Gifts from the Ghost

Whatever your life brings to you, respond with creation.

– Elizabeth Gilbert

Thanks for all your wonderful comments about the transformation of Casita Alegria and the ghost story that accompanied it. Your insights inspired me to close this allegory with an expression of gratitude to the ghost.

Being a neurotic perfectionist by nature, I realize now that I spent far too much time obsessing over every tiny detail of the remodel, as well as overreacting to the playful escapades of the invisible presence that kept me up at night.

Faced with the ghostbuster’s demand to stay out of the casita for three weeks to allow removal of the ghost, I turned my attention from inside the old adobe’s walls to the outside.

A Blank Palette

The adobes garden offered a blank palette.
The adobes garden offered a blank palette.

The adobe’s garden offered new opportunities and a blank palette for creation, which lifted my spirits. However, the landscape looked empty, forlorn and neglected from every door and window.

But I now had no excuse not to address the desolate space surrounding the haunted and forbidden adobe. What am I going to do with this place? I thought as I walked the perimeter of the thick cocoa brown adobe walls with pale green doors and windows I didn’t dare look into.

Good Design Repeats Itself

The inside and the outside of a home should connect through windows, doors and feeling.
The inside and the outside of a home should connect through windows, doors and feeling.

When I sat down on the diminutive stone patio and looked at the tall gray telephone pole and ugly electrical lines that snarled across the splotchy grass below, my heart sank with dread.

But then I remembered the principles I believe in. I feel strongly that the inside and outside of a home should connect, not only through doors and windows, but through feeling. I vowed to make the garden reflect the character and spirit of the newly renovated rooms repeating the same architectural elements, colors, shapes, textures and playful patterns.

Outdoor Rooms

While walking the property, I came up with a plan to define and create outdoor rooms. Each of these spaces would have a specific purpose, and a focal point to draw people into the garden.

Each area in the garden would have a purpose and a focal point.
Each area in the garden would have a purpose and a focal point.
A curvaceous banco under the pear tree enticed guests into the garden.
A curvaceous banco under the pear tree enticed guests into the garden.

I imagined a curvaceous banco with lots of pillows and a small round table that enticed from under the pear tree to eat breakfast, read a book, or serve chips and margaritas to evening guests.

A few steps away, I envisioned a large dining table with multicolored dining chairs under the shade of a colorful umbrella. It would seat four for dinner or accommodate a garden party of eight with smaller chairs.

A dining table with multi-colored chairs was placed a few steps from the banco.
A dining table with multi-colored chairs was placed a few steps from the banco.

Fire and Water

The back corner of the adobe was the perfect location for a fireplace.
The back corner of the adobe was the perfect location for a fireplace.

Next, I saw the perfect place for a kiva fireplace at the back corner of the adobe, with a banco extending from its side for relaxing while enjoying a fire on cool, high desert evenings. The functional architectural element would anchor the overhead rectangle created with vigas, beams and corbels, and the resulting arbor would support flowering vines to shade us from Santa Fe’s brilliant and almost daily sunshine.

Then I turned to visualize a soothing, splashy fountain in the garden across from the fireplace adjacent to the dining area. I ultimately found a three-tiered Mexican fountain edged with tiny carved flowers. The more levels a fountain has, the more sound the water makes as it falls. Fountains not only fill indoor and outdoor spaces with sound and movement, they moisten the air and create focal points that beckon people outdoors.  

Fountains create sound and movement, inviting people outdoors.
Fountains create sound and movement, inviting people outdoors.

Privacy

In Casita Alegria’s garden, the original low perimeter wall provided little, if any, privacy until it was raised from four feet to six feet. A few years later, to our good fortune, new neighbors moved in next door and built an eight-foot coyote fence against our garden wall. We were thrilled with the added privacy, rustic texture and sound barrier the thick wall and tall fence provided.

A thick 6' wall and 8' coyote fence create privacy and a sound barrier for the garden.
A thick 6' wall and 8' coyote fence create privacy and a sound barrier for the garden.

Entrance

The front door of the adobe sits under a portal that displays the same vigas and beams as the adobe’s interior and new arbor. After trimming low-growing branches on the magnificent blue spruce, we lined the outside of the pathway below with the same river rock used in the back yard. Then we planted fluffy lime green ground cover inside the pathway, which softened the adobe’s linear face. Two white planters with red flowers stand at either end of the casita’s shady white walled portal to welcome guests.

The portal over the front door repeats the same vigas and beams as the new arbor.
The portal over the front door repeats the same vigas and beams as the new arbor.

