The light is everywhere

Judith Kendall curates a private retreat with breathtaking views

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"The light here is so incredible. It’s like you’re outside when you’re inside," said homeowner Judith Kendall. She would know about the importance of light around here. For many years, she owned the former Fenix Gallery and has experienced firsthand how the famous Taos light inspires artists who come here from all around the world.

Kendall arrived in Taos in 1974. At that time, the area was largely rural and few urban amenities existed. “Taos attracts people with a maverick sensibility, an independent sense of self. That’s the creative aspect of Taos. You can’t live here without being asked to be who you are,” she said.

Though she regrets leaving, the time has come for this longtime Taoseña to relocate to another part of the country to be closer to her family.

Kendall acknowledged that the past 44 years have brought many changes to Taos but added, “What hasn’t changed is the expansiveness of space that people can experience.” Her gallery’s first location was on the main road across from the Fechin House, and then she moved to Ranchitos Road near the Harwood Museum of Art.

Kendall had an eye for contemporary art, and the simple, clean lines of her home captures that vision. “The home isn’t complicated. If you’re retired, it’s a place where you can age well. Or it’s great if you’re a millennial who likes clean lines and simple places,” said Kendall.

The Fenix Gallery was a busy, active social space. So she purposefully designed her home to be somewhat of a sanctuary, a private retreat. “The house has a bit of a treehouse effect. You’re perched up above the valley. You’re not immediately surrounded by houses,” she said.

Located at 28 Los Rios Road, this 1,770 square foot home has 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. The lot is 6.7 acres of piñon and juniper. The home is listed at $575,000 (MLS #101177).

The modern home was custom designed by Taos artist Jim Mason. Douglas Kaufman did the construction in 2002. Several architectural and design features stand out. First, the house is visible from the road, most notably because of its two-story atrium tower. But when you are in the home, you cannot see the road or hear any passing car. That’s because the house is not directly linked to the road. Instead, a meandering driveway swoops visitors into a valley of sage and piñon and then elevates them to the higher level of the home.

Another outstanding feature of the home is the advantage of key window placements. For example, a large window anchors the foot of the master bathroom tub. Similarly, in the open living room, a series of windows serve as picture frames of the Hondo Valley views below.

The home’s most dramatic statement is its atrium tower, which soars above its single-floor level. Kendall spoke about the incredible feeling of having an enclosed atrium right in the middle of her house.

“I can sit at my kitchen counter and watch the snow fall here in the same room. It’s wonderful,” she said. The windows throughout the house are not homogenous. Particular attention was paid to the spacing and placements of Thermopane® windows, all of which demonstrates the homeowner’s thoughtful curation of capturing light.

“I had this experience when I first moved here: the moon was full and just coming into this space. It was breathtaking,” said Kendall. A towering, semi-enclosed porch is the home’s entry, and again, we see stacked glass windows placed in the porch wall. Visitors are swept through the home’s double-glass door front entrance, which leads one into the light-filled open room of kitchen, living and dining areas. The emphasis here is on simplicity, abundant light and breathtaking views.

The open-air atrium encompasses one end of the great room while a Rumford® fireplace counters with warmth on the opposite end.

"This is a very wonderful space for indoor plants even if you don’t have a green thumb. The light is everywhere,” said Kendall. Situated in the middle is the open kitchen. With a wood-block countertop and seating, it is the perfect set-up for entertaining or watching the sunset as you prepare dinner. Modern appliances blend in with the minimal design; abundant storage space keeps clutter out of sight.

The master bedroom is en suite; the second bedroom has an adjacent full bath. The second bedroom is presently used as a study with the morning light inspiring early risers with daybreak creativity. “We are tucked away here, so there is an enormous sense of privacy. People have expressed to me: ‘Your home has very nice energy,’” said Kendal.

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