Santa Fe Sophistication
An artist turned residential designer creates a contemporary take on traditional pueblo style
The house that Seth Anderson, owner of Santa Fe-based design firm Lifdom, created for his family stands at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, on the edge of the Tesuque Valley just outside Santa Fe. Like the town, it’s a study in contrasts between old and new; a place where cultures have merged to influence its design. Tapping his experience as a furniture-maker, textile designer and contemporary artist, Anderson orchestrated the home’s blend of traditional pueblo architecture and contemporary lines, Old World finishes and of-the-moment furnishings, and native pottery and modern art, to create an environment with a true sense of place.
MOUNTAIN LIVING: This home seems to be a softer, more contemporary take on pueblo style.
SETH ANDERSON: New Mexico offers an interesting mix of opposing elements and cultures, and I tried to achieve similar contrasts in this house. I incorporated clean, hard-edged, contemporary lines with elements that are very soft, textural and that have a sense of age. Some rooms are very open and expansive, and others are more private and intimate.
ML: The home’s façade appears almost fortress-like. Why did you decide to incorporate that element of traditional pueblo architecture?
SA: This homesite is rather unique in that it has a backdrop of piñon trees and junipers. The house, which is configured almost like an amphitheater, is nestled into the side of that backdrop. It has three layers—a front patio, a main living space and a back patio—and it opens up to a wide expanse off to the north.
ML: It looks like the oversized storefront windows help to create transitions between those layers.
SA: I like the graphicness of them, and their ability to expand the living spaces in a simple, contemporary way.
ML: Tell us about the black-and-white color palette you selected. Was it difficult to avoid the rusty oranges and sandy browns that are so pervasive in Santa Fe design?
SA: I understand why that earthy color palette is such an integral part of the local vernacular, but sometimes it can get a little muddy. In this case, some of those colors were coming in from the outside already, and I wanted to create an environment that feels more fresh and pristine.
ML: The kitchen really seems to exemplify that freshness you were after.
SA: I wanted the kitchen to have a dramatic but comforting effect because we’re in there so much. There are three large skylights that run the length of the room, so the space is filled with light, which I love. I used a dark ebony finish on the cherry cabinets; the color ties in with the room’s black accents, but you can still see a little bit of the wood grain. When the light hits, it has a reddish hue. This technique of using variations of black adds texture, depth and a feeling of comfort to the room.
ML: How did you choose furnishings to complement this contemporary color palette?
SA: The architecture is rather understated and I wanted the furnishings to convey that same feeling. But they also had to be very comfortable and luxurious—and kid-friendly. In the den, where the kids play, I used an outdoor fabric that’s hard to mess up. In the master bedroom, I wanted to create a comforting, simplified space. There are more low-lying elements in there and the fabrics are a bit softer—some silk and cashmere and linen.
ML: The library seems to skew more traditional. Is that crown molding we see on the bookcases?
SA: This space was a hidden gem in the house. I began with a few traditional elements: a pair of club chairs that I purchased in Paris and an Oriental rug. Then I decided to go in the opposite direction and incorporate the Ellsworth Kelly, a very clean and minimal piece of art.
ML: What is the secret to incorporating such disparate style elements to create a home that so naturally fits its setting?
SA: I try to let things kind of flow. Let certain things be dictated to you and you’ll be surprised by the outcome. Your surroundings, the movement of the sun, what’s happening with the trees, what you already own and enjoy, how you live: those are the things that ultimately create a home for you.
