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2011 - Volume 2 Issue 1
Casas Bonitas
Feature Home
Article: Joe Burgess
Photos: Bill Faulkner
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A downturn in the economy occasionally leaves a construction project only partially complete. The property may have an attractive price tag, but close scrutiny can reveal the need for replacing some of the completed work and perhaps redesigning the final outcome. Such a property was located on the west side of the Franklin Mountains with an excellent view of the Rio Grande valley.


Design & Build
Anne Steele
Custom Interiors

Daws Home Furnishings

Kitchen Fixtures
& Range Hood

Plaster Queen (Juárez)

Daws Home Furnishings

Q Cabinets


The Design Center
at Floor Concepts

Ferguson Bath, Kitchen
& Lighting Gallery

Nash Patio & Garden

Home Theater
Optoma Technology

El Paso Wood Products

Wrought Iron
McDonald Iron Works

Window Concepts
The home was 30 percent complete by the previous owner, but had sat dormant for about two years. In addition to replacing some of the structural elements that may have been compromised while it sat empty, the new owners felt some of the completed features were overdone. With close scrutiny by Designer/Builder Anne Steele, the construction process was therefore backed up about 10 percent, which provided the opportunity to change some of the features and the intent of certain rooms. Since insulation had not yet been installed, care was taken to provide a well-insulated structure that would minimize energy consumption.

One of the rooms that was transformed could be classified as a major revision. The original owners had installed a large indoor pool that didn’t fit the lifestyle of the new owners. It was covered over and converted into a theater room and bar on one end that opened up onto a cozy outdoor patio and fireplace on the other. With the fireplace on one side of the patio and a ceiling heater on the other, the patio area remains reasonably comfortable year round. A jacuzzi overflows into a small outdoor pool and waterfall feature, while another waterfall flows into a Koi pond, creating a lush backyard setting overlooking the city.

A “Mediterranean look” was the direction of the original homeowners, and the project concluded with a bit more of a “Southwest flair.” A balcony was added to the second floor level that overlooks the entry patio, and a generous amount of brick was added to the front structure, including a mammoth barrel ceiling serving as a front entry cover. The owners are utilizing the front north-facing patio during the heat of summer for entertaining and as an overflow area for large gatherings. Anne Steele, who shaped the final architectural and interior design, was also overseeing the second-stage construction. “We used full-sized brick to give the home a more permanent architectural appearance, instead of the dated look that often occurs with veneers and fake materials.”

Inside the house, numerous arches, pillars, groin-vault and otherwise sculptured ceilings were removed by the new owners. “Those that remain,” Anne relates, “make a statement. Before, it was overwhelmingly busy.” The sculptured ceiling over the formal dining area was kept and given an additional artistic touch by Las Cruces muralist, Carla Perry.

Wooden beams, oak flooring and heavy custom doors were milled, beveled and fabricated locally, adding a rich, warm atmosphere. Sixteen-inch travertine floor tiles were used in the kitchen and dining areas.

The kitchen is the favorite room of the woman-of-the-house, with its two 30-inch stoves, two dishwashers, all by Viking, and a Miele coffee machine. For the scenic tile backsplash, the Designer/Builder said she walked all over Barcelona to find just the right one…well, that’s the story that she continues to tell, and the scene certainly complements the spacious kitchen. A full-brick barrel ceiling arches over the kitchen.

The theater room is obviously the favorite of the man-of-the-house. The fiberoptics utilized in the Optoma system deliver a picture to the large movie screen as detailed as any HD television. The control system allows the “big game” to be viewed or heard simultaneously throughout the house and on the back patio.

The office is centered on the second floor with one side open and overlooking the main stairway with its dark-stained hardwood and ironwork. The opposite side is a curved wall with built-in bookshelves and display cabinets and windows overlooking the backyard features. With dark wood paneling and shelves, a built-in flat screen television and large Macintosh monitors, the space takes on the look of a Silicon Valley corporate office.

From the master bedroom, a balcony traverses the full length of the house, overlooking the backyard and the entire upper Rio Grande valley. From a hallway that circles behind the bedroom fireplace, large, handcrafted sliding wood doors serve as the dividers between the bedroom and the bathroom. A spacious closet area (a converted former bedroom) includes a large island and cabinets that facilitate suitcase packing for frequent travelers.

The completed home has served the new owners as they had hoped, but there were certainly challenges along the way and a lot of heavy decision making to achieve the intended functionality. ///
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