Pandemic Updates, New Location, plus- Saved by sardines, rescued by pasta

Six months into this pandemic and changes abound. In addition to a sock drawer, we now have a mask drawer. And our lives are drastically altered—I’m hoping your new routine is somewhat comfortable. But better change is here as well. I am happy to announce my new location in a perfect little building downtown in the Guadalupe district.

Edy Keeler Interiors
312 Read Street
Santa Fe, NM 87501
(505) 577-2167

Come by, don’t be shy. Thursday afternoons in October, after 3 pm I’m here to share and show my new interior design studio to you. (text, call or pop-in) We can partake in a happy hour with my immediate neighbor, Santa Fe Spirits Tasting Room and Patio. They serve cocktails outdoors with heaters, crafted from their fine distillations, starting at 3 pm, Thursday to Saturday


The new design studio is within walking distance to many vibrant businesses. Ohori’s Luna location, the Farmer’s Market, House of Ancestors, Kelly O’Neal, and right across the street from the Lannan Foundation.

A bit of a backstory on this new space. At the beginning of our lockdown, I worked from home like everyone else and experienced an uptick in my interior design business. Calls coming in from people also staying home who were noticing their drab kitchen cabinets, bathrooms too dark, the 1980s sofa was not “retro” chic, but just old and tired. They needed help, time for a redo.

I soon felt way too stifled with the confines of working from home, and as you know, I’m all about practicality. I rolled up my mental sleeves, I needed my samples—those working tools, and my friends in town. This home office in the country was not convenient. Time for change.

I really enjoy being back in town after those long months, air hugs and all, and change continues. Businesses like mine on the creative front end, along with architects, building contractors, landscapers have ever growing to-do lists. On the back end, I am discovering that vendors and suppliers are having a much harder time keeping up with the front-end demands. Cabinet makers, tile and plumbing folks, and more are having supply issues. The supply chain and manufacturing sector are taking a hit due to the pandemic. Less staff on the production lines, distribution and shipping slow-downs, not to mention abysmal mail, are causing delays and continual schedule revisions in our remodels. So, I now preach my own “PPP” practical mantra: Patience, Patience, Patience.
We all knew the moment it happened that we would never forget the horror of 9- 11. We now have another unforgettable tragedy in our collective memory, one having a direct daily effect on our lives. These times are fluid, and everupdating. But the vitality of friends and acquaintances doesn’t change. As you write your new to-do lists, think about adding a visit to see me, one Thursday afternoon.

Another backstory. A bit into the pandemic the New Mexican asked for an article for the series I do called Let’s Get Practical. It follows here, since they did not publish it in their shrinking print version, and I’m not sure you saw it in the online paper. It’s about quirky “from-the-pantry” foods that worked perfectly for me, from a great Santa Fe food writer.


Saved by sardines, rescued by pasta

.That headline is the title of my favorite chapter in Deborah Madison’s life-saving book for me right now, widely available online. This cookbook and sweet food narrative, intended for solo eaters, but useful for anyone needing a quick meal, has the most unique and even humorous combinations of pantry items, items shoved to the back of shelves in refrigerators and cabinets with obliterated use-by dates. A lifesaver for those observing the six-weeks-down-one-to-gomaybe (that was then — now we are into six to twelve months) phase of our state’s lockdown.


The quirky wonderful illustrations by Patrick McFarlin add to the experience — it is a tasty read. Even more interesting than How to Cook a Wolf by the legendary M.F.K. Fisher.
I think my fave from the chapter is Spaghetti with Tuna and Capers. It uses breadcrumbs for crunch — stale bread is easy to come by — and olive oil, pasta, half a tin of tuna, capers, a pinch of red pepper flakes, garlic, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper, and parsley. Since I’m hoarding the capers and part of that lemon rind for a martini, I’ve found that a substitution like tangy green olives, crushed or chopped, work just fine. If you cook at all, you can figure out how to put this one together. If not, email me, or order the book.

My usual column topics include how to remodel or build the best kitchen for you. But on finding I can’t pen a serious remodeling article these days, I asked my editor if Let’s Get Practical reactions to this trying episode would suffice. “Make the deadline and it’s cool,” he answered.

What can be more practical than using up your aged, drying, boring pantry stuff? It starts with emptying out those shelves and that refrigerator. And getting a lot creative. One thing I learned is that Use-By dates aren’t about food safety. More about food flavor. Of course don’t use food from a can that bulges. Gather your pile of oddments and head for instructive books, or mostly, for many, the internet. “What to cook with … XYZ?” has been searched several million times since March.

It really is cool to use up stuff that you know you don’t have to replace, unless you fall in love with a certain pantry palatable and must have more! I love Trader Joes, but not enough to wait in line for an hour to enter that sanctum of thrifty, rewarding shopping. Whole Foods has shorter lines since the store is large.Nattily clad mask-wearing hosts escort you to the next available check-out lane.

But I’ve rediscovered the big-box groceries closest to my commute, when I had one. Minimal to zero lines. The stockers there are often new hires, but they do their friendliest to direct you to what you need. And there is plenty of it, unless you are hunting down elusive paper products and sanitizing goods.



Almost as practical and somewhat rewarding: the closet clean-out. It is time fora seasonal swap-out of cold winter for chilly spring anyway.

In closing, what’s not practical, but is happening anyway: Sadness at missing friends and associates. Finding Zooming is just okay. Not being able to visit a friend who had an emergency appendectomy, languishing alone in rehab. Being unable to ”settle” for long enough to get absorbed in a creative endeavor. Having time to read when the library is closed. The list goes on.

And back to the brief shout-out for What We Eat When We Eat Alone. Even if we are not eating alone, we’re in essence each alone with our thoughts, fears, and hopes for ourselves, for our “peeps” and families, and we hope, eventually, for the greater good. Speaking of our families, for those with children at home, this is the perfect time to help them learn to cook. Madison lays it down in a great chapter: What Every Boy and Girl Should Learn to Cook … Before They’re Men and Women. And it’s not making the greatest PB&J!

This too shall pass, we are hearing, and we know it’s true. What we don’t know is what our new
normal might be. So Let’s Get Practical again, and presume that we can help make it better,
kinder, more real, more fulfilling.


ShowHouse Santa Fe 2018

Happy to report we got a great response to the kitchen and some new ones to design, as a result of the hundreds of design lovers who toured the house in October. We raised big bucks (exact number to come, but hundreds of tickets were sold) for Dollars 4 Schools, had some grand parties at the house, and we were flattered to be on the cover of the Home section of the local paper. (image at bottom)

A view of the kitchen by Edy Keeler

Showhouse Santa Fe, for the sixth consecutive year, presented 13 uniquely talented interior designers and artisans as they collectively transformed a mid-century marvel of a Santa Fe residence into an interior design experience.

