Set on three acres, the house feels private and far away, but in reality, it is close to town. Celebratory fireworks are visible from the house, along with sunsets that sweep across the sky and give way to star-dotted dark nights. Located close to the Carson National Forest, wild animals including bear, fox, coyote, and bobcat are often seen and a herd of 32 elk visited this winter.
The house is tastefully designed so the elegant furnishings fade away to allow the views to shine. The living room is a peaceful place to meditate in solitude, as well as a comfortable place to spend time with friends. Gilster loves to cook and enjoys the innovative kitchen features like the Bosch induction stove top that heats up and cools down instantly.
Comfortable elegance is the defining feature of Sharon Bumpas Gilster’s home in the Weimer foothills east of Taos. Clean lines and thoughtful design combine to create a home that is not only efficient and low maintenance, but also beautiful -
a unique example of Taos Style.
“I wanted a home with as small a carbon footprint as possible, as efficient as possible and close to zero maintenance,” says homeowner Sharon Bumpas Gilster. “I didn’t want a big showy place, but I wanted to be really comfortable and to have one room deep design so that I had windows all around me.”
Gilster’s home fits gracefully into the landscape, sited between the well, a piñon pine and an arroyo, following the slope of the land to create commanding views in all directions. From the living room, large windows frame dramatic vistas of Pedernal and Ute Mountain to the west and north and Picuris Peak to the south. There is even a rare view of Wheeler Peak, tucked behind Taos Mountain.
A small house comfortable for the human spirit
Gilster bought the land 20 years ago and moved forward with construction in 2016. With its small footprint, the house exemplifies the market trend towards smaller spaces. Gilster says that the National Association of Realtors research shows that the market will welcome houses between 1,500 and 2,000 square feet; her house is 1,900 square feet. “That makes sense to me,” says Gilster. “As I look at our children’s generation and younger, they don’t want big grand expensive houses.” She adds “Many years ago, I read the book ‘The Not So Big House’ and that was a huge influence on me. The book explores the idea that the human spirit is more at home in a smaller space. When it gets to be cavernous it loses its appeal.”
Design and technology
Gilster’s background in the design and space planning fields is on display with each thoughtful touch, including the Hunter Douglas blinds that feature the highest R-value for insulation on the market, in addition to resisting soil and dust. All the blinds can be controlled through Gilster’s smart phone.
She explains that the whole house is run on an Apple Home system that allows her to not only open the blinds, but also control her front gate, house lighting, garden irrigation, heat and humidity remotely from anywhere in the world where she has a phone signal. “I couldn’t have built this house five or 10 years ago, the technology didn’t yet exist,” says Gilster.
Her husband, Norman Gilster is an electrical engineer and security expert. He designed many of the systems in the house, including the air exchange system that brings in fresh air and filters out sand, dust, smoke and pollen. The state of the art heat and air conditioning also includes a humidifier. The sophisticated video surveillance system allows her to see what is happening around the house, including capturing photos of a recent visit from a bear that came to investigate her bird feeders.
The whole house, including floors, walls and ceiling are constructed using SIP technology (structural insulated panels), one of the strongest and most insulated forms of construction. The floors are cork. “I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t have cork floors,” says Gilster. ”Like other wood types, it can be finished any way you want. It lasts a long time, is insect repellant, water and noise repellant and insulating for sound and heat. Cork is a renewable resource and is soft to walk on.”
The windows in the home are premium vinyl, so there is nothing to maintain and the window glass is Solarban, which provides 100% UV protection. The house is capped by a 50-60 year standing seam roof that provides the perfect place for solar panels to attach that run the all-electric house.
In the Gilsters’ house, there is no wasted space. Dressers fit between closets in alcoves. Space-saving pocket doors close off the guest wing for added privacy for visitors. “All the spaces of the house are the result of conscious decisions to use every corner and preserve as much space as possible for living,” says Gilster. Even though it is not large, the house feels spacious with its vaulted ceilings. The low voltage/LED cable lights provide a soft light to the room and leave intact the feeling of wide open spaces.
The exterior of the house is simple and clean with its grey roof and light colored bricks. An architect from Iceland designed the home and a certain Nordic aesthetic is evident.
A garden with water features, young fruit trees and roses greet visitors to the house. Re-blooming dwarf lilies define a graceful curve that will create a private garden room as they grow. “The intent is that when the lilacs mature, that will create a private space around the cutting flower garden, water features, seating spaces and hammock area,” explains Gilster. “I always wanted an English garden room for meditation.”
Taos Style with a modern flair
When architect Oli Johannsson and wife came to visit the house as it neared completion, the architect’s wife asked what Gilster would have done differently in the design and construction of the house. Gilster said “Not a thing. This is exactly what I wanted.”
Her vision created a house with Taos Style that embraces the natural beauty all around us in an efficient and elegant way.
For more information
Sharon Bumpas Gilster is a highly-credentialed real estate agent and owner of High County Real Estate Services. Her other business is High Country Design Services, which is the only Showcase Dealer of Hunter Douglas window coverings in Northern New Mexico. She is active in the community, sponsoring nonprofit efforts for housing, youth and the arts. For more information, contact Gilster at (575) 758-2723 office; (575) 770-3410 cell or visit taosrealestatebroker.com