One might expect that, for designers creating a custom compound in the hills north of Santa Fe, superior style and finishes would outstrip any other concern. But for Gabriel and Litsa Folse, the pair behind this sophisticated residence and guesthouse on the site of a circa-1947 home, environmental stewardship and responsibility shared the spotlight.
Santa Fe, New Mexico | Nancy Lehrer & Tara Earley, Sotheby’s International Realty – Santa Fe – 318 Grant Avenue
The residence earned an impressive 43 HERS rating, and while it received local awards for best craftsmanship and kitchen design, it was also lauded for its energy efficiency. Every system exemplifies state-of-the-art technology and ecological sensitivity, from the 4.5-kilowatt photovoltaic solar panel system to low-flow fixtures from Brizo, Newport Brass, Grohe, and Hansgrohe. Water was central to the conservation elements, with extensive rain harvesting systems and drip irrigation maintaining the meticulous xeriscaping, which incorporates feathergrass, lavender, Russian sage, pampas grass, and cacti. Water is also an integral part of the ambience, with three recirculating fountains creating virtually symphonic sounds at various spots inside and out.
Style and convenience, of course, were far from overlooked. The sleek light-flooded interiors feature modern nods to traditional regional design elements—wide-plank white oak and Mexican travertine floors; cream-hued diamond plaster walls with a suede-like finish; sturdy rough-sawn ceiling beams; carved doors of mesquite, oak, and knotty alder; tasteful use of natural stone; Rocky Mountain and vintage hardware; and 28 natural-glow-providing skylights. Luxurious modern amenities include a Navien continuous hot water system, a Sonos sound system, and Crestron lighting.
A subtle, naturally bright palette pervades the open-plan living spaces, which are grand but not vast and both chic and inviting. Flowing effortlessly to a dining area and a chef’s kitchen, the great room is walled on two sides by French doors that give way to a wraparound portal, which enjoys the tranquil sounds of a woodland-style stream and waterfall. The kitchen will please every epicurean and entertainer with its custom cabinets, generous adjoining butler’s pantry, wine storage, and appliances from Wolf, Sub-Zero, ASKO, and Fisher & Paykel. A nine-foot pass-through window links with the alfresco kitchen on the portal just outside the door.
Beyond are a roomy laundry area, a thoughtfully outfitted mudroom, the attached two-car garage, and a serene fitness space and spa with a sauna and a three-quarter bath. The handsome office or den is suited for quiet contemplation. At the heart of the home is a skylit courtyard atrium with a water feature built into an antique French olive pot.
Graceful arches mark the transitions from room to room and from public spaces to private wings. The two guest suites are virtual master suites in their own right, each with its own sitting area and impeccably appointed spa-inspired bath. The secluded master suite is a grand getaway, including a sitting room, an expansive walk-in closet, and a bath with his and her vanities, dual water closets, a soaking tub beside a fireplace, and a spacious skylit shower. Just outside are steps to the rooftop observation deck that offers a full panorama of Santa Fe’s rooftops, majestic mountains, and dramatic sunsets.
On the other side of a dramatic porte cochère, the estate’s casita offers wonderful versatility, with a primary interior space that includes a bath, a wet bar, and refined finishes and fixtures on par with those in the main residence. It currently serves as stylish guest quarters but could easily be converted into a top-tier media room or art studio. A three-car garage and a potting shed adjoin.
The 1.7 wooded acres are gated and thoroughly walled and fenced for privacy and security. Now lined with an eye-catching gabion wall, an original arroyo runs through a portion of the property, respectful of the water that is so precious in this place and symbolic of the creators’ dedication to preserving it.