This years Show House Gala featured A Beautiful Story of Designers and Chefs in “A WORLD OF TASTE.”

Food and Fun.  This year’s show house gala featured the unique concept of designers pairing up with local artisan chefs of the region, inventing a fresh global experience for “a world of taste”. This beautiful story was told at the home with an amazing creative fusion for the gala preview where under one enormous tented tennis court, 13 chefs and designers worked together to create an amazing evening of dining, music and design!

Another view of the kitchen by Edy Keeler

The Gala has been called “the party of the year.”

This year every chef had their own table of delicious gourmet offerings for you to experience, with a tabletop design, especially for their restaurant, by their designer. This was a chance for a little fantasy. A beautiful fall night setting, decor over the top, and beautiful clothing in a glamorous setting…it was a real party. 

The Food

The designer challenge for 2018 paired designers and chefs by the luck of the draw in an artistic and unique experience. Designer and Chef can draw inspiration from each other for a entertaining presentation of food and decor.


Locals are very excited to learn of the reopening in Spring 2019 of The Legal Tender. The old Harvey House restaurant is across the street from the 1800’s Lamy train station, the Santa Fe stop of the Amtrak, and railroads past. And they are pleased to know the new operator will be Murphy O’Brien of the popular “just out of town” eatery, Cafe Fina. Murphy is working on the project In collaboration with the Winslow Arts Trust. The trust works to keep the historic Route 66, Santa Fe Railway, and Fred Harvey transportation corridors vibrant and alive.

Murphy brings to town young rising star chef Rory O’Brien, from Miami. Youthful travels with family across France, Spain, Italy, and Croatia contributed to Rory’s fascination with food. When the family settled in Ireland, the influence of his Irish mother and the abundance of local produce, cheese, other dairy, grass fed beef, and fresh seafood, impressed him with the importance of quality ingredients.

Together they presented a menu borrowing and updating  Fred Harvey favorites for the modern palette.

For the Gala Menu, we served a braised lamb with porcini gnocchi and gremolata on a tabletop vignette of the old saloon. Fred Harvey memorabilia and passenger dining car accoutrement.

The House

In the historic South Capitol neighborhood, blocks from the heart of Santa Fe, and built sixty four years ago, this home has been in one family’s care for over forty years. About the time he designed the Governor’s Mansion on Mansion Ridge Road, Willard Carl (W.C.) Kruger, an American architect, designed and built this home for his own family. Kruger designed many of our historically registered state buildings, including the State Capitol in Santa Fe. His design was the only round capitol building in the country and combined elements of New Mexico Territorial style, Pueblo adobe architecture and Greek Revival adaptations. He served on the first New Mexico Board of Architects along with John Gaw Meem and other notables.

The Kitchen

Designer EDY KEELER on the Kitchen

This kitchen, where a passel of kids were raised, and literally thousands of cookies were baked, needed a lot of tender loving care. We had the luck to have W.C. Kruger’s artfully hand drawn plans to work with. 

The kitchen table remained, but barely! The chairs squeaked, and we could imagine all those kids rocking back and forth on the chairs hind legs, to break them in like that! One of the children, our project manager, remembers each of the kids sitting there doing homework, with chocolate chip cookies in the oven. 

The scallops topping off the casework and the copper hood, and even the mom’s carefully chosen Delft door and drawer handles also remain, reminiscent of today’s highly collectible Chinoiserie. 

“I love remodeling kitchens, and bathrooms, and in the past two years my work has evolved that way. Even though I still do furnishings — every remodel needs something new — I love construction and project management for remodels, something that comes from my family background, and my architect husband.”

Working with the Michael Hunter Painting, faux paint crew, Jason and David, on a custom finish and a color scheme.

Kitchens are complex, the heart of a home, and we view the challenges they can present as opportunities, most of the time! I also loved doing last year’s show house master bath, a bath large enough to require furniture. Bathrooms — second most important special room in a home to most of us.

Tile chosen and laid out at the cooktop is reminiscent of the checkerboard floors I remember in our childhood home. Finishes, appliances and fixtures will make meal planning, prep and clean up pleasant and a breeze.

Patina for the copper hood by
Bekye Fargason


“Dollars4Schools’ grassroots model provides Santa Fe public-school teachers with a local web-based “helping-hand” in funding classroom programs. Dollars4Schools transitioned to the Santa Fe Community Foundation in 2013, and to date has funded nearly 700 programs – including 92 in the current 2017-18 school year, thanks to the incredible support of our community of friends and donors who make it all possible.
Dollars4Schools thanks ShowHouse Santa Fe. Since its premiere six years ago, the extraordinary design event has raised over $140,000 in support of Dollars4Schools and enriched the lives of thousands of Santa Fe students by providing funding to over 250 Santa Fe teachers.”

Home Santa Fe Real Estate Guide November 2018
And Guess who made the cover of the Santa Fe Real Estate guide.

9 Projects (and a Few Other Tips) to Sell Your Home Quickly!

sell your home

Where to Begin

sell your home

Preparing to sell your home? With a little elbow grease and some low-cost projects, you’ll increase your home’s appeal inside and out—and potentially net a higher sale. Whether you’ve got a small budget or a little wiggle room, these projects bring good returns on investments.

Inside home improvements


  • Paint is an easy, relatively inexpensive fix. It refreshes rooms and makes homes look new again. Stick with classic, neutral colors. A recent analysis showed that light blue or pale blue/gray rooms potentially increase a home’s selling price by $5,000+. I’m not sure that palette holds true in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, although shades of gray seem to hold sway just about everywhere this year. Here I’m tending toward warmer neutrals, especially in north facing rooms.
  • Have popcorn ceilings or acoustic tiles? Remove them, but use caution. If they predate 1979, they may contain asbestos. Hire a licensed professional to remove them. If you have the height, drywall over the popcorn or tile and create a slightly lower ceiling instead. In Santa Fe you’re more likely to face stained wood decking ceilings. And other stained wood. They look terrible and are not the easiest to fix, but if any wood shows signs of water or other damage, you are advised to get it taken care of by a professional paint crew. This simple bedroom we did several years ago would be ruined by blotches on the ceiling.

sell your house

  • Renovate—partially. Don’t redo an entire kitchen or bathroom. Instead, paint the cabinets and upgrade the hardware. Replace the vanity and reface the existing tub. Spend a little more for new light fixtures and faucets. If your budget allows, consider upgrading kitchen appliances, like dishwashers, microwaves, or stoves.

sell your house

In this loft style home (above) on the market in Santa Fe, we did not replace all the cabinets, but removed some and replaced with inexpensive shelving. We really punched up the light, (below) added simple white tile, a lighter floor, and a bit more reflective paint. Everything we did was to 1. Lighten up 2. Open up. So important to create a happier feeling space.

sell your house

  • Replace stained, dirty carpet with new carpeting or, if your home’s floors are in decent shape, stick with bare hardwood. It may feel daunting to restore them yourself, but it’s much less expensive than hiring a professional, and your elbow grease will yield a significant return. Higher end Santa Fe style homes never have carpet. Never too strong a word? But tile rules, and wood is a close second. And if your area rugs are stained, they must go! Inexpensive area rugs are everywhere today. We just sold this beautiful blue/green area rug for under 500.00.

sell your house

sell your house

  • Maximize your home’s light. Remove and replace heavy drapes or curtains with sheers. Clean windows, change lampshades, increase light bulb wattage, and trim vegetation near the windows. Have a few darker areas that might benefit from recessed lighting? Consult with an electrician to see what it would cost to brighten those spaces.

