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Before and After: Elegant Desert Home

A renovation awakens new elegance in a home rooted in historic Southwest style

Written by Sally Finder Weepie
  • Werner Straube

    Romance of the west resonates with Sam and Diane Bodman. Like desert sunlight, it shines in the art they’ve collected through the years and in their shared affinity for an architect as integral to the West as steers and Stetsons.

    “We admire the work of John Gaw Meem [a 1930s icon known for his Pueblo Revival and Territorial Revival designs],” Diane says. “When we bought this house, we wanted that approach—in an updated way.”

    Hand-carved doors—white oak with gray stain—were inspired by architect John Gaw Meem. “The shutters let in great light during the day and ensure privacy at night,” designer Paul Sherrill says. Pilasters feature Territorial-style proportions.

    Photography: Werner Straube
    Produced by Eleanor Roper

    Interior designer: José Solis Betancourt and Paul Sherrill, Solis Betancourt & Sherrill, 1739 Connecticut Ave. N.W., Wasington, DC 20009; 202/659-8734,

    Wall and trim paint (“Timid White” #OC-39): Benjamin Moore,
    Ceiling paint (“Husky Grey” #10GG 72/022): Glidden,
    Hanging light (Early 20th-century Neoclassical Alabaster Candelabra Chandelier, Swedish): Bjork Studio,
    Chairs (Federal Curly Maple Caned-Seat Chairs); table between chairs (gilded pedestal candlestand); art: owner’s collection.
    Chair-seat fabric (“Dylan”/Blue Shadow #2009-02): Kerry Joyce Textiles,
    Tassels (“Le Jardin Silk Chair Tassel”/Ecru #976-41397-90): Samuel & Sons,
    Flooring: wide plank white oak.
    Doors (custom design): Solis Betancourt & Sherrill,
    Fabrication: El Paso Wood Products Inc., 915/545-2974.

  • Entry Before

    The homeowners turned to Washington, D.C., designers José Solís Betancourt and Paul Sherrill to transform the El Paso house, which they felt already had good bones, into a place that truly reflects their aesthetic. “We referenced Meem in the overall architectural style,” Sherrill says. “The essence is there. But we took creative license to contemporize it.”

  • Werner Straube

    Southwest Style

    Covered porches, or portals as they’re called in the Southwest, are a hallmark of Territorial Revival style.  

    Wall lanterns (“Suffork Small Short Scroll Arm Lantern”/Natural Copper #CHO2061): Circa Lighting,
    Wicker chairs (Malibu Collection): Manutti,
    Doors (custom): Solis Betancourt & Sherrill, solisbetancourt.comFabrication: El Paso Wood Products Inc., 915/545-2974. 

  • Living Room Before

    The excellent bones of the living room were in need of cosmetic work to get the room in line with the homeowners' elegant Southwestern vision.

  • Werner Straube

    Formal Living Room

    Rustic beams, forged iron, textural masonry, and plank floors speak to Territorial Revival architecture. The palette, however, eschews the Southwest’s stereotypical terra-cotta hues in favor of a light and airy look that features generous swaths of warm white complemented by soft blues, grays, beiges, and a big-as-Texas abundance of natural light.

    Collected art and furniture pieces—like the blue-and-white chairs from Russia—infuse character into the living room, as does the unique stone fireplace. “It’s from Phyllis Diller’s house—the Bob Hope room,” Sherrill says. “Imagine if it could talk.” 

    Wall paint (“Timid White” #OC-39): Benjamin Moore,
    Area rug: antique Oushak.
    Sofas (custom): De Angelis Inc., 212/348-8225.
    Sofa fabric (“Vittoria”/Beige #34691-1): Clarence House,
    Pillows on sofa (“Indian Cartouche” #1021006584, discontinued): Zimmer + Rohde,
    Flange trim (“Herringbone Di Lusso”/Blue #26907-002, discontinued): Scalamandré,
    Coffee table, at right (Maison Bagues): vintage.
    Coffee table, at left (Jansen Bone Inlay Coffee table, c. 1960): William Laman,
    Drapery (“Paradise”/Sea Spray #M400-03, by Mark Alexander): Romo,
    Drapery trim (“6-inch Acanthus Embroidered Border”/Canvas #977-56200-01): Samuel & Sons,
    Lounge chair at left (custom): De Angelis Inc., 212/348-8225.
    Lounge-chair fabric (“Cashmere Solid”/Eucalyptus #215998): Robert Allen,
    Round table beside lounge chair (“Brushed Brass Side Table”): Balsamo Antiques,
    Tufted chair (“Napoleon III Buttoned Bergère,” mid 19th-century): Côté Jardin Antiques,
    Chair fabric (“Torrington Paisley”/Sandalwood #LCF65254F, discontinued): Ralph Lauren Home,
    Chairs by fireplace: owner’s collection.
    Chair fabric (“Nevada”/Sable #4622/22, by Manuel Canovas); chair-cushion fabric (“Rajah”/Blue #11028-03): Cowtan & Tout,
    Floor lamps behind chairs (Pair of Grand Tour Bronze Torchieres, c. 1880): Osuna Art &Antiques,
    Tufted ottoman (custom): DeAngelis Inc., 212/348-8225.
    Ottoman fabric (“Velours Monchalet”/Biscuit #2030/01, discontinued): Rose Tarlow-Melrose House,
    Art: owner’s collection.
    Picture lights (“Classic Picture Lights”/Weathered Brass #HP-30): House of Troy,
    Pedestal: custom.
    Sculpture on pedestal (Chinese wood carving, 19th-century); tiered tablelamp on tiered table: owner’s collection.
    Mirror above tiered table (“German Venetian Mirror, 20th-century): Greenwich Living Antiques & Design Center,
    Log basket by fireplace (Large Round Log Basket): Mecox,

