mountain mod

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by Ben Ikenson
photographs by Amadeus Leitner

contemporary looks right at home in the rustic East Mountains

Though situated in the lush East Mountains environs of Nature Pointe, the spacious home of Andrew and Crystal Glen is no rustic lodge or alpine chalet. There are no elk horns hanging above a large stone hearth, not a strip of wood paneling on the walls. Rather, the 3,500-plus square foot abode is all about clean lines, hard surfaces, modern art, bright, airy living spaces, and massive panoramic windows that work together to produce a sense of ultra-modern sophistication without the slightest dent in the home’s sense of place in the high- altitude landscape.

“We wanted modern, but modern that celebrated the scenery outdoors.” —Crystal Glen

“We knew we wanted unique architectural details that mimic the style of Frank Lloyd Wright,” says Crystal, pointing out the curved front feature wall, the cantilevered outdoor, seemingly free-floating ceiling, and, the giant, floor-to-ceiling commercial windows that showcase the amazing natural surroundings. “We wanted modern, but modern that celebrated the scenery outdoors.”

Crystal and Andrew met in 2007, when both were pursuing doctoral degrees in atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University. They were drawn together by their mutual love of the out- doors. Crystal, a Texas native, and Andrew, originally from Great Britain, married in 2010 and relocated to New Mexico shortly after. She went on to build her career as a research and development manager, while he established himself as an environmental consultant.

But if their new home is any indication, the young scientists could almost certainly do well for them- selves as architectural designers, given the extent of their involvement in planning the layout, selecting materials, and overseeing myriad details for their homebuilding project.

“Everyone warned us how horrible it was to build a house, with builders not being responsive and cutting corners and missing schedules,” remembers Crystal. But as Andrew points out, after looking for more than a year at existing homes for sale in the area and realizing none suited their modern taste, “We decided to have our dream home built, and we wanted to be as much involved in all the details as possible.”

Even the most contemporary elements work together to produce a sense of ultra-modern sophistication without the slightest dent in the home’s sense of place in the high-altitude landscape.

The Glens already had a builder in mind: Todd Erenstein, of Rio Rancho–based Modern Dwell- ings LLC. “We met Todd while skiing in Santa Fe, and he welcomed us to his own home to see an example of his work, which we absolutely loved,” says Andrew. “We knew that when we were ready to build our own place, Todd was the man for the job.” The Glens actually partnered with Erenstein well before they knew where they would be build- ing. As Erenstein recalls, “We worked together on this project for nearly two years before the Glens secured a lot, plans were drawn, and financing was in place.”

Having lived in the East Mountains for more than five years, Andrew and Crystal were attached to the peace and tranquility of the mountains, and to the convenience to Albuquerque. “The dynamic seasons and spectacular views really suit our adventurous natures, so we focused on options in this area,” says Crystal. Eventually, in the Tijeras enclave of Nature Pointe, they found a two-acre lot on a gently slop- ing hill overlooking the undulating juniper- and piñon-studded countryside to the northeast and the Ortiz Range and South Mountains in the distance.

Forewarned by friends that the building process “could be a nightmare,” the Glens were thrilled to enjoy a completely opposite experience. “Todd was a pure pleasure to work with,” says Crystal. “He integrated us into the entire process, let us make our own design choices from the planning stage to completion, while still giving his thoughts on our choices and helping us make final decisions when we got stuck.”

Ultimately, the collaboration approach proved a success. “It’s truly a house that was designed by all of us, including architectural designer Mike Cabber,” says Erenstein. “The four of us sat down numerous times to go over each iteration of the plan. It’s a gorgeous home, and I can see the influence that we all put into it. I like this methodology because it really allows us to come up with the best possible product by not designing and building in a vacuum.” Judges in the Spring 2018 Parade of Homes clearly liked the home, too, as it earned Modern Dwellings LLC a Premier Award and awards for Best Kitchen and Best Bath.

Indeed, to step inside the Glen home is to enter a dwelling whose modern minimalist sensibilities do not distract from the powerful sense of place that the huge windows in the great room bestow. In addition to the dramatic views, the 12-foot-high ceilings, floating cabinetry, and open layout add a serene airiness to the home. The home boasts many impressive details: an abundance of out-of-view, well-conceived storage space that helps keep the place free of clutter; three-dimensional tilework in the bathrooms and kitchen that creates subtle texture; and an “infinity hallway” ending at a floor-to-ceiling window that serves as a dramatic reminder that the mountain scenery is just a step away.

An “infinity hallway” ending at a floor-to-ceiling window serves as a dramatic reminder that the mountain scenery is just a step away.

Throughout the home are colorful works of art by Tina Lambert, a certified interior decorator who creates custom art for clients’ homes, as well as striking pieces of glasswork from Liquid Light Glass in Santa Fe.

An oversized garage accommodates the couple’s lifestyle and hobbies, and that includes a freestanding dog shower for pooches Carter and Samantha. “Like us, our dogs like to play outdoors, so having a way to clean them up properly without a fuss is key,” says Andrew.

The centerpiece, of course, is the great room, with its massive wall of windows, gleaming, monolithic fireplace, and its immediate proximity to the large outdoor space. The open layout of the great room and the adjoining patio is as ideal for entertaining large groups as it is for enjoying quieter moments with the dogs.

“We moved in in February, and there’s really nothing like watching the snow falling from the comfort of our living room,” says Crystal. “It’s even better than we could have imagined our dream home to be.”


Modern Dwellings LLC

Acrylic Paintings
Lambert Construction & Design

Builders Source Appliance Gallery

Ron Hanks Design

Nature Pointe

United Stoneworks

Flooring and Backsplash Tile
Architectural Surfaces Inc.

Glass Art
Liquid Light Glass

Piñon Window & Door