Time Travelers

Find rare old-world treasures at Ranchos Antique Furnishings

By David Lerner

Photograph by Mike Hawkins

as a trading center and crossroads between the Indigenous people of the Americas and various waves of newcomers from around the globe. Although the legacy of European colonialism in Latin America and the U.S. Southwest is a complicated and sometimes contentious issue, the art objects, home furnishings, and other curios that evoke the romance of the Spanish colonial period nevertheless exert a powerful pull on the imagination for longtime Taoseños and new visitors alike. 

Since moving to Taos from the Colorado high country in 2000, partners Sandra Dardon and Dennis Waltrip — proprietors of Ranchos Antique Furnishings — have created a portal to the elegant hacienda days of Northern New Mexico’s 18th and 19th centuries. Housed in a historical adobe trading post, their 3,400-square-foot showroom features four separate spaces packed to the brim with devotional art, architectural elements, and other one-of-a-kind home furnishings. “We have always relied on the ‘law of attraction’ principle. People who love what we do find us. I think a piece usually selects its buyer, rather than the other way around,” says Waltrip. 

Photograph by Mike Hawkins

Rancho Antique Furnishing’s loyal clientele includes seasoned collectors, interior design professionals, antique dealers, and local residents seeking something special for their home. While the shop regularly deals in museum-quality pieces, Dennis emphasizes that he and Sandra keep overhead low so shoppers of all budgets can find a piece to treasure for a lifetime.

Even in our age of ubiquitous e-commerce, the store does not currently do business online. This is by design. Dennis and Sandra want potential buyers to slow down and truly appreciate the aura of these unique pieces in person.

Photograph by Mike Hawkins

Like many transplants to the region, the two began their new business venture by heeding Taos’s call for personal reinvention and simply following their instincts. As Dennis puts it, “Taos has an amazing creative energy that can be very challenging as well.” The couple’s reverence for the beauty and master craftsmanship of magnificent cathedral doors, santos, paintings and colonial furniture is apparent to all who step inside their showroom. As Dennis reports, “We were always strangely drawn to the old Spanish colonial world in Latin America. We thought, wouldn’t it be incredible to bring something like this into your home? From there, the seed was planted. If we loved it that much, maybe others would as well.” 

Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico
Shot for the Taos News

When customers arrange for a delivery, they can rest assured that their items will be packed with extreme care — Dennis and Sandra typically hand-deliver items themselves so they can say goodbye and welcome the piece to its new home. 

The shop sources its inventory from the U.S. Southwest, Mexico, Latin America, Spain, France and other sites in both the Old and New Worlds. Dennis and Sandra also own an 18th century property in Antigua, Guatemala which serves as a warehouse and auxiliary home base for the business. 

Photograph by Mike Hawkins

Ranchos Antique Furnishings has expanded greatly since first opening in a 500-square-foot space; however, their core values remain the same: to find, house and take care of items with historical and aesthetic significance until they find a new, forever home. 

As Dennis underscores, “it is a joy and a privilege to be able to collect and caretake these pieces of art history.” In fact, the partners chose to live in their showroom so they could enjoy their wonderful pieces on a daily basis! Although either Dennis or Sandra are generally available for walk-in customers, they note that its always best to call ahead to be sure.

Ranchos Antique Furnishings
4179 State Road 68, Suite B, Ranchos de Taos