In New Mexico, natural light is always the best if you have the option with your windows. Dark rooms should be easy to combat in New Mexico with abundant natural light and perpetually dry climate. Sometimes, even a sheer cotton or linen curtain can soften the light and make the view even more appealing.

sell your house

  • Update your home’s windows, if they’re older and not vinyl, which are weather resistant and better insulated. Some experts say that new windows can add up to $12,000 on your asking price. This is ultra important in New Mexico where we have strict energy conservation building codes, at least in Santa Fe. Look at good brands and consult with the sales staffs at the vendors. Call us for names.


Outside home improvements

Don’t underestimate the importance of curb appeal; that first impression potential buyers get when they see your home for the first time can make or break a deal.

  • Improve the landscape with fresh sod or seed if the grass is worn and patchy. Replace old, scraggly bushes and other vegetation with annuals and perennials to give a pop of color. Add some potted plants and hanging flower baskets on the porch.

sell your home

  • Think green with the landscaping by taking a low-maintenance route with mulch instead of grass and planting drought-resistant plants. Again, in our state it’s different, where we are strongly discouraged, if not legislated, to NOT have traditional sod grass, but to have low water tolerant plants, for example-
  • Freshen up the entrance with a new coat of paint on the door, or replace it if it’s really old and tired. Update house numbers and your mailbox if they’re dated, and update the porch light fixture, too, if it’s also looking dated.

This is the place in our high desert country to add a big ceramic pot or two with flowers to water…colorful geraniums, true red and orange red are my perennial favorites. Check out this Pinterest link for inspiring ideas for an entry. A cheerful hanging box can make even the most humble cabin look appealing.

sell your home

Super selling tips

Naturally, you want to hit your asking price when you’ve put your home on the market, so here are a few tips to help you reach that goal.

Research listing agents to find the best one. Work with your real estate agent to determine the best time to sell your home—an agent can look at trends over time to see what’s sold in your neighborhood. Analyzing comps will help you set a competitive price. Stage your home so it looks its best for the professional photos your agent will have taken for the online listing. We help with this in Santa Fe if you have existing furniture that needs editing or refreshing. And our friends have inventory of additional pieces. .

Channel your inner social media guru and promote your home online. Real estate agents use the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to list homes for sale, but you can also make use of social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to spread the word that your home’s for sale. You can even take and post video walkthroughs of your home. Here are 50 creative ways to sell your home quickly.

Don’t over-upgrade

If you’re planning to move, avoid the temptation to splurge for that new kitchen you’ve always wanted. Save that for the new home! Huge improvement projects like new decks or second bathrooms right before you move likely won’t yield a good return on your investment when you sell. Investing the time to declutter, depersonalize, and move extra belongings into storage are other inexpensive projects that pay off.


Suzie Wilson is a San Francisco interior designer with more than 20 years experience. What started as a hobby (and often, a favor to friends) turned into a passion for creating soothing spaces in homes of every size and style. While her goal always includes making homes look beautiful, her true focus is on fashioning them into serene, stress-free environments that inspire tranquility in all who enter. The Ultimate Guide to Prepping Your Home for an Open House is filled with tips, tricks and other advice based on Suzie’s years of experience in interior home design that will set you up for success.

Edy Keeler is a Santa Fe interior designer who specializes in remodeling and refreshing homes in New Mexico and beyond that are well loved and ready for a second look and life. Twenty years and counting!

Starting with Pattern in Interiors

urban pattern

A Big Leap from my style to Heather and Matt of French and French Interiors!


Patterns from nature are so lovely in interior design. How I get inspiration? Often it’s to look outdoors and to look UP, for starters. That rowdy raven in our office courtyard demands attention. Talking right to me, sitting high in a lacy green-gold canopy of elm leaves. And that’s a pattern I have used.

leaf patern

Or as Maurice Sendak says in a charming children’s book . . .drawn pattern

But I would say, be quiet near a little stream and LOOK


wood pattern

Looking UP CLOSE works well. Patterns from nature really are prevalent in interior design. This blending of these bark patterns, blurred and abstract, now so reminiscent in glass and even wood mosaic tiles.

tile pattern

Then there are delightful patterns in urban ife . . . I really go into a zone on my infrequent city trips. Glass and steel, sidewalks and bridges, lights and pavement. Strong patterns, with plenty of mood.

city at nght pattern

And how can an artist or designer not be inspired by views from a taxi like this?  Living in New York off and on for short periods I was enchanted just by taxi rides at dark.I’ve got reams of photos of both types textures. As for using them, I see many photographically represented in fabrics, wall coverings, tile, and rugs, as well as artistically rendered by fabric designers and fine artists crossing over to interior design products.

Starting with Pattern in Interiors

So these patterns are really texture
Nature’s and urban patterns  are really as much about wildly creative textures than about man-made pattern.

Artist drawn patterns
Creations by textile designers and fine artists, fabric patterns are so often inspired by nature and city life, but augmented by anything else that occurs in the wild mind. With weirdly creative palettes and subjects, myriad artistic hand drawn designs do look as interesting as our land and cityscapes.

feather pattern

Colorful abstract, from the bird nest, or more floating images of seedling flowers.

floral pattern

And then a cityscape, sweet and abstract.

cityscape pattern

And in these two rug designs, I simply see a randomly developed city grid. By Robin Gray Designs, sold by Nedret Rugs and Textiles.

rug pattern
woven pattern

Occasional pillows? drapery? or a rug? NO PROBLEM
But going bravely into artistically rendered pattern in interior design?

This is pretty scary for many of us, including designers, but masterfully done by Heather and Matt of French and French Interiors. Seeing their room at ShowHouse Santa Fe 2017 was a daily joy and inspiration. I loved to watch the work as the room developed. I think Heather chose one beloved fabric pattern, on these pillows and two chairs, and riffed off that like a jazz musician.

rug pattern

This is what I would call a delirious riot of pattern!

