Walking into the home of Angie and Steve Spady, you are welcomed into their lives. The home holds a collection of their life experiences, including furniture, fabric and art collected from around the world. The paintings and wood carvings of local artists are also featured. “Everything has a personal meaning for us. It might seem quirky, but so are we,” says Angie Spady.
She is a former art history teacher and pharmaceutical representative. Now she writes children’s books and makes jewelry. Since moving to Taos four years ago, she has taken on the renovation of the Weimer-area house with devotion and passion. She says that she has been making the house a home for her and her husband, an emergency room doctor. Their grown daughters who come to visit stay in a bedroom painted deep blue and filled with art, including their own paintings.
When they purchased the home, the Spadys began to renovate it and dream of ways to capture the views. A first phone call to Felipe Rodriguez of 90 Degree Corners to get help with a minor plumbing problem turned into a four-year relationship that goes beyond just working to remodel a house. Since the first plumbing repair, Rodriguez has built portals and outdoor spaces, removed walls and added an “en suite” bathroom connected to the master bedroom. He says, “I came four years ago and never left.”
The relationship of trust between the Spadys and Rodriguez is such that when Angie Spady was in a car accident, the first person she called was Rodriguez. Spady was returning from an early morning trip to take her daughters to the airport in Albuquerque last winter. As she neared the Stakeout area, she hit a patch of black ice and the car became airborne and landed 30 feet from the road. She couldn’t get out of the car. Knowing that Steve Spady was at work in the emergency room, she called Rodriguez. He found her, extracted her from the car and took her to his house to make sure she was all right.
Of this friendship and others, Spady says, “I had no idea that when we moved here, we would find more friends in four years than in a lifetime living elsewhere.” The friendships and the openness she felt in Taos were a huge support as she struggled to recover from the death of her best friend and to overcome her own health problems. She threw herself into reimaging the home that was built in 2001. After Rodriguez repaired a cracked garage floor that had a drainage problem, the bigger projects began. An outside patio with a few flagstones laid on gravel was transformed into an elegant outside room. A new roof supported by vigas was built over the patio in a circular design.
Rodriguez says that although the circular design was a challenge, it wasn’t too difficult. His son, Daniel Rodriguez, who actually cut each piece of wood to create the circular shape, clarifies that it was an exacting process to make sure each piece was correct. Their craftsmanship is evident in the way the new portal blends with the existing house and carries its character to the outside.
This outdoor room now has comfortable seating and is surrounded by flowering plants. A hot tub sits just off to the west. The whole patio area has spectacular views of Taos Mountain and El Salto, all perfectly framed by the new
curved roof. The landscaping here, as well as at the entry and in a second garden on the south side of the house, was designed and installed by Jerry Schwartz of Sticks and Stones Earthwork. Schwartz has worked with the Spadys and with Rodriguez
to create spaces that soothe and nurture by adding water features and flowers. As part of his work, he listens to the goals of the homeowners and then helps to make their visions a reality. He says, “When you design and install landscaping, you understand that it is the homeowners who will live with the results, so you want them to be happy. Visions evolve and change; patience is required to allow that to happen.”
In the south garden, a stream of water emerges from under a spruce tree and bubbles through the landscape of green plants and flowers. It is visited by doves and lizards. It has Zen feeling of peace, but fits in with its Southwest setting, again mixing eclectic elements to produce a beautiful whole. This serenity garden is used for meditation, writing and napping. “It is a place to go when I am stressed out or seeking spiritual peace,” says Angie Spady.
A final major project is the new bathroom connected to the master bedroom. Angie Spady found a picture of a room with a curved ceiling and showed it to Felipe Rodriguez. He set about creating a new room with a domed ceiling and a subtle faux finish that frames up a room for bathing and relaxing. A stand-alone tub gazes west over a field of lavender, planted by Steve Spady after he returned from the lavender fields of Provence in France. When the sun sets over the three-peaked mountain, Tres Orejas, it is almost a spiritual experience, says Angie Spady. She worked with an interior designer, David Naylor, of Santa Fe, to incorporate fabric from her travels to Italy and India into the cushions for the window seats and framed wall hangings. Art decorates the inset nichos designed and built by Rodriguez.
It took months to construct the room, says Rodriguez. After it was finished, he returned to see the space now filled with tables, flowers and fabric. “We felt very proud,” he says. “This is the jewel of all.”
As the work comes to completion, Angie Spady reflects that the process has been a way to find a sense of home and to heal from life’s challenges. “This has been a labor of salvation and has saved me in more ways than one. It has been a process of us dreaming and somehow Rodriguez and Schwartz have made it happen.”
As the Spadys transition to their new lives in Taos, the soothing spaces are helping them learn to slow down. They came from a place in the East with limited views to a place with open views and open minds. “We came home here. We are blessed in so many ways,” says Angie Spady. For more information on her books and jewelry, visit angiespady.com.
To contact Felipe and Daniel Rodriguez of 90 Degree Corners, call 575-770-9621. Reach Schwartz at Sticks and Stones Earthworks at 575-770-3045.