high above the city

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by Jessa Cast
photographs by Amadeus Leitner

A loft condominium offers a fresh perspective on urban, Uptown living

When telling the story of their move from a traditional home to a fourth-floor condominium, Gloria Trask and her husband Ron just beam. After years in a lovely house a block off the Central corridor in Albuquerque’s Nob Hill neighborhood,the Trasks were tiring of cleaning superfluous square footage and were thoroughly disenchanted with yard maintenance. But they loved their urban environment, full of personality and walking distance from local eateries and entertainment.

“We weren’t going to live in just anything,” they agree. “We lived in a really cool, unique setting, and we wanted to move into another really cool, unique setting.”

A tidbit in the New Mexico Business Weekly about a potential penthouse development in the Uptown area caught Ron’s attention. A year later, upon hearing the project was indeed underway, he contacted the developers. Built in 1985, the commercial building was set to undergo a renovation. For starters, the dated façade would get a facelift. And in tune with the City of Albuquerque’s recent push towards mixed-use zoning, the top floor of the four-story structure was to become a series of six customizable penthouse condominiums, while floors one through three would remain commercial office spaces.

Ron’s inquiry proved timely. Of the six condos, three were already spoken for by the development partners. Upon approval by the partners, the Trasks bought one of two smaller, 1,365-square-foot condos, pleased with the prospect of downsizing. And yet, during their weekly visits to the construction site, they found themselves migrating to the 2,223-square-foot unit next door. Though roomier than their initial purchase, it would still be smaller than their Nob Hill abode. With unimpeded east- and west-facing views, and five times the balcony space, the unit felt right, and the change was made.

Sold as raw shells, the condos were built to be outfitted, from studs to fine details, by the homeowners. The Trasks quickly determined an office would be far more useful to them than an oversized utility room, so they altered the original floor plan, shrinking the laundry room and closet, to create a cozy, quiet office. Then came time for the bewildering task of designing the interiors, from floors and tile to colors to textures. To assist them with that overwhelming task, the Trasks called in Patti Stivers of Stivers & Smith Interiors. Gloria had worked with the Santa Fe–based interior designer on a design committee and knew her talents well. “Patti was really helpful,” says Ron. “Without her, we would still be at the tile store.”

Ron envisioned a modern, open feel; Gloria desired a warm and welcoming ambience. As avid collectors of New Mexican art, they both wanted a clean backdrop against which to offset their medley of Southwestern pieces. These three factors—no small order—would dictate Stivers’s work.

The team agreed on using one flooring type throughout the condo, a light-colored, large-format tile suggestive of concrete. In keeping with a visually clean and consistent style, they also used matching walnut cabinets throughout, and only differed the tile slightly, room to room, within a subtly metallic theme. The magical touch—exquisite Venetian plaster walls with a hint of sheen—provided the warmth Gloria sought. “The Venetian plaster just brings the walls to life,” says Stivers.

Everything was planned around displaying their art—statues, sculpture, paintings, pots, santos, retablos. “We kept it neutral and let the art be the color,” says Stivers of the palette. Surfaces were designed purposely to fade away, to serve as an unobtrusive backdrop for different types of art work.

Surfaces were designed purposely to fade away, to serve as an unobtrusive backdrop for the couple’s different styles of art work.

Indeed, art is of great significance to the Trasks. Ron’s mother, Kitty Trask, owned The Pueblo Loft, the longtime Nob Hill art gallery, from which Ron and Gloria acquired many pieces. When Kitty passed, they inherited much of her fine collection as well. The couple is dedicated to collecting what they love, regional New Mexican and Spanish Colonial works, and speak of the artists like family members, eagerly detailing the story behind each piece. Stunning, one-of-a-kind art works pepper their home, from such famed artists as Ben Ortega, Arthur Lopez, and Maximilliano Padilla Henderson.

Frequent entertainers, the Trasks made sure to incorporate a snazzy bar, a.k.a. party headquarters, as almost the first stop upon entering the condo. Just as each piece in their Southwestern art collection comes with a story, so too does their quirky, colorful assortment of martini glasses, prominently displayed from floor to ceiling.

“This one is from our honeymoon in Aspen,” says Ron, delightedly, “and this one is Swarovski.” He and Gloria talk over one another in their eagerness to relay the fun origins of all the glasses, cruising down memory lane in the process. It’s no wonder friends and family love to spend time here, carefully choosing a favorite glass and then taking in the sunset from the veranda, cocktail in hand. It’s obvious this home is full of activity and love. What it’s not full of? Yard work.

“You’re still in charge of the ‘yard,’” Gloria teases her husband. “I see three leaves on the balcony.”

The Trasks love living up high, being in the city while still enjoying a view of its glittering lights at night.

After moving in last April, the couple has had time to assess their lifestyle change, and they give it an enthusiastic, quadruple thumbs-up. They agree they love living up high, being in the city while still enjoying a view of its glittering lights at night, a benefit usually only available from the outskirts of the metro area. Other perks: Several stories up, they live relatively dust-free, and vast views make the condo feel wide open. They spend less time cleaning, more time entertaining. And they can still walk to a variety of dining establishments whenever they feel like it.

It was a great move, says Gloria. “No regrets.”

 

resources

Interior designer
Patti Stivers, Stivers & Smith Interiors

Home Design, General Contractor, Electrical, HVAC
Sun Vista Enterprises

Architect
Kevin deGraauw, AIA

Appliances
Builders Source Appliance Gallery
buildersource.com

Art Galleries
Design Warehouse
Nest Modern

Automatic Blinds
HD Systems

Cabinetry and Quartz Countertop Fabrication
Ulibarri Construction

Dining Room & Kitchen Pendant Lighting
RKL Sales

Outdoor Furniture
Patio & Hearth Co.

Quartz Countertop Material
Arizona Tile
arizonatile.com

Sinks & Faucets
Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery
ferguson.com

Venetian Plaster
Urszula Bolimowksi, Urszula Designs