The fabric is on two pillows and two chairs and everything else pulls from it, and highlights it. The rug, the bold drapes, the artwork…it all creates a controlled explosion of  pattern and color perfect for an upbeat, color-crazy kids and family play and hangout space.

rug pattern

I think what they do is to choose one beloved fabric or rug pattern and carefully finding and reacting to patterns of different scales, so as not to compete heavily with the base pattern.  And don’t forget art. It’s even more layers of pattern and quite a wow factor in the choices in this room. More of the room at French and French Interiors.

 So, how to start with pattern? And where to go?

Why not start with kids or guest rooms that are perhaps not the biggest rooms in your home or environment. A family hangout or TV room would be another place to try the approach and it surely worked for French and French at the showhouse.

Of course I’ve seen Heather start with a color theme as well, in a bold or even very subtle small patterned fabric, but then quickly depart into an array of other patterns, larger or smaller, with some colors in them that I just would not have envisioned as working, but they do!

Themes can inform the use of pattern

Another way to play with pattern, I’ve often used,  is thematically. For example, we don’t have too many horse ranches right in here town, but I have seen a horseback theme used in a manner that is sophisticated, and not as hokey as it might sound.

And Heather and Matt have used animal themes many times. It’s a natural theme for kids rooms. Their abstract butterflies and wondrous flower motifs in a delightful girl’s room comes to mind.

wallpapaer pattern

As does the little foxes wallpaper in a baby boy’s room.

light wallpaper pattern

Another theme that I’ve worked around, and that is much more prevalent in our region, is an art collection. A favorite client has a large Asian one, for example, here with both a handsome kite artifact and a gong, and other patterns. It contrasts well with heavy textures, in its delicacy, as in this fireplace wall.

brick pattern

Or with intense colors like this fireplace, bedding and drapery combination, accented with the tribal feathered mask. Using lots of pattern is a true departure for many designers and clients alike. My comfort zone includes textures with strong colors and artifacts. But it has been great to start thinking about intentional patterns, and how to appreciate and incorporate them.

brick pattern

To summarize what I’ve been learning, grounding in a color palette, or a texture that you love, and then picking a strong or a subtle pattern using the palette is one jumping off point

Adding the perfect trims, art and lighting adds more of the unique touches designers bring.

I am less shy about using patterns since studying this great design duo’s, Heather and Matt French,  use of it.

Happy New Year’s Colors

new colors

We get palette predictions this time every year. I love that, some of the colors, and we’ll share some here.

Colors can be applied to rev up your environment, home or business, in many ways.
Paint is the most prevalent, but upholstery, drapes, rugs—even a new wardrobe piece or two, are great ways to test a color’s fit for you. New pillows are easy too, or small area rugs, to test how new colors might rock, or wreck, your world. So, for some of the new palettes, here you are.

From Dering Hall’s predictions by six designers.

new colors

Green-Black is the choice of Elena Calabrese, of Elena Calabrese Design & Decor. She likes Pratt & Lambert’s Blackwatch Green, which is dark and intense without being black. It’s hard to even see the green onscreen, but it is there. And she adds it as contrast to very light walls, and in a gloss finish here as trim.

new colors

Mustard Yellow Carter Kay, of Carter Kay Interiors says they are using mustard yellow and hits of turquoise this year. This is Benjamin Moore’s Eye of the Tiger. A rich color that still seems natural. I too love shades that bring our outdoors inside.


new colors

Yellow-Green Jo Ann Alston, of J. Stephens Interiors, favors this deep yellow-green. I see very little yellow here, just enough to tone down a too strong green. I would use it in any day room or especially in a library. Two paints that achieve this look are Benjamin Moore’s Guacamole and Sherwin Williams’ Saguaro.

new colors

Deep Blue From Caroline Kopp, of Caroline Kopp Interior Design likes strong color and this deep blue is essentially a neutral. Sherwin Williams’ Moscow Midnight is in the rear of the bookcase. It’s a perfect background for the brights she used and what a happy family hangout it makes!

new colors

Saffron Yellow works for Elizabeth Vallino, of Elizabeth Vallino Interiors, who loves the rich warmth but still exotic feel of these walls. I am looking for a perfect place for this color myself. It’s so great with red art and accent.

There was the perfect place for a color close to it on an exterior wall we colored on a home outside Santa Fe. In the city center, one is limited to an extremely narrow palette ranging from “brown to a different brown” or “brown and round.” Working in the county is a different ballgame . . .  when outside a gated community.

new colors

new colors

Similarly on this long walkway and reflecting pool. Beside it is the natural palette as inspiration for the homes exterior.

Also outside city limits, we were able to do a real red on an entry, using automobile paint that resists fading, at least for several years. (Red being one of those colors that fades most easily, and is why you often see “pink” handrails and trim in New Mexico.) The addition of one deep red burgundy wall and one coppery red wall to the left completed my fantasy of doing a red house! These are in a series of homes outside of Santa Fe in an area called La Mirada, designed by Robert Zachry, AIA, and built by Hurlocker Homes.

new colors

In Albuquerque proper, and most of the region, colors appear frequently on residential projects. So I was able to do the red doors on an interior courtyard in a complex in that city.

new colors


mid century colors“We hired Edy Keeler Interiors, of Core Value Inc. to prepare and select exterior colors for our Albuquerque apartments Nob Hill Apartments. This was not a simple task as there are 12 buildings and we requested that a Mid-Century palette be used. Edy started with an excellent research piece on actual colors that were in common usage in residential applications during the Mid-century. Utilizing these colors of the past she created a new and fresh modern approach which is tasteful, professional and has resulted in increased demand.“Nob Hill Apartments

While on the streetside we did our best to blend with the neighborhood.

new colors


Moving from a Local to a Global Scale

Every year the color company Pantone names their “Color of the Year,” and many more “colors of the year” for the paint companies follow that announcement.

 Pantone names Ultra Violet as colour of the year for 2018

new colors

The color company Pantone has chosen a vibrant purple shade, named UltraViolet, as its colour of the year for 2018. Revealed earlier today, the Ultra Violet colour is described as “a dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade.” Says Pantone Executive Director Leatrice Eiseman: “We are living in a time that requires inventiveness and imagination. It is the kind of creative inspiration that is indigenous to UltraViolet, a blue-based purple that takes our awareness and potential to a higher level.
new colorsFrom exploring new technologies and the greater galaxy, to artistic expression and spiritual reflection, intuitive Ultra Violet lights the way to what is yet to come.”

