Written by Jessica Muncrief | Photography by Donicio Madrid and High Res Media
Modeled after an authentic Italian villa, this Tuscan Dream Home boasts stunning architectural craftsmanship both inside and out.
While stunning views of the Organs are usually the show stealer around these parts, this home in the La Tierra Escondida subdivision is so stunning in its own right that the views—while certainly nothing to scoff at—are almost a happy afterthought.
Sunny skies and a “Best Places to Retire” article drew owners Mike and Remy Cunningham to Las Cruces. “Quality of life, open spaces, and the culture convinced us to stay,” Mike adds. After living in no less than 16 homes in every corner of the globe, the couple modeled their newest home after one of their favorites: a sprawling estate they once owned in British Columbia dubbed Villa Leone.
With the help of local interior designer Connie Hines, they attempted to replicate their beloved villa here, and, while it’s not exactly the same, impeccable finishes and striking architectural details give this Tuscan dream a charm all its own.
From stacked stone and cantera elements on the exterior, to granite countertops and hand-carved wood accents throughout the interior, this home is filled with high-end materials and finishes. Literally designed around the couple’s ornate designer furniture (some of which is available for inclusion in the house purchase), the home is spacious and open with high ceilings and built-in display alcoves to showcase their copper and porcelain vase collections.
Artistic and architectural marvels abound in this home. Local artist Karla Perry hand-painted a mural on the 27-foot- high dome in the foyer. Her handiwork is also on display in the formal dining room ceiling where she recreated the pattern in the home’s flooring tile. Painter Jason Green decorated all the walls with exquisite faux finishes and adorned the vaulted ceiling above the kitchen island with a coppery metallic shimmer.
In the living room, ornamental rafters line the ceiling, and Connie commissioned a hand-tooled custom wood frame around the picture window. The dome in the informal eating area is covered with thousands of glittering, miniature tiles that come alive when the sun goes down and the lights come on. The floors are imported travertine, sealed to a shiny polish that makes them super simple to clean. “Yes, this home is formal and beautiful, but it’s also practical,” Remy asserts. “It’s surprisingly easy to maintain.”
Listing agent Bill Carpenter echos this sentiment saying, “There are a lot of beautiful homes in this area, and this one is pretty spectacular, but the difference I realized when I first visited is that it’s also a home. It’s not designed to be a resort; it’s designed for day-to-day living. It’s the perfect home for a family that wants something nice, but also practical.”
Indeed ideal for everyday living, this home is also set up for entertaining. The Cunninghams have easily hosted gatherings of 50 plus guests. For one summer party, they lined up rows of chafing dishes on the oversized kitchen island and set up dining tables that flowed from the indoors to the out. Later on, the tables were pushed to the side to create an impromptu dance floor.
Mike and Remy sheepishly admit that between eating out and party caterers, their epicurean kitchen has barely been touched. (The dishwasher and one of the two double ovens have never been used, in fact.) “But for someone who enjoys gourmet cooking, this is truly a dream kitchen with every amenity or upgrade they could possibly want,” Mike explains.
In addition to those aforementioned double ovens, those amenities include a warming drawer, an enormous refrigerator/freezer hidden behind the custom cabinetry, and ample storage in the form of an enormous walk-in pantry.
Right off the kitchen, a dual-temperature wine room holds a staggering 1,000 bottles. Just steps away, an extra-long wet bar is yet another entertaining delight.
“When we have social functions, this area somehow gets taken over,” Mike says with a smile. “My friends take over the bar and pour the wine. I just disappear and let them have fun.”
Guests also enjoy “taking over” the detached casita (it’s as impeccably finished as the house), and the sprawling back patio which overlooks the Organ Mountains and an ethereal swimming pool with not one, but two infinity edges. Like the indoor kitchen, the adjacent outdoor kitchen is brand spanking new. “I prefer old school grilling on the charcoal barbie,” Mike admits.
The home’s other alfresco spaces include an enclosed side yard blanketed with green grass, perfect for the family dogs, and a courtyard with a wood-burning fireplace that could easily be converted to a pizza oven.
Remy says without a doubt this is her favorite of the all the many homes she and Mike have shared, and thanks to their propensity towards ultra-organization, it’s as pristine as the day they moved in. Now heading to Hawaii to start a new chapter in their lives, the couple says they’ll miss the home almost as much as they’ll miss the people they’ve come to call family.
“We knew when we decided to move to this neighborhood that it was a beautiful, safe community,” Mike says, “but we didn’t realize what wonderful people live here. We couldn’t have asked for better neighbors.”
About This Home:
6216 Lazo Del Norte
Year Built: 2009
Square Feet: 6,481
Currently Offered at: $1,475,000
Custom Cabinetry and Built-In Shelving, High End Appliances, Imported Travertine Flooring, Courtyard with Fireplace, Infinity Pool with Spa, Outdoor Cooking Space, Guest Casita, Custom Designed Woodwork and Wall Treatments, Wine Room
Bill Carpenter (575) 202-2300
Steinborn & Associates Real Estate (575) 522-3698