Funny how your perceptions change about a house once you’ve spent time in it. “The old house felt okay, but now it would feel terrible!” says Dick Gallun, referring to his Eastside Santa Fe home’s complete transformation at the hands of Prull Custom Builders, architect Craig Hoopes, and David Naylor Interiors. “We thought we could just paint the walls and redo the floors,” his wife, Judith McGregor, adds.
As contractor and interior designer got to know their clients better—and realized that mechanical, electrical, and plumbing issues all needed attention—the project expanded, with the home’s status as a noncontributing historic building adding another layer to the complexity of the renovation. What started as a cosmetic update became a comprehensive remodel designed to pay homage to the home’s historic past and accommodate the things the owners love the most: their dogs, their family, and their art.
Longtime art lovers and collectors (in 2012 Gallun authored a book entitled The Art of Living with Art about their home in Milwaukee), Gallun and McGregor are understandably proud of their collection in Santa Fe, a mélange of fanciful paintings and sculpture from the likes of Ilya Zomb, Mark Mulhern, and Copper Trittscheller, blended with original Western art by several of the Taos painters. But they may be more proud of the relationships they’ve built with the artists themselves, whom they tend to refer to as “friends.” Alexandra Eldridge, Michael Bergt, metal furniture maker Jim Rose—all are referred to by first name, as is David Naylor, with whom they felt an immediate rapport.
With its delicious diamond plaster white walls and well-placed art lighting—updates from the remodel—Gallun and McGregor’s home is very gallery-like, and yet eminently livable and easygoing. A dog toy, recently unstuffed and strewn across the floor in the piano room, attests to who really rules the roost here. Weimaraners Matilda and Lucille, Shih Tzu mix Henry Chin, and Max, a Havenese temporarily “on loan” from McGregor’s son—alternately lounge on sofas and burst through doggie doors to explore outside. It was a dynamic Naylor, the high-end designer, initially had a hard time wrapping his head around.
“I’m usually bossier around [the subject of] furniture,” he says. “But that just wasn’t important to them. So I asked myself, ‘If I can’t help them that way, how can I help them?”’ The answer was to unleash his creative energies on the guest casita, the kitchen, and the bathrooms.
Long and narrow, the travertine-clad master bathroom now makes more sense, with an oversized and curbless walk-in shower at one end, a sleek, floating vanity in the middle, and a large his-and-hers closet and laundry space, relocated from the front of the house, at the other end. (“Her meditation is laundry,” says Naylor, referring to McGregor. “His is cooking.”) The kicky, chevron-patterned flooring from the kitchen is duplicated here, once again adding depth to a space that leans to the very neutral. McGregor loves her bathroom.
Gallun, the chef, finds his newly expanded, well-appointed, and sunlit kitchen much to his liking. Perhaps a little too much? “The kitchen is where we live,” he says. “We have to discipline ourselves to live in all areas of the house.” The curving banco opposite the new wood-burning fireplace is the spot where everyone—humans and pups—tend to hang out, with Gallun and McGregor usually choosing to dine at the tiny table there rather than at the island or in the more formal dining room.
The piano room, as the homeowners call it, also underwent a dramatic change. “First thing we did was pull out all the bookshelves,” says McGregor. This removed the “busyness” of the space and allowed the owners to—naturally—create more wall space for art. A beautiful, cross-beamed ceiling now draws the eye upward to capture the whole scene and the outdoor views, while skylights suffuse the room with natural light that highlights prints, paintings, and sculpture. Seeing how their home seamlessly blends beauty with comfort, it’s clear that Gallun and McGregor know of what they speak; they have indeed mastered the art of living with art. Of the award-winning renovation, Will Prull, owner of Prull Custom Builders, notes, “This project is one the whole community can be proud of.”
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