Even I as a designer was surprised by one of the many upcoming products using the shade! And I love it on one of my favorite chairs, the super clean lined “Jean” from B an B Italia.


new colors

It is not too dissimilar to the color launched last year to pay tribute to pop icon Prince following his death. “The selection of Ultra Violet speaks to our shared desire for deeper understanding in an increasingly complex landscape, and our eagerness to experiment to reach that level,” said the company.

prince purple color

My New “Old Favorite” Resource

And for a local resource I’m in love with, meet Sara Dean and her plaster colors for traditional hard trowel and beeswaxed or Okon sealed plaster. Her palette is a winner, and includes legions of neutrals not in this photo, but she can match your color just as well. Sara was the techie in this business and then took the reins over, with her husband Jona Dean, when Rob Dean passed away. They refreshed the showroom and studio into a welcoming, usable space for designers and homeowners. Call me for directions, it’s tucked away in a construction yard off Cerrillos Road.

new plaster colors


Now I’d love to hear your favorites. The Saffron is one of mine and I’m hoping it will be in someone’s home that I am working on, this year!

Show House Santa Fe 2017 Thank You

contemporary southwest style

Thank you for coming to see Show House, if you made it this year!

We had wonderful attendance, raised a bundle of money for Dollars for Schools, and I am just now following up. We’re always a little sad to “undo” our show house rooms…it’s melancholy, sort of like Cinderella after the ball.

show house santa fe 2017

It was a great show

Happily, the response to the whole project, as well as my master bath redesign, was very positive. It’s a large room, and required furnishing, which is not that frequent a need in bathroom design. The original bath is lovely and quite feminine.
showhouse santa fe 2017

But in line with the Black and White, West of Contemporary theme, I wanted to create a little edgier more modern environment for relaxing, dressing and having fun.

contemporary southwest style

Having Fun

For the fun part, everyone loved the clips from my favorite remodeling movie, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, the model for the much newer remake The Money Pit. Personally, “Blandings” is so much classier. Treat yourself to these three minutes.

Clip One:
Why is paint color selection so difficult for so many? That’s for another post. And it certainly is not problematic for Mrs. Blandings. She describes each room in hilarious detail. But do the contactors care? Do they even hear? See how this one turns out!

Clip Two:
This clip is equally entertaining, and the repartee between Cary Grant and Myrna Loy is priceless. It’s about “size and scope creep” as we call it in our trades. And it occurs maybe 90% of the time. This particular scene had my architect husband Robert Zachry, nearly doubled over—pain or laughter?

Master Bath Views

Santa Fe Bathroom Design
master bath

Branding the Show House Bathroom

award winning santa fe interior designer Edy Keeler

To brand the bathroom for Show House, my clever assistant Bevin helped make graphic art for the white and black silk bathrobes. “Show House 2017” across the back, and “Club 5200” on the front, the address of the home. Later we presented the robes to David and Jennifer, the co-chairs of the whole event, as thank you’s.

Why the Master Bath?

I wanted to do the master bathroom because remodeling bathrooms is just about my favorite interior design engagement. Powder rooms are especially interesting, giving the opportunity to do something really fun, if small, and dramatic.

master bath
master bath

Edy Keeler Interiors, of Core Value Inc. Bathroom Portfolio

Large baths like the one In Show House are great, of course, and I very much look forward to the next one I’m doing. It’s down south, in a home from the 1970’s where the master bathroom suite is ill-arranged, chopped up into too many small areas. I look forward to bringing a large much more open space feel, with lighter, aqueous colors and wonderful fresh fixtures, and big new windows onto the mountain landscape. It will be a special retreat for wonderful hard-working people. I’ll report in 4-6 months!
santa fe bathroom design

ShowHouse Santa Fe 2017

show house santa fe 2017

ShowHouse Santa Fe 2017

The kickoff event Gala features scrumptious hearty hors d’oeuvres from Bear Nash and Dave Seller’s Street Food Institute, entertainment by Nacha Mendes and preview of this amazing 10,000 foot residence.

show house santa fe 2017

That Design Time of Year Again

We sailed through the Parade of Homes, in August. Simpler this year, being a judge instead of having to produce a staged home, so now it’s ShowHouse Santa Fe 2017! The fifth year and we’re very happy to be part of the fun.

The house is hidden in a 36 acre getaway at 5200 Old Santa Fe Trail. See it here

Bathroom Design

Now, twenty designers take it from a handsome traditional styling to all manner of looks in line with our 2017 theme. And Edy Keeler Interiors, of Core Value Inc. is re-imagining the master bathroom.

In line with our black and white theme, our media person has asked each of us to answer the question:  “Black, or White?”

I can’t divorce black from white here. The walls are beautifully executed in stark white, high polished traditional plaster. And in the bathroom the floors are soft profile off-white limestone, polished and sealed. So going Black was my solution to create some drama and sophistication. But it is a version of black I call Off-Black, and is contrasted with Off-White.

ShowHouse Santa Fe 2017 Kathleen Morris
The bath is large enough to want furniture. In furnishings and accessories I tend toward fewer large pieces rather than lots of small ones. When this daybed arrived I thought, “Hmmm, this is really large” – so I met that goal! It worked out fine and has a charcoal or Off-Black frame, with an Off-White heavy linens, tufted cushion. Off-Black silk taffeta drapes frame the area and create a haven.

I’ve added a small bathroom TV with a modish rocking chair, and will be screening clips from my favorite remodeling movie, the one I give all my clients, “Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House,” with Cary Grant and Myrna Loy. 
ShowHouse Santa Fe 2017 Carol Coates

showhouse santa fe 2017


Come lounge with us! I’ll also screen additional work by two talented artists, Carol Coates and Kathleen Morris.

showhouse santa fe 2017

From this lovely and feminine traditional look to something newly imagined, a little edgier, maybe like this. We’ll be incorporating fine art and running movie clips on the bath TV about a truly famous total renovation. We hope you will join the fun. 

ShowHouse Santa fe 2017

The kickoff event Gala “Puttin’ On the Ritz,” features scrumptious hearty hors d’oeuvres from Bear Nash and Chef Dave Seller’s Street Food Institute, entertainment by the beloved Nacha Mendez, and the pre-open house tour of this amazing 10,000 foot residence, with a boutique of delectable design items contributed by all the designers and our friends.

New this year, just beyond the Master Bath, in the commodious master closet, is a pop-up store filled with a wonderful collection of clothing, by our favorite, Bodhi Bazaar. “The ethos of Bodhi Bazaar for the last 28 years has been to awaken the ‘inner guru’ in each customer so that when they practice the sacred ritual of dressing themselves every day, they appreciate their uniqueness.”

As always, Show House Santa Fe benefits the highly acclaimed DOLLARS4SCHOOLS, which helps classroom teachers get small grants for special projects, instead of digging into their own tapped-out pockets. So far we have raised $100,000 for the organization.

Showhouse Santa Fe 2017

Tickets to both the Gala Friday, October 6 ($125) and the Home Tour ($30) October 7-8 and October 14-15 are now available online. Or if you’d prefer, give me a call. I would love to deliver them.

