Santa Fe Express

Homeowners and interior designers Michael Violante and Paul Rochford embarked on some minor renovations eight years ago with thoughts of eventually moving. That train has left the station.

For years, the designers have been collecting the work of Nick Brandt, an English photographer who photographs exclusively in the African continent. Each piece was bought to commemorate a special occasion in their lives. They made sure the rebuilt living room wall had the scale to accommodate their seven-piece collection.

A small jaguar sculpture greets visitors just outside the front door. A midcentury Danish chair provides an immediate resting place inside.

Design veterans Violante and Rochford embarked on a renovation of the home they share in Santa Fe over 8 years ago. Little did they know what they were about to encounter.

Their historic home, within walking distance from downtown Santa Fe, was in for lots of challenges, including, but not exclusive to, permit requests. All permit requests in Santa Fe must pass through a review board. While interior changes are subject to the homeowner’s and/or designer’s discretion, anything within viewing distance (including anything that can be seen while peeking over a fence!) must be historically accurate.

With historic restrictions on windows and rooflines, the designers looked upward, adding multiple skylights and painting the walls white throughout the home for its reflective qualities. Additionally, the ceiling’s wood beams, corresponding with the tradition of painted beams in historic Santa Fe homes, are painted white. The wood planks in between the beams were replaced with new electricals and a plaster finish, creating a more simplified look. The white walls serve as the perfect background for the couple’s extensive art collection.

The plan to strip and reuse the original dark oak floors was derailed when the floors turned out to be a mixture of red oak and light oak, making it a poor candidate for a lighter finish. New white oak flooring throughout adds to the lightness of the interiors. The designers fondly call their results their “beach house in the desert.”

Many of the pieces in the home are locally made. “We try to support local artisans in all our interiors,” say the designers. “We especially included them in our own home so that it personally speaks for them.”

Meanwhile, this design duo put major energy and talents into their gardens, which they describe as “magic gardens” because of the high wall that surrounds the property and keeps people guessing what lies on the other side. Ultimately, they realized that the property they owned was irreplaceable.

The renovation took place over an intense 10-month period with one goal in sight: to have everything finished for the 2016 Santa Fe Parade of Homes. Sponsored by the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association, the Parade of Homes – an annual two-week event in August – welcomes visitors from all over the world to view historic architecture showcasing Santa Fe’s indigenous materials and local craftsmanship. The designers’ efforts paid off. Violante & Rochford Interiors and its renovation partner, Woods Design Builders, received the Parade of Homes’ Best Historic Renovation and Best Craftsmanship awards for the project.

Photography Courtesy of Wendy Mceahern Photography LLC.

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