  • Gallery Hall Before

    “Light is magical,” Diane says. “Spanish houses often had high ceilings and let in a lot of light. We really wanted that here.” 

  • Werner Straube

    Gallery Hall

    The design team replaced all the windows and doors, taking openings down to the floor to admit much more light. Soffits that hid old heating, air-conditioning, and lighting systems also were removed, along with interior door headers and transoms, clearing the way to raise ceilings through much of the house.

    Existing flooring was swapped for white-oak planks that were wire-brushed to bring out the grain, then gray-washed and finished with a coat of wax. Along with divided-light doors and windows, character-rich reclaimed beams added to ceilings augment architectural interest.

    Glorious light fills the grand hall that connects the home’s gathering areas with the wing housing the master bedroom and bath spaces. 

    Wall and trim paint (“Timid White” #OC-39): Benjamin Moore,
    Chests (Burmese manuscript chests, early 19th-century): owner’s collection.
    Flooring: wide plank white oak. 

  • Family Room Before

    Like the rest of the house, more light was added to the existing family room.

  • Werner Straube

    Lovely Family Room

    The beams, like many pieces in the Bodman home, tell a story of the couple’s world travels. “I found these amazing carved beams in a shop in Mumbai,” Diane says. “They had been taken out of an old house there. My husband thought I had lost my mind when I bought them and sent them home. But like a lot of the pieces we’ve collected, they ended up working out great in this house.”

    The renovation ushered in a more pronounced bay window to admit light and views. American Indian prints mesh with a Giacometti-style table. 

    Wall paint (“Timid White” #OC-39): Benjamin Moore,
    Painted strie finish on paneling: custom.
    Flooring: wide plank white oak.
    Sofa (custom design): Solis Betancourt & Sherrill,
    Fabrication: Custom Furniture by Laitamaki, 561/586-8556.
    Sofa fabric (“Soft Focus”/White Quartz #1117/04, by Great Plains): Holly Hunt,
    Beige-patterned pillows on sofa (“Oudapoor Paisley”/Multi-Golds #00810T, discontinued): Quadrille,
    Blue floral pillows on sofa (“Wallace Vine”/Blue #JP 4801, by Jasper): Michael S Smith,
    Floor lamps (“Pair of Bronze Floor Lamps in the manner of Diego Giacometti,” c. 1960): Harbor View Center for Antiques,
    Coffee table (“Giacometti Inspired Knot Table with Snake” #0666): Carole Gratale Inc.,
    Art (antique Indian prints): owner’s collection.
    Lounge chairs at left (Preston Reclining Lounge Chair”): Caperton Collection,
    Chair fabric (“Keep True”/Horizon #28881.1635): Kravet,
    Table between lounge chairs (antique): Petersen Antiques,
    Table lamp (“Pheasant Feather Lamp”/Brown): Bunny Williams Home,
    Floor pillows (“Aquarius”/Caramel #26745-005, discontinued): Scalamandré,
    Club chairs at right (custom): DeAngelis Inc., 212/348-8225.
    Club-chair fabric (“Lamont”/French Blue #7723/13): Romo,
    Pillows on club chairs (“Oudapoor Paisley”/Multi-Golds #00810T): Quadrille,

  • Dining Room Before

    Before, there were soffits and a picture window.

  • Werner Straube

    Casual Elegance

    Nineteenth-century Chinese carvings mounted on columns decorate the living room. Seventeenth-century Burmese sandstone monks top a vestry cabinet in the dining area. A 20th-century painting from Russia sits atop a bedside table. “This house is special because it represents the life we’ve had,” says Diane, who did some of that globe-trotting while Sam was serving as Secretary of Energy in President George W. Bush’s administration.