Test Your Taste

test your taste emerald and gold

test your taste

Test your taste. In the new year people often want to start fresh, or at least re-freshed.
If you’re tempted to do it yourself, great! But take this little tongue-in-cheek
New York Times Design magazine quiz to see if this is a good idea.

FOR EACH STATEMENT that rings true, give yourself the indicated number of points.

I know a “pop of color” is not a fruit-flavored soda. (0.5)

I like the symmetry of two Barcaloungers. (0.5)

I favor an eclectic approach to design, which has nothing to do with my mild hoarding problem. (0.5)

My toaster matches my fridge and oven. (1)

I regularly fantasize about home spas. (1)

I’ve spent at least 30 minutes of quality time with the Design Within Reach catalog. (1)

I believe if you buy what you truly love, it will all somehow harmoniously coexist. (1)

Every room has a mood or personality such as “playful,” “soothing” or “Middle-Eastern potentate.” (1)

I can’t help judging other people’s taste in décor, and I usually think my own is better. (1)

I think of my tabletop arrangements as little still-life compositions. (1)

I have Instagrammed at least one of these compositions. (1.5)

I can use the phrase “matchy-matchy” in a censorious remark softened by a touch of compassion. (1.5)

There should be a law against overhead lighting. (2)

An interior should have a collected, well-traveled look even if everything was acquired in the last five years in the same city. (2)

When it comes to choosing paint colors, I can agonize for weeks before narrowing it down to 11 shades of white. (2)

I have considered tossing all my books’ dust jackets and arranging their spines by color. (2)

When I’m a guest, I can’t control my impulse to surreptitiously dim the lamps. (2)

I always like to have at least one unexpected element in my rooms. (2)

I call that element a “moment.” (2.5)

I know the difference between a warm gray, a cool gray, a true gray and a “gray that doesn’t exactly sit up and bark.” (3)

My favorite cardio exercise is poofing all my pillows. (3)

Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams would make great names for a pair of dogs. (3)

Crystal chandeliers look totally appropriate in kitchens, bathrooms and four-car garages. (3)

I have strong opinions when it comes to the question “Is teal blue-green or green-blue?” (3)

When I travel, I bring my own accessories—photos in silver frames, imported textiles—to personalize my hotel room. (3)

I call everything from bud vases to drawer pulls the “jewelry” in a room. (3)

Flat-screen TVs just seem to belong over fireplaces, neck strain be damned. (3)

I’m fascinated by the stimulating dialogue between my sofa, chairs and coffee table. (4)

I worry that by 2018 the width and stain color of my hardwood flooring planks will look hopelessly 2016. (4)

I admit it: I once said chaise “lounge” instead of chaise “longue.” Of course, I was only 7 years old at the time. (4)

If there are too many skinny furniture legs in a room, I get anxious. It’s like being on a subway platform at rush hour. (5)

I mourn the scarcity of witty vanity stools. (5)

Instead of counting sheep at night, I name the 1,867 shades in the Pantone color chart. (5)
Now, add up your score…

0-25 points: You care about the way things look, but don’t quit your day job.

26-50 points: You are qualified to write the world’s 17,865th design blog, but don’t quit your day job.

Over 50 points: Quit your day job and hang out your shingle. Be sure the shingle is crafted of cerused oak.

***I understand only too well that this is the era of DIY. And whether you turned out to be a pro or not, you might be ready to refresh your rooms, I love collaboration, and ask you to consider partnering with me to bring your rooms new life in the best possible way. Check out the questionnaire on my website ABOUT YOU page. If you are interested, click here to tell me a little bit about yourself, or just use it to start your own thought process, especially if you are launching a major remodel.

Here’s to a wonderful year for you and your home!!!

New Area Rugs in time for the Holidays?

area rugs

The real answer on rugs. . . likely!area rugs

It all depends on the stock situation of the rug you want, and how soon you make a choice. I’ve found that the 6 x 9 size works for just about any smallish conversation grouping. 8 x 10 is fine for larger furniture areas, and 9 x 12 if you like furniture completely on the rug. Another smart idea for a lift at the entry is a smaller rug, 5 x 7 or 4 x 6, or even a runner. A small investment with big impact.

Let me know if you need to jazz up your floor! Email or call and we can schedule a visit. And the rug size guide is small, I will interpret.

P.S. PILLOWS? An even easier design lift for a sofa, chair, or banco.

New Windows in time for the Holidays?


The real answer on windows. . . possibly! It all depends on the stock situation of fabric selected for drapes or blinds. Cellular or pleated blinds take a full two weeks to arrive after we have measured. If fabric is in stock and ordered soon, we can do some styles of drapes, with our workroom installing, at your home in time for the Holidays, or definitely in January. My two favorites are the “S” curve and the soft inverted “casual” pleats. Of course that quick timeline depends on your favorite fabric being in stock. But we’ve had great good luck with fabric this season. Email or call and we will get to work!

Email or call and we will get to work!

s curve windows
S Curve or Wave style on ceiling track

specialty rod windows
S Curve or Ripplefold on a specialty rod

windows and coverings
Bedroom Ripplefold at Ridgway Ranch


ShowHouse Interview with Edy

lime, aqua, brown and green

Get to know Edy Keelershowhouse 2016

Q&A with Santa Fe Area Designer

Where do you find inspiration when starting a new project?

“I always find inspiration from the greatest desires of clients, as well as their practical needs. Something happens that lights a spark. It combined with influences within both their experiences, and mine. I want ideas about where they could stretch in their imagined perfect lives, to make the spaces interesting as well as functional.”

Where did you grow up? Has that had an influence on your design aesthetic? 

“I grew up in my mother’s house…full of color, light, fun and off-beat relatives. Not exactly “anything goes,” but certainly anything interesting will be considered. She was one of thirteen, and the aunts and uncles lived and raised families in places as exotic then as Peru, with mining companies, or Alaska, with the BIA, in Florida running amusement parks on the beach, or  Southern California 1950’s start-ups. They all came back to visit us in Oklahoma City with colorful surprises in their suitcases. Our design aesthetic had to be “eclectic” before the phrase was invented. I loved it.”

What would be your dream project?

“To design cooperatively managed, supportive housing, beautifully individualized to whatever extent possible for a soon to be boomer aging population that doesn’t wish to “age in place” for reasons of personal circumstance, finances, or desire. To be part of a team devising solutions for thorny problems of aging reflected in right living spaces.”

Finish the sentence:     Every room needs _________.

“a generous transition from the room or area before it. If the room is very different, an interesting visual segue is the best introduction to the new environment. I do not want to be overly “surprised” at home, in an office, or hotel. Sure, surprise is great, but graceful flow is equally important.”

