

80 Vida Buena A Q&A with Nina DiGregorio, founder of Bella Electric Strings.

84 Travel

Explore the many exciting activities and amenities offered at Lajitas Golf Resort & Spa and Big Bend National Park.

88 Su Cocina Scot Martin and Chef Johnny Vee prepare a flavorful winter dish, and Chef Jason Hunt of Red Mountain Bistro gives tips on entertaining at home.

96 Dream On


Tony Skarlatos

A formal great room opens to impressive views and an incredible outdoor area.

On the cover: This sumptuous Andalusian-style El Paso home had very different beginnings. Read all about it on page 34. Photo by Rudy Torres.


550 S. Mesa Hills Drive, Ste. D2 El Paso, Texas 79912 P. 915.533.2288 M CARC H C O NS T RU C TI O N, LL C F. 915.533.2280

Inside Su Casa

What do we need?


Bruce Adams Publisher


SU C A S A W I NTER 2014


here’s an old saying that necessity is the mother of invention, but it’s also the first step in a home building or remodeling project. More often than not, homeowners aren’t quite sure what they want, but they almost always know what they need. Here in El Paso and Southern New Mexico, our talented builders and remodelers can build whatever the heart desires. The challenge is knowing what that is. The options for colors, building materials, and design considerations are mind-boggling, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. And while many builders and remodelers may have perfected mind-reading techniques, we as their clients need to be proactive in letting them know our preferences. Assuming, that is, we know them ourselves. Sometimes it really is easier to start with a need, rather than a design. One family whose home is featured in this issue of Su Casa needed ample backyard space for entertaining and for active teenage boys. Another homeowner was looking for a creative way to house an extensive book collection. When the homeowners presented problems, their builders offered viable solutions. How can you help your builder, remodeler, or interior designer understand your need? Providing pictures from websites, books, and magazines is tremendously helpful. It allows your builder to visualize your inspirations in order to formulate design options. Su Casa is full of beautiful photos and design ideas, as well as creative professionals who can bring your ideas to fruition. When contemplating a redesign of my living and dining room some years ago, I was sitting with my interior designer in a popular local restaurant. I had no idea of color schemes or design aesthetics—only a notion of the feeling I was striving for and a need to showcase certain pieces of art. Like all good interior designers, he listened intently and then began to translate my needs and rough ideas into a color palette and a design scheme. I explained my need; he helped me determine my want. Interestingly, the palette we chose closely resembled the color scheme of the restaurant. My point is, don’t over-think your project. You have so many talented professionals at your disposal to help you. Talk to them, and let them propose solutions based on your needs. My experience, from talking to hundreds of homeowners, is that the most satisfying solutions arose when the homeowners let their builder or designer exercise creativity and skill to come up with a solution. In many cases, it exceeded their own wildest dreams.

El Paso & Southern New Mexico

inspiration ideas resources

Published by Bella Media, LLC Publisher Bruce Adams Business Development Bob Skolnick Associate Publisher B. Y. Cooper Editor Danielle Urbina Executive Editor Amy Gross Associate Editor Phil Parker Contributors Joe Burgess, Avraham Elias Tiffany Etterling, Cassie McClure Jessica Muncrief, Julieta Rios, Tom Ruggiero Steve Thomas, John Vollertsen Lead Graphic Designer Sybil Watson Designer & Media Specialist Michelle Odom Photography Joe Burgess, Avraham Elias, Bill Faulkner Jesse Ramirez, Tony Skarlatos, Rudy Torres

For advertising information contact: office 915-581-2300 mobile 575-649-8340 mobile 915-603-8434 Customer Service Manager Julieta Rios Operations Manager Ginny Stewart-Jaramillo

Please direct editorial queries to For subscriptions, call 818-286-3164

El Paso Office 550 South Mesa Hills Drive, Suite D-1 El Paso, TX 79912 915-581-2300 Santa Fe Office 215 W San Francisco, Suite 300 Santa Fe, NM 87501 505-983-1444 Su Casa El Paso & Southern New Mexico Volume 02, Number 1, Winter 2014. Su Casa El Paso & Southern New Mexico is published quarterly for March, June, September, and December by Bella Media, LLC at 215 W. San Francisco Street, Suite 300, Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA, Phone (505) 983-1444. Š Copyright 2013/2014 by Bella Media, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is strictly prohibited. Basic annual subscription rate is $9.95, Canada & Mexico is $23.95, Other international countries is $27.95. U.S. single-copy price is $5.95. Back issues are $6.95 each. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Su Casa El Paso & Southern New Mexico, P.O. Box 15305, North Hollywood, CA 91615-5305. Subscription Customer Service: Su Casa El Paso & Southern New Mexico, P.O. Box 15305, North Hollywood, CA 91615-5305, Phone (818) 286-3164, Fax (800) 869-0040,



Life+Style Southwest When Las Cruces residents Scot and Kim Martin built their dream kitchen in their Picacho Hills home, they knew they wanted the space to be inviting and comfortable for friends and family. What better way to add warmth than a fireplace? Taking advantage of advancements in the ventilation of gas fireplaces, the Martins, with the help of interior designer Connie Hines, opted to place this raised fireplace right in the corner of the kitchen. Its heartening glow is visible from the moment you walk into their home, proving that fireplaces add a great ambience, especially in the winter and for those families whose activities always seem to center around the kitchen. Check out Su Cocina (page 88) for more on how the Martins utilized their kitchen to prepare a savory winter dish.


Connie Hines Interior Design 575-523-1809

Bill Faulkner

winter, warmer

Life+Style Southwest

by Danielle Urbina

flourishing in winter Container gardening keeps your garden lush all year round

The Smart Pot (above) comes in different sizes to fit your needs. Its special fabric makes it suitable for any season. 10

SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

Temperatures in the Southwest take their time dropping from dry summer heat to enjoyable cooler weather in the fall and winter months. But even our typically mild winters will occasionally turn harsh, with plant-damaging winds that can ruin so much of the vegetation we work to maintain during summer and fall. While gardening techniques might seem to be the same year-round, be aware that winter gardening differs in many ways from summer planting. Joe Kane, nursery manager at 150 Sunset, says changing your gardening is important, from the type of container you use to choosing the ideal potting soil. “When creating a new garden, start earlier than you usually plan to,” says Kane. “A month before will allow setup; you get the micro-organisms going in there so that at the time of planting, all the nutrients are ready and available to plant.” The first step is to choose a high-quality pot with a hole on the bottom that won’t crack during winter months. Kane suggests ceramic pots for winter container gardening because they’re well-insulated. Avoid clay pots; they’re good for helping the plants to breathe, but can become bad news if the weather brings any kind of icy conditions. Another method of container gardening is to build a raised garden, which uses wooden containers that work well in the winter. Wooden containers allow more room for planting but require a little more maintenance. Choosing good soil is essential to winter container gardening because of the different nutrients it will need to provide the plants and flowers you choose. “You don’t want to use a heavy soil, a native soil,” says Kane. “I like to use those kinds of soils that have micro-organisms that actually encourage root growth and aid in the

In areas like El Paso and Southern New Mexico, bok choy, Swiss chard, and kale are popular winter gardening choices.

150 Sunset 915-585-0801

Bob Skolnick

Even with hundreds of gardening pots and containers to choose from, finding one that works all year long isn’t easy. The Smart Pot, a new advancement in gardening containers, is an ideal pot for any season. Manufactured by High Caliper Growing, the Smart Pot is made of a lightweight, porous fabric that evaporates excessive water and keeps plants at a safe and cool temperature. This fabric container comes in a variety of sizes, so it’s suitable for just about any kind of planting. Unlike some pots, which biodegrade into the soil, the Smart Pot is reusable. When you’re done with it, just fold it and store until your next gardening endeavor. Smart, indeed.

Courtesy of High Caliper Growing

smart growth

Bob Skolnick Courtesy of High Caliper Growing

roots.” Kane also advises gardeners to place gravel at the bottom of the pot to allow for good drainage. So what types of plants are ideal for winter gardening? In areas like El Paso and Southern New Mexico, bok choy, Swiss chard, and kale are popular choices. Kale can be grown as a vegetable or as an ornamental type of plant. For those keen on floral gardening, Kane suggests flowers such as pansies, snapdragons, and calendula. If you do plan on gardening this winter, be sure to sterilize your pots before reusing them. This is especially the case with snapdragons, which are prone to damage from unsterilized pots, a condition often referred to as “damping off.” “A pathogen builds up in there that just waits for your next batch of snapdragons, and it just wipes them out,” says Kane. Because the winter season typically provides an abundance of moisture, watering your plants doesn’t have to be a major priority. That said, you should still keep an eye on them to see how much sunlight they get during the day. Kane suggests watering once a week if your plants are protected from the sun, or twice a week if they’re out in the full sun. Kane’s best piece of advice is to be creative. Choose a variety of plants and flowers in different colors and sizes, place them strategically around your home and yard, and watch them become vibrant accents for your outdoor spaces.

Even vegetables can be grown in containers throughout the winter.



Life+Style Southwest

by Danielle Urbina Photographs by Bill Faulkner

hillside paradise A green thumb’s dream backyard combines her love of New Orleans with the Southwestern lifestyle

Surrounded by lush gardens, Gail Boone’s backyard offers excellent views of El Paso sunsets.


SU C A S A W I NTER 2014


hen Gail Boone envisioned what she wanted for the landscaping of her home, she saw something similar to her native New Orleans. Lush gardens with plenty of flowers and vegetation were a priority. “Being from New Orleans, I love plants,” says Boone. “It’s hard to grow stuff here. But I knew I wanted something green with lots of flowers.” Her love of gardening began at an early age for one special reason. Boone reflects on a New Orleans neighbor she called Miss Alice, who offered children in her neighborhood either candy or flowers. Boone always chose flowers. “I always remembered that, and I think of that as I’m gardening and doing these things because it just reminds me of her,” she says. Mark Nash of Nash Patio & Garden knew the perfect

touches that would make Boone’s dream yard seem more like a resort and allow Boone, a stained glass artist, to play around in her gardens. “It’s an interesting yard because it meanders all the way around their house,” says Nash. “The challenge there was to have six small gardens, and we wanted to tie them all together.” Each garden has its own special touches; the spaces range from a tropical garden near the pool area to a koi pond water garden complete with a Colorado moss rock stone bench. Nash added several visually interesting elements to the backyard, including outdoor seating areas that are each sanctuaries in their own respects. “The most important thing for me was to build sitting areas, not just walkways, through each garden,” he says. “Most of them are right in the middle of each garden so you can really appreciate

“Most of the sitting areas are right in the middle of each garden, so you can really appreciate the beauty of the garden instead of just walking through it.”—Mark Nash

the beauty of the garden instead of just walking through it.” Each area has a stunning view of the Franklin Mountains and is surrounded by lush gardening, waterfalls, and ponds. Boone’s favorite happens to be a somewhat hidden area in the middle of one of her gardens that offers views of the Southwestern sunsets so beloved in this region. Keeping Boone’s green thumb in mind, Nash was sure to plant cut flower and shade gardens that include flowers like hydrangeas and

Nash Patio & Garden added a unique stone deck to the edge of the backyard. Above: A dining area and built-in stone bench encircle the Boones’ fire pit.



