This classic Santa Fe, New Mexico style residence was designed by architect Charles Ash, who is also an artist. Ash was inspired by the adobe architecture of the pueblos with its warm tones and palette of smooth plaster, stone and wood.
The 4,356 square foot home has three bedrooms, three baths, a study, a Great Room, a kitchen and a den. Every bit of space within and outside of the house embodies the Santa Fe style with its beautifully layered details, soft, rounded forms and natural materials. Not all of Ash's designs are in this style. He explains, "It depends on the circumstances and the client's wishes. In this case, the classic Santa Fe style is what was needed."
There is a central courtyard with a front entrance that leads directly into the main living space, or the Great Room. The almost u-shaped floor plan was developed to fit an unusually shaped parcel of land, but Ash used this to the home's advantage. Ash explains, "The plan is not the typical pueblo style. The curved Great Room came about the from my client's wish to see the spectacular views of the Sangre De Cristo mountains from every room and to fit a very difficult lot."
In the Great Room there is a uniquely shaped fireplace that has a flagstone mantel and polished gypsum plaster. Within the floor-to-ceiling structure that houses the fireplace, there is a space directly to the left that holds a t.v./media cabinet. The fireplace divides the dining area from the living room area, and adds aesthetic value and functionality as well.
There are several fireplaces throughout the house, including the kitchen which has a kiva fireplace, which is a small beehive-shaped fireplace that is common to southwestern design.
The master bedroom has a fireplace with a banco, which is an adobe bench covered in plaster. A lighted sculpture nicho, or nook in the wall, is above the fireplace and above that is a latilla ceiling and clerestory windows that gently bring light into the space. Vigas, or round wooden beams run across the ceiling. There is a stone floor and French doors that lead out to a private portal. The plaster walls in the master bedroom, and throughout the house, are the soft orange/peach color of adobe and bring so much warmth to the home, complementing the softness of the rounded forms in every room.
Wood is one of the main materials used in this home. Ash explained, "The rectangular beams are hem fir, the vigas (round beams) are ponderosa pine, the exposed decking at the ceiling is aspen and fir, and the exposed lintels are fir."
Referring to architectural elements in Santa Fe, NM almost requires one to learn a new vocabulary, with words like banco, nicho and vigas, but the words symbolize the strong connection between the architecture and the location with its distinctive landscape, climate and incredibly rich history.
Ash is a watercolor artist who has been living in Santa Fe for the past thirty years. He explains, "My watercolors range from landscapes that express the beauty and quiet enjoyment of the Southwest to figurative works that express a dynamic quality."
When asked how being an artist affects or enhances his work as an architect, Ash answered, "I allow myself to look at each project through painter's eyes while keeping in mind the function.This project was the most like my architectural watercolors, exaggerating the curves, forms and massing, using a color palette of natural materials. I enjoy this kind of design when appropriate, but I wouldn't want to do it all the time However, the materials, style and details in this residence are drawn from my watercolors."