Written by Tiffany Etterling | Photography by Donicio Madrid
They say that the grass is always greener on the other side. That’s particularly true if Greg and Cindy Duff live next door. But it’s not just the grass—every corner of this custom home is infused with vibrant color and natural desert beauty.
Warmer weather drew the couple from western Colorado to Las Cruces, the perfect place for a custom built home reflecting Cindy’s passion for all things Mexican. Greg is a homebuilder with nearly 40 years of experience, the last 10 of which he’s spent building custom cabinetry for Classic New Mexico Homes. The couple personally designed and built the home combining Mexican Territorial elements with traditional New Mexican style.
“The home site is about two acres and most of the landscape is natural. We really wanted the house to fit into the landscape,” explains Greg.
“We tried not to disturb anything that we didn’t have to disturb,” adds Cindy.
Instead, they supplemented the natural landscape by cultivating native plants like vitex, mesquite, and purple sage. “If you look from the street, the parapets are even shaped to mimic the Organ Mountains behind,” says Greg.
A charming courtyard area greets visitors as they arrive and the backyard offers supreme serenity. Greg and Cindy can take a dip in the pool or Jacuzzi, meditate by the koi pond, or enjoy a meal with friends on the patio. “We have surround sound music on the patios, but we really don’t need it because of the calming sound of the water and birds back here,” says Cindy, adding that while the landscape is lush by desert standards, it doesn’t require a whole lot of maintenance. She has also cultivated over 100 potted cacti, desert succulents, and other plants which add life to both the interiors and exteriors.
Inside, the home resonates with animals, nature, and life themes. Between Cindy’s frequent travels to Mexico and the couple’s passion for road trip antiquing, the pieces they’ve gathered over the years heavily influenced both the design and the décor of this three bedroom, three bathroom home. “I needed to have places for all my treasures,” says Cindy.
To that end, Greg built custom nichos, cabinets, shelves, and other areas to display Cindy’s collections of handmade Mexican craft art, Guatemalan textiles, Talavera pottery, Native American art, and even some of Cindy’s own artwork. And Greg’s cabinetry is art in itself. He designed the elaborately crafted master bathroom cabinetry to match the antique Romanian vanities they repurposed in the guest bathrooms.
This well-traveled couple is always on the lookout for treasures to refinish or repurpose into their own home or in their projects for other homeowners. “We use a lot of antiques in the houses that we build, so Cindy and I do a lot of antiquing,” says Greg. “We have a Toy Hauler fifth-wheel trailer that we take all over Texas, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. We stock up on different things that we can convert into vanities and other features.”
While there are pieces from around the globe in the house, a distinct South of the Border influence prevails. “I go to Mexico every year, so I wanted it to have more of a Mexican feel,” says Cindy. “There’s a lot of color, and a lot of Saltillo and Talavera.”
All of the bathroom cabinets, as well as several walls, share a rich emerald color inspired by their Romanian vanities and Cindy’s collection of traditional Huipil shirts from Guatamala.
The cozy master suite is adorned with rich earthy tones, with an adobe style fireplace and large picture windows taking center stage. “We wanted the master bedroom to have a really warm feeling with soft lines,” explains Greg. “We used a lot of plaster and designed the fireplace to give texture and warmth to the room. It’s not one of these mega rooms that some houses have, but to me, that makes a home much more livable than granite and stainless steel.”
The kitchen design was very important to Cindy who loves to cook. The large skylight in the vaulted ceiling floods the room with natural light, and a warm yellow hue brightens the space even on a cloudy day. “Even without any lights on, this color just feels warm. It gives a glow any time of the year,” says Cindy.
An oversized kitchen island with a concrete countertop provides plenty of space for food prep. The cabinets, of course, were custom designed and built by Greg. Because of the kitchen layout, there isn’t a lot of space for upper cabinets, so Greg opted for more functional drawer space in place of traditional lower cabinets.
The nearby oversized utility room serves as an all-purpose pantry, laundry room, and Cindy’s art workshop. Though it’s hardly noticeable from the street, the home also includes a 1,400 sq. ft. garage workshop and covered RV parking spot.
With a well-planned layout and a distinct style, this New Mexican dream home is infused with harmony, functionality, and whole lot of personality.