A dash of personal vision spices up these tasty kitchens.

This article first appeared in Su Casa North Summer 2015

clever kitchens
Designed not just for cooking, but for living

an easy place to be

As Stewart and Blair Anderson elaborated on the design of their Santa Fe home and kitchen over a period of three years, their priorities included a minimalist, earth-friendly design where family would be welcome.

“We spend a lot of time in the kitchen,” says Blair. “I wanted to create a sense of place for my children.”

Working with renowned architect Alfred von Bachmayr, who utilized natural materials in his homes, the couple incorporated wood elements such as Douglas fir beams and a long farmhouse dining table, as well as long banks of windows to create a feeling of seamless transition from the outdoors. Sadly, von Bachmayr passed away just after construction began. LEED-accredited builders Palo Santo Designs, LLC, stepped in to complete the 2,800-square-foot passive solar, high-performance home, currently pending Build Green New Mexico certification.

“I couldn’t imagine a bigger challenge than having the architect pass away,” says Mark Giorgetti, one of Palo Santo Designs’ principals. “It was an emotional blow to the owners and to us, as he was also a friend of ours.”
The Andersons’ modern farmhouse kitchen is a functional gallery of von Bachmayr’s guiding principles, including features such as graywater reuse in landscaping, low-VOC and formaldehyde-free materials, energy-efficient windows and doors, LED lighting, and Energy Star appliances.

Besides the kitchen’s light footprint, Anderson loves the open shelving. Not only is it incentive to keep the kitchen well organized, it’s a lovely way to showcase colorful dishes and glassware and nature’s bounty of grains and legumes. The nearly invisible, doorless pantry offers additional counter space as well as storage. A gleaming white subway tile backsplash runs behind the dark green soapstone countertops fabricated by Sherpa Stone, while a simple white farmhouse sink placed beneath a picture window suggests a contemporary country comfort.

“The kitchen is open and welcoming. It smells good and feels warm. It’s a place my children can learn where food comes from and see it being made,” Blair says. “It’s very fluid—an easy place to be.”

Palo Santo Designs, LLC,

from galley to gallery

Artists Tom Blackmon and Nancy Graham approached the remodel of their Santa Fe home’s second, smaller kitchen with the same creative energy Graham infuses into her watercolors and that Blackmon has employed in his 40 years as a creative art director and restorer of antiques. Their kitchen was simply destined to become an art project.

Their challenge: how to convert an impossibly tiny 3-by-4 feet of prep and cooking space into the home’s main kitchen. “If you were in the kitchen and opened the refrigerator door, you were hopelessly trapped in there,” quips Blackmon.

The couple decided to annex 25 inches from a wide stairwell adjacent to the kitchen and hired Prull Custom Builders to transform the architecture. Under the supervision of Robert Hollinger, Prull also installed air conditioning, ductwork, and new utility connections, all the while collaborating on Blackmon’s artistic vision.

“This project had a lot of artistic detail to get right in the end,” Hollinger recalls. “The plaster work over the hood had to be reworked several times. We spent extra time getting the tile details and carved posts worked out, too.”
The hard-to-miss central feature in the kitchen is the coveted Provence Blue La Cornue range, imported from France through Ferguson. The range’s charming design informed other style choices, such the raku tile from Statements in Tile/Lighting/Kitchen/Flooring in the countertop backsplash; the Indian Parana granite countertops, sourced from Arizona Tile and installed by Counter Intelligence; and the striking (pun intended) hammered copper sink and stove backsplash, to which Blackmon applied a high-temperature finish to prevent oxidation due to air or heat.

Knowing this artistic endeavor had the potential to become a masterpiece, Blackmon spent hundreds of hours on the new spaces, from designing the kitchen and the cabinetry to painting, glazing, and finishing the carved wooden posts from Mexico, and dozens more custom details. The result is a masterful meeting of art and architecture, a highly functional showpiece that wows every visitor to the home.

Prull Custom Builders,

downsizing to luxury

When Cale and Filly Reeder decided to return to their New Mexican roots after 25 years in northern California, they downsized considerably in square footage—and yet gained space where they use it the most: the kitchen. The family spent most of their time in their former home cramped together in a kitchen nook, Cale recalls. So from the moment he walked into the open floor plan of The Legends at High Desert in Albuquerque, Cale knew: “Yep, this is it!”

“The design of the home lends itself to entertaining, and the kitchen is the most important part,” says Scott Ashcraft of Las Ventanas Homes, which is currently building at The Legends. “The open transition between kitchen, dining room, and living room creates a gathering space with a really great feel.”

“In our last house there were rooms we never used,” Cale recalls. “The thing I love about this home is that the kitchen, dining room, and living room are all in one. I can be cooking while my daughter is in the dining room on her laptop and my wife is on the couch watching a show. I’m with them, spending time together.”

The center island, with its white Radianz quartz countertop, has a 36-inch-deep elevated breakfast bar that creates a natural gathering spot. An intriguing tile backsplash, smoke gray cabinetry by Albuquerque Cabinet Brokers, wood-look porcelain floor tile from Floorscapes, and high-end Bosch appliances enhance the contemporary design that’s bathed in light from windows and skylights—another of the Reeders’ favorite features of the kitchen.

“Our designer asked what I wanted to do with all these windows,” Cale recalls. After years of living with shades drawn in northern California, he quickly assessed the privacy of The Legends layout and replied with certainty, “Absolutely nothing. I want all this natural light coming in.”

All things considered, this was one smart move.

Las Ventanas Homes,

an expanded view

Two years after remodeling four bathrooms, Rod and Cathy Gamble finally felt ready to embark on the next phase of home improvement.

“We had a tiny kitchen in sort of a large house,” says Cathy. Having already worked with Greg and Miriam Joseph of Joseph Custom Homes, the certified green and aging-in-place builders who had transformed their bathrooms, the Gambles called them in again to brainstorm a better and more functional kitchen. “We explored the question, ‘What would happen if . . . .?’” Cathy recalls. What happened was winning Best Kitchen in the Fall 2014 Albuquerque Homes of Enchantment Parade, Home Remodeling Category.

Challenges included an oddly scaled and seldom-used breakfast nook and dining room, an intrusive wall, and a ceiling half the height of the 16-foot ceiling of the great room. It was apparent that nothing short of a kitchen apocalypse was imminent.

“They went down to the concrete, removed the roof, and ripped out walls,” says Rod.

To remedy one of the main issues—the kitchen being oriented in exactly the wrong direction—Joseph Custom Homes replaced 16 feet of wall with pocket sliding glass doors from Piñon Window & Door and constructed a 20-by-24-foot raised patio with tile from Arizona Tile to match the indoors. Now the Gambles have an incredible view of the seventh tee box of the Four Hills Golf Course. “And that,” says Miriam Joseph, ASID, “completely changed the way they live in their home.”

“Indoor/outdoor living in good weather and having the outdoors clearly visible in winter is easily my favorite feature of the new kitchen,” Rod says. Cathy loves the gigantic Coliseum granite–topped kitchen island. “Ten people can gather around it!” she marvels. As for the breakfast nook, these days it gets more use as a wet bar, complete with a whimsical, S-shaped copper sink.

“Home is an oasis,” says Rod. “It’s like living in a resort.”

Joseph Custom Homes,