Opposite, top: A water garden and Colorado moss rock stone bench surround the koi pond. The fenceless stone deck (opposite, bottom) drops off into the desert atmosphere for an unusual view.

hardy hibiscus, which grow well in desert environments. But gardens and waterfalls weren’t the only things Boone and her husband, Larry, had in mind. They wanted a home that would allow them to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle they so love. True to their requests, Nash’s design of the backyard allows for year-round entertaining. Even when the weather is cooler, the Boones can still enjoy their outdoor fire pit, surrounded by a stone seating area built into a cove, which serves as protection from the windier days in El Paso. “I love our fire pit; it’s very neat. Last year, the day after Christmas, we had family over, and we made s’mores out here. It was so much fun,” Boone remembers. Probably most unique to the outdoor living area is the stone perch that lies at the very edge of the hill the home rests on. “Lots of times, when people build outward you see that it’s more like a deck. 14

SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

This is different,” says Boone. Though quite close to the edge, the fenceless perch is a distinctive feature that puts the home closer to nature. “What I think is so artistic about it is that it’s not just a simple bench or sitting area,” says Nash. “Sitting out there makes you feel like you’re literally on the mountain. Our main goal was to make it really private and for it to not feel like it was part of the yard, more like you were out on this little peninsula.” The six gardens that surround the home are intricately tied together, despite their obvious differences, inspiring curious visitors to peek into each area. To Nash, this curiosity is a sign of success. “What we really wanted to do out there was to give you a reason to go into each garden,” he says. “It’s totally different, and I think that’s the fun part about their yard.” Miss Alice would be proud.

Nash Patio & Garden 915-587-6000

(re)making your home beautiful

by Steve Thomas

Steve Thomas, working on the renovation of his cottage.


y current renovation project is a real sweetheart: a small shinglestyle Victorian cottage in a seaside village in Maine. We have an island camp that we dearly love, but since it’s only accessible by small boat, it made sense to find a shore base for the winter when the weather turns foul. I’ve done many renovations in my career, both on television and off, and here are a few of the valuable lessons I’ve learned: Location. Ideally you want the worst house in the best location. That way you can put some money into it without exceeding home values in the neighborhood. Good bones. Fixes to structure, foundation, rotten sills and walls, and major site problems are expensive, and you probably won’t see a return

on those investments. A good survey before you buy is essential. You’ll get the biggest bang for your buck by renovating the kitchen and baths, and with cosmetic upgrades.

The three most expensive words in renovation are might as well. The four most expensive: while we’re at it. Cost. The three most expensive words in renovation are might as well. The four most expensive: while we’re at it. Inevitably the project will grow in scope. Keep cost overruns at bay by containing them in three “buckets”: workmanship, materials, and features. •Don’t skimp on workmanship (aka “build quality”), because good workmanship ensures fewer failures and lower ongoing maintenance costs.

•The bucket in which you can find savings without compromising core build quality is materials. For example, a high-pressure laminate countertop such as Formica is durable and practical, and while not as chic as stone, is much less costly. Concrete floors, popular in the Southwest (I used concrete myself in my Santa Fe renovation), offer a great look at a far lower cost than, say, marble, or even hardwood flooring. •A cold-hearted look at the features bucket will yield the highest savings. I had my heart set on a sauna in my current project, but I eliminated it to save cost. Wainscoting, crown molding, media rooms, extra bathrooms, dog-wash stations, and man caves are all features—and great candidates for the red pencil. Why even bother with renovation? Because dated homes are often in established neighborhoods, with mature trees and landscaping, and are closer to transportation, restaurants, and the town center. They typically have an established infrastructure—sewer, water, electrical, driveways—and in many cases they were built with materials that are scarce or expensive today, like old growth hardwood floor, brick or field stone fireplaces, and tile floors. Renovation also preserves a piece of history. Buildings are three-dimensional starting points for conversations about the past and provide bridges to the stories that knit us together as a community. There is much talk about sustainable or green building, and I am a known advocate. But the core driver of sustainability is sense of place. If you feel connected to the place you live, you are inclined to take care of it, otherwise known as stewardship. The biggest lesson I’ve learned in my renovation career is that I’m not really the owner of the houses I’ve owned, merely the steward. With any luck, my renovations will last many years after me, sheltering families and launching lives.

Steve Thomas is a home renovation expert and the spokesperson for Habitat for Humanity International. 16

SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

Evy Blum

The best foundation for a remodel is a strong sense of place











CREATING SPECIAL OUTDOOR LIVING SPACES FOR FAMILY AND ENTERTAINMENT Custom Pools, Spas, Pergolas & Trellises Outdoor Kitchens, Fireplaces & Fire Pits Outdoor Living with Custom Surfaces Professional Landscape Design Underground Irrigation Systems

Life+Style Southwest

by Tom Ruggiero

Photographs by Rudy Torres

now that’s smart A remodeled Southern New Mexico kitchen gets a new look (and a higher IQ)

The kitchen in Joan and Darrell Shepak’s 3,900-square-foot Cielo Dorado Estates home may have been their last major renovation, but it’s hardly the postscript to the project. The Shepaks, both professional real estate appraisers, put their combined years of experience into ascertaining precisely what they both wanted and needed. That turned out to be a thoroughly contemporary, upscale kitchen, without the retro or rustic pretense so common in many Southern New Mexico and El Paso homes. In fact, in a room heavy with stainless steel and man-made materials, the lustrous granite island countertop by The Design Center in Las Cruces may be the only natural element. Below the granite, the island’s utility is copious, with large, lighted cabinets efficiently placed for storing dishes, glassware, cooking utensils, and pots and pans. But perhaps the most important makeover for the Shepaks’ kitchen was amping up its intelligence, to minimize the workload inherent in everyday food storage and preparation. Neither homeowner claims to be a four-star chef, but Joan insists that for 18

SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

The Miele appliances—all digitally programmable— are a testament to the level of excellence the Shepaks insisted on. This custom-built, color-changing ceiling (above) adds a futuristic vibrancy to Joan and Darrell Shepak’s kitchen.

entertaining family and guests, the proficiency of her Miele appliances makes quick work of preparing and serving meals both simple and complex. The full-size refrigerator and freezer, oven, steam oven, speed oven, teppanyaki grill, induction cooktop, and dishwasher—all Miele, and all digitally programmable—are a testament to the level of excellence the Shepaks insisted on. They took to heart Miele’s advertising motto, immer besser (“always better”), in planning the redesign of their kitchen. The Shepaks were invited to participate in a MasterChef hands-on cooking class to develop and refine their skills with Miele appliances. During the half-day workshop, the couple prepared several dishes, including turkey breast, rotisserie shrimp, rosemary asiago bread, and chocolate layer cake, in order to master the intricacies of the appliances. Of all of her intelligent appliances, Joan’s favorite is the fully programmable digital oven. “It’s for people who don’t cook,” says Lorraine Christensen, Miele Center Manager in Dallas. “You never need an instruction manual to operate the oven, and you can program your favorite recipes in.” Joan agrees: “Cooking a roast consists of inserting a temperature probe into the meat, and simply waiting until it is perfectly cooked.” The “Favorites” program allows the owner to store 30 customized cooking settings of their beloved recipes into the oven’s memory, Christensen says.

Among the Shepaks’ tidy row of built-in appliances is a coffee maker with a personalized profile for each member of the household.

The most important makeover for the Shepaks’ kitchen was amping up its intelligence, to minimize the workload inherent in everyday food storage and preparation.

A Wi-Fi device in the fridge alerts Miele technicians of any problems with the system. Opposite, top: The Miele steam oven quickly cooks multiple items at a time.

Just how intelligent is the MasterChef oven? First, the oven can be operated in 21 languages, including English, Spanish, French, and German. However, as the United States becomes a more diverse society and multilingual households proliferate, languages such as Arabic and Mandarin Chinese will be incorporated in the future. Second, the oven is an answer for Shabbat-observant Jews, for whom acts such as making a fire, preparing food, or even pressing an electronic button—including turning on an oven—are forbidden. Thus, for religious observance, the MasterChef oven can be set to run for the duration of the holy day. To keep kosher, the owner may program a meal at least 72 hours in advance, Christensen says. Finally, the oven is so clever, it will convert from the imperial system— which uses ounces and pounds for weight and fluid ounces and gallons for volume—to the metric system, for recipes with international origins. The Shepaks love the techno-coolness of their top-end Miele appliances, but the remodel was also about embracing their artistic side. By arranging the built-in appliances in a literal row, rather than stacked, and at an optimum height for standing, the homeowners created an eye-catching linear effect that also maximizes safety. Accentuating the gleaming stainless appliances and glossy brick red and black of the cabinetry, a massive light fixture centered above the island, backlit in neon colors, provides an abstract expressionist visual effect, à la Star Trek, that is simply stunning. To say the Shepaks have their very own “kitchen of the future” isn’t a far cry from the truth. The technologically intelligent aspects of their kitchen are surely the envy of any cook. But despite the many things their kitchen is programmed to do for them, Joan and Darrell are still in charge of the cooking—and being able to experiment and try new dishes together in their pride and joy may be the most meaningful aspect of their remodel. SUCASAMAGAZINE.COM


resources Appliances Miele, Inc. 800-843-7231 Builders Source Appliance Gallery 915-775-1000 Morrison Supply Co. 575-525-2555 Ceiling Design Fastsigns 915-532-2211 Countertops The Design Center 575-526-1022 The versatile oven allows for multiple cooking techniques, including rotisserie cooking (below). All of the kitchen’s soft-close drawers (inset) feature changeable, customizable shelving.


SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

Life+Style Southwest

by Jessica Muncrief and

Danielle Urbina

ruggedly chic Now this is illuminating: It turns out rustic finishes can still be decidedly elegant. While you’re getting cozy indoors this winter, stay connected to the outdoors with these nature-inspired lighting fixtures. Elk Lighting Woodland Sunrise Sconce The serenity of the woods is just a flipped switch away. The deceptively delicate tree pattern on this wall sconce is actually constructed of sturdy aged bronze. Price upon request, Westside Lighting Gallery, 915-585-3000

Currey & Company Driftwood Orb Chandelier The wrought iron frame of this chandelier is carefully adorned with pieces of real driftwood left unfinished and in their natural state, as if they were just picked up off the beach. $798, Ferguson,

Pacific Coast Lighting Montana Reflections Torchiere Floor Lamp Bring the outdoors in with this floor lamp that calls to mind the glowing moon perched high above the trees. No watering required. $375, Charlotte’s Furniture,

Dimond Lighting Home Drift Wood Table Lamp The design experts at HGTV partnered with Dimond Lighting to create innovative and stylish lighting fixtures. This table lamp effortlessly melds the unrefined with sleek, contemporary lines. $207, Morrison Supply Company,


SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

Kichler Twigs Collection Pendant This unique pendant light looks just like a bird’s nest, making a bold statement in any room. The natural detailing blends perfectly with the bronze finish to suggest the feeling of the great outdoors. $238, Designer’s Mart,

Pier 1 Bamboo Vase Floor Lamp Surprise your guests with this interesting piece that looks like a vase at first glance, but is actually a great floor lamp. Made of slender reeds of dark brown bamboo, this statuesque lamp stands at just over five feet tall. The ivory sleeve inside of the bamboo structure provides a soft glow to warm up your home. $200, Pier 1 Imports,

Design Studio

Text and photographs by Avraham Elias

journey to an inner world El Paso artist Yeunhee Lee explores culture in her abstract paintings

Above: Brushes in hand, Yeunhee Lee stands beside one of her abstract paintings in her El Paso studio. Opposite: Flowing Time and Tide, oil on canvas, 51 x 51"


SU C A S A W I NTER 2014


ome paintings have the ability to win you over immediately, even after just one glimpse. At first a painting may simply seem to be the right solution for an empty space in your living room, study, or bedroom. But the moment it hangs in your home it becomes something else; the more you look at it, the more you realize it is more than just décor. A special painting carries significant value: It is not just a piece of art, but also a small part of the artist. El Paso artist Yeunhee Lee describes her painting process as a personal journey to an inner world where her work is born. Her paintings are a form of record of these journeys. She travels to these worlds without knowing where she will end up, having only the call of inspiration as her guide. Lee completed her undergraduate studies in her

native South Korea and obtained a master’s degree from the University of Texas at El Paso. When Lee married her husband Aaron, the two moved from South Korea to Los Angeles, where Aaron was studying. The family then moved to San Francisco and subsequently to Seattle, where Aaron began his life as a minister of faith. The ministry brought them south to El Paso nine years ago, and it was here Lee’s artwork became an expression of a fusion of cultures. Her work carries layer after layer of emotion and meaning; every brush stroke is a release of these emotions. Lee talks of her method very specifically: “There’s a purpose to every brush stroke. They’re free, yet they’re very controlled.” The brushstrokes are first conceived in her mind: She envisions where on the canvas they should be,

Lee’s art is a combination of calligraphy and abstract expressionism, intertwined with experiences she encountered while traveling and relocating between Korea and the United States. SUCASAMAGAZINE.COM


Lee’s work carries layer after layer of emotion and meaning; every brush stroke is a release of these emotions.

