Inspired Santa Fe Living
Nestled in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains
Winter has arrived in the high desert of northern New Mexico and a fresh blanket of snow covers the hibernating earth. As the sun sinks below the Jemez Mountains, ribbons of orange, yellow, pink, and blue light up the heavens then slowly fade, giving way to a brilliant canopy of stars.
“Look at that sky,” says Tom Knudsen. “No wonder Santa Fe is home to so many artists — it’s impossible not to be inspired by the hues, the vistas, and views.” Like many Santa Fe residents, Tom and Cindy Knudsen are relative newcomers to northern New Mexico. Tired of the urban rat race and eager to make a fresh start, the couple decided to take advantage of the mild, four season climate. “We love to ski, hike, bike, and fly-fish — we can do all of that here without driving for hours,” says Tom. “Not only that,” adds Cindy, “but we’re just minutes away from world-class cultural amenities like the performing arts, galleries, and fine restaurants.” Santa Fe, the couple agrees, is the perfect place to live.
Finding the perfect home, however, turned out to be more of a challenge. Renowned for its pueblo-style architecture, the City Different features many buildings with traditional Southwestern design elements, including thick stucco walls, rounded corners, flat roofs, and vigas, or debarked logs used as ceiling beams that extend through exterior walls. “While the Southwest style is attractive, we were looking for something a little different,” says Tom.
Located 10 minutes from downtown Santa Fe in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the community of Las Campanas offers refined living in a beautiful, high desert setting. Residents in this exclusive development have access to two golf courses, an equestrian center, a spa, tennis facilities, and a beautifully appointed clubhouse. But for Tom and Cindy, it was the home that sealed the deal.
“I came across the house by accident,” says Tom. “When we walked in, our mouths just dropped — it was exactly what we wanted.” The luxurious custom log home features hand-hewn timbers with authentic chinking, natural stone, and reclaimed wood with pueblo-style details throughout. It was the mountain feel they had been looking for.
Inside, the great room exudes a warm, welcoming spirit. A tall and dramatically timbered ceiling creates a sense of grandness, while massive wooden trusses bring scale and intimacy to the space. The floor accentuates the rustic ambience with varying-sized planks of distressed fir. On the far end, an oversized sofa and comfortable chairs beckon, inviting guests to relax in front of the stone fireplace. In the center of the great room, an Old World wood plank dining table mirrors the raw elegance of the exposed logs and timbers. For Tom and Cindy, who enjoy entertaining, the layout creates an easy flow. “During warmer months, expansive French doors open to a series of wraparound decks,” explains Tom. “It feels like there’s no barrier between the indoors and outdoors, which is wonderful.”
Open to the great room, the home’s kitchen is a blend of modern convenience and farmhouse charm. The breakfast bar was constructed from a single slab of 4-inch-thick fir. Behind the breakfast bar, a bronze-stained cement countertop and matching sink make an attractive yet efficient work space. High-end appliances, including a Wolf range and Sub-Zero refrigerator, make this a chef’s dream. “Cindy loves to cook,” Tom points out, “and the kitchen functions better than she could have imagined.”
Having come from more populated urban centers and accustomed to traffic and city noise, Tom and Cindy marvel at how remote the house feels in relation to civilization. Their new home abuts federal land, giving them unobstructed mountain views. “The setting is spectacular,” says Cindy. “The only noise we hear is yipping coyotes.”
Night in the desert brings a different feel. At 7,000 feet in elevation, the air is clear and cloudless, allowing the Milky Way to shine brilliantly above. In the master bedroom, moonbeams pass through the large skylight, softly illuminating the intimate suite. The room’s stunning floor-to-ceiling natural stone fireplace brings a sense of warmth to the space, as do the comfortable sitting areas. “We created lots of places in here to curl up and read,” says Tom.
When family and friends come to visit, they’re invited to stay in the gracious guest house. Private and fully furnished, the detached accomodations include a living room, kitchenette, master suite, and additional bedroom with four antique bunk beds. “The bedroom with the bunk beds is a kid’s paradise,” smiles Tom.
Though Tom and Cindy have settled in their new home, they still marvel at their new life. “Every day we wake up and say, ‘We’re living in a resort,’ ” says Tom. “Cindy and I followed our dream, and it’s been everything we could have hoped for.”