Tim Rodgers understands that a home like his isn't for everyone. After seeing (and lusting after) the compelling architectural forms of his current residence two and a half years ago, the director of SMoCA knew it would be just the right house for him and his partner Jeff Halakal.
Since the couple moved into the place two months ago, they've made their aesthetic imprint on the place using antiques from the 1600s as well as high-modern, minimalist furnishings.
With a wall of oleander bushes hiding the house from the street, entering the property feels like a retreat. At the entrance, cleanly clipped vines frame the large, open 10-foot tall windows.
Rodgers says the place was a labor of love for architects Jay Atherton and Cy Keener who designed, built and lived in the house: "You don't see a house like this often where two people really invested a lot of time and energy and thought. People sometimes don't appreciate what architecture can really be."
Beyond the front door, the home opens up to the the living room and kitchen, which display an eclectic and seamless combination of Renaissance antiques, bright pops of 60s modernism and Japanese influences.
"It's a sign of a really good house that it's neutral enough while being architecturally strong enough to accommodate different styles and different types of furnishings," Rodgers says.
Though the living room walls were originally white, Rodgers and Harakal decided to paint the room a darker color to accommodate the bright light that shines through the panels of windows extending 28-by-10-feet. "It became a little post-nuclear war on sunny days," Rodgers says.
During the time Rodgers lived in New Mexico, he had a hand in a religious antiques store, allowing him to seek out some of the art in the living room of his current home: an Italian Renaissance bust from the 1590s and an 1800s Spanish piece of the Virgin Mary praying.
"I think if you have a very contemporary home and then you only put very new contemporary furnishings in it, it can look dull, even if it's really expensive and beautiful," Rodgers says. "It just doesn't have depth to it. I think that's one of the things I like about antiques."
Rodgers says that while he finds religious art beautiful, it's hard to live with it all the time. He mixes it up with other modern paintings in the living room, such as one by Sante Fe-based painter Gerry Snyder. The painting uses Italian Renaissance style with layers and glazes on the wood surface, but then it also depicts mysterious, blubbery forms -- an oddly traditional and interestingly modern combination.
"You get to have the obviously very contemporary work with something that's very old," Rodgers says. "Then there are the pieces that are new but reference something very old. I like that kind of play."
The house also uses reduced and subtle eastern aesthetics. Even the divisions of the glass windows correspond to about the width of a Japanese screen. "I want to play that back and forth with a little bit of an ode to eastern influence that the house definitely speaks to."
The redbud trees right outside the windows on both sides of the house contribute to the Japanese feel as well. As winter nears, the delicate green leaves will turn yellow, and in the spring, little red flowers will bloom.
The light stone color walls of the bedroom soften the mood and complement the Asian antique. A 14th or 15th century Chinese bust of Buddha rests on a black block base with a bowl of yellow flowers underneath. "I like how you get this sense of wear and tear, and you can see where it's been painted over and over again through the years," Rodgers says. "It's obviously not perfect."
Rodgers and Harakal, who works for real estate firm Jarson & Jarson, have been together for five years. According to the couple, their styles have evolved to match each other a little more over the years -- but their differing aesthetics has made this house an interesting challenge.
"Jeff is very thoughtful about his environment as well," Rodgers says. "He likes softer things with bright colors, and I never really worked that much with bright colors. It was kind of new for me."
Unlike Harakal's taste for cheerful colors, Rodgers says his simple and streamlined tendencies naturally gravitate more toward greys, blacks, and whites in design, which earned his previous residence the nickname of "the house of Torquemada, the house of Spanish Inquisition."
"Jeff likes things that are comfortable, and I have to say I've never really cared," Rodgers says. "It's just about how it looks. If I like the way it looks, people can be tortured. Jeff has been good for me in that, among other things."
In the past, Rodgers has worked with different housing styles: 50s, arts and crafts, 50s deco, 50s modern, 1890s adobe farmhouse, 1920s adobe ranch house, minimalist, etc.
Though Rodgers has gone through many furnishing revolutions, each has been deliberate and well-coordinated. "If it doesn't work in a house, I'll get rid of it, and then go out and get something else," he says. "I'm starting to get things that I like and are valuable, and it's hard to get rid of them. When you're young, you can just be like, 'Eh, I'll go to the flea market.'"
Rodgers says he seldom buys anything new and will often scavenge garage sales, Goodwill, and antique stores.
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Friends of the ruthless furnisher point out that a similar starkness and minimalism connects all of these different places: "There are obviously things here that I love, but I would never pile up things. Everything has an order and a place, and with every house I've ever lived in, you would see that. It's thoughtful.
Rodgers admits that the house can be high-maintenance and is not necessarily functional for the average person though. "I think this type or architecture has an oppressive side to it that not everyone can really live with," he says. "Even for me sometimes it can be a little overwhelming. Keeping it clean and spare is not a natural way of the world."
Because he's happy with the bedroom décor, Rodgers says he'll definitely be making changes to have the rest of the house match that particular style: "This is the first go around with it. When you have a beautiful house like this, it makes demands. It wants a certain level of quality in it. You can't just put any old thing in here."