Wilderness at Heart

Nov. 5—If the views from the house itself don't entirely overwhelm you, the views from the outdoor swimming pool will. Even if you are not a pool person, even if you never swim or have never been all that interested in swimming pools or in owning a home with one, the pool at 1532 Wilderness Gate will turn you. Immediately. It's made for swimming, complete with resistance jets for doing laps and an app that controls the temperature. It's not an infinity pool per se with an "infinity" effect caused by water flowing over one edge, but the house itself is practically perched on the edge of a mountain. One can't help but be impressed. It's like a visual mic drop. But practical. And inviting. Very inviting. Almost seductive.

Seductive, though, might be too strong a word for a house that was built by its owners, who are builders. They built it for the family to live in, not just to show it off. (So maybe seductive but chaste?) "This house is over the top because of the views, but it's not ostentatious. It's a very intimate space," says Britt Klein, of Sotheby's International. "People want a contemporary home with clean lines, but with soul to it." And while the house could obviously pass as the Trophy House of All Trophy Houses, the home at 1532 Wilderness Gate has plenty of soul.

Wilderness Gate itself, the development the home is in, incorporated in the late 1970s. It was founded by the West-Virginia-based Chapman Land Company and Vedeler Engineering. (The latter was run by Santa Fe builder Georg Vedeler, who was cited in 1987 by then-U.S. Senator Bill Richardson for building the DAV Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Angel Fire.) Around 1977, houses began to sprout up in Wilderness Gate. The gated community is nestled at about the midway point of the hike that goes up to Atalaya Peak. Most of the houses look out over St. John's College. And 1532 has views nonpareil — of Santa Fe and pretty much everything toward the west. Again: gobsmacking, mic-drop views.

Back in those early days, St. John's College, on land donated primarily by architect and popularizer of the Pueblo Revival Style John Gaw Meem, wasn't even two decades old. The original structure at 1532 Wilderness Gate was a split-level, shed-roof house. Rob Woods and his wife, the current owners, razed it and built this one from scratch.

Woods knows well whereof he builds. He is the son of one of Santa Fe's legendary builders, Sharon Woods, cofounder of Woods Design Builders and former chair of the City Different's Historic Design Review Board. She and her partner, Robert, started their design-build company the same year Wilderness broke ground (1977). The Woods company has since built hundreds of homes in and around Santa Fe. In fact, Woods herself literally wrote the book — Santa Fe Style and Santa Fe Homes — on the subject. In 2008, Rob and his younger brother, Shane, joined the company, and have basically taken over the reins from their mom, who still oversees some of the company's designs.

Working with Santa Fe architect Lorn Tryk, Woods Builders designed and built the home. "Rob and Shane represent a new generation of Woods Builders," says realtor Klein, who points out the metalwork of the fireplace and doors done by Gabe Rippel of Rippel Metal Fabrication. "The boys have added a new contemporary twist to what they're building. "

My mom and Lorn collaborated on the architectural elements and design," explains Rob. "They took into consideration every space, its use, natural light and flow. The lot was super difficult to build on because half of the house is in the most restrictive zoning district in Santa Fe: Ridgetop Escarpment. This restricts where and how you can build. But it was a super thoughtful design that took advantage of everything the lot had to offer, while adhering to all zoning restrictions. We also brought in Violante & Rochford Interiors to help with the finishes and soft goods. The combination of V&R, Sharon and Lorn was truly a dream team.

"The team's goal was to bring the outdoors — the natural landscape and the vistas — into every indoor room. This they achieved. "We have large, expansive glass sliders in the main living area opening up to an elevated portal that overlooks the city and the mountain views," says Rob, "and each room has large uninterrupted windows, all flooded with natural light so you really let the outside in."

Aside from meeting the various zoning restrictions, the other big challenge was getting everything onto a single level. Again: mission accomplished. Rob explains, "We had to tear out concrete on half the house and fill in dirt on the other half, allowing us to achieve a single level. There are no steps in the main living room, dining room, kitchen, hearth room, office or main bedroom. The only steps are from the mudroom to the house and to the guest wing. Most houses in the neighborhood are multilevel, so to achieve so few steps in an area that has steep topography was a monumental feat!"

"The way it's sited," says Klein, "it feels like you're at a resort. You feel suspended up here. The whole concept was lifestyle.

"The pool was only added earlier this year. It's what the Woods family will miss the most. "Yeah," admits Rob. "The pool and spa with the portal featuring the fireplace, the outdoor TV, the bar. It truly is the icing on the cake. It's the ultimate hangout spot and great for enjoying the sun solo with a peaceful read or entertaining a larger group.

"Peter and Wendy Trevisani, owners of the New Mexico United soccer team, live right above 1532. But they don't have the views that this one has. And have often pointed that out to the Woodses.

"The house reinforces the importance of flow and functionality," says Rob Woods. "Each area is easy to access, yet still has its own unique character and privacy."

And for a builder who built his own house, Woods learned plenty. "It's fun when you're on the other side and designing your own home, taking into account your needs and desires. I can see how designing and building a home is personal and special. It's a reflection of you and your family. It has helped give me a better perspective in really understanding where our clients are coming from when they are doing this process."

Wilderness at Heart: 1532 Wilderness Gate