Nearly a century ago, the countryside some 60 miles north of Santa Fe beckoned to artist Georgia O’Keeffe, known today for her paintings of flowers, Manhattan skyscrapers, and dramatic Southwestern landscapes. She first came to the area in the late 1920s, eventually settling and establishing her studio there—at her legendary Ghost Ranch and in the town of Abiquiú—all the better to revel in and focus her artistic vision on the region’s breathtaking terrain. This singular inspiring setting is the background for 1,500-acre Estancia del Rio, a remarkably private estate overlooking the winding Chama River from a lofty perch on a rugged bluff dotted with mature piñons and juniper. At its heart are three distinct buildings designed by Curtis & Windham Architects of Houston: a main residence with generous entertaining spaces; a casita with a library, two bedrooms, and two baths; and a third structure offering two additional bedrooms and baths.
The unique main residence conjures the ambience of a mountain lodge or abbey in the desert, with rugged stone, beamed ceilings, and bold archways. Walls of glass have been perfectly positioned to allow proper appreciation of the majestic surroundings, with views stretching all the way to Colorado, roughly 80 miles off. The nexus for living and entertaining is an inviting space with a dining corner, an oversized fireplace, and a window wall that brings the view to center stage. Steps away, the organic roughness of stacked stone meets clean lines and angles of contemporary style in the roomy, light-flooded kitchen, where an expanse of glass blurs the lines between indoors and out. Adding to the appeal are plentiful space for storage and food preparation; a large colorful island offering seating for two; and a cooktop with a dramatic hammered metal hood that pays homage to the hand-wrought and -punched metal fixtures found throughout New Mexico.
In the freestanding casitas, a minimalist natural palette contributes to a restful, serene mood in the bedrooms, where walls are punctuated by calming views of the sky and surroundings. The library or office features built-in classically detailed bookshelves and cabinets and is anchored at the end by a sunny window. Throughout the estate, baths range from organically artful to sleek and updated, with spa-like aspirations.
Extraordinarily private, this one-of-a-kind property enjoys an outlook that is stunning at every turn and that would surely have thrilled O’Keeffe, encompassing as it does Abiquiú Lake, Pedernal Peak, and the region’s striking badlands and yellow cliffs. The acreage is a perfect setting for the display of sculpture, but the true art here are the views, easily enjoyed from nearly every vantage point, including patios, an alluring wraparound portal with a fireplace, and an open-air hot tub whose lines seem to mimic the graceful curves of the river it overlooks.