Architect Kim Raymond is known for residential work that brings historic houses back to their original glory and creating modern homes with cutting-edge style, but rarely does she have the opportunity to work in both vernaculars on the same site. Such was the case for an Aspen home, located in the historic West End neighborhood.
Like many of the lots in the charming locale, this one contained a small miner’s cabin built in the 1800s. Working with the Historic Preservation Commission, Raymond and her team moved the cabin to the front of the property and restored and expanded it, freeing up the back of the lot, where she created a new residence. Although it’s completely different, it fits perfectly into the vintage setting while taking advantage of the stunning mountain views.
It was those views that informed the layout of the new dwelling, and they were also the reason the architect decided that transparency was vital for the project. “The exterior would need to be subdued to fit in with the historic homes around it, but I knew that such a structure could be modern, too,” says Raymond. “I also knew right away I wanted there to be a lot of glass in the new house.”
The resulting residence has multiple windows that open to the mountains ringing Aspen. While the humble miner’s cabin was designed to embrace the streetscape of the town, the architect created the modern dwelling to take in the view. It rises up two stories, with a floor plan that project manager Milo Stark terms “upside down” because the public rooms are on the second level and the private spaces are on the first. Raymond explains, “We put the primary, public living spaces upstairs, where the clients could most enjoy the scenery during the day.”
Despite being elevated, the main floor still has access to the outdoors, thanks to a giant glass door that slides behind the fireplace wall to expose the living room to an ample deck. Downstairs, the master bedroom has the same indoor-outdoor living opportunity due to a large patio serving as a private outdoor living space.
Traditional windows and doors aren’t the only sources of natural light. Multiple clerestory windows and ample skylights deliver both architectural interest as well as additional illumination, making for a seamless indoor- outdoor experience. Even the finished basement invites sunshine from outside, with skylights designed as light wells that prevent the lower level from “feeling underground,” says Stark.
The interior steel fireplace and stairway railing mimic the industrial steel channels on the exterior façade. European oak ceilings travel outside to the home’s exterior soffits, echoing the warmth of the oak floors used in the interior. Simple, white walls—sans millwork—create the perfect, minimalist backdrop for the commanding views, and the crisp white color echoes the white wood siding on the exterior.
The owners wanted a monochromatic color scheme, with most of the furnishings in shades that fall between black and white, so the changing colors outside could dominate. “Nothing inside the house competes with the view for attention,” says one of the homeowners. “I feel that our subtle interior palette and material selections allow the architecture of the home to make a stronger impact.” The family selected pieces that are both timeless and contemporary, not to mention forgiving of steady foot traffic in and out of the snow. They carefully curated modern light fixtures in each space that double as sculptural art.
For the kitchen, bathrooms and stairwell, Raymond took a less-is-more approach and designed spare spaces that allow lines and angles to become artistic architectural features. Slate gray cabinetry and open shelves create a geometric contrast in the kitchen alongside a beautifully veined marble backsplash. In the stairwell, exterior wood louvers deliver pattern—and a bit of privacy—to the glass walls that encase it. The master bathroom features subtle touches like a marble bench that extends outside of the shower.
Whether the home’s architectural elements are quiet or more pronounced, Raymond says they all shine. “This house was designed to showcase the ‘new’ Aspen—to show where architecture is going now,” says Raymond. “I’m finding more and more people crave modern design because its clean lines promote a Zen atmosphere. Everyone these days feels the weight of the chaos and busyness of life, and it’s nice to come home to a space that provides a sense of calm.”