Uniquely Wonderful Kitchens part 1


I have always wanted to live in and experience an Italian castle or villa, with totally modern fittings and furniture inside. Not the villa with intricate, highly ornamental frescoes, but a really old worn down one sporting raw stone walls . . . more grotto like than frescoed. Of course, I would not want to worry about keeping it warm and dry, that would all be taken care of before I took ownership.
And here is one of the kitchens I could imagine having there. A perfect sphere of stainless, translucent, and black when closed, and a workable very small kitchen when open. And I’m not even a bachelor, although it seems to holler “James Bond” or his 21st century equivalent.


Not this, which is charming and a wonderful kitchen renovation in Tuscany,


But this, inside the castle above.

Or in one of these, my best grotto dreams.


It does take a decent sized outlier for storage, of a couple of chairs, tabletop ware, and an oven.


Here is how it works: A top view of the work surfaces reveals sinks, a cooktop, and hotplate. So we are not cooking for a group, we are entertaining a special person. Any serious large scale cookery would be done before, offsite, or in a galley below.


A small outrigger for storage rolls right up to where you want it for a drawer full of utensils.


The concept of high contrast is really at play. Do you prefer this slick and minimal kitchen in an old world setting, a villa in Italy? Or for you, does it scream for the white walls and black floors of a highrise in New York?


Let us know where you envision yours!
(Cost? It compares to a complete, more standard, new kitchen or renovation.)

Next week, speaking of transparency….something I’d never dreamed of in any kitchens.

Grand Hacienda Award 2016

taupe charcoal cream colors

Proud to say Robert Zachry was architect on the 2016 Parade of Homes residence that took the Grand Hacienda Award

Robert, my husband, worked closely throughout the whole process, beyond design and engineering, with builders Scott and Maika Wong of Solterra. The home won two other awards one for Best Design, making us proud again. The home, on Aspen View in the Monte Sereno area of Santa Fe was on a six day tour in August, hosted by the owners. A very gracious thing  to do, as between two and three thousand people walk through, asking a few standard questions, a few thousand times. At the end of six days you find yourself saying things like, “Yes, that is a floor.”

grand hacienda award 2016

The home is sited to capture panoramic views. There were initial steep site issues to overcome, as well as subdivision covenants to adhere to. Glass and steel answer the first. Color palette speaks to the second. This is something that I work on a lot.

About the glass and steel, Zachry said, “We wanted a slim way of supporting that part of the house because the mountain views are so spectacular, so we used wide flange columns (aka W beams similar to the old I beams) that are load-bearing and exposed on the interior. Then there is solid insulation between that and a C-shaped steel channel so it appears as one solid beam. You don’t see the column sandwich because the window flange covers the joint where the insulation is. It’s a lot like the bark on a tree. The trunk supports everything, and the bark is the trim.”

The original design called for overhangs on the glass and steel cubes, but anything approaching a cantilever is discouraged in the covenants, enforcing that they really want traditional Southwest adobe looking architecture. “You can’t cantilever more than a half an adobe brick, right?” said the architect.

Grand Hacienda Award 2016
The main corridor runs north-south capturing the views of the Sangre de Cristos all along the glass walls to the east, as well as the sweeping badland’s red and ochre cliffs and gullies to the north.

“We wanted to make sure that as you get up in the morning and go to the kitchen to make coffee, and on to the living room to enjoy it, and then into the adjoining office, you are slammed with that view in every one of those experiences.”

Grand Hacienda Award 2016


And the kitchen you work in is something else. Simple as it looks, it did also win Best Kitchen at the awards banquet. Clean and uncluttered to the world and serving side, it also has a back kitchen where all the counter top appliances live, and do not have to be put away when company comes. Convenient and beautiful, and a top level early request of the homeowner who uses the kitchen the most.

Grand Hacienda Award 2016


I’ll be going into fantastical futuristic food preparation features in a forthcoming post. Stay tuned.

Edy Talks Design Trends

media room with blue ceiling lighting

Last week, the principals of the popular interior design firm Reside Home—Kendra Henning, Jeff Fenton and Chris Martinez— hosted their monthly broadcast, which focuses on a variety of design trends, events, and personalities.

“Design Commitment/Fear of Commitment”: Kendra, Jeff and Chris discussed this interior design theme with designer Edy Keeler of Edy Keeler Interiors, of Core Value Inc.. Focus was given to many of the permanent finishes to a home that require a major commitment from clients, including the installation of cabinets, counter tops, tile, flooring, and paint colors.

This is all about the big decisions that are required when building new construction, an addition, or a major remodel. While preparing for the show, we likened this to real-life relationships:

  • Furniture and accessories might be considered “casual dating” – if it doesn’t work out, you’re disappointed, but not devastated. You can try again and you didn’t waste a lot of time or resources.
  • The “big-ticket” items we’re talking about today are more like marriage – if it doesn’t work out you could get divorced, but it’s messy. Lots of lost time, and probably money too!

To listen to the show, please follow the link below to the episode page on

Click here for the episode.

Lighting up a home and a life


Step by step guide to being a designer on a new construction project in Santa Fe

This is Step 4- Lighting up a home and a life

Natural Light

Almost no one argues that lighting is vital. Natural light being the gold standard in our mountain west environment. If we are thinking well in the structural design phase, we let it in from the best vantage points for views, for warmth, good feelings, and health. South facing windows with the right overhangs, west facing glazing with even deeper overhangs. And we usually use more modest fenestration to the east for morning sun in kitchens and bedrooms, and not as much at all to the north, unless a stunning mountain view demands it.

Hopefully the architect has tended to all those openings. What I am most often tasked with is the interior lighting and the night time exteriors, done best in step with a landscape architect.

Architectural Lighting

Architectural lighting, that which is part of the structure, is not purely decorative, and is best when the fixtures disappear and the light itself is the object, is the backbone of the plan. On this project three types of fixtures will be used throughout.

A straight recessed downlight, only 4” in diameter, and available in several finishes, most likely the brushed nickel, but the bronze is possible too.


There will be areas for art that require something that can drop down and rotate to several directions, and this will be minimal and flexible.


And for something that is even more “aimable,” we chose a small spot mounted on the side of beams, which will work best. Hopefully with an LED lamp.


Functional Decorative Lighting

The more decorative lights, all still highly functional, start with the bathroom vanity lights.


This is a thin piece of Lexan with an LED (light emitting diode) strip light at the rear of it, with a brushed nickel backplate to match the plumbing fixtures. We will place one over each basin in the master, for excellent light and color rendition.

For the guest bathroom, we’ve chosen a fixture so minimal that it is hard to appreciate it in online pictures. The Rae Suspension is an LED tube, dimmable, that provides wonderful light, especially when hung in front of a mirror, to double the light source.


And this “ice cube” will probably light the mirror in the powder room, either as a wall sconce as shown, or as a pendant beside the mirror or possibly on either side of the mirror.


I actually love these very non-serious vanity lights, but they were deemed a little over the top for this home!


