Sunday, August 10, 2014

From New Mexico to New York

My life is full of contrasts - that is totally who I am. I remember telling Isabel this when we first met…."we could be riding horses in the boonies in the morning and attending a black tie fund raiser that same evening - so if you are up for that and that works for you this will work out!" Of course she was on board and I'm sure she would be the first to tell you that our lives have lived up to that statement.

I write this week's blog from the boonies of Northern New Mexico and next weekend we will be staying in Mid-Town Manhattan! What more of a contrast can you find than that - and I LOVE both. Northern New Mexico is special to me in that our Candelaria ancestors originated from this region and my wife Isabel was born here. So this is kind of a second home. I love the land, the architecture, the friends we have made here, and especially the food! Red chile, huevos rancheros, tortillas…..oh my God, this is some of the best and just like my Grandma Rose used to make.

We are relaxing this weekend on Isabel's cousin, Jarred Conley's ranch north of Española, and just a bit south of Goergia O'Keefe's Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu. What great country and how appropriate to be in O'Keefe's lands this weekend and her antitheses next weekend, New York!

We toured an amazing home in the area that Jarred has the listing on Hacienda Gracias in Abiquiu that is a very unique interpretation and adaptation of Luis Barragan / Legorreta architecture of Mexico to the style and landscape of Northern New Mexico. From there we went to the Abiquiu Inn for breakfast and then made our way to Chama, NM and then up to the top of Northern New Mexico and Jarred's family's ranch up in the Tusas Mountains. After a relaxing afternoon we went to Taos for dinner and then back to Jarred's ranch. Nice loop across some amazing country.

Northern New Mexico has so much to explore from desolate deserts to green aspen and pine covered mountains. Coming here is like going to a foreign country with the Hispanic and Native American cultures taking precedent. There are small towns we stop in at and you are hard pressed to find anyone speaking English. There are places here that time has literally forgotten and so many of them to explore and experience. It's been so nice to sleep with the doors and window open, hear the coyotes howl in the distance, and feel the spirit of this land.

So let's move from that image to cabbies, skyscrapers, and Times Square…..that will be about as far from the New Mexico howling coyotes as one could get but I love NYC just as much. What a contrast in energy. I always feel it when we cross the East River and you arrive in Manhattan - I can feel the vibe and electricity of this place. Speaking of cultures - you name, it it is here. Architecture, food, people, sights, sounds - energy! We are coming this time for Isabel to hit the market and we have two sets of clients meeting us for a little shopping - and of course we will make some time for some fantastic dinners.  Little Italy, Chelsea's, Upper West Side…..Finally, I look forward to checking out the completed Freedom Tower and 911 Memorial. Looking forward to seeing the progress since I was here in April.

Busy weeks ahead….the office move is right around the corner and of course the Candelaria Design Tour Italy is only 45 days away! Stay tuned for my blog next week from Manhattan!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Summer Adventures

I hope everyone is having a great summer. It's August and we have at least come close to the halfway point of summer here in Arizona. Hence the reason I do most of my traveling in August and especially in September. September is the toughest month in Phoenix/Scottsdale. It's September, football, fall, school, yet its still 100 gazillion degrees out. So - its the perfect time to just go somewhere else where fall does begin in September.

Some of my favorites places of course are Coeur d'Alene, Idaho; Santa Fe, Colorado, NYC and oh ya….ITALY! All but Colorado are on the Candelaria agenda for the next two months. And just to make things interesting,  let's throw the Candelaria Design office move in there capped off with the Candelaria Design Tour Italy at the end of September. I love all of these places for the lifestyle, culture, architecture and of course the food! Sharing these times and trips with my lovely, Isabel, even makes them more special. Do you see a trend here…..?

We are finishing a nice extended weekend here in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. We are very fortunate to have three projects going up here now to add to our four completed projects. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love this place. One of my projects here was my first project period for Candelaria Design. In 1999 my good friend, Patrick Murphy, brought me up here and encouraged me to go on my own and make his project my first. I am typing this blog from that cabin/lodge now some 15 years later! From there I ended up purchasing a second home right across the street that I had for nearly six years. What good times we had being neighbors up here and platooning my Candelaria Design staff and their families up here in the summer.  So the remodel of that home became my second project.

Then we got a wonderful commission to design a home for a couple in Black Rock - a beautiful golf community just south of Coeur d'Alene. We were here all afternoon and evening this Friday getting the home professionally photographed and of course spent the night in the guest room downstairs called the Candelaria Suite. Earlier that same day, one of my outstanding associates, Vivian Ayala, and I measured up our newest project, a master suite addition to an amazing home on Hayden lake which is just north of Coeur d'Alene. This was Vivian's first time here and she brought her husband and daughter to come up for the fun. I get the feeling they loved it and will be back. While we were there we toured the home we designed right next door - a magnificent 10,000 sf lake home for another amazing couple who truly inspire me. He likes to call me "Lefty" and we had some fun times creating that masterpiece together.  To top it all off we are designing a fun 3500 sf mountain spec home on Lot 176 at Gozzer Ranch here in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. This is a little gem sited on a beautiful pond overlooking a fun par 3. Nighthawk Lot 176

As you can tell from reading this - it's not just about creating a set of plans and getting a permit. That is not what Candelaria Design or I am about. It's about the experience - not only the creation of block and timber, but of the creation of a friendship. We (my staff and I) have became such great friends with these clients and it has brought such fulfillment to all of our lives. I think that is the real point of taking on a commission and designing something as personal as a house for someone. If you can't put your heart and soul and friendship out there then it's not worth it - at least on my side of the equation. The richness this approach has added to my life is unmeasurable. I truly appreciate the friendships, graciousness, generosity, and hospitality I have received from all of these clients.

It has been so rewarding and educational to spend evenings with clients in these homes, watch them use them, cook with them in the kitchen we all worked so hard to create, spend a night and really understand how it all feels - it's the best.

Yes - I do travel a lot and I do like to cook, play the piano, sing and spend time with my clients. I absorb it all and it all becomes this huge database that I draw upon in the design of every home. Not just the layout and the details but what that plan will do to steer every moment in a client's life. The other thing I have learned is that small details and adjustments in a home no matter how big or small can make such a difference in how you live and experience life each day. We take it all for granted and we don't realize the opportunities to live so much better that we do. Great design and taking the time to really think it through and create something that is a complete reflection of who you are and more importantly where you want to go can make all the difference. But don't wait for the chance to design a whole home. Take a room and dial it it and watch the difference, then go from there……

Life is an adventure…!