first time's the charm

pairing gorgeous décor with purposeful design, a builder’s inaugural home earns awards galore

An abiding love for his mother fueled the flames of John Jones’s budding career in the Albuquerque custom homebuilding industry. John’s mother, Lois Jones, who suffers from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, resides with John and his girlfriend, Cristy Delgado, and their children, Lauren and Zenon. Lois takes comfort—and maintains happiness—in the routine of being near her family, so it was important to keep her in their care. “The best thing for her is seeing my face every day,” says John.

After fruitlessly searching for a house with mother-in-law quarters to suit their needs, John and Cristy elected to build their own home, one that would cater to Lois. The pair was well suited for the task: John had designed homes in the past and felt ready to earn a general contractor’s license to take on the construction process, while Cristy, with a degree and work history in interior design, rounded out the experience needed to build and decorate a functional and beautiful home. Plus they had worked well together in retail furniture stores John owned. When the stores were liquidated, it was the couple’s cue to pursue something new—and jointly. John Mark Custom Homes was born.

They purchased a plot with an uninterrupted view of the mountains in northeast Albuquerque in July 2015. Where it might often take months to hash out a home design, John and Cristy knocked it out in just two days with architect Christian Mathias. Nine short months later the home was not only finished, but sweeping the awards in its category in the Spring 2016 Homes of Enchantment Parade: Best Kitchen, Best Outdoor Living Space, Best Bath, Best Interior Design/Decorating, Premier Award, and Most Innovative Award. Quite a few feathers to stick in a new cap!

The 4,350-square-foot abode includes five bedrooms, five bathrooms, and garage space for three cars. Cristy, who most relished designing the kitchen with its adroitly hidden walk-in pantry (see if you can find it next to the refrigerator) and elegant ambience, jokes now that she felt they needn’t bother much with the garage. John, however, was rewarded for his attentiveness to that oft-overlooked area when, during the Parade, he repeatedly heard variations of, “You put baseboards in here? Nice!”

The owners can’t quite decide on what to call the look of their home. Too edgy to be traditional, too classic to be completely modern, it blurs all the lines. “Soft contemporary?” John ponders aloud. Then he and Cristy enter into a discussion of the merits of calling it “transitional” but decide against it. Whatever it is, it’s creamy and decadent and totally livable.

Gorgeously painted in a chic cream-to-black ombré finish, pillars in the entry and dining areas delineate grandly scaled living spaces without conclusively separating them. Exuding a feeling of accessible luxury, everything in the home shimmers subtly, from paint and metallic furnishings to the painstakingly chosen wallpaper above the upper kitchen cabinets. Pearly décor and mirrors abound. Comfortable spaces bedecked in a muted veil of opulence invite one to at once feel at home and on retreat. In favorable weather, a glass wall slides away to join the back patio with the living room, while at night, fire bowls outside are a dramatic complement to the sound of fountains jetting over the pool.

Though you would scarcely recognize it as one, the dramatic and artistic fireplace John and Cristy chose for their great room might normally be a showpiece in a resort. As tall as the wall itself, the vertical fireplace commands the visual stage of the living area, the metalwork specially designed to create the illusion of the flame climbing the full height of the room.

Despite its effortless splendor, the home isn’t without a sense of fun, imparted to great effect by Cristy and her designer’s sensibilities. The master bedroom, recalling safaris of the film noir age, features muted zebra print wallpaper on the ceiling and a sumptuous side-swept curtain behind the avant-garde pedestal tub. Modern conveniences such as surround sound and motorized window shades invisibly add to the experience.

When asked if, in retrospect, they felt there had been any educational blunders (we’ll call them “learning opportunities”) in the process, the couple agrees that initially they had planned for too many columns. “It was overkill,” says Cristy. Though they ended up removing a few excess pillars, they realized that it was those stately columns that Lois mentally latched onto during framing. Cristy remembers, “She would say ‘you mean the house with the columns?’” It was a clear reference to the new house—a welcome sign of recognition. This bold feature helped transition Lois to her new domicile with that critical sense of familiarity.

Respectfully placed, an incorporated camera system allows for added security and also allows the family to keep a not-too-smothering watch on Lois so they can intercept a bad episode quickly and turn her day around. “She’s not just in a separate area,” Cristy explains. “It’s decorated for her but feels like part of the house.” And Lois, much like her wing of the house, is independent but not separate. She has her own thermostat, so she can control her environment, and a kitchenette should she choose to dine solo. Her space is flexible. For resale, it can be used as a man cave, separate quarters for aging parents or adult children, or a working studio.

John, who is already working on his next project, is gratified that the home he designed for such a personal reason appeals to others with similar needs. Several Parade visitors, caring for their own ailing family members, really connected with the space. Says the newly minted homebuilder, “So many people came through the house who said, ‘We need something like this!’”


Builder and Interior Designer
John Jones & Cristy Delgado
John Mark Custom Homes

Builders Source Appliance Gallery

Christian Mathias, C M Designs

Blinds & Window Coverings
Blind Scapes

Custom & Outdoor Furniture
Lauren Home Fine Furnishings

Pat’s Doors

Southwest Custom Stainless

Gate-It Access Systems
Tri-West Fence

Kitchen & Bath Cabinetry
Davis Kitchens

Kitchen & Bath Sinks
and Fixtures; Lighting

Ferguson Bath, Kitchen
& Lighting Gallery

Jass Landscaping

Hermanson Construction

Tile & Stone Work
Quality Stone, LLC

Windows & Sliding
Window Walls
Milgard from Chaparral Materials