mountain mod

180-degree views
View Gallery 11 Photos
180-degree views
mountain view
Texas limestone kitchen
chair by fireplace
sleek sliding doors
Artistic light fixtures
Italian marble backsplash
outdoor living space

by Ben Ikenson
photographs by Mark William

a hillside home in Corrales features picture-perfect views

Imagine walking in the front door of your home and being greeted by a picture-postcard view of the Sandia Mountains. That’s the exact experience John and Shawna McKnight have each time they return to their new home in bucolic Corrales. It’s a fitting entrance to a house perched on a gentle slope and designed to maximize the 180-degree panoramas, with sweeping views from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the Sandias to the city of Albuquerque and beyond to the Manzano Mountains.

“The unimpeded views of sunrises and sunsets never grow old, and the city lights are nearly as breathtaking,” says John. “It’s like our home is a front-row seat to all of New Mexico’s beauty, day and night.”

The 180-degree views stretch from the Sangre de Cristos and the Sandias all the way to the city skyline and the Manzanos.

Originally from Great Falls, Montana, John first moved to New Mexico in the early 2000s while working as an aviation mishap investigator for the Air Force. “I immediately enjoyed all of the similarities here to Big Sky Country, without all the snow and cold,” he recalls. “And I was awestruck with the breathtaking Sandia Mountains.”

After retiring in 2011, John returned to Albuquerque, where he met Shawna, an Albuquerque native. Within a year, the couple married and in 2018 purchased a single-acre lot in Corrales. The happily blended family included two adult children, Tristan and Karissa and a granddaughter named Grace; their grandson Jack had yet to be born. With the needs of the whole family in mind, the McKnights were about to launch into building their dream home.

The couple worked with local custom home builder Bill Reynolds of New Haven Homes to design and construct the 2,950 square-foot, four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home with a four-car garage. After they addressed existing drainage issues, the project broke ground in October 2019 and was completed in September 2020.

“The style they chose for their home is what we call ‘mountain modern,’” says Reynolds. “The home includes features such as a pitched metal roof, beamed vaulted ceilings and a large stone see-through fireplace.”

Indeed, the home combines elements from both modern and mountain-style design. The contemporary color palette, characterized by soft whites and muted grays, is juxtaposed against dark oak flooring with band saw distress markings that provides texture and rustic warmth. The centerpiece of the home, a floor-to-ceiling structure comprised of Texas limestone blocks, encases a double-sided fireplace, asserting a strong mountain-style.

On one side of the massive fireplace sits the great room and dining room, including a wine lover’s nook equipped with a refrigerator, countertop bar and stemware storage. With its soaring ceiling and three oversized east-facing windows, this space is the ideal observatory—it brings natural light and the beauty of the surroundings into the home. A few skylights introduce yet more light from above. Funky LED light fixtures and chic steel ceiling fans instill a modern sensibility to the space.

“We wanted modern, but not trendy,” says Shawna, who brought all of her creative skills to bear in designing the interior (which helped earn the home a Fall 2020 Parade of Homes “Best Decorating” award). “It was all about balancing clean lines, colors and textures with features that would make it homey and relaxed.”

On the opposite side of the stone fireplace, which provides an effective room-dividing function, is an open and spacious kitchen. Cream-colored quartzite countertops, a grand 10-by-4-foot island, crisp white cabinetry and high-end appliances make this space a chef ’s dream. Nearby, stylish sliding barn doors conceal the pantry and a well-appointed laundry room.

Two wings that extend off the great room and kitchen create a divided floor plan. The north wing consists of a small entertainment room and a pair of guest rooms that each include unexpected angles and, of course, more windows to capture the magnificent views. Several accent walls are plastered in clay, adding a richness of texture within the rooms. Cool gray, almost cement-looking Italian porcelain tile in the private spaces strikes the perfect contrast to the warm oak flooring of the public areas of the home.

“The style they chose for their home is what we call ‘mountain modern.’”
— Bill Reynolds

The south wing features the master suite. There’s a modest and tasteful bedroom with yet more commanding views through oversized windows and a gorgeous bathroom complete with a modern freestanding tub, radiant floor heating and a pair of Italian marble tile mosaics that provide tasteful backsplashes for the sinks and vanities.

While the views from indoors are amazing, the McKnights also enjoy the indoor-outdoor lifestyle that their home offers. They take advantage of Albuquerque’s temperate climate on their covered back patio with an angled overhang, hot tub and unparalleled views of the Sandias.

“The building process was both fun and new, but of course as stressful as you might expect,” says John. “It certainly didn’t help that during the two years from purchasing the lot to finishing the build, we experienced both COVID-19 and the imposition of tariffs on Chinese goods, which affected the cost of many building products.”

Ultimately for the McKnights, it was well worth the cost and stress; the couple couldn’t be more pleased with their new digs.

“When we wake up in the morning, and when we go to bed at night, we’re still in an almost constant state of awe,” says Shawna. “We’re surrounded by such amazing natural beauty and being here is like camping in an awesome setting—but in the comfort and luxury of our dream home.”


New Haven Homes, Inc.

Home Decorating
Shawna McKnight, Owner

Builder’s Source Appliance Gallery

Audio/Visual System
Albuquerque Sound & Vac

Raks Building Supply, Inc.

Joy’s Blind Designs

Wildwood Cabinetry & Design

Strahle Tile & Granite

Mountain West Sales

Fireplace Stonework
Builders Materials supplier
Strahle Tile & Granite installation

Moore Window & Door

Kitchen/Bathroom Fixtures
Doc Savage Supply

Kitchen/Bathroom/Floor Tile
Arizona Tile supplier
Strahle Tile & Granite installation

The Hilltop

Turn on Lighting

Wall Finish
Solamente Natural Plaster

Wood Flooring
Benchmark Wood Floors Inc.