One look at this classic Spanish Colonial hacienda on the outskirts of Santa Fe was all it took to persuade John Haupert and Bryan Brooks to make it their own. Serious opera buffs, they were delighted with its setting within the Casas de San Juan neighborhood near the Santa Fe Opera House. Plus, the style of architecture resonated with their sensibilities so much that neither of them was daunted by the drawbacks of the home’s interior state. “The house was built in 1989 and, while we loved its heaviness, its substance and the feel of the double-mud brick adobe, the interior renovations over the years had veered from that,” explains John, who, along with Bryan, relocated four years ago from Atlanta. “We knew if we purchased it, we’d have to do some really major work, but the house was so special that we felt it was truly meant to be restored by us.”
While they were seeking a local designer with whom they could formulate a plan for the interior renovation, a visit to ACC—a high-end furniture showroom in Santa Fe—proved especially fortuitous. After they explained their plans to a sales associate, he told them he knew the perfect designer and then introduced them to Chandler Prewitt. “We knew immediately from his personality, architectural knowledge and design capabilities that working with Chandler was meant to be,” says John. “We didn’t even talk to anyone else.”
A Santa Fe native, Prewitt embraced the opportunity. “I had just returned to the area to be closer to my family after spending 10 years working in San Francisco,” he says. “Getting to start my business with this wonderful project gave me an introduction to all the resources and artists and artisans here right out of the gate.” With a stated goal of crafting a comfortable environment for relaxing and entertaining, as well as bringing the house up to date, Prewitt explored what the owners liked about the area and discovered they loved the history and culture, the textiles and the Moorish elements. In addition, the couple had an extensive and noteworthy collection of paintings, sculpture and folk art he could build on. “We took inspiration from the art and layered it in with the furnishings in each room in a way that was interesting and new instead of strictly a historical re-creation,” says Prewitt.
To better celebrate the stunning vistas of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the designer separated the commodious great room into two sitting areas where he restored the handmade Saltillo tile floors and painted the original adobe walls white. “It’s the character, charm and feel of the exposed painted-adobe brick that anchors and pulls you into a whole other era of time and space,” says John. The room’s original ceiling, defined by highly textured vigas, harks back to the home’s Spanish Colonial influences. “One part of the room is more formal and designed for entertaining guests and enjoying cocktails, while the other side is for relaxing by the fire and watching television,” says Prewitt, who paired pale cream Ebanista sofas with antique Persian rugs. Other accents, such as embroidered Schumacher pillows, delicate double-tiered wrought-iron chandeliers, and paintings by famed Taos artist Inger Jirby, reflect the local culture.
Color and pattern were also constantly considered. “Bryan fell in love with the blue Shaker-style cabinets in the kitchen,” says the designer. “So when we had them resurfaced and repainted, we just tweaked the color a bit and applied tin ceiling tiles to some of the cabinets.” The counters were topped with blue limestone and inset with a custom sink by Native Trails, and the kitchen table’s topper is a repurposed door. “That table is a real workhorse,” adds Prewitt. “Anything can happen to it, and it just adds more character.”
In contrast to the brighter tones elsewhere, the master bedroom is soothing and serene. Here, the walls are covered in an American Clay earth plaster with an ombre technique. Additionally, the same woodworker who hand- planed the white-oak floors, which are now stained a dark walnut, also crafted a large standing mirror. To continue the calming feel of the room, a Theodore Alexander bed was dressed with custom bedding and set atop an antique rug.
According to landscape architect Catherine Clemens, the home’s existing exterior elements were extremely dated. “I did a Photoshop mock-up showing how we could raise the pool level up to create one consistent level, which we did,” she says. “We also included surrounding walls inset with beautiful tile for privacy.” Other changes, such as new tumbled brick and a tiled fountain in the front courtyard, added personality and charm and extended the living space outside.
“We took the existing structure and furnishings and really made them special, so that it looked not like a remodel but like part of the original plan,” explains builder Douglas Maahs, who did the plaster finishing, faux painting, tile, woodworking, flooring, hardware, glass replacement and other surface touch-ups. Adds Prewitt, “The renovation came together really organically. With some projects you wonder what could have been done differently, but this turned out exactly as I envisioned.”