Building Houses, Building Hope for over 25 Years The construction of our homes is a cooperative effort among homebuyers, community supporters & volunteers. Shop at our

Contact us about our

Adrian Ornelas rides his scooter in front of his Santa Fe Habitat home.


SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

2414 Cerrillos Road (505) 986-5880

how they should flow, what color they must be, and even from what distance she must paint them—yet they are freely executed in an instant of release. In Lee’s work you can see a link between Eastern and Western art. The teaching methods of both hemispheres are very closely tied, she says: “It’s about expressing yourself—not so much about technique, it is very free—but the critique and the guidance is always there.” She creates many of her paintings with calligraphy brushes of several unusual lengths collected from her trips back home to Korea. Her work, she says, is a combination of calligraphy and abstract expressionism, intertwined with experiences she encountered while traveling and relocating between Korea and the United States.

Celebrating our 40th Anniversary Serving the Mesilla Valley

Exquisite... custom home design and construction in the Mesilla Valley. If it’s time to make your dream home become a reality, we invite you to experience Quinones Design/Build’s unparalleled design and craftsmanship, UNSURPASSED COMMUNICATION, and outstanding warranty follow-up. Contact us to discuss how we can make your dream home become a reality. For Lee, every painting begins by telling the story of her cultural ties to Korea and the United States.

Lee has exhibited her works in numerous galleries across the United States, including in her former home cities of Seattle and San Francisco. Here in the Southwest, she has exhibited in El Paso at the Crossland Gallery downtown and at the Abrazos Gallery at Chamizal National Memorial. Her art has been acquired by several collections, both personal and corporate, and she most recently sold one of her paintings to the new El Paso Children’s Hospital, where her work is on public display. The deeper the viewer journeys into the inner world of Yeunhee Lee’s paintings, the more the work reveals itself as the story of an expedition and the blending of multiple cultures. Every one of Lee’s paintings sends a different message. The viewer steps into her world and experiences a unique voyage—a journey all the way from Asia to West Texas—that cannot be replicated by anyone else.

since 1973 • Exquisite Custom Homes • Distinctive Renovations

Yeunhee Lee

575.524.4646 nm lic# 54879

Life+Style Southwest

by Cassie McClure

keeping it green Vetrazzo countertops are an earth-friendly way to accent your home


hen you swing your reusable tote of fresh veggies from the market onto your countertop, do you wish your green habits could also translate to your kitchen? They can, particularly if the countertops in your home are made of Vetrazzo, a recycled glass material. Vetrazzo’s distinctive, colorful look is a clever front for its environmental friendliness, making it an ideal solution for homeowners who are as eco-conscious as they are design-forward.

Vetrazzo’s distinctive, colorful look is a clever front for its environmental friendliness.

Left: Vetrazzo’s “Ruby Red” surface complements a red accent wall and adds a splash of color to a bathroom. Opposite, top left: “Martini Flint” is a fun and festive choice for a kitchen.


SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

Vetrazzo Recycled Glass Surfaces

Vetrazzo countertops have been around since 1996, when the inventor, Don McPherson, combined recycled glass and a cement binder to create a sustainable, polished surface and knockout patterns. These days, the glass comes from various sources: curbside recycling programs, windows, laboratory glass, traffic lights, and so on. Don Waters of Waters Design Group praises Vetrazzo as an innovative and reliable material with unrivaled quality. Having used it himself in several El Paso homes, in projects from countertops to backsplashes, Waters recommends it as a contemporary, alternative accent. “Vetrazzo pretty much has it down with their mixtures,” he says. “The number of embedments—the pieces of glass that you see—is much higher than other material I’ve used.” Manufactured in the United States, it takes almost a month for one Vetrazzo slab to be produced. According to Waters, even after the cleaning, heating, and

Bits of the original glass, such as faint lettering and logos, still linger on, giving the finished product a singular thumbprint. grinding process, bits of the original glass items, such as faint lettering and logos, still linger, giving the finished product a singular thumbprint. For example, Waters says he could easily tell where the blue glass in a recent Vetrazzo slab had come from: Absolut Vodka bottles. If you’re looking for something truly oneof-a-kind to point to as a conversation piece in your home, Vetrazzo may be your answer. “Every slab is unique,” says Vetrazzo representative Amanda Eden. “One slab might have a label from the back of a Coke, a Grey Goose bottle, the neck of a beer bottle, or some piece of architectural glass.” And when one day your Vetrazzo countertops have served out their usefulness in your home, they’re recyclable. How’s that for green? Waters Design Group 915-231-9975 Piedras Mundiales Design Center Inc. 915-760-4160 Stonehouse Granite & Marble 915-588-9842

Above, top: “Hollywood Sage” pairs well with a traditional kitchen, while “Bistro Green” (above, bottom) looks great in an outdoor area. SUCASAMAGAZINE.COM


Design Studio

by Jessica Muncrief

for the love of books If you’ve got ’em, flaunt ’em

Going vertical is classic, but consider the unique visual effect of stacking your books horizontally. Incorporate meaningful decorative objects into the shelving for a space that’s truly personalized.


SU C A S A W I NTER 2014


reative storage solutions are a hot topic in modern American life. Clever ideas are always coming on the market to organize everything from spices to shoes to linens—and book collections are no exception. Despite new technological reading innovations, real-deal, print-on-the-page books are still a big part of our lives. They just somehow seem to accumulate, points out John Hansen, book antiquarian at COAS Books in Las Cruces. “People who love books tend to collect them,” he says. “We tend to try and keep them instead of selling them or giving them away. You don’t have to be wealthy to have two or three rooms filled with books.” A cookbook received as a gift, an eye-catching coffee table book picked up from the sale rack, the latest juicy novel borrowed from a friend—sooner or later you’ve gathered enough to fill, well, a library. Fortunately, books are beautiful. They don’t have to be kept hidden in cupboards or boxes. They’re colorful and artistic. The titles you’ve chosen hint at your personality. Their simple, basic shapes fit just as well in a streamlined contemporary loft as they do in an overtly traditional den. They can be moved,

This page: Tony Skarlatos; Opposite: Bill Faulkner

rearranged, and repositioned on a whim without much effort at all. They’re meant to be displayed, and they fall into that rare category of décor that is also meant to be used and handled and touched. “Whether you collect remembrances of special events or meaningful travel, family photos or treasured books, they should occupy shelves where they can be displayed and enjoyed,” says Connie Hines, an interior designer based in Las Cruces. Some homeowners are lucky enough to have the space to create a traditional library, a whole room dedicated to their book collections. But more often than not, books line shelves in a home office or stack up in bookshelves scattered around the home. People tend to read not in one specific room, but in window seats, on the porch, or on any comfy chair tucked into a quiet corner. “Books need to be out of your way, yet accessible,” points out El Paso interior designer Debbie Salome, “and some thought needs to be put into how they are displayed. Unless you have a huge collection of leather-bound books, they don’t always look pretty together.” Books look best when they are naturally and intentionally incorporated into the overall design plan. They can add a comforting and personalized

“Whether you collect remembrances of special events or meaningful travel, family photos or treasured books, they should occupy shelves where they can be displayed and enjoyed.” —Connie Hines

Look for creative bookshelf options in unexpected spaces. Gaddy Homes incorporated shelving in a hallway niche (above), while Cullers & Caldwell Builders transformed a bedroom with a wall of books (right). SUCASAMAGAZINE.COM


look to just about any room in the home. Unless you have a rare or valuable book, storage options are pretty much wide open. Consider rooms you wouldn’t normally keep them, like the kitchen or dining room. Think outside the box and look for small, rarely used niches where a shelf would slide in nicely. The spaces above doors, windows, and cabinets tend to be perfect fits. If you have the wall space and the books, floor-to-ceiling shelving is visually intriguing and practical for keeping books organized. Salome recommends playing around a bit with grouping to achieve the best visual effect: “Allow some flexibility in the shelving so you’re able to combine heights—tall in one place, short in another. Multiple levels make for a more streamlined look.” Consider also the strong visual effect of grouping by color. Decorate with large, bright books that coordinate with the room’s color scheme, or prominently display a book with a great cover, just as you would a piece of art. Books are about opening the mind and the imagination. What you are reading now tells a bit about where you are in life, what intrigues you, and what makes life a little richer. Those are exactly the types of elements that should go into the rooms you live in every day. So stack them, lean them, and line up a few here and there. As Hines suggests, “Surround yourself with all that is important in your life. It certainly enhances the journey.” 32

SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

Top to bottom: Tony Skarlatos, Jesse Ramirez

If you have the wall space and the books, floor-to-ceiling shelving is visually intriguing and practical for keeping books organized.

Above, top: Scholarly books keep this office functional and intimate. Above, bottom: Use books to display other items for a fresh look.

resources Connie Hines Interior Design 575-523-1809

Gaddy Homes LP 915-581-3966

I.D. & C.U. Corporation Debbie Salome 915-525-1743

Cullers & Caldwell Builders 915-584-5600

COAS Books

reading right starts with light Lighting experts weigh in with their best tips

“ “

Bookshelves can be heavy and dark, especially if you have wood with a dark finish. I recommend lighting up the shelves. Technology is so advanced that you can put a thin tape of lights behind the crown molding so it’s not visible, but the light highlights the fronts of the books. This really makes a space cozy and inviting for reading.” —Deborah Terrazas, Ferguson, Choose your light bulbs with care. It’s the color of the light that makes reading comfortable. Bulb color temperatures are measured in Kelvin (K) degrees. Lights with a lower K number have more of a yellow hue, while higher K numbers have more blue. Typically, for reading, light closest to the color of natural sunlight is recommended, which is about 5,000K. Personally, I like something not quite so blue. Find what is comfortable for you, but know that not all bulbs are the same.”—Shirley Gschwind, owner, Westside Lighting Gallery, 915-585-3000

You always want to layer your lighting, and in an office or a library or any space where you will be doing a lot of reading, you want a lot of light, but it should also be comfortable. Incorporate some table and desk lamps as well as overhead lamps. You’ll probably want the comfort of some air circulation, so a fan with a light is a good option. And don’t forget to create some ambience.”—Mary Rosales, lighting consultant, Designer’s Mart,

square peg, round hole Transforming an ultramodern home into an Andalusian oasis

Alluding to more detailed work throughout the rest of the home, the entry doors are custom-built with intricately carved woodwork. 34

SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

by Tiffany Etterling


Photographs by Rudy Torres

on’t tell designer Debbie Salome she can’t fit a square peg into a round hole. That is exactly what she did to transform an ultramodern home into an Andalusian oasis for El Paso physician Mohammed Alnajjar and his wife Sheryhan. Because it was their first time building, the Alnajjars enlisted Salome’s design help during the early stages of construction. When she arrived, framing was complete, windows were in, and exterior sheeting was going up. “The house was a series of boxes,” explains Salome. “Everything was flat and crisp and very geometric, without any differential ceilings or entrances.” Noting the current incarnation of the design, Salome figured the homeowners were going in a modern direction. To her surprise, the Alnajjars were looking for just the opposite. Whipping out an iPhone, Sheryhan began showing Debbie photos of homes in Mediterranean, old world, and Tuscan styles. Sheryhan wanted the home to reflect the style of her parent’s 16,000-square-

foot residence in the couple’s native home of Jordan. Salome’s first response was, “What am I going to do? It’s all square!” Undaunted by the scope of the challenge, she eventually came up with a design plan to transform the modern shell into the Alnajjars’ vision of an Andalusian home. The Andalusian style, says Salome, is a fusion of four major influences: Tuscan, Spanish, Greek, and a bit of Moroccan. “Since they wanted that ultra-classic look, I really had my challenges,” she adds. The experienced designer was able to add significant detail work to soften the strict lines and modern shape of the exterior by adding what she calls her “pearls”: structures across the top of the house that break up the straight lines and scupper drains, encased in cantera stone to give them more detail. Salome also added Mediterranean-style corbels, stone, wood, and natural desert colors to lead the home away from a modern feel. To complete the old-world transformation on the exterior, Salome assisted the Alnajjars in selecting a striking front door and carriage garage doors. Alluding to more Opposite: Stone exteriors, cantera columns, and a custom wooden door in the Spanish-inspired entry. Detailed iron work by Elite adorns the private family room (above) and the gallery-like hallway (right) leading to the bedrooms. SUCASAMAGAZINE.COM


Joseph Rey, of Custom Doors and Architecturals, provided the detailed woodwork in the home’s front door (above, top) and staircase (above, bottom). Right: Taking advantage of an open foyer, designer Debbie Salome added exquisite touches like a goldplated section of ceiling and a large chandelier.


SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

detailed work throughout the rest of the home, the entry doors are custom-built with intricately carved woodwork. “The selection of the front door was very important,” says Salome. “It is a major statement as you walk into the house.” On the interior, she immediately brought in framing carpenters to soften the straight lines and 90-degree angles. The carpenters spent three months adding arches and ceiling domes, varying ceiling heights, and creating architectural characteristics like the semicircular design inlaid into the formal dining room ceiling. “None of this detail existed when I started,” says Salome, gesturing to the 24-foot entryway ceiling, inlaid with hand-carved wood and trimmed with crown molding. “It was just flat.”

Above, top: Varying ceiling heights add depth to the open floor plan. Above, bottom: Detail of a cantera accent wall in the dining room. Left: An expansive formal living room calls for oversized furnishings and floral arrangements. Plenty of large Pella windows bathe the room in natural light.



Abundant use of wood is another design feature that steers the interior away from modern and more toward Andalusian. Intricate carvings are used throughout the house, including along the staircase, inlaid into the cabinetry, and on the refrigerator doors. All the woodwork in the house was coordinated through Salome so it matches and blends well. The formal living room and dining room are ornately decorated with detailed floral arrangements and oversized furnishings. Although the rooms aren’t divided by walls, a variation in ceiling height and ceiling details give each space distinctive character. With its rich, dark cabinetry, double ovens, and Sub-Zero refrigerator, the kitchen (above), blends function with formality. Right: A distinctive ceiling design helps soften the formal dining room. 38

SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

Another main design consideration for Debbie was making the home family friendly for the Alnajjars’ four children: Rasheed, 13; Waleed, 10; Laith, 6; and baby Joodi, 8 months. “Everything in the house is user-friendly,” she notes. “We did all the floors in porcelain and wood. That makes it easy for kids. It doesn’t really matter if a sippy cup spills on a porcelain floor.” The kids have plenty of space in the house, but the true heart of the home is the kitchen and family room. “We use that space all day,” says Sheryhan. While the formal living and dining rooms are extravagant, this space is warm and vibrant. Still maintaining the old world style, Salome created a cozier atmosphere by dropping the ceiling height and reducing the size of the furnishings. The kitchen provides Sheryhan a clear view to the backyard, family room, and breakfast table so she can keep track of the family while she cooks. “Sheryhan actually does a lot of cooking, and her food is very detailed and handmade,” says Salome, “so she has a 60-inch range, full double ovens, a big Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer, and great pantry space.” “Debbie worked hard on this project to give me exactly what I wanted,” says Sheryhan. She and Mohammed agree that Salome’s design execution exceeded their expectations. “It truly feels

Abundant use of wood is another design feature that steers the interior away from modern and more toward Andalusian.

Plenty of space and comfortable leather in the downstairs family room makes it one of the prime living areas for the Alnajjars. SUCASAMAGAZINE.COM


like home,” adds Mohammed. With hard work and creative design, Debbie made this square home fit into Mohammad and Sheryhan’s round dream. “Although I couldn’t make it exactly like her like her parents’ home in Jordan, I was able to make it just as special—and in many ways even more special,” says Salome. 40

SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

“Everywhere you look there’s a detail that makes this home unique.” The master bathroom features granitetopped counters, his-and-hers sinks, 24-inch porcelain tiles, and a large soaking tub. Tasteful red accents lend to the overall Andalusian feel of the home. SUCASAMAGAZINE.COM


In the master bedroom, a crimson lounge and fuchsia details in the bedding are just the pops of color needed to offset the room’s gold and brown palette.

Block the Sun’s Heat & Lower Your Energy Bill • Retractable Solar Screens for Windows and Patios • Block the Sun and Enjoy Your View! • Reduce the Summer Heat • Cut Your Cooling Cost



SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

resources Interior Design Debbie Salome I.D. & C.U. Corporation 915-525-1743 Builder Coronado Building Co. Sal Masoud 915-833-2400 Appliances Builders Source Appliance Gallery 915-775-1000 Fixtures El Paso Winnelson 915-778-4706 Audio-Video HPS Audio & Video 915-772-3311 Backsplash and Countertops Stonehouse Granite & Marble 915-588-9842 Cabinetry A-1 Kitchens by Sierra 915-566-0095 Doors and Windows Pella Windows and Doors 915-549-9899 Entry Door and Woodwork Custom Doors and Architecturals Joseph Rey 915-255-6840 Flooring and Tile Interceramic 915-593-7357 Ironwork Elite 915-892-3075 Landscaping Blooming Paradise Pools and Landscapes 915-549-7352 Furnishings Casa Bella Home Furnishings 915-781-3300 Stone Stone Wholesalers Direct 915-999-0221 SUCASAMAGAZINE.COM


meeting in the


After 27 years, a Las Cruces couple’s personal style breaks through


SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

The backyard boasts neutral desert landscaping and an excellent view from either the pool or handsome fire pit.

by Tiffany Etterling Photographs by Bill Faulkner


r. Todd Lucas had barely completed construction on his contemporarystyle Las Cruces home when he reconnected with his ex-wife, Nancy Noland. The couple remarried in 2013 and teamed up with designer Sherry Franzoy of Decorating Den Interiors to decorate the home with a delicate balance of Lucas’s modern style and Noland’s fondness for traditional warmth and comfort. “I’d never done a contemporary home before, and I wanted to get away from the Tuscan appearance,” explains Lucas. He’d previously rented a home from Greg Green of GL Green

The living room and dining room, combined to create one airy, open space, benefit from soaring ceilings and ample floor-toceiling windows.

In the living room (opposite), leather couches and pops of color add softness to the otherwise streamlined space. SUCASAMAGAZINE.COM


Sherry Franzoy of Decorating Den Interiors chose colorful accent pieces for the dining room.

Homes, and though Green is best known for Tuscan style, Lucas moved forward with hiring the builder to construct his contemporary abode because he was so impressed with the quality and craftsmanship of Green’s work. Despite its strong contemporary tones, the home complements the surrounding landscape; the exterior’s natural colors blend into its desert surroundings. “It’s not totally contemporary; more of a form of New Mexico contemporary,” explains Lucas. His vision was a home with clean lines, built in the shape of an H, with living quarters on one side and sleeping quarters on the other. He worked closely with GL Green architect Matthew Adams, who modeled the home after the style of Frank Lloyd Wright. The home’s overall contemporary style was inspired in large part by Lucas’s visits to the Ritz Carlton in Tucson, where he admired the hotel’s minimalistic furnishings, clean lighting and fixtures, and general lack

Comfortable and yet completely contemporary, the kitchen features an unusual ceiling element from which the kicky chandelier is suspended.

The home’s style was inspired by Lucas’s visits to the Ritz Carlton in Tucson, where he admired the hotel’s minimalism and lack of excessive ornamentation.


SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

Lucas and Noland’s new Las Cruces home provided a clean, contemporary slate with which to begin their second marriage.

of excessive ornamentation. In his home, the expansive great room creates a seamless transition from the kitchen through the dining and living areas. Staying true to the concept of “nontraditional,” Lucas decided to forgo a soaking tub in the master bathroom for an oversized steam shower with frosted glass doors. “I put in a steam shower because it substitutes for the relaxation you’d get in a Jacuzzi tub,” says Lucas. Noland notes that the couple spent most of their first marriage struggling to make ends meet while Lucas completed medical school and residency. “We were just in little apartments or duplexes and had no decorating sense or style whatsoever,” laughs Noland. It seemed fitting that their new Las Cruces home provided a clean, contemporary slate with which to begin their second marriage. “In the 27 years we’ve know each other, we haven’t really had that much time to figure out our style,” says Noland. “We just relied on professionals and our instincts.” That’s why the couple enlisted the help of Franzoy. While Noland and Lucas selected much of the artwork and furnishings on their own, Franzoy was able to help blend the home and pull the colors together. Details in the furniture, such as a wave effect in the bed’s headboard, speak to the modern aesthestic in the couple’s master bedroom (left). The master bathroom (above) features a large shower with eye-catching frosted glass doors.



Franzoy says she loves a challenge. Two of the biggest challenges, she says: “High ceilings and hard surface floors. You have to make the home feel warm and take up some of the echo. Small spaces are easier to make warm than large spaces.” Franzoy worked to minimize the echo in Lucas and Noland’s contemporary spaces by adding rich fabrics, decorative area rugs, and greenery to give the home the warmth and comfort she so desired. Another challenge was to soften Lucas’s ultramodern style. “There’s a difference between modern and contemporary,” says Franzoy. Where modern is characterized by coldness, glass, and lack of color, Franzoy explains that contemporary style incorporates more warmth, with clean lines, unornamented design features, and lots of color. Various shades of red are employed throughout the home; the fun and surprising pops of color tie the design together. The rafters are stained a deep red to match the doors and base plates.

Go Solar For Only $60.00 a Month*

* On Approved Credit for a Ten Panel System after Incentives

Nancy Noland and Dr. Todd Lucas, with the newest addition to their family. Opposite: A colorful selection of Blenko glass.


SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

Various shades of red are employed throughout the home; the fun and surprising pops of color tie the design together. Colorful abstract paintings and glasswork are also found throughout.




SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

You Can Teach an Old House New Tricks!

The hallway leading into the living quarters features abstract artwork and collectible glassware.

