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For The Home

Territorial Renovation

Author: Gussie Fauntleroy
Issue: January, 2014, Page 90
Photo by Michael Woodall

A pair of wood gates with a cross motif opens to the front courtyard of this classic New Mexico Territorial-style home. The landscape was thoughtfully designed to incorporate a water-saving approach.



A Sensitive Renovation and New Interiors Bring a Historic Santa Fe Home Into the 21st Century

It has all the features of an award-winning home—a grand estate exquisitely restored to its historic New Mexico Territorial-style beauty, yet with 21st-century amenities and energy efficiency. And, for a Washington, D.C.-based couple who vacationed with their children in Santa Fe for decades, the 6,000-square-foot hilltop home has the added benefit of being the perfect gathering spot for family and friends from both coasts.

When it was built circa 1900, the residence had all the charm and some of the drawbacks of regional architecture of the time. Thick adobe walls, deep windowsills, corner fireplaces, and ceilings covered with vigas—all epitomize the warmth and close-to-the-earth feeling of historic Santa Fe style. The downsides—traditionally dark, small rooms and the dilapidation of an old, unrestored house—were all beautifully rectified when Woods Design Builders of Santa Fe bought the property and performed a complete renovation and remodel in 2007.

The structure was gutted and sensitively reworked under the knowledgeable expertise of Sharon Woods, who also serves on the Santa Fe Historic Design Review Board. The kitchen was expanded and updated, and a new living room, master suite and portal were added to match the home’s historic character and grace. With all new flooring, finishes, cabinetry, windows and doors, the changes created an open, flowing interior flooded with natural light and views from every room.

Just before the current homeowners discovered the house and fell in love with it, Woods entered it in the annual Santa Fe Area Homebuilders’ Parade of Homes competition, where the firm’s restoration earned several top awards, including ones for craftsmanship and best floor plan.

The light-filled kitchen is embellished with art, including paintings by Santa Fe artist Carol Anthony flanking the stove, and a collection of baskets perched atop custom cabinetry.
After purchasing the home, the couple brought Woods back to expand the guesthouse and add a separate office and pool house. Then they called on Violante & Rochford Interiors to achieve a serene, classic look—a comfortable, handsomely understated Southwest-meets-East-Coast feeling—yet with kid-friendly qualities that make a houseful of grandchildren an unmitigated joy.

For the homeowners, the project was a pleasurable educational process. Under the guidance of Michael Violante and Paul Rochford, the couple greatly increased their understanding of Santa Fe’s history and its rich mix of Native American, Spanish Colonial, and distinctly New Mexican cultures and art, all of which informed their choices in furnishings and interior design. Since the Santa Fe aesthetic has always been characterized by a sophisticated, eclectic blend, the husband’s British roots, the couple’s world travels and longtime East Coast orientation, plus the furniture and artwork they brought with them, fit right in. “They are seasoned art collectors, but they allowed us to help curate their collection,” Violante notes.

Now, when the couple’s three grown children and seven grandchildren gather in Santa Fe, they revel in outdoor living. Among favorite activities: cooking and dining on the portal, soaking up the views, hiking, fishing, skiing and horseback riding—all of which echo the family’s “very fond memories” of vacations past. As the wife enthusiastically puts it, “There is no place like Santa Fe.”

A sense of architectural symmetry was retained during renovation, as evidenced in the living room. Here, traditional Navajo Chief’s blankets stand out against light-colored chair backs. Centered over the fireplace mantel, a painting by Taos artist Emil Bisttram reflects the home’s strong connection with New Mexico’s history and culture.

Favorite furnishings from the homeowners’ D.C. residence blend beautifully with Native American, Spanish Colonial and Euro-American influences, as seen in the foyer.
Dining room seating combines chairs crafted in New Mexico with a late-1800s French bench. The large painting is by renowned Crow Indian artist Kevin Red Star. The design of the artisan-crafted punched-tin chandelier was a collaboration between the homeowners and the interior designers.


Quintessential northern New Mexico architectural elements—thick adobe walls, a corner kiva fireplace, carved wooden doors and viga and latilla ceilings­—are showcased in this cozy sitting room off the master suite. Updating the space and making it even more appealing are a generous skylight and hand-plastered walls with a waxed finish.

Photos - Clock-wise from top left: A New England poster bed takes center stage in the master bedroom, where a soothing neutral palette and soft textures create a peaceful haven. • With its lovely garden and centerpiece pool, the detached guest house is a prime setting for family gatherings. • Visiting grandchildren draw straws to see who gets to sleep in the room’s draped “nanny nook,” which was built into a wall when the guesthouse was expanded. • Done up in kid-friendly colors, the children’s room in the guesthouse sports custom-crafted beds and windows covered with red shutters

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