Featured home: Mile-high miracle

Dec. 4—Sometimes a house can be too good. Perfect. Divine. Ideal. But ideal for whom? The original owner, most certainly. But what lucky owner after the original? And what sort of changes might they make to make it their perfect? This seems to be the case with 66 Camino de Milagro.

More compound than mere house, the 3,278-square-foot main house, the 838-square-foot guest house, wine cellar, bocce court, enclosed dog run and horse barns, stalls and paddock almost pale in comparison to the 25 acres on which they all sit: at the gated top and end of a dirt road just outside Tesuque, maybe 40 paces from the front door to the Santa Fe National Forest. And all with wide-open, unobstructed views of the Santa Fe Opera and Sangre de Cristo and Jemez Mountains to the west and Mount Baldy and acres and acres of forest to the east.

Built in 1995, 66 Milagro offers — then as it does now — two things above all else: privacy and views. "Its uniqueness is, of course, the location," says Amber Williams of Santa Fe Properties, who represents the property along with Linda Bramlette. "This is for somebody who values their privacy. Somebody who loves New Mexico. And you don't see so many properties this close to town. This close to town with views this incredible. It has amazing views."

The current owners bought it several years ago, and over the past two years renovated, added, altered, improved and enlarged it before realizing "perfect" would require even more horses and even more accommodations for those horses. So they turned it into the luxurious equestrian property that it is today. And have left 66 Milagro wanting for nothing. "The sellers," marvels Williams, "were meticulous."

Indeed. After consulting with local designers and builders, they (almost) made it their dream home. First, they hard-scraped almost every inch of ground. They graded the single-lane dirt road and had stones laid by hand for the retaining walls alongside the road and wherever people might park. They put in steel-pole fencing along every acre. They landscaped andplanted more trees and more plants, and they reconfigured the garden that runs below the western-facing portal. They built a dog park by fencing in approximately 200 square feet of artificial turf and giving it its own wooden door. They expanded the water catchments with a well — "so if something happens," notes Williams, "you'll always have water. One thing about it is it's self-sustained."

Already outfitted with a three-car garage for the main house and the casita, they expanded one bay in the original garage of the main house so that it can accommodate an RV or a horse trailer. They added multiple spigots and a third septic tank. Clearly, though, what they put most of their focus on was the equestrian features.

The three-stall barn with a tack room and turn-outs near the main house and immediate access to Santa Fe National Forest was there. They upgraded it. But the real equine jewel is the gated barn and paddock just down the hill from the main house. The MD Barnmaster barn could just as easily serve as another guest house. It has four stalls with heated waterers, a private wash stall, a 288-square-foot heated tack room and lounge with fans and air conditioning, and which itself has a bathroom, a wet bar and radiant heat and mini-split systems. It, too, has been "meticulously" planned out: it has geo-thermal, solar, propane and a generator for backup in case something ever happens. "The sellers put in all these redundant backups so that if anything went down and no one was there," explains Williams, "the horses and the space would be fine." Across from the barn is the paddock, about a half-acre of fenced-in, open space for exercising and training horses.

As impressive as everything around it is, especially the rose garden between the low adobe wall and the front door, the main house is decidedly low-key. This is partly because the front door seems more like the back door — which is perhaps because it faces east toward the forest, and the sweeping west-facing views are out the back window. Or it could be because there are only two bedrooms, which makes it more homey than showy.

Yes, there's a wine cellar, complete with a tasting space and a rack room. An office window frames more of the endless western horizon. There's a projector and screen, and a built-in sound system. There are skylights. The office and living room have fireplaces. The main bedroom has a walk-in closet with a safe. The accompanying bathroom features two full vanities, a jetted soaking tub and a shower. Each side of the bedroom has a private portal: one facing east to the forest, and the other taking in everything to the west.

The open-air kitchen includes a Viking range and a kiva. It opens into the dining room that flows into the living room, which opens onto the covered back portal, which is all views. Views, it seems, are everywhere, but where there aren't any, there is privacy enhanced by built-in cabinets and bookshelves. These elements, and the mesquite doors and hand-forged hardware, could feel heavy, but because the design is so simple, they give the house a sense of lightness and breathability.

Imagine waking up each morning and trying to decide what might be better that day: a ride or a hike through the forest, beckoning outside the east window; a day spent on the western portal taking in the ever-changing sky and light and colors; or both.

Surely, choices like that can't ever be too perfect or too divine. "This is a true New Mexican home," says Williams. "To be here is unparalleled" — and for the next owner, ideal.

Featured home: 66 Camino de Milagro