Thursday, September 24, 2009

It's All in the Details - Encantado Resort, Santa Fe

I love new Mexico. I love the way the air smells of burning pinon wood. I love the light in the morning, at dusk, and after an afternoon shower. I love the spicy New Mexican food and the margaritas. I love the art, both contemporary and traditional, whimsical and religious. I love the history of the Spanish and Indian culture. I love the rough and rocky landscape and the gorgeous flowers that grow in the mild climate.

My husband and I have our favorite old fashioned cheap (read: very retro, cool, CLEAN and inexpensive) motel where we typically stay when we go to Santa Fe. My theory is why spend money on a hotel when I could spend it on art, antiques and great food? I am only in the room for showers and sleep - otherwise there is just too much to see and do when I visit.

Reception porch for the resort

This past weekend, however, we attended a conference and had the privilege of staying at the Encantado Resort, tucked into the Sangre de Christo mountains, just 10 minutes outside of Santa Fe. I took tons of photos in anticipation of this post, but alas, my photography skills fail me again, so most of these shots are from the website for the hotel. They are just plain prettier than mine , and capture more in one shot than I was able to.

Love this gentleman waiting on the front bench in front of the hotel. I did a double take every time we walked by (and I did actually take this photo!) I think he was watching us, really. I love that he sits on the bench in front of that great stacked rock, the taut cable wire pulled between the posts, and the beautiful faux bois furniture in front of the fireplace - click on the photo to see these details better.

So, when I visit someplace special like this, I notice every detail - I can't help myself. I am forever saying to my husband "Look at the way they placed that building, or look at that great fence or, on this trip, look at the way the shadows fall on those three chimneys".

Lewallen art gallery on the hotel property

The architecture is stunning. It is simple and elegant and fits the environment perfectly. The reception building, restaurant and bar, and meeting facilities are housed in the main building. There is a spa and a pool, of course, designed to perfection. Charming casitas dot the landscape surrounding these public areas.

Wilson Associates is responsible for the understated and elegant design of the resort. Each casita has it's own private porch, furnished in wonderful heavy wooden tables, chairs and chaises. Unfortunately we had a bit of rain and could not enjoy the porch this time, but nevertheless, what a beautiful spot to have morning coffee or unwind at the end of the day.

Scored concrete floors and beamed ceilings, heavy linen curtains and flat weave Southwestern rugs, contemporary ceiling fans and great lighting, strike the perfect balance of modernism and old fashioned Santa Fe style.

The rooms are simple , but elegant. They include all one needs for comfort - a great bed with wonderful bedding, comfy chairs, a work area, a fireplace (on the opposite corner from the TV) and television, and access to the beautiful outdoors.

The bathrooms are exquisite with heated concrete floors, the deepest soaking tubs I have ever seen, large showers, marble counter tops and beautiful under mounted, rectangular Kohler sinks, great lighting, an abundance of heavy cotton towels.....need I say more?

The bar in the main building is contemporary and very hip, but still warm and inviting. The seating is comfortable and the lighting very, very cool! I wish I had asked about the mirror collection on the wall, but the effect is marvelous.

The meeting facilities are lovely and spacious. We were comfortable and never without a bottle of water, a box of tissue and a bowl of candy nearby. At this point, I must mention the remarkable customer service at this amazing place.

From the moment we arrived, until we drove away, we felt welcome and special. There was never, ever a sense of snobbishness or arrogance. From the two gentlemen who greeted each of us with an umbrella to help us out of our car, to the woman who walked me down to the bar for a glass of ice water when I merely inquired about a water fountain, we found every need anticipated and taken care of with the most gracious of attitude. It really was quite special.

This outdoor terrace sits in the middle of the main lodge. It is a great multi - function space with a huge fireplace and grill area, serving stations, chairs for reading or visiting, as well as dining. A beautiful, subtle water feature sits in the middle flanked by huge pots of flowers, not shown in this shot, but are there now.

The indoor dining room is equally as lovely, again with fabulous lighting, a tall rock fireplace and of course, incredible food. The wine refrigerator sits behind the rock fireplace , is visible on both sides, and is created entirely of glass. Very, very cool.

I love this steel fabricated planter with the copper inset with a contemporary sconce behind it. These are between all of the huge windows on all four sides of the courtyard.

All in all, it was an amazing weekend and I highly recommend this resort to anyone who wants a very, very special experience in the land of enchantment!

Monday, September 14, 2009

My Favorite Austin Boutique on Wheels!

Well this is just about the cutest, coolest thing I have ever seen. Confession first: I read about it on Design Sponge and went promptly to the Adelante website for further information. However, Austin is officially in the Texas hill country, so this post is most pertinent to Hill Country House!

Adelante, a shop started over 30 years ago in San Antonio by Pat Taylor Mason is now owned and operated by her daughter, Tricia Mason Roberts. It has been one of my favorite stops for great clothes, jewelry and gifts, for years. I first discovered Adelante in San Antonio, but now try to stop by the Austin shop whenever I am over that way. Tricia has now started Curb Service, a traveling boutique via a decked out Airstream!

I think the concept of a traveling boutique is so, so clever. You can get the full scoop here. The fact that the Airstream is decked out in the latest in design and color, and that you can also shop the latest in fashion...........well, it's just the best of both worlds!

While poking around the web, I also discovered a new friend, The Vintage Laundress. She is also wild about Curb Service and you can read her take on it here. How much fun!!!

