Harwell Custom Homes has been recognized and
achieved preferred builder status on numerous
occasions, the article below appeared in the Albuquerque
Journal. Please view our Awards page for further
achievements in the industry.

Sunday Morning, January 9, 2005

Wood & Mountains
Challenges breed creativity, says the builder

Story by Jane Mahoney
For the Journal

Faced with the challenges of car-size boulders and steep slopes, Peggy Harwell finds delight in building and living in the mountains. The owner of Harwell Custom Homes has coined her own description of her houses in the East Mountains and in the Northeast Heights subdivision High Desert. She calls them mountain contemporary.

A 3,507 square-foot house just completed in the Paa-ko Communities, with eye-popping views of Sandia Peak, the Ortiz Mountains and the Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Club, is Harwell’s current model, as well as her home. The three-bedroom house on an acre-plus wooded lot is listed at $800,000. It is available for viewing by appointment; call 228-6495.

A rugged blend of stone, wood, tile, and windows. The house reflects its mountain setting at every turn. “Building out here in the mountains breeds creativity,” says Harwell, who founded Harwell Custom Homes in 1995 after more than a decade working in other aspects of the construction industry. She held jobs ranging from designer to estimator on the cost of design and building projects for clients.

I’ve never turned back or regretted it,” Harwell said. She is one of a growing number of women entering the predominately male trade in recent years. She runs her own job sites, relying on loyal crews that have been part of the Harwell team for nine years.
“ Women can see a finished product so clearly even in the initial stages of production,” she said. “And, I think we have a sense for the dynamics of a kitchen or a bathroom - that will make your life easier, or the just-right distance between a kitchen range and the counter.”

Such attention to detail has twice earned Harwell the Gold Award in the Homes of Enchantment Parade sponsored by the Home Builders Association of Central New Mexico. Last fall, this house’s master bathroom took the best bath award in its price category.

The house, on three levels, reflects Harwell’s determination to balance a house with its surroundings, bringing outdoor materials and colors inside for a harmonious transition. She accomplishes it, in part, with generous use of dark wood cabinets, granite countertops, porcelain tile, and hand-scraped, wide-plank cherry wood floors. “ It’s all about balance to me,” said Harwell. “My idea of home is to drive up to a property and see a house that looks like it was placed there with no disturbance to the environment around it. I pay careful attention to incorporate rocks, trees and other natural elements.”

Views are paramount in this house, with big windows that open wide to let in the breeze. They are interspersed with smaller windows that provide a peek at mountain ranges. Wood warms this house in the East Mountains. The great room and kitchen are the heart of this house, which also has a master suite, a dining room, a library with floor-to-ceiling built-in shelving, a two-bedroom guest wing and a three-car oversized garage with a storage area and a small workshop. The great room fairly gleams with the cherrywood flooring, and the wood tones are carried to the ceiling, which has 10-inch-by-12-inch beams. A gas log fireplace, visible from the kitchen, dining room, great room and library, nestles in natural stone and plaster and offers a warm seat on its stone hearth. The kitchen, which has a 10-foot-by-3-foot granite-topped island, has a travertine backsplash with each tile individually stained to create a swirling patchwork design which is a backdrop for the mantellike wooden hood built in above the kitchen range. A walk-in pantry has double doors for easy access. Harwell’s attention to detail can be seen in the pantry’s built-in hangers for storing linens and tablecloths. The master suite has access to a generous wrap-around balcony, a coffee bar, big-screen TV, gas-log fireplace, walk-in closets, built-in niches and a sitting room. The windows in the master suite give a 360-degree panoramic view of the East Mountains.


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Cherry plank flooring
and wooden beams
give warmth to the
great room. Large
windows open
onto the mountains.

Lighted niches show
off artwork in this
custom home in
Paa-ko communities
in the East Mountains.

Peggy Harwell, the
owner of Harwell
Custom Homes, is
living in the Paa-ko
house. The large
kitchen has granite
countertops, alderwood
cabinets and tiled

Exterior stonework
helps the house blend
with its rocky,
acre-plus lot.