Sunday, September 9, 2012

Arriving West

This is the view from our new kitchen window in Ruidoso. Also from Elizabeth's bedroom.

But as it turns out, you can also see it while seated at our small dining table. Or in one of the upholstered chairs that faces the fireplace. Or from the sofa, if you turn your head.

Even more surprising, you can see it through the kitchen window while standing at the other end of the house, and also while relaxing at the table on the deck outside, because the small trapezoidal clerestory near the vaulted ceiling just happens to frame it nicely from that perspective.

I am so pleased with our tiny little house -- less than 700 square feet of living space -- that I almost don't want to write about it for fear of somehow jinxing the joy of sitting inside it and looking out.

But I don't think I'm tempting fate, because as hard as we worked to make it turn out nice, a lot of what makes it wonderful was almost entirely unexpected and not our doing, starting with the many sight lines to Sierra Blanca, which is what the handsome peak in the photo above is called.

We did point the house at the mountain, of course. But we had no idea there would be so many ways to look at it from our finished home. Nor did we anticipate how perfectly the windows facing in other directions would capture the woods and hillsides that surround our place while almost entirely masking the street, neighboring houses, and the bits of our property that aren't exactly ugly but fall short of scenic.

One major contributor to the serendipity was an interior designer Pam brought in to help squeeze our stuff into the limited space. We were expecting to square off the sofa and chairs in front of the fireplace, but she pivoted the whole arrangement 45 degrees. It not only made the room suddenly feel twice its size but pointed each upholstered seat at an interesting outside vista. And it created a square space next to the kitchen area exactly right for a small desk and a couple of file cabinets.

We're in a subdivision of the Village of Ruidoso. We have city water, sewer, natural gas, cable with wireless, and Walmart. But seated inside our house or outside on the deck, it feels like we're off the grid. On the way to the bathroom in the middle of last night, I glanced toward the window and saw an elk. (Okay, I was able to see it because it was standing under the streetlight, but still, it was an elk.)

I give Pam all the credit for the many features of the house itself that are making it a pleasure to live in, now that the dust and chaos of the move-in are settled. It is a tiny masterpiece, a much more interesting and gracious place than any of the others we've inhabited, larger or smaller. It took a lot of research, creativity and contractor spinning to put it all together. She did nearly all of it, sometimes with help from me but also sometimes over my short-sighted or pinchpenny objections.

But what I am appreciating most right now is how much greater the whole is than the sum of the many parts we labored and obsessed over together for the past year. I'm amazed and astonished.

It is so fine that our long-standing plan to spend most of our time at the condo in Mexico -- also pretty sweet -- and use this place as a summer refuge from the tropical humidity is now getting a fresh hard look.

Stay tuned.

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