Ultimately, there will be some decorative lights, also functional, in the form of three single light pendants over kitchen island seating, and other serving counters.

Because the dining table may be moved around a bit for entertaining groups, we won’t have a pendant or chandelier over the table in this home.

Finally, for the interior, there are some hallways and other areas that would benefit from something simple and sleek casting a pool of light reflected off the wall, but not particularly attention getting as they may share walls with art pieces.


Outdoor Lighting

Exterior lighting on this contemporary home will also be classically simple. Because of our local Dark Skies ordinance, and the subdivision requirements, all light must be projected downward, nothing up and nothing straight out. These two are in compliance. We’ll use the larger one at primary entries, and the smaller at secondary entries like near garages.


After we have a final landscape plan, we will choose similarly simple ground lights, on 12” stems. In the courtyard walls and retaining walls there will be recessed step lights. Any of these will suffice but I will research which shed the most light and have the longest lamp life.


We’re leaving selection of the decorative lights for over the Kitchen areas until later, when we have picked the palette for plaster walls and any painted areas. For the builders who will be bidding on building the home, I’ll put in an allowance for those final decorative fixtures.

Architectural, functional and decorative wall lighting will always need supplementing with portable lighting — floor lamps, table lamps, desk lamps. This gives the home enough different light levels for visual interest and appeal. But that comes when we work on furnishings, about a year away. For now, we have a plan to light up a new home!

For lighting design examples, please click here.

Plumbing Essentials

plumbing essentials

Step by step guide to being a designer on a new construction project in Santa Fe

This is Step 3- Plumbing is Essential

Plumbing: the toilets, the sinks, the tubs, and the showers, is one of the essentials of course, and a place to blow the budget, or compromise the budget to the point of needless and endless repairs before the useful life of the project is spent. 

This couple wants quality, but not at any price, and has a definite clean and modern aesthetic. A desire that can be more costly, we’ve found over the years, than one that is more decorative. Those frills, in both plaster wall styles and plumbing fixtures, can hide a lot of glitches.Here is the aesthetic, and following, the items we are sourcing to play with in this first go around.

plumbing essentials

We’re needing a tub with clean lines, but don’t necessarily want to pay over five figures for it. We also need a different set-up for the tub-filler and controls. The clients do not want to have to lean over a wide tub to start filling it. So we are settling on this floor mounted option which will be at the end of the tub, near the entry to the shower room.

plumbing essentials

And this tub, more in line with this budget, and delivering just about the same look.

plumbing essentials

Now, the all important toilet decisions. No one likes to clean around a toilet, especially one with lots of curves in the base. So how about no base at all? Wall hung toilets deliver on all fronts: easy to clean around, and sleek looking. The guts have to go in the wall, and the operator on that wall. So, do we have a location where we can get into that wall, and have an access to it on the other side? Yes and yes. So it will go at least into the powder room.


plumbing essentials


Also in the powder room, something of stone that is warm and earthy, and goes with very simple clean tile that is definitely not stone and so offers easy upkeep. This travertine bowl, carved out of one piece of stone, has an eccentric offbeat shape that we like, and marries up with a simple man made tile—no sealing, easy to maintain.


plumbing essentials

Architects, Community Guidelines Vs. Design Vision

architect and community

Step by step guide to being a designer on a new construction project in Santa Fe

This is Step 2- Working with architects and community guidelines

Review with the architect and clients. This is for the home in the Santa Fe north side subdivision with multiple homeowner’s association guidelines to meet. We try to review client selections with the architect soon after we make initial decisions to see if there are questions or concerns. Whether we have strong objections or positive responses, either way will affect further choices we’ll be making. In this case we have the base color but still have two concrete colors to narrow down to one. The clients want to take them to the site on their own and think about it.

What we are doing at this meeting is discussing what accent color we might use, and most importantly where do we want to use it. Overuse of an accent color is a mistake, as it dilutes the point of having an accent at all, and makes a project look choppy or “polka-dotty,” not good things visually. You may notice this on lots of projects, but we try not to do it.

One big plus is that we can use accent colors that the homeowner’s association might nix from a street view, if we use it on a private outdoor space wall that is hidden from the street, but is seen through living room glass that surrounds a fireplace.

Another option is to use either a dramatic darker accent, or an appreciably lighter one, on the “links” — passageways between larger masses — between the garage and the main living area, for example, at B. And between the main living area and the private bedroom suites at C. This would emphasize the architectural feature and we all like the idea.

architects communities

Here, shaded in red, are the minimal areas we are discussing…optimally, I’d go wild as these are small accents, relatively speaking, but we are not sure they will appreciate that. Stay is a process, and this is where I can begin to have fun.

One note, we are hoping to do glass panels on the three garage doors. The space will be used partially as a workspace, and the northern light would be awesome if the doors are opaque glass.

Designing for ground up construction

ground up construction

Step by step guide to being a designer on a ground up construction project.


This is Step 1- Choosing the color palette


Once the architecture is pretty much through design development, the first step depends greatly on whether or not the home is in a subdivision with homeowner association guidelines. The ground up construction I have chosen for this series is in a gated subdivision with extensive rules as to palette, size, height, setbacks and more, and we have to pick our exterior colors for everything on the home (stucco, metal, windows, pavers, even the roofing material) before submitting plans to the HOA (Home Owner Association) review committee. There is often one local architect hired to guide the association, and then a few neighbors to offer thoughts.


Exterior Color Palette: There is a generally approved palette and in the case of this Santa Fe subdivision, like so many, it just about has to be brown, beige, or some very close “natural” color. It is true that my favorites to work on are those where I have much freer rein. For example, this subdivision encourages interesting colors, but it is a rare one. And a treat.


exterior palette ground up construction
A local exterior palette in a subdivision that allows color.


But today we are here to create a harmonious palette pleasing to the owner, and acceptable to the association. We’re at the building site on a northside Santa Fe subdivision, and the owner wants a color that will blend well into the landscape, rather than stand out. I’ve always found the really light shades stand out much more in the landscape, and always recommend the medium to darker shades. So that is what we proposed here, the one in my right hand, and it was accepted. Along with similar hues for concrete, and exposed steel beams with a natural patina.


Blending Interior and Exterior Palettes: At the same time, because the integral colored concrete floors will usually spill out the doors onto all the portal patios, we are choosing concrete colors that complement the exterior stucco walls. As in this home.


interior palette ground up construction
An interior palette flooring that flows through to the exterior.


Designer and owner are in agreement! It’s been a good warm sunny winter afternoon looking at the mountain through the lens of exterior stucco and concrete “Santa Fe” colors.


Check in next week for Step 2. Although steps 1 and 2 will be posted one after the other, this series “How to be a designer for the ground up construction projects” will be an intermittent series due to it taking place in real time, right now. Thank you for your patience.