Colorful, abstract paintings and glasswork are found throughout the house, including a Chihuly-style glass collection by Corey Hubbell hanging above the master bedroom door. The recesses in the adjacent hallway are filled with collectible Blenko glass, some of which came from Noland’s mother’s collection dating back to the 1960s. Noland repurposed Tuscan-style dining chairs from the couple’s previous marriage to create a transition between contemporary and traditional. When Noland primed and painted the gilded, gold chairs silver and Franzoy replaced the gold and black upholstery with red, “they ended up with a traditional, clean, contemporary look that can go either way,” Franzoy says. One of the most distinctive areas of the home is the kitchen—with its

Imagine the Possibilities

Neutral tones and an intriguing patterned mirror add warmth to the powder room.

clean lines and minimalist décor, it epitomizes contemporary design. The large, custom-made hood vents to the outside of the home; the mechanics on the roof provide for a less noisy cooking experience. Tomei Fiddlesticks tiles by Stone & Pewter Accents line the kitchen’s west wall. The long, thin, color-blended tiles speak to the rest of the home’s modern sensibilities. Lucas selected his home site in the Picacho Mountain community for its quiet seclusion as well as views of both the Organ Mountains and the evening city lights. “We loved the idea of being able to see the mountains and look down on top of the city lights as well,” says Lucas. Noland agrees, calling it their “million-dollar view,” particularly at night. “The stars are incredible,” says Noland. “I can see why people love New Mexico.”

resources Builder GL Green and Associates 575-532-9070 Architect GL Green and Associates Matthew Adams 602-326-0910 Interior Designer Sherry Franzoy Decorating Den Interiors 575-521-8326 Appliances, Bathroom Fixtures, & Shower Doors Ferguson 575-525-3387 Audio-Visual Elite Home Security 575-373-1556 Powder Room Sink Base and Mirror & Window Treatments Decorating Den Interiors 575-521-8326 Countertops & Kitchen Tile The Design Center 575-526-1022 Exterior Stone & Bathroom Tile Emser Tile and Natural Stone 915-633-9988 Fire Pit Western Stoves and Fireplaces 575-526-5380 Furnishings Copenhagen 915-581-8897 TEMA 505-275-2121 Landscaping Natura, LLC 575-805-6559 Lighting Designer’s Mart 915-778-9223 575-523-9223 Pool Pools by Design 575-541-0006 915-727-5854 Windows L&P Building Supply 575-527-8000

living it up So long, East Coast traffic and city life. Hello, Southern New Mexico.

by Jessica Muncrief

Fitting within the natural terrain was important to the homeowners. The deep red exterior and mission tile roof pay homage to Southwestern Hispanic culture.


SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

Photographs by Tony Skarlatos


t the end of a gently winding desert road is the home of Terry Johnson and Liz Rodriguez-Johnson. It’s not too far off the beaten path, settled just on the outskirts of a quiet, family-friendly neighborhood. But step onto their property and it’s easy to imagine you’ve gotten away from it all. The desert stretches as far as the eye can see in any direction. From the back porch, an endless expanse of sky spreads out above an infinity pool that appears to drop off into the wilderness beyond. “It’s all flood land below; visually, we consider that part of our backyard,” says Terry. Some might take all this open space for granted, but Terry and Liz cherish it every day—it’s exactly what they dreamed of for the better part of a decade. Just eight years ago, they were living the fast-paced

Rich red walls, alder wood accents, large throw rugs, and overstuffed furniture bring warmth and a sense of familial comfort to the interiors. city lifestyle in Washington, D.C. Challenging careers and shuffling twin boys between activities kept them busy, to say the least, so from time to time they would seek respite, visiting Liz’s family in the Mesilla Valley. They began to appreciate the beauty of a calmer, quieter lifestyle, one that equated to more time spent enjoying loved ones and less spent sitting in traffic. When they found the perfect lot in 1996, they knew they couldn’t pass it up. “It was everything we were looking for,” says Terry. “It was at the end of the road, it had the right slope, everything seemed in the right direction as far as views, the topography was very conducive to building, and at night it’s just spectacular.” Retirement to the desert was still a way off, but now it was firmly in their sights. “We knew where we were heading,” Liz remembers. “We knew what we were working for, right up to 2011 when we finally made the move and started building.” The Johnson home is grand yet inviting. Elegant textiles and warm colors soften the formality of the high ceilings and towering columns.



They started analyzing their home in Virginia, going room by room and looking at everything—room sizes, ceiling heights, layout—to figure out what they wanted their dream home to look like. When the time came to build, contractor Tim Curry came highly recommended by their Southern New Mexico friends. “We couldn’t have asked for a better builder,” says Terry. “When it came down to it, I had a pretty unique set of specifications. Fifteen pages might scare off a lot of builders, but Tim wasn’t intimidated at all. He understood that we knew what we wanted.” The term “functionally elegant” was their guiding theme throughout. Terry’s list of specifications covered many of the functional details, those behind-the-scenes elements that ensure optimum temperature and humidity all year round and make the home ultra-fireproof and energy efficient. The kitchen, from layout to appliances, was “We wanted the public areas to be open, not just little boxes within a big box,” explains Terry of the main living area (above) which flows seamlessly between the state-of-the-art entertainer’s kitchen (right) and the patio. 56

SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

The kitchen, from layout to appliances, was designed for entertaining—the family loves to host parties. designed for entertaining—the family loves to host parties. “Warming drawers, wine refrigerator, induction cooktop, double ovens—we use it all,” says Terry, who is also rumored to be a pretty good bartender. (“He’s the self-proclaimed Margarita King of Las Cruces,” jokes Liz.) Outwardly, the home’s design is simple yet refined, with classical architectural elements like a barrel-vaulted grand entry, Tuscan columns, a cast concrete fireplace, and a mission tile roof. Rich red walls, alder wood accents, large throw rugs, and

Whether enjoying a family meal in the built-in breakfast nook or a more formal affair in the separate dining room (above), large windows afford stunning views of the surrounding desert. SUCASAMAGAZINE.COM


“The patio is really an extension of the house. We just open the doors and flow in and out.” —Terry Johnson The back porch spans the length of the home and is accessible from the living room as well as the master bedroom. The infinity pool provides “visual elegance,” but with two teenage boys, Terry and Liz knew it had to be functional as well, which is why it’s 10 feet deep and long enough for lap swimming.


SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

overstuffed furniture bring warmth and a sense of familial comfort to the interiors. Yet it is apparent this home is more about people than things. Each room is designed for spending time together— whether just the family of four, or a few dozen of their closest friends and family. “There is no wasted space,” Liz points out. “Every room is proportionate to its functionality for us as a family. We don’t spend a lot of time in the bedrooms, so those are smaller. But we spend almost all our time in three areas: the kitchen, the living room, and the outdoor space. Those are made for us to enjoy our lives in.”

Right: In lieu of soaking tubs inside, the Johnsons opted for an elevated spa that looks out over miles of gorgeous desert terrain. Terry’s pride and joy is the outdoor kitchen (below) boasting a 48-inch gas grill, wet bar, and plenty of counter space for condiments and drink garnishes.




Building Custom Cabinetry for 20 Years ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

European System Construction Method Kitchens, Bathrooms, Entertainment Centers Full Selection of Woods and Finishes Professional Installation by Skilled Staff Warranty on Materials and Workmanship Proudly Made in El Paso! • 915-577-9777 60

SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

Despite the excitement city life can offer, the family doesn’t seem to miss it. Ask what they love best about their home and they’ll say the high ceilings and large windows, because both contribute to what Liz calls a “general sense of openness.” She also admits to enjoying the convenience of two refrigerators: “I don’t really enjoy grocery shopping, and with two boys I was shopping all the time. Now, I usually only go once a week.” The couple’s teenage sons love the basketball court and the 10-foot-deep pool. Terry prefers the expansive back patio spanning the length of the home. It houses a deluxe grilling and beverage station, a pool table, and plenty

of plush seating to sit back and soak up the amazing panoramas. “The patio is really an extension of the house,” he notes. “We just open the doors and flow in and out. We just had 50 people here for a party, and it didn’t feel packed at all.” This porch also serves as a prophetic symbol for just how far Terry and Liz have journeyed. Before they ever broke ground, the couple admits to visiting their plot of land during every holiday trip to New Mexico. “We would come out and stand here, on what is now the patio, and just imagine this in our mind.” says Terry. “All the sacrificing, fighting traffic, doing the daily grind—this was our end game.”

A trickling fountain greets guests out front, setting the tone for this stately home.

an Exclusive Builder

resources Builder Tim Curry Construction 575-532-5868 Appliances Builders Source Appliance Gallery 575-526-5200 Audio/Video Allied Security 575-527-2151 Cabinetry and Countertops The Design Center 575-526-1022 Doors Homestead Hardwoods

for Exclusive Living

Lighting and Plumbing Fixtures Morrison Supply Company 575-525-2555 Furnishings and Accessories Charlotte’s Furniture 915-581-1111 Pool & Spa Pools by Design 575-541-0006


Grisel Ortega | 915-491-2056 |

Tile Casa Mexicana Tile 575-523-2777 Windows and Patio Doors Pella 915-833-3066

WINTER 2013 AD 3.875” X 4.8125”



la dulce vita A shared love of all things Italian drives the design of a Tuscan-style home


SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

In the warm kitchen, a custom hood painted with giresoli (sunflowers) overlooks a backsplash and countertops swathed in granite. Sumptuous furnishings and Italianate art adorn the elegant great room (opposite).

by Danielle Urbina


Photographs by Rudy Torres

arlos and Teresita Corral began their married life in an Italian castle, so it’s not surprising that four years later they sought to recapture some of the same magic in a Tuscan-style “castle” of their own. The Corrals were married in 2008 at Castello del Trebbio in Florence, Italy, which, Teresita says, is where she and Carlos fell in love with Italian architecture and decided they would build their home in that style. The Corrals’ luxurious home certainly fits their busy lifestyle, which includes hobbies and charity endeavors. Carlos, a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon, is an avid polo player, while Teresita is the former chair for Polo with a Purpose, an organization associated with the American Cancer Society. The Corrals also sit on the board for El Paso Pro Musica and on the Board of Governors for the Las Cruces Diocese. To achieve the particular look they wanted for their home, the Corrals worked with architect Pablo Bustamante and project

manager Pete Corral (Carlos’s brother). Pete traveled to Italy to research Italian architecture, visiting small villages, large cities (including Rome and Florence), as well as the Tuscan countryside. “I took good notes because [Carlos and Teresita] were interested in that type of lifestyle,” says Pete, who worked closely with Pablo to ensure that they both understood what the project would entail. “We put all of those ideas [from Italy] together to create full plans for the house before we did anything.” Thinking fully in “Italian mode,” their plans covered many details from that region: multi-toned terra-cotta roof tiles by Gladding, McBean; warm yellow exterior walls that evoke an Italian villa; cedar garage doors; a custom brick driveway; and even an olive tree planted in the front yard. When it came to the location of their home, the Corrals wanted property with views of the nearby Organ Mountains, and they got it. The home sits at the top of the Sonoma Ranch Golf Course, where a panoramic view of the mountains is available from their SUCASAMAGAZINE.COM


Pops of red accentuate neutral tones in the Corrals’ romantic master bedroom (above).

“I like to think [our home’s style is] elegant yet simple. We didn’t want anything so ornate that we couldn’t relax.”—Teresita Corral


SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

backyard. That view, in fact, is what sold them, Teresita says. “We originally thought the lot was too small, but we came back at night, and it was just wonderful.” In addition to stunning views, the backyard has an outdoor entertaining area with plenty of seating and a Cantera stone fireplace just a few feet away from the couple’s lap pool. “[Carlos] likes to exercise and swim, and he wanted a lap pool, so it was important for us to incorporate that,” Pete says. The Corrals wanted to take a simple approach in the building process of their home. To that end, they designed the home’s interiors on their own, without the help of a designer. “We wanted it to truly be our home from start to finish,” Teresita says. “Carlos is really the one with the good taste. He personally chose a lot of the décor pieces.” Starting with bold architectural design elements like columned arches and tall ceilings and inspired by images

The luxurious master bathroom features marble flooring and large, detailed mirrors selected by Carlos.



from books by designer Betty Lou Phillips, Teresita found herself adding French elements into the home’s décor—a surprise even to herself, given the couple’s strong interest in an Italian aesthetic. The combination of Italian and French design is evident throughout the home, especially in the great room where large, rustic furnishings meet delicate elements of décor like soft area rugs and sophisticated artwork. “I like to think it’s elegant yet simple,” Teresita says. “We didn’t want anything so ornate that we couldn’t relax.” Over and above the Italian and French influences, the addition of 68

SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

materials from around the United States and around the world brings an international flair to the home’s interior design. White oak floors in the living area, kitchen, and master bedroom are from Kentucky, the marble flooring in the hallways is from Spain, and the kitchen’s granite and marble countertops are from Brazil. The integration of the chocolate and off-white marble floors was a great fit for the warmer neutral tones found on the textured walls throughout the home. Thanks to the home’s great insulation, you won’t find any

Multi-toned terra-cotta tiles by Gladding, McBean line the roof of the home, whose cheerful yellow exterior is distinctly Tuscan.