ARCHITECTURAL, INTERIOR & LANDSCAPE DESIGN & BUILD Seth Anderson, Lifdom Properties, Santa Fe, NM, 505-670-8897, lifdom.com LIVING ROOM RUG Windsor Smith’s “Cap Ferrat,” Kravet Rugs, Dallas, TX, kravetcontract.com COFFEE TABLE “Three Legged Coffee Table Steel Top,” Saladino Furniture CHAIRS “Standard George V Lounge Chair” by Studio H, Holly Hunt, hollyhunt.com, upholstered in “Flaxed Out, The Deep End” by Great Plains, Kneedler-Fauchere, Denver, CO, 303-744-7474; “Lower Park Avenue Chair” by George Cameron Nash, Inc., Dallas, TX georgecameronnash.com, upholstered in Mohair “Take Direction, Twig” by Great Plains, George Cameron Nash, Inc., georgecameronnash.com SIDE TABLES Christian Liaigre’s “Cigale” side table by Studio H, Holly Hunt, available through Kneedler-Fauchere, Denver, CO, 303-744-7474; The Barbara Barry Collection’s “Nesting Tables” in mahogany, Baker Furniture, Dallas, TX, kohlerinteriors.com SOFA “Medley” Sofa, Kravet Furniture, kravet.com, upholstered in “Luminous Oyster” by Barbara Barry, Kravet, Dallas, TX, kravet.com LAMP “Ayers Floor Lamp” (chrome with oyster linen shade) by Palmer Hargraves, a Dessin Fournir Company, Kneedler-Fauchere, Denver, CO, 303-744-7474 PILLOWS Dransfield & Ross, dransfieldandross.biz PAINTING OVER FIREPLACE “Summoning the Storm” by Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison SMALLER BLACK & WHITE PAINTING “Nocturne Assemblage XXXIX (B)” by Robert Kelly WINE NOOK/KITCHEN BLACK CHEST “Bibliotheque” Chest in Mahogany, Maxine Snider Inc., Chicago, IL, maxinesniderinc.com TABLE Dark Walnut/Steel Table designed by Seth Anderson of Lifdom, Santa Fe, N.M., lifdom.com GREEN CERAMIC POT Artist Hilario Alejos, Madrigal, Mexico BASKET Hand Woven Basket, Bali CERAMIC DOLLS “Day of the Dead” figures by Alvaro De La Cruz, Mexico CERAMIC FIGURE Water Pitcher by Sampigny Les Maranges, France BAR STOOLS “Pam” stool in wood, Ligne Roset, San Diego, CA, ligne-roset-usa.com ARTWORK Orange/Grey Print by Robert Mangold DINING ROOM TABLE/CHEST Antique dining table and chest by Chapital Furniture, Puebla, Mexico CERAMIC BOWL Black Vase by Vidal Aguilar from Santa Domingo Pueblo, New Mexico ARTWORK Orange/Grey Print by Robert Mangold CHAIRS Camel Back Parson Chair in leather, Carrington Court, Hickory, NC, carringtoncourtdirect.com DEN COUCH “Porter” sofa by Barbara Barry, Henredon, Dallas, TX, henredon.com, upholstered in “Rough ‘N Rowdy” honed limestone by Perennials, David Sutherland Showroom, Dallas, TX, davidsutherlandshowroom.com SIDE TABLE “James Occasional Table” by studio H, Holly Hunt, Kneedler-Fauchere, Denver, CO, 303-744-7474 OTTOMAN “Modern Hollywood Ottoman,” Ralph Lauren Home, ralphlaurenhome.com, upholstered in “Serengeti Zebra, Ebony” by Ralph Lauren PILLOW Dransfield & Ross, dransfieldandross.biz LAMP “67 Boom Arm Floor Lamp” polished nickel, Ralph Lauren Home, ralphlaurenhome.com LIBRARY COFFEE TABLE “Dorset Table” in mahagony, Maxine Snider Chicago, IL, maxinesniderinc.com CHAIRS Antique Club Chairs, Paris Flee Market, Paris, France SOFA Restoration Hardware, restorationhardware.com PILLOW/THROW Daniel Stuart Studio, danielstuartstudio.com ART ABOVE SOFA “Untitled (Red State II)” 1987 by Ellsworth Kelly, ellsworthkelly.org FIREPLACE SCREEN Custom steel/glass design by Lifdom, lifdom.com MASTER BEDROOM/BATH WOOD TABLE Antique table by Chapital Furniture, Puebla, Mexico LOW ROUND TABLE Christian Liaigre’s “Flibuste Pedestal” by Studio H, Holly Hunt, Kneedler-Fauchere, Denver, CO, 303-744-7474 LAMP “Small Glass Cylinder Lamp” in polished Silver, Ralph Lauren Home, ralphlaurenhome.com DRAPERIES “Far and Away-Winter White” wool fabric by Great Plains, Holly Hunt, Kneedler-Fauchere, Denver, CO, 303-744-7474 PILLOWS Dransfield & Ross, dransfieldandross.biz BED LINENS Dea, dea-italy.it CHAIRS “Celia Chair” in Linen by Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams, Design Within Reach, Santa Fe, NM, dwr.com CERAMIC “Day of the Dead” figure by Alvaro De La Cruz, Mexico ART OVER TABLE “Untitled” by James Westwater, jameswestwater.com ART OVER TUB “Yellow Flowers” 2003 by Donald Sultan