Photos courtesy of Adelante and Curb Service website.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My Friend Leslie, More Amazing Local Talent

Rainbow Bird

My friend, Leslie, has an amazing creative talent that manifests itself in many ways. I featured her home a while back here and took you through a tour of her lovely home which is chock full of beautiful furnishings and great art. We love a lot of the same things and have been known to choose the same paintings for purchase without consulting each other - so far she's beat me to the punch, but I am sure there will be more opportunities!

Leslie is an artist in her own right and I have such respect for her diligence in painting and learning. I am an emotional decorator, artist, antique buyer and dealer - just about everything I do comes from my heart first, then my intellect - not always a bad thing, but I really admire Leslie's mind. She is intelligent, articulate, intentional, thoughtful, tenacious, educated and focused. She has chosen different subjects to paint to specifically practice her skill. I have included some still lifes, some whimsical, and some figurative paintings to show you her range of talent.

She is also a dear friend and I have wanted to share her work at Hill Country House for quite some time. I have asked Leslie a few questions and interspersed her work along the way.

When did you start painting and what led you to it?

There has always been a part of me that wanted to express and create, but I had neither the knowledge nor ability to even begin. The few times I would actually have the luxury of time to try, I did so poorly that I would give up and just assume artistic talent was something I did not have. So the energy was directed mostly toward the ‘crafts’ I enjoyed, like knitting and needlepoint. I started painting ‘for real’ almost 4 years ago, when Sandra Hulse came to spend a week with Sloan and Debra and graciously agreed to spend time every day showing Debra, Laura and me the basics. She was generous and patient, encouraging and accepting. And we were truly novices. Sandra is a fabulous artist, and a very dear woman.
(Leslie is referring to mutual friends and artists. I had the honor and pleasure of traveling to Italy last year with Debra, Laura, and Leslie.)

Watermelon Wedges

Are you self taught or have you had any instructions?

Both. Sandra gave us such a good grounding in the basics! And she lit the fire beneath with her humility and her acknowledgment of God’s role in creativity. The very first thing she did on the first day was read Rudyard Kipling’s poem, When Earth’s Last Picture is Painted ( It was new to me, very touching, and very freeing. Several months later, I took a workshop in Taos from a really talented artist, but was so frustrated and conscious of my inability that I left swearing I would never paint again as long as I live. It just did not seem like something I would ever ‘get.’ Fortunately, there is a stubborn streak in my personality, and even if I couldn’t paint like I wanted, the tenacity to keep learning and reading was there. After a few months, I did pick up the brush again and have stuck with it ever since. Last year I took a workshop with Carol Marine that was wonderful. She’s quite the dynamo, and is extremely talented and giving of her knowledge.

How often do you paint and how long does it take you to finish a painting?

I wish I could paint every day, but there’s no way. It works out that I paint in spurts. Sometimes every day or almost every day for a few weeks, then there will be weeks where ‘life happens,’ and there will be no opportunity to paint for a while. But always, I try to stay in the painting ‘mode’ by reading, researching, looking at the art of others, etc.

Jordan on Christmas Morning

This is Leslie's daughter, Jordan. I think is is an exquisite painting of a beautiful young girl.

St. Francis
(This is one of my personal favorites, and I think I may have to steal it out of her house one day!)

Do you have a favorite subject matter?

I would love to work toward a rather abstract figurative style, but I’m just not there yet. So I’m still working on mastering the medium and the basics of values, edges, color, form, seeing/interpreting, etc. Eventually, I’d like to veer more toward being able to express the impact that a subject has on me in a more direct, less incidental fashion.

Regay's Nest

Of course, I love the bird's nest.

Tea & Roses

Do you have a favorite place to work and do you prefer inside or outside?

Debra is very kind to share her studio space with me, and it’s always a pleasure to work there. It’s a perfect setup and a great location. I can paint at home if there’s no distraction, but how often is that? I am NOT an outdoor painter. I think it would be fun, but heat and bugs are too much distraction for me. I like my comforts!


Is there any one artist whose work inspires you?

There are many. I loved Cezanne’s work before I ever knew who he was. I think there are some wonderful artists out there today whose work shows not just talent, but hard work and deep knowledge of both subject and process. That knowledge and understanding is what appeals to me. Georg Miciu –Nicolaevici in Argentina ( is probably my favorite artist. His work is just thrilling.

Pink on Polka Dots

Hide and Seek

Still Life on Stripes

Figs and Pumpkin

What are your hopes artistically for the future?

I’d like to just keep trudging up the learning curve. And it would be very nice to improve my skills while I do. Painting is a sort of therapy …it gets me out of the everyday concerns and out of my own small world. It’s a great blessing. And although I’m really grateful I don’t have to make a living at it, it is also fun when something sells. It’s just a little extra encouragement for the effort and the satisfaction of knowing that I’ve left something behind that is appreciated.

Spring's First Blooms

Peasant with Fruit
(My other personal favorite!)

Could this be Dinner?

The precious little masterpiece was a gift to me from Leslie. I love the naive quality and the use of color. It fits right in with my folk art and Mexican things. What a treasured gift.

Thank you , Leslie, for sharing your talent and thoughts with us! I can't wait to see what you do next!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Ranch Style Re-Do

I got a nice comment from a reader who included a link to her blog where she features a re-do of a typical ranch style house.

Here is the large family room - nice big space, but quite dated with the carpet, dark paneling and rock fireplace.

Here is a peak of the family room after it was redone. I love the hardwood floors, the light colored walls and the painted rock. To see more go to this link.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Kitchen Lust

Kitchen from House Beautiful , August 2009
Photos Julian Wass

This kitchen would make me a really happy girl. Have a great weekend!
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