Carlos and Teresita’s home reflects their love of Italy—the place where they began their life as husband and wife.



ceiling fans here, which gave the Corrals more opportunities to enhance the décor. “We didn’t even need ceiling fans,” Carlos says. “It’s always 75 degrees inside, no matter what time of year, so instead of fans we [put] chandeliers in every room.” The chandeliers, from Designer’s Mart, provide an added elegance to each room, varying in size, style, and color from room to room. What would an Italian villa be without extended family to enjoy it? Carlos’s mother lives in one of the home’s two guest rooms. Decorated in a French Provincial style, her room features décor and bedding in hues of blue, cream-colored crown molding, damask printed drapery, and a bedroom set by EJ Victor, purchased at Charlotte’s. Further down the hall, a spacious guest suite (also furnished by Charlotte’s) includes a fully 70

SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

Just beyond the outdoor fireplace and expansive covered patio, the backyard offers enticing views.

Carlos and Teresita Corral in their Las Cruces home

A classic combination of chocolate and off-white marble from Spain lines the hallway into the master bedroom.

stocked coffee bar and refrigerator. These amenities were added so the Corrals’ guests could enjoy the privacy associated with a casita, while living inside their home. For their own bedroom, the couple wanted a master that was both romantic and cozy, so they filled it with a large bed, chandeliers, candelabras, a plush velvet sofa, and drapes Teresita made herself. Once again inspired by Betty Lou Phillips’s designs, Teresita chose fabrics from Hobby Lobby and Inside/Out Designs to match the different areas of her home. In the master bedroom, a print with red details adds a pop of color to the room. The Corrals envisioned one large entertaining area when building their home, so instead of creating separate living and dining rooms, they merged the two together to create a harmonious space with easy access to the kitchen. The kitchen’s welcoming feel is due in part to its warm countryside décor that includes off-white maple cabinets, Crazy Horse granite countertops, a sunflower mural above the stove, and a large island with intricately carved dark wood corbels, fronted by heavy cushioned wooden chairs.

Fine china and fresh roses add luxury to the dining table in the home’s great room.

Together, Carlos and Teresita have built a home that incorporates all their favorite things. Most importantly, the home reflects their love of Italy—the place where they began their life as husband and wife. For Teresita, the process of creating a home with her husband was an adventure: “People say building a home is stressful on a marriage, but we really agreed on almost everything and enjoyed building together.”

resources Architect Pablo Bustamante PSRBB, Inc. 915-877-2020 Builder O,R&L Construction LP 575-805-1329 Project Manager Pete Corral Corral & Associates 915-581-7070 SUCASAMAGAZINE.COM


Appliances Builders Source Appliance Gallery 575-526-5200 Morrison Supply Co. 575-523-6494 Bathroom Fixtures Ferguson 575-523-8606 Cabinetry Gabinetes Palafox 915-778-0801 Countertops Piedras Mundiales 915-760-4160 Doors El Paso Wood Products 915-545-2974 Driveway ACME Brick Co. 915-859-9171 Faux Finish on Columns Enrique Cardoza 915-248-7505 Flooring Mario Lopez Wood Floors 915-630-4002 Furnishings Charlotte’s 915-581-1111 Marble Floors, Kitchen, and Bath Tile Haciendas Carpet & Tile 575-525-2088 Landscaping Royalty Lawn Care and Landscaping 575-636-7513 Sierra Vista Growers 575-589-3924 Lighting Designer’s Mart 575-523-9223 Mirrors Art Masters 915-833-3838 Pool Pools by Design 915-727-5854 Windows Pella Windows and Doors 915-833-3066 Wrought Iron Mighty Midas Welding David Gutierrez 575-556-4363 74

SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

The Regions Largest Selection of

Brick, Stone, Veneer and Floor Tiles • Brick – Choices of Colors & Sizes • Concrete Stepping Stones & Blocks • Centurion Stone Veneer • Clay Coping & Pavers • Saltillo, Cantera & Travertine Tile • Thin Brick Veneer 33 years serving El Paso and Southern New Mexico

9400 Gateway East - El Paso TX 79907 Showroom Open Mon-Fri 7:30-4:30 Sat 8:30-12:30 915-593-1301



Su Libro

from blog to book

by Julieta Rios

Well-known bloggers take their home décor advice to print

Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home, by Julie Carlson with the editors of Remodelista, Artisan, hardcover, $37.50

Remodelista offers advice about remodeling that can be molded to fit one’s individual style and needn’t be expensive or involve outside experts.

Above: A simple yet refined look for a dining room. Above, right: Remodelista has tips for upgrading spaces like this living room. 76

SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

Courtesy of Artisan Books


ix years ago, four editors—Julie Carlson, Francesca Connolly, Sarah Lonsdale, and Christine Chang Hanway—created the blog It has served as a clever digital guide to the home design process for both novice homeowners and professionals looking to remodel. “Our thinking went like this: Why go looking for the perfect faucet or sofa or front hall mirror if your style-savvy neighbor has already found the one?” says Carlson. “Remodelista is that neighbor, with that information you’ll need cataloged and documented.” The blog team keeps a constant eye on the ever-changing world of design while researching all major and minor purchases necessary for homes throughout the world, to make remodeling plans easier for any reader. The editors came together in 2013 to collaborate on the ultimate guide to remodeling, a book that serves as a companion to their increasingly popular blog. Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home, says Carlson, “is a start-to-finish guide to creating your own domestic sanctuary, whether you’re contemplating a complete overhaul, updating a corner of your living room, browsing for easy affordable upgrades, or simply looking for a design fix.” In her foreword, actress Julianne Moore describes the Remodelista blog as a “beautifully designed and curated collection of images, sources, and information about decoration and remodeling.” The Remodelista companion book is that as well, filled with information such as a user’s guide to great kitchens and bathrooms, design ideas, and remodeling reality. Advising the reader on where they can purchase items that appear in the book and listing an enormous amount of resources is another dose of helpfulness. It’s clear the editors prefer personal style over perfection, and the reader will find that there are really no rules to remodeling. Instead, Remodelista offers advice that can be molded to fit one’s individual style and needn’t be expensive or involve outside experts. “It’s all about training your eye and finding what’s right for you,” says Carlson. The Remodelista team hopes its book will serve as a starting point for inspiring readers to apply can-do spirit to whichever room they wish to remodel. So look around, find what needs improvement, and get to it!


As artistic director of El Paso Pro Musica, acclaimed cellist Zuill Bailey has created a unique music festival for the El Paso area that promises to bring collaboration and education to music enthusiasts. The festival features musicians from around the world, with weekly concerts performed in venues throughout El Paso and Las Cruces.


Nationally admired comedian Bill Cosby comes to the Abraham Chavez Theatre for one very special evening. Cosby is known for capturing the hearts of households across America with The Cosby Show and other comedic performances. Don’t miss a chance to see the stand-up genius and his hilarious performance this winter!


Columbia Artists Theatricals brings a classic novel to life in this comedic tragedy. Thirty singers, dancers, and musicians transport the audience to 16thcentury Spain during the Spanish Inquisition. The winner of five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Man of La Mancha promises to keep the audience hanging on until the very end. 78

SU C A S A W I NTER 2014


Ever wondered about the evolution of jazz music? Showtime! El Paso presents a unique and exciting way to learn about the history of jazz through music performed by Jesse Lynch and his band. Having played piano for popular veterans like The American Tenors, Lynch is no stranger to Live On Stage. Using multimedia presentations and excellent musical technique, he and his trio give the audience the ultimate learning experience.


Don’t be fooled by Umi Garrett’s age. At just eight years old, the young pianist made an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and blew the audience away with her musical abilities. She has since won many national and international first prizes and was awarded Grand Prix winner at The Chopin International Competition in Connecticut. Garrett brings her stunning talent to the Abraham Chavez Theatre this winter.


This Valentine’s Day, experience the story of two youngsters who grow to discover the true meaning of mature love. Starring a cast of nine actors and musicians from the Nebraska Theater Caravan and packed with memorable songs and steampunk technology from the longest-running production of all time, The Fantasticks is one show you won’t want to miss.



Award-winning hitmaker Jim Brickman brings The Love Tour to El Paso in late February. Brickman weaves musical collaborations, storytelling, and audience interaction into one romance-packed show, featuring hits like “If You Believe,” “Love of My Life,” and the Billboard chart-topping “Valentine.” or

Internationally acclaimed conductor Bo Rattay presents the fifth installment of the EPSO Classical Concert series. In collaboration with the UTEP Choral Union and Concert Chorale, the EPSO will perform an exciting performance of Carmina! for classical enthusiasts.


Presented by the Las Cruces Civic Concert Association, mezzo-soprano powerhouse Laurie Rubin comes to Las Cruces for an unforgettable night. Though visually impaired, Rubin has the uncanny ability to connect with her audiences using her passion for music and tremendous vocal ability. The musical lineup includes “Somewhere” from West Side Story and “Habanera” from Carmen.


Take it back to the energetic swing era of the 1930s and ’40s! The Glenn Miller Orchestra comes to the Spencer Theater to perform megahits like “Chattanooga Choo Choo” and “Moonlight Era.” This band of 18, under the direction of vocalist Nick Hilscher, is sure to make for a memorable night of swing music. SUCASAMAGAZINE.COM



Vida Buena

Bella Electric Strings gives new meaning to classic rock


by Jessica Muncrief


See Bella Electric Strings live at the Spencer Theater on March 22 at 8 PM. Preshow dinner at 6 PM.

he melodious sounds of string instruments aren’t just for classical music connoisseurs. Just ask Nina DiGregorio, founder, arranger, and composer for Bella Electric Strings. Catch one of the electric string quartet’s performances, like their upcoming show at the Spencer Theater in Ruidoso, and you’re more likely to hear AC/DC, Michael Jackson, and Lady Gaga than Bach or Beethoven.

Where are you from, and where do you call home now? I’m originally from Lewiston, New York, but I’m based in Las Vegas now.

