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A Daycation in the Desert

Todd Oldham’s parents built a one-room, technicolor retreat outside Santa Fe.


Illustration by James Provost  

Linda and Jack Oldham, parents of designer Todd Oldham, had been making regular weekend pilgrimages to Santa Fe from their ranch in nearby Abiquiu for the past six years when they decided they needed a permanent place just outside the city. So they bought a five-acre plot of land a short drive from Santa Fe, and in the span of about a year built a 100-square-foot studio, made from two-by-fours and old stained-glass windows, as a sort of “reverse country house,” Todd says. There’s electricity, but no plumbing—which means that they only visit during the daytime, and for a few hours at a time. His mother explains: “We’ll hang out there, eat lunch, maybe take a little nap on the couch. Our dogs love it.” The Oldhams also like to putter around the property (once a stop on the Santa Fe Trail), collecting old pottery shards. Like their son, Linda and Jack have a way with color, humor—and are nothing if not resourceful: They fashioned the legs of a wooden coffee table from old Bambi-shaped Christmas decorations. Says Linda: “Us old hams are genius at repurposing anything.”


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