Photography © Amadeus Leitner

A Twist on Tradition

Simplified, Soft Contemporary Style Is Just the Thing for a Busy Young Family

by Amy Gross

October/November 2018

Rob and Christa Woods have moved about a million times together, and have even built or remodeled three houses together. But this house, Rob states emphatically, is his last. This might not be such an important pronouncement if he were, say, considering retirement, but Rob and Christa are years from that point. More significantly, Rob is one of the owners of Woods Design Builders, the venerable homebuilding firm founded by his parents, Sharon Woods and his late father, Robert Woods, over 40 years ago. Builders are known for designing standout personal homes, then selling them mere months down the road, and for the Woods boys (brother Shane is co-owner of the company), house-flipping has been a way of life. So really? His last house?

“It checks all the boxes,” says Christa, for whom views are number one on the must-have list. She was the one who found the property, walking immediately to the back of the house to assess the west-facing vistas. They worked for sure; the dated, poorly sited house on the lot did not. It was demoed to the ground, and Sharon and architect Lorn Tryk started the design essentially from scratch.

Rob and Christa realized they both wanted a cleaner, more contemporary style this time around, a house that lived as effortlessly as it looked.

Rob and Christa had had their eye on the area for a while. “I always wanted to be in Wilderness Gate because it’s super quiet; you feel like you’re in the mountains,” Rob says. “Every morning I’m at Atalaya Trail running, biking. To have that and feel totally private and removed, and be able to be in town in 10 minutes and drop the kids off at school—it’s perfect.”

The location didn’t come without its challenges, however. Mountainside property makes it near impossible to build a one-story house, and there were also building restrictions to contend with. “Half of the house was in Foothills Escarpment and half in Ridgetop Escarpment; the line went directly down the length of the house,” says Rob, who can laugh about it now. Sharon nearly threw in the towel a couple of times during the design phase. “We told her, this house is everything; you have to make it work!” says Christa. And she did. The only steps lead to the children’s playroom and the garage, and they were able to secure the square footage they wanted on a single floor.

A modern, Southwestern bedroom
In the master bedroom, new nightstands and linens and a refurbished and re-covered wingback chair provide those soft color accents.

Traditional Woods homes are instantly recognizable, a brilliant formula of features and finishes that exude a timeless warmth and luxury—custom cabinetry, wood floors, patterned tile, buttery wall finishes, cozy hearth rooms off the kitchen, and sumptuous master suites. Rob and Christa love that traditional feel, but realized they both wanted a cleaner, more contemporary style this time around, a house that lived as effortlessly as it looked.

“He’s super busy with his work; I’m working. We have the kids running in and out,” notes Christa, an oncology nurse at Christus St. Vincent. “I just felt I wanted the house to be simple. It makes things feel a little less crazy.”

Though it retains the classic Woods sensibility, this home takes advantage of pure white walls, wide open picture windows, white oak floors with a whitewashed finish, and lots and lots of cool metal work, including a super-modern fireplace surround in the great room by Santa Fe metal fabricator Gabe Rippel, who is a personal friend. Christa and Sharon chose all the finishes, going for a theme that was “a little rustic, a little contemporary.” The entire effect is clean, light, and uncluttered. That’s not to say the house is devoid of adornment—not by a long shot.

From their deck off the great room, Rob and Christa have largely traded TV for stargazing and admiring the city lights as the sun goes down.

With the help of interior designers Paul Rochford and Michael Violante of Violante & Rochford Interiors—longtime collaborators with the Woods family—Rob and Christa chose a few new pieces of furniture that would complement the contemporary aesthetic. Other pieces were simply freshened by V&R’s furniture restorers and reupholstered in fun, über-durable fabrics to withstand the rigors of their two young boys—Nolan, 8, and Ethan, 4. Next the couple carefully curated their art, antique furniture, and décor, under the gentle guidance of their interior design partners.

“We love Paul and Michael because they don’t just come in and make your house look like an art gallery,” says Christa. “They ask, ‘What’s important to you?’ Anything that’s special they incorporate.” Rochford and Violante had their furniture restorers fix and reupholster several cherished pieces that had been in Christa’s family, and did the same for a Taos bed Rob’s father, a carpenter, built 40 years ago. Formerly relegated to garages and other hidden spaces, the bed is now re-stained, cushioned, and decorated with pillows, looking just perfect in the boys’ playroom.

Meaningful pieces of art—a tulip print and a sunflower painting—are carefully placed reminders of Christa’s late brother and mother.

A playroom with blue and orange accents
A Taos bed built by Rob's late father was refinished and reupholstered, and now holds a place of honor in the boys' cheerful, happy playroom.
A Southwestern living room
A Woods Design Builders signature element, the cozy "hearth room" off the kitchen is an informal gathering spot where the family can catch up while meals are being prepared.

With the help of interior designers Paul Rochford and Michael Violante of Violante & Rochford Interiors—longtime collaborators with the Woods family—Rob and Christa chose a few new pieces of furniture that would complement the contemporary aesthetic. Other pieces were simply freshened by V&R’s furniture restorers and reupholstered in fun, über-durable fabrics to withstand the rigors of their two young boys—Nolan, 8, and Ethan, 4. Next the couple carefully curated their art, antique furniture, and décor, under the gentle guidance of their interior design partners.

“We love Paul and Michael because they don’t just come in and make your house look like an art gallery,” says Christa. “They ask, ‘What’s important to you?’ Anything that’s special they incorporate.” Rochford and Violante had their furniture restorers fix and reupholster several cherished pieces that had been in Christa’s family, and did the same for a Taos bed Rob’s father, a carpenter, built 40 years ago. Formerly relegated to garages and other hidden spaces, the bed is now re-stained, cushioned, and decorated with pillows, looking just perfect in the boys’ playroom.

Meaningful pieces of art—a tulip print and a sunflower painting—are carefully placed reminders of Christa’s late brother and mother.

A stylish living room with a fireplace
Shafts of late afternoon sunlight cast a warm glow over the great room.

“It’s always important for us to bring those elements into a contemporary home,” says Rochford. “I think that’s what gives soul to these places.” 

“The Woods family likes what we do a lot, which is juxtaposing and layering of old and new,” Violante adds. A cuckoo clock passed down to Rob from his grandmother is the sole detailed ornamentation in the stripped-down dining area, a tableau consisting of nothing more than a simple chandelier, a rustic table, white plastic chairs—and a view to die for.

A deck off the great room also captures that view, and Rob and Christa take advantage of the additional living space nearly every evening after the boys have gone to bed. They’ve largely traded TV for stargazing and admiring the city lights as the sun goes down. It’s a pretty perfect setting.

Metalworker Rippel and his family visit often. “Gabe’s always saying, ‘You know you’re not going to do any better than this house. You know that; right?’” says Rob, adding, “It’s perfection: the views, the mountains, the quietness, the design.”

Sure sounds like this house might be The One. 

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