Spencer Theater 888-878-7875 Bella Electric Strings

How did the idea for Bella Electric Strings come about? Vegas has a pretty small musical community. I was working on my master’s degree and playing in Wayne Newton’s band, so that’s how I met a lot of people. There was a not-too-formal group of us that would get together and play gigs. It was just from talking with those people that we started working on forming an electric rock quartet band. The idea was conceived about eight years ago, but it wasn’t until about five years ago that we really started branding and turned it into the recognizable version of what it is today. Your website mentions that all the Bella girls are “highly trained in the art of improvisation and soloing.” How important is that to a Bella Electric Strings performance? Well, it depends on the type of music and the event. If we’re doing a corporate event, they usually pick the songs, but when we do a public show, like the upcoming show at the Spencer in New Mexico, we pick the set list, and we tend to be very heavy on solos. With songs like “Comfortably Numb” or “Kashmir,” you’re definitely going to hear some solos. We like to showcase all the girls with solos and improvisations as much as possible. What type of set list can the audience at the Spencer Theater expect? Our concept is classic rock, pop, and Top 40, so most of our set is recognizable to people. We want them to say, “Oh, listen to that, it’s a string quartet doing ‘Back in Black’ by AC/DC.” We do different versions of recognizable songs, and that’s really what sets us apart. At the Spencer we’ll for sure do some Led Zeppelin—“Kashmir” and “Black Dog.” You’ll hear Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.” We’ll play Chicago, AC/DC, The Who, and Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal.” We’ll also cover some more modern artists: Lady Gaga, CeeLo Green, and Black Eyed Peas. 80

SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

“We do different versions of recognizable songs, and that’s what really sets us apart.” —Nina DiGregorio You’ve worked with a lot of big names in the music industry—Beyoncé, Shakira, and Andrea Bocelli, to name just a few. What have been some of the more memorable experiences? We played for Muhammad Ali’s birthday party in Las Vegas, and I remember standing there with one of the other artists and we were there backing up Stevie Wonder. It was just one of those moments when you sit back and say, “Wow, that’s Stevie Wonder on stage, and I can’t believe we are here playing with him.” Plus, all the work we’ve done with David Foster has just been beyond our expectations of what we thought we would do.

Courtesy of Bella Entertainment Group

When did you start playing the violin? In fourth grade, they had us each pick an instrument to play. They gave us a sheet with all the instruments, and we had to pick our top three choices. When I turned mine into the school music director, he said, “Oh no, you’re much too small for those instruments. Why don’t you try the violin?” I’ve always kind of had a background in rock music. My dad would play Beatles songs on the guitar, and I would pick up the melody on the violin. As I got older I started transcribing solos from Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, and Terry Kath [of Chicago].

Winter 2014 Advertisers 84 Lumber..........................................................................52 150 Sunset - Nursery & Event Center....................9 A-1 Kitchens by Sierra....................................................7 American Living.............................................................26 Bank 34...............................................................................69 Bella Vista..........................................................................62 Blooming Paradise.........................................................17 Border Solar......................................................................48 C & D Southwest Lumber Corp.............................70 Casa Décor........................................................................53 Classic New Mexico Homes........................................3 Closet Factory..................................................................63 Collectibles........................................................................75 Connie Hines Interior Design.................................23 Copenhagen.....................................................................50 Decorating Den..............................................................48 Designs by L.L. Power & Assoc..................................72 Diemer Building & Remodeling..............................51 Edible Arrangements....................................................95 E.F. Building Materials..................................................75 El Paso Cosmetic Surgery Center...........................83 El Paso Home & Garden Show..................................6 El Paso Varicose Veins Laser Clinic.........................83 El Paso Wood Products...............................................71 Habitat for Humanity...................................................26 Homecrete...........................................................................1 HPS Audio & Video.................................................40 Johnny’s Septic.................................................................14 Las Cruces Awning Co...............................back cover Las Cruces Home & Garden Show...inside back cover

Lawyers Title....................................................................41 Magic Bistro......................................................................91 McCormick Architecture..............................................4 Millenium Homes........................................................60 Morrison Supply..............................................................21 Myriam’s Faux Finish Studio......................................70 Nuovo Cappetto.............................................................95 OSGO Furniture..............................................................5 Persian Rug Gallery.......................................................63 Piazza Escondida.............................................................61 Pointe Homes..................................................................43 Ponderosa Furniture.....................................................77 Premier Mortgage..........................................................75 RawsonBuildingSupply...............................................49 Quiñones Build & Design..........................................27 Santana Custom Homes..............................................15 Sherwood Fine Wood Designs.................................50 Silver Springs Pools & Spa...........................................11 Soundquest.......................................................................74 Southwestern Home Products.................................42 Spencer Theater.......................................................81, 82 Stenner Garden Pergolas.............................................14 Stonehouse Granite & Marble..................................41 Stout Hardwood Flooring..........................................63 SunwestWoodworks....................................................60 Team Juan Uribe.............................................................59 The Lodge Resort & Spa............................................87 The State Line..................................................................91 Torres Welding...............................................................40 Tropicana Homes............................................................73 Vanities...............................................................................81 Western Wholesale Appliances.................................33 Westside Lighting Gallery...........................................74 Winton Flair......................................inside front cover

7933 N Mesa • Suite N El Paso, TX 79932 Across from Sam’s Club 915.584.1183 • Mon-Sat: 10-6 MKTG74125_VANITI_M.indd 1

8/5/2013 3:28:32 PM






Text and photographs by Joe Burgess

luxury in the rough

Courtesy of Lajitas Golf Resort & Spa

Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa


andwiched between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park in Texas lies Lajitas Golf Resort & Spa— 27,000 acres of luxury and adventure that contribute to memorable lifetime experiences and the chance to get away from the ordinary.

tee up and tune out

Above, top: Big Bend National Park is a spectacular backdrop to the golf course at Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa. Above, bottom: Various Old West–style amenities, like the General Store, line the streets. 84

SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

Whether your goal is relaxation or action (or a little of both), Lajitas Resort has something for everyone. And let’s face it—if you’re making a trip to Lajitas, you’re probably planning to hit the links at least one day. Lajitas’ championship golf course, Black Jack’s Crossing (named after General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing, who chased Pancho Villa across the Rio Grande), was designed by pro golfer Lanny Wadkins. The beautiful par-72 semiprivate course features a 500-yard driving range with 25 practice stations, a 5,000-square-foot putting green, short game practice facility, and a state-of-the-art GPS system. The old Lajitas Trading Post, having survived Black Jack Pershing’s battles, has been repurposed as the Pro Shop and Longhorn Museum. The views from the golf course are spectacular, and if you’re wondering what to do after the 18th hole, keep in mind that Big Bend’s jagged peaks and perpendicular canyons are open for exploration—it just depends on how you’d like to try it: via foot, horseback, raft, four-wheeler, or automobile. The Rio Grande, bolstered by water from Mexico’s Rio Concho, has carved out

Right: The main lobby at Lajitas is rich with Old West décor and plush furnishings.

Courtesy of Lajitas Golf Resort & Spa

three major canyons in its 118mile trek around the national park, which can be rafted from nearby Terlingua when conditions allow. The equestrian center at Lajitas Resort offers trail rides for all levels of experience, as well as barrel racing and cattle cutting lessons and clinics. For a singularly Western experience, leave the comfort of your resort room and try an overnight campout at the Buena Suerte Mine and Ghost Town. Campers ride to the campsite on horseback and enjoy a night around the campfire and under the stars. Speaking of stars, did you know Big Bend is designated as one of the earth’s 10 International Dark Sky Parks for stargazing? The recognition speaks volumes about the sparsely populated region both north and south of the Mexican border, as well as the area’s clean, dry air. But while the population is small, the acreage is huge. Plenty of incredible, raw landscape at Lajitas encourages historical tours, bird watching, and fossil exploration.

Courtesy of Lajitas Golf Resort & Spa

Lajitas’ championship golf course, Black Jack’s Crossing, was designed by pro golfer Lanny Wadkins.




nature, naturally

At Lajitas, it’s hard not to look up. Big Bend National Park’s rugged terrain includes spectacular canyons and elevation changes from 1,800 feet along the river to 7,800-foot Emory Peak. From barren desert to wooded mountains, the topography provides habitat for hundreds of species of plants, birds, reptiles, and mammals—a treasure trove for the study of geology, paleontology, archeology, and biology. The renovated Barton Warnock Visitor Center for the Big Bend Ranch State Park is located on the east entrance to Lajitas. Housing an intriguing natural history interpretive museum and sitting on a twoacre desert garden, it is the result of an international partnership among the states of Texas, Coahuila, Scenic areas abound at Lajitas; stroll the grounds and enjoy the outdoors. Left, bottom: Choose from four different dining options at the resort and savor delicious Southwestern favorites like beef fajitas with all the fixings.

and Chihuahua. The center highlights the region’s 570 million years of geological history and the five biological landscapes of the Chihuahuan Desert.

meanwhile, back at the ranch

The dry desert climate (not to mention, an adventurous few days in the rugged outdoors) can wreak havoc with your skin. Take a day off from exploring to nourish body and spirit at the Agave Spa at Lajitas Resort, where a team of beauty professionals uses native and herbal ingredients for ultimate relaxation. The spa offers a variety of services including specialty massages, facials, and body treatments. Try The Ultimate Hideout, a 86

SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

Raw landscape at Lajitas encourages historical tours, bird watching, and more.

day-long experience that includes a special combination of Agave Spa’s services. Following your spa indulgence, lounge by the pool, enjoy a prickly pear margarita, and dive into a platter of sizzling fajitas. For a fun, one-of-akind experience, strap on a single-action Colt .45 and barge through barroom doors, Wild West– style, at the resort’s Cowboy Action Shoot. Or learn how to handle the double-barrel shotguns used by stagecoach drivers to fend off robbers in the 1880s. At the end of the day, retire to your individually appointed Lajitas Resort guest room or hacienda hideaway and watch the sun go down. Resort life is about taking it easy and indulging whenever the mood strikes, but sometimes the perfect balance also includes a bit of adventure and spectacular scenery. No other place allows the Big Bend region to be appreciated in its entirety like Lajitas Golf Resort & Spa.

resources Lajitas Golf Resort & Spa 432-424-5000 National Park Service



Su Cocina

eat, drink, and be merry! An amateur chef whips up a soul-warming dish for family and friends in his fabulous kitchen by John Vollertsen


Photographs by Bill Faulkner

f a man’s home is his castle, and he happens to be a great cook, does that make him king in the kitchen? For Las Cruces residents Scot and Kim Martin, having a hand in the design and construction of their beautiful, Tuscan-inspired home ensured they got precisely what they wanted, including a kitchen and dining area fit for a foodie. The handsome residence is off the main grid in the trendy community of Picacho Hills. Amid the serene setting, spectacular views of the Organ Mountains rise majestically to the east of the Martin property, just over the pool. In building their dream castle—er, home—the Martins’ goals for their kitchen were threefold: It needed to reflect Scot’s passion for cooking, be user-friendly and comfortable for their two children, and encourage their love of entertaining. A former cooking student of mine, Scot, a plastic surgeon, invited me to his home on a beautiful, sunny afternoon to hang out with the family in that great kitchen. I saw immediately that their dream home was fully realized. It’s a beauty. A small vestibule leads from the front door into the main living area with a soaring ceiling and open kitchen, where a high counter and comfy bar stools face the cooking area. The setting is not unlike the set of a fancy TV cooking show, with a stove by Viking, Sub-Zero fridge, large wine cooler, and a warming oven Scot uses to proof dough for the outdoor pizza oven. Interior Designer Connie Hines stopped by to join us and explain her contributions to the Martins’ home. “I was originally


SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

contracted to help Kim design the powder room and give it some needed personality, but we soon discovered we were on the same page as far as taste,” says Hines. “Together we planned a décor with a blend of personal styles and a variety of old world Tuscan and contemporary touches. We loved mixing motifs like the zebra settee in the dining room, the wooden columns from India by the kitchen, and the painted mural-like finish on the ceiling above the dining table. The harlequin elements here and there by MacKenzie-Childs add to the fun.” A fire glowed in a raised fireplace between the kitchen and dining area, and I was immediately struck with the heady scent of red chile from a large pot bubbling on the stove. Seems Scot had been prepping all morning. “Chef, I can’t wait for you to try this,” he said. “It’s my own recipe for red chile posole.” Kim is a dentist and admits to being a bit of a damsel in distress when it comes to cooking, but she makes a mean PB&J (daughter Macy, 9, and son Jackson, 12, agree). And she’s the perfect hostess, an important role to complement any home chef worth

The Martins had three goals for their kitchen: It needed to reflect Scot’s passion for cooking, be user-friendly and comfortable for their two children, and encourage their love of entertaining.