    New French doors let light spill into the dining area, an enchanted forest of wood tones including American curly maple chairs, a pine cabinet, and gray-washed beams—presided over by a venerable oak tree painting. 

    Wall paint (“Timid White” #OC-39): Benjamin Moore,
    Flooring: wide plank white oak.
    Drapery (Aquitaine”/Bisque #1243/02, by ClassicCloth): Dessin Fournir,
    Dining tablehost chairs (Chippendale-style); side chairs (Federal Curly Maple Caned Side Chairs): owner’s collection.
    Host-chair fabric (“Puck”/Titania #92510-06): Rogers & Goffigon,
    Side-chair fabric (“Dylan”/Blue Shadow #2009-02): Kerry Joyce Textiles,
    Tassels (“Le Jardin Silk Chair Tassel”/Ecru #976-41397-90): Samuel & Sons,
    Chandelier (Hand-Forged Iron Chandelier, 19th-century): Forteleza Antiques,
    Cabinet (Sabino Vestiment Cabinet, Mexico, c. 19th-century): MMB Studio,
    Art above cabinet (antique); figures on cabinet (antique sandstone monks, Burmese): owner’s collection.   

  • Kitchen Before

    The kitchen had two colors of cabinetry and a large center island.

  • Werner Straube

    Fresh Kitchen

    “Although the collected pieces come from around the world, they mesh with the Spanish architecture because of a shared sense of romance,” Sherrill says. The designer also brought in some intriguing finds, including a vintage drafting table that functions as the kitchen island. The top tips up, and it has a long pencil ledge that’s crayon-friendly for the Bodmans’ grandchildren. Iridescent Raku glazed tiles behind the range introduce a hint of blue.

    “Faint blue wafts through the whole house,” says Sherrill, who used the hue, drawn from the sky and from the Bodmans’ art, in draperies and on upholstery that covers refined furnishings—their silhouettes another twist on Southwest style.

    Windows flanking the cooktop and custom hood were added to bring in more light. Sun rays now shimmer off the Raku tile backsplash and travertine floor. 

    Cabinetry (custom): Supreme Custom Cabinets, 915/581-2710.
    Wall and cabinetry paint (“Timid White” #OC-39): Benjamin Moore,
    Flooring: herringbone Travertine mosaic.
    Island/table (“French Iron and Pine Top Serving Table,” France, c. 1920s): Brendan Bass Showroom,
    Counter stools (“Manchester Swivel Counter/Bar Stool”): LodgeCraft,
    Stool fabric (“Genslar.11,” vinyl): Kravet,
    Rangetop  (“48-inch Sealed Burner Rangetop-6 Burners and Infrared Griddle” #SRT486G): Wolf,
    Backsplash behind range (“Fire and Earth Field Tile”/Light Sand, Crackle finish #AS2276): Ann Sacks,
    Range hood (custom): Solis Betancourt & Sherrill,
    Window shades (“Nimbus” #254): Conrad,
    Countertop: Crema Marfil.
    Apron sink (“Dickinson Apron-Front Under-Mount Single-Bowl Kitchen Sink”/Biscuit #K-6546-4U-96): Kohler,
    Faucets (“Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet”/Satin Nickel #2510-5103): Newport Brass,

  • Werner Straube

    Breakfast Room

    A reclaimed Spanish-style door dates to the 1840–1890 era. New indoor-outdoor wicker chairs can easily be pulled out for a seat on the veranda. 

    Wall paint (“Timid White” #OC-39): Benjamin Moore,
    Floor tile (Travertine herringbone): Marble Systems,
    Chandelier (“Rafael Chandelier” #2011): Paul Ferrante,
    Dining table (Large 19th-century Oak Extension Table with Leaves): Marston Luce Antiques,
    Dining chairs (Malibu Collection #FS-CH18-23 ): Manutti,
    Chair-cushion fabric (“Rapport”/Ice Blue #11451): Calvin Fabrics,
    Dinnerwarearmchair; art: owner’s collection.
    Carved doors (Pair of Antique Carved Doors, Spain, c. 1850): Brown & Co.,

  • Werner Straube

    Powder Room 

    Sherrill’s picks for furniture and accents—and his intuitive grasp of Diane’s aesthetic—at times approached the uncanny. “One day Paul called to ask if I liked the bird sconces he had found. I said, ‘Paul, I already have four of these,’ ” Diane says with a laugh. “That was the tone for this project. Paul and I were on the same page.”

    Tile echoes the carvings on an antique Indonesian chest that was repurposed as a vanity. 