Thanks

So much of the garden’s transformation was imagined, created and begun during and shortly after the ghostbuster’s time spent clearing Casita Alegria. I not only appreciated her efforts, I remain grateful to the ghost whose presence sent me to live at La Posada and focus my attention not only on the garden, but on the mysteries of life.

The ghost in Casita Alegria confirmed a bigger picture of life to me. I had always wholeheartedly believed in this concept, but I had never experienced it quite so directly as living with a deceased spirit. Thanks to the ghost in the blue striped suit for affirming my long-held belief. My hope is that he, too, is experiencing new opportunities and a blank palette for creation.

Many thanks to the ghost in the blue-striped suit!
Many thanks to the ghost in the blue-striped suit!

With gratitude to all,

Toby and Linda Applewhite
Showing 19 comments
  • Sherry Sneberger
    Reply

    It is soooooo beautiful inside and out. My dream home!

    • linda applewhite
      Reply

      Thanks Sherry for your great comments! Hope you make your dream home happen!!! Blessings, Linda

  • Deborah Healy
    Reply

    Everything looks so beautiful….plants and colors. It’s welcoming and lovely. Better that the ghost moves on (bless him/her)…Inspirational.

    • linda applewhite
      Reply

      Thanks Deborah! Happy summer spending time outdoors enjoying the light, colors and nature!! Linda

  • MARLA P
    Reply

    Oh my Linda!!! Love this post….again. I first saw you doing the landscape and exterior of a home on an HGTV show. The title escapes me right now. This post reminds me of that first “encounter”. This is also inspiring me to get outside and start creating!!
    Blessings to you Artful Linda!!

    • linda applewhite
      Reply

      Marla, thanks for your comments! I hope you do get outside and start creating a beautiful place to enjoy summer in case you don’t have one! Blessings, Linda

  • Daniel Williams
    Reply

    Linda, your “ghost in the blue-striped suit” has geographical class.
    As always, your work is gorgeous.
    I also have a ghost in my home. She is always dressed in dark Victorian aged clothing, she is middle aged and very attractive.
    She is well behaved, so Ghostbusters are not required (yet).
    I call her “Lady in black”
    When she venturs in my garden she freaks out my 90 pound territorial German Shepherd.
    I look forward to your beautiful achievements every month.
    Dan

    • linda applewhite
      Reply

      Dan, Thanks so much for your gracious comments about my blog and design work!
      Loved hearing about the Lady in Black and her interactions with your German Shepherd! The ghost buster’s phone has been disconnected so guess she’s out of business. Probably your ghost would have acted up by now if she was going to. It sounds like she’s a lovely presence! Hope all three of you have a wonderful summer.
      Linda

  • sandy
    Reply

    Loved the mystery of the ghost to add extra excitement to watching you create, hoping he didn’t undo all your hard work. Seeing all you’ve done inside and out is exciting and motivating.
    Thank you again for another spectacular finish.

    • linda applewhite
      Reply

      Sandy, Thanks for looking on the inside and outside of the old adobe to witness the transformation, ghost and all. When he started moving the furniture I had to draw the line. But I think it is a good thing for him that he moved on. I appreciate you reading my blogs. Thank you! Linda

  • Jo Adams
    Reply

    Love your style and stories!
    Jo

    • linda applewhite
      Reply

      Thanks Jo!! Hope you, Keith and Del are enjoying summer by that beautiful Turtle Creek right outside your door!!! XO, Linda

  • Carolyn O'Connor
    Reply

    Just wonderful Linda! I love it all, and I so enjoy your story line. Very interesting and relaxing to read. Great Job, it’s beautiful, I just want to move in!

  • Katie Cullen
    Reply

    You have an incredible ability to design spaces with feeling. We were fortunate to have you provide that same warmth in both our houses. Thank you 😊 ❤️

    • linda applewhite
      Reply

      Thanks Katie! Good luck with your remodel in DC!! See you next month! LA

  • Maudie K.
    Reply

    Loved reading… transformation….Ghost..and how you went about making a beautiful home..
    Really, did not want it to end !!
    You are a delightful author..creative…all around wonderful designer !
    Proud too have known you and had you in my life for what now..
    The past 50 years !!!!

    • linda applewhite
      Reply

      Hey Maudie Kay!! Glad you enjoyed reading about the casita and the ghost. Thanks for your lovely comments and I too am proud to have you in my life for the past five decades. Happy Summer! Love, Linda

  • Kirby
    Reply

    I have been the lucky recipient of those”chips, salsas & Margaritas”. The whole experience of being in Linda’s colorful world was marvelous!

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