With the help of interior designer Connie Hines, the Martins built a kitchen fit for a chef.

his salt. Flowers decorated the counters of the airy kitchen, and a trio of condiments—limes, cilantro, and green chile—was nicely displayed and ready to top off our meal. As Scot finished the feast, he described how the plans for the house came about. “We were halfway through construction when I felt the need to become more involved with getting the project finished,” says Scot. “Kim and I agreed on many facets of the design but butted heads on a few features, especially the large hood over the stove. She finally gave in.” Kim chuckles, “Well I sort of gave in, but we both agreed we wanted a house that was casual, eclectic, with good energy, good chi, good flow, and not a cookie-cutter house. Scot got his hood and man cave, I got my lady cave, and the kids got a great playroom.” Scot adds, “Cooking is really a passion for me. The outdoor area was also very important; it needed to be functional and fun and easy to cook out by the pool.” The impressive outdoor cooking area includes a pizza oven built by Nash Patio & Garden, and a Big Green Egg barbecue behind the wet bar. There’s a stainless prep table near the oven, and fresh herb gardens produce basil, rosemary, sage, and oregano. Back in the kitchen, our hearty posole stew was ready, and it was perfect for warming up on a cool day. Scot served it with a luscious Scout’s Honor red wine from Napa Valley—smart. The kids love their Dad’s cooking, and so did I. I gave Scot the stamp of approval he was yearning for, but really didn’t need. Spending an afternoon with newfound friends in a home they are excited to share is the best part of my job. Good food, good wine, good friends, and good life. It’s like having the keys to the kingdom.

Chef Johnny Vee and Scot Martin put the finishing touches on a bowl of homemade posole. Opposite: Enjoying Scot’s meals is a family affair for wife Kim and their children, Macy and Jackson.



Chef Johnny Vee warms corn tortillas over the Martins’ Viking stove.

Scot Martin’s Famous Posole Serves 12 Posole: 1 pound frozen posole (also called nixtamal) 1 quart homemade stock (see below)

A trio of condiments—limes, cilantro, and green chile—was nicely displayed and ready to top off our meal.

Homemade stock: 6 quarts cold water 4 pounds pork bones 3 pounds chicken wings 1 onion 1/2 head of garlic 1 teaspoon peppercorns 1 bay leaf Red chile sauce: 12 to 15 dried red chiles (stems and seeds removed) 1 head of garlic 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon crushed oregano 3 cups homemade stock 1 6-pound pork butt, fat trimmed, cut into bite-sized pieces 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil 1 onion, finely diced Condiments for the table: 3 limes, sliced into wedges 1/2 head of cabbage, sliced thin 3 to 4 radishes, sliced thin 1/2 onion, finely diced Crushed red pepper Fresh cilantro leaves After hours of simmering, the posole takes on a rich, red color (above, right). Scot serves his posole with green chile, limes, and cilantro; guests customize their own bowls (left).


SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

Start by making the stock. Put the pork bones and chicken in a large stockpot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a very slow simmer. Skim stock frequently. After one hour, add the rest of the ingredients and make sure everything is covered with water. Simmer for about 4 to 6 hours, skimming the surface of the stock occasionally and adding water as needed to keep everything submerged. Strain stock though a fine mesh strainer to use immediately, or chill for later.   Next, put the posole in a large pot and cover with 1 quart of stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until the posole is soft but not completely done (about 2 hours, though dried posole may take longer).   While the stock and posole are simmering, make the red chile sauce. Cut a whole head of garlic in half. Rub both halves all over with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap both halves together with foil and place into a 400-degree oven for one hour. Remove from oven and squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins and into a blender. Toast the red chiles in a dry skillet for about 1 to 2 minutes over medium heat. Stay close by, as they will scorch very fast, and that will make your sauce bitter. Cover the chiles with water and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and steep, covered, for about 30 minutes. Add the softened red chiles to the blender along with the salt, cumin, oregano, and stock. Blend on high until the sauce is smooth (add more stock if needed). Pass red chile sauce through fine mesh strainer and set aside.   Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and add vegetable oil. Season the pork pieces with salt and pepper. Working in batches, brown pork pieces on all sides until nicely browned. Remove and set aside. In the same pot, add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the posole and its cooking liquid to the pot, along with 3 to 4 cups of red chile sauce to taste. Add the pork and bring to a gentle simmer. Season with salt and pepper. The posole is ready when the pork is nice and tender and the liquid has thickened—about 2 more hours. Set out the condiments and allow guests to customize their own bowls.



Su Cocina

a labor of love Chef Jason Hunt shares the kitchen with his daughter and simplifies entertaining for the rest of us by Danielle Urbina


Photographs by Jesse Ramirez

f you’re eager to please, then entertaining at home is one of those golden opportunities to show off your skills in the kitchen. But if you aren’t quite the host with the most, Jason Hunt, chef and owner of Red Mountain Bistro in El Paso, has a few simple steps to make entertaining easy and headache-free. Hunt started out as a dishwasher at a Red Lobster in College Station and worked his way up the ladder of the restaurant business. While attending culinary school in Austin, he worked at several restaurants including Siena Ristorante Toscana, a Tuscan restaurant in the live music capital. It was where Hunt learned some of his favorite cooking techniques. “I really kind of developed a core for roasting and grilling and wood,” he says. “I also picked up some of the old-school techniques like making your own pasta and making your own bread, because we did all that there.” After marrying his wife, Taryn, the couple moved to Vermont, where Hunt attended the New England Culinary Institute. He later interned at The Little Nell hotel in Aspen. “I spent a year up there and it was insane—I mean it was a five-star, five-diamond hotel, and I learned more there than I did in most jobs,” Hunt recalls.

Above: Chef Hunt watches Larkin help make Red Mountain bruschetta. Right: Roasted potatoes, grilled asparagus, and oven-roasted chicken round out the Valentine's Day menu. 92

SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

Floral arrangements by Fiori Events and Designs and décor by Table Occasions help showcase the meal. Below: Chef Hunt's wife Taryn with a colorful mixed green salad with balsamic vinaigrette.

Whether you’re planning a dinner party for a small group or catering to hundreds, Hunt’s number one rule is to never get nervous.

Though working in different restaurants had its advantages, Hunt’s ultimate goal was to open his own. Red Mountain Bistro debuted in El Paso in August of 2012. The restaurant’s menu fuses modest technique with vibrant flavors. “I cook very simplistic; I don’t add a whole bunch of stuff. I’m not that much into having many procedures,” says Hunt. “I’m very much about freshness, the product, bringing out the natural flavors, and using things that I like.” He uses these same strategies in his personal cooking as well, and is passing them along to his 9-year-old daughter Larkin, an eager sidekick in their kitchen at home. At just two-and-a-half years old, Larkin began to show signs of creativity in the kitchen. While Hunt was making his mother-in-law’s favorite salad—mixed greens with breaded goat cheese—he noticed a medallion of cheese that was breaded, sitting on the counter. He knew it wasn’t the work of his own hands; it was Larkin. “I was looking around, and Larkin said she did it. She could barely talk!” says Hunt. “I knew at that point that she was going to have an interest.” Larkin is known around the house for excellent smoothies and whipped cream (which she whips by hand), but she also has a creative culinary vision only the industry’s best possess. Hunt says it’s normal for his daughter to regularly bounce off the couch and hit the kitchen to make something she’s thought up. “She thinks of these things, then goes SUCASAMAGAZINE.COM


To Hunt, recipes are merely guidelines; changing just one ingredient makes a dish your own.

Above: Chef Hunt and Larkin carefully place a tray of bruschetta into the oven in their kitchen at home. to execute it. It’s like second nature for her,” he says. Larkin’s fearlessness in the kitchen is the key to entertaining at home, says Hunt. Whether you’re planning a dinner party for a small group or catering to hundreds, Hunt’s number one rule is to never get nervous. “It’s so easy to get really anxious when you’re about to have a bunch of people over, and they’re going to be eating your food,” he says. “I always tell people not to panic and to enjoy it, because cooking is about the love that you put into it.” His second tip: Change up your recipes to put a new twist on a classic dish. To Hunt, recipes are merely guidelines; changing just one ingredient makes a dish your own. He also advises hosts to cook with spices and ingredients that they’re already comfortable with. “If you’re at home using recipes and, say, perhaps you don’t have a spice [that’s in the recipe], use something that you do like,” says Hunt. But, he warns, “Don’t cook something that you’ve never done before for a dinner party.” Chef Hunt created a special Valentine’s Day menu for Su Casa, featuring items easily cooked ahead of time, which makes it easier to entertain. “Obviously, when you’re entertaining you don’t want to spend the whole time in the kitchen,” he says. “So what I tried to do was create something that could be done ahead of time.” The mouthwatering dishes include Red Mountain bruschetta; a mixed green salad with a balsamic vinaigrette; oven-roasted chicken with a pomegranate sauce; rosemary- and garlic-roasted potatoes; and grilled asparagus. But of course, no Valentine’s Day dinner would be complete without delectable chocolate-covered strawberries accompanied by a trio of whipped creams, á la Larkin. If it’s love that gives food that extra-special quality, then there’s no question as to why the food coming from the Hunt kitchen is so tasty: The father-daughter duo shares a passion for cooking and entertaining that’s obvious to anyone who watches them together. It’s a bond that makes entertaining at home that much better for Hunt. “It’s fun when you can go in somewhere with someone and create and make something that does nothing but create smiles and happiness and laughter,” he says. “But when you can do it with your daughter, it’s just so much more special.” Log on to for recipes and details on Jason Hunt’s Valentine’s Day–themed menu. 94

SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

resources Red Mountain Bistro 915-585-6940 Flowers Fiori Events and Designs Lynn McPhater 915-842-9498 Table DĂŠcor Table Occasions Chia Stewart 915-845-4800

Open Daily for Lunch & Dinner Sunday Brunch 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM Full Bar Service Happy Hour Daily Entertainment Fri. - Sat. Nights Private Dining Above: A vibrant red table runner and table dĂŠcor by Table Occasions accent the Hunts' formal dining room. Chef Hunt prides himself on using fresh, quality ingredients like the plump, roasted tomatoes in his mouthwatering bruschetta (opposite).

2711 N. Stanton El Paso, Texas 915-533-0700



Dream On

room with a view Bill Faulkner

El Paso residents Tiffany and Keith Johnson have an enviable view from their home in the foothills of the Franklin Mountains. They also have a spectacular outdoor area, one that’s hard to simply put aside when the weather gets cooler. Working with designer Lynda Power of Designs by LL Power, the Johnsons amped up their formal great room, blending its rich décor against the collapsible wall leading to the pool and outdoor living space so they could enjoy their views year-round. Power designed the custom chairs, animal print carpet, and draperies, all of which pair beautifully with the room’s iron elements. Sergio Villareal of A-1 Kitchens created the striking wood frame around the fireplace and the wall leading to the patio. An ornate chandelier from El Paso Winnelson and an old world wall finish by Thomas Mendoza of Bella Fina provide the sumptuous finishing touches to the warm and comfortable retreat—the perfect place for the family to relax and enjoy the views, both inside and out. Designs by LL Power, 915-590-7373, 96

SU C A S A W I NTER 2014

Su Casa El Paso & Southern New Mexico Winter 2014 Digital Edition  

Su Casa El Paso & Southern New Mexico Winter 2014 Digital Edition

Su Casa El Paso & Southern New Mexico Winter 2014 Digital Edition  

Su Casa El Paso & Southern New Mexico Winter 2014 Digital Edition