    Wall paint (“Mayonnaise” #2152-70): Benjamin Moore,
    Wall tile (“Fatima Decorative Field Tile”/Mezzanotte, Duquesa Collection): Walker Zanger,
    Vanity cabinet: owner’s collection.
    Countertop (Crema Marfil): Classic Granite & Marble,
    Sink (“Memoirs Under-Mount Bathroom Sink”/Biscuit #K-2339-96): Kohler,
    Faucets (“Chesterfield Widespread Lavatory Faucet”/Satin Nickel #1030): Newport Brass,
    Mirror (“19th-Century Neoclassical Italian Oval Giltwood Mirror,” c. 1840-1860): Andrew Spindler Antiques,

  • Werner Straube

    Master Bedroom

    Their shared vision for the El Paso home is sophisticated yet easy, made for a couple who embrace modern life, complete with a resident rescue dog and a trio of energetic grandchildren.

    “The kids will come into the kitchen with their little aprons and help us cook, then go through the breakfast room to fool around outside in the sandbox,” Diane says. “I love that this house is able to handle real life—kids pushing trucks across the floor, using the kitchen island base as monkey bars. But at the same time it’s light and pretty. It’s the simple, classical setting that I really wanted.”

    Faint blues make an appearance in the sunlit master bedroom.

    Bed (custom design): Solis Betancourt & Sherrill,
    Headboard and bed-skirt fabric (Hiro”/Ivory #8908-03, by Larsen): Cowtan & Tout,
    Bed linens: owner’s collection.
    Floral pillow sham (“Summerby Linen”/Pale Blue #F3705-02, by Colefax and Fowler): Cowtan & Tout,
    Bolster-pillow fabric (“Patagonia”/Water Lily #DE11475, wool flannel): Holland & Sherry,
    Table lamps (Murano glass, 20th-century): Maurice Beane Art & Design,
    Bedside table (early William and Mary); art on bedside table (early 20th-century Russia); upholstered chair; pedestal; Figure on pedestal (Burmese angel, late 19th-century): owner’s collection

  • Werner Straube

    Bedroom Sitting Area

    Sherrill relocated windows to create symmetry. “Structural harmony brings a sense of peace,” he says. 

    Wall paint (“Mayonnaise” #2152-70): Benjamin Moore,
    Carpet (“Mia”/Azure): Doris Leslie Blau,
    Window shades (custom design): Solis Betancourt & Sherrill,
    Window-shade fabric (“Ropa”/Pond #DE11399): Holland & Sherry,
    Trim (“1.4-inch Lancaster Lattice Braid”/Sea Mist #977-39808-10): Samuel & Sons,
    Tufted chairconsole tablesmall upholstered chairceramic garden seat (“Rose Medallion Chinese Garden Seat”); accessories on console: owner’s collection.
    Tufted-chair fabric (“Hiro”/Ivory #8908-03, by Larsen):  Cowtan & Tout,
    Mirror (Queen Anne-style Venetian Glass Mirror, 20th-century): Greenwich Living Antiques & Design Center,

  • Werner Straube

    Glamorous Bath

    An antique Venetian Doris Duke mirror ups the glam factor in the master bath.

    Wall and cabinetry paint (‘Mayonnaise” #2152-70): Benjamin Moore,
    Vanity cabinet (custom): Supreme Custom Cabinets, 915/581-2710.
    Countertop (Crema Marfil): Classic Granite & Marble,
    Sink (“Memoirs Under-Mount Bathroom Sink”/Biscuit #K-2339-96): Kohler,
    Faucet (“Chesterfield Widespread Lavatory Faucet”/Satin Nickel #1030): Newport Brass,
    Mirrors (antiqued Venetian Doris Duke Mirrors, US, 20th-century): Greenwich Living Antiques & Design Center,
    Sconces (vintage Maison Bagues); accessories: owner’s collection.

  • Master Bathroom

    A biedermeier chest anchors the entrance of the master bath. A pair of sconces and Foo dogs create symmetry.

    Wall paint (“Mayonnaise” #2152-70): Benjamin Moore,
    Trim tile (“3.5-inch Acanthus Border in Cloud Nine, Paperwhite, and Carrara,” Studio Line Collection by New Ravenna): Architectural Ceramics,
    Chair (“Continental Baroque Oak Armchair,” Spain, 19th-century): Todd Alexander Romano,
    Chair-seat fabric (Hiro”/Ivory #8908-03, by Larsen): Cowtan & Tout,
    Chest (19th-century Biedermeier); mirror (19th-century Venetian); wall sconces (Maison Bagues, 1940s); accessories: owner’s collection.

  • Werner Straube


    Homeowner Diane Bodman cherishes time spent with her grandchildren at the family-friendly El Paso home. The kids have a soft spot for toy trucks—and Chico the rescue dog. 

  • Ed Gohlich