Although a New Jersey couple would routinely travel to Telluride to enjoy the fashionable mining town’s many outdoor amenities, the thought of building a house there had never been on their radar—until they attended a party in the Aldasoro Ranch subdivision. Their interest was piqued by the idea of living outside the box canyon on a historic homestead where the third generation of the namesake family still herd sheep, and so they decided to investigate an available 5-acre lot. “We went and stood in this bowl and could not believe what we were seeing,” says the husband. “The views were startling—the best in the state.”
Despite its stunning vistas, the site was not without its challenges. The property came with a 25-foot-high building limit, a road bounding the lot on three sides (making privacy questionable) and a potentially cumbersome natural drainage feature. Undeterred, the couple were ready to tackle and overcome the property’s obstacles, calling on builder Ian Evans, who led them to husband-and-wife architectural duo Jodie Shike Wright and Bruce Wright. “What other people saw as a negative,” says Jodie Shike Wright, “we saw as an opportunity.”
From the outset, the decision was made that rather than place the home on the highest point, the structure needed to fit into the land. “We tried to thread the house into the site and have it dovetail with the hillside,” Jodie Shike Wright says of the stacked stone-and-cedar building the couple designed with a series of sloping standing-seam metal roofs to shed snow in the winter and a 12-foot overhang on the south-facing façade to prevent the house from overheating in the summer. Not only did the structure’s thoughtful siting satisfy the height limit impediment, but it also all but eliminated the privacy concerns. “The living room is almost like a fishbowl, and from there you can’t even see the road,” explains Bruce Wright.
When it came to dealing with the natural drainage feature, the team deftly incorporated a swale into the design. “We tucked the building down and around the drainage and made two sections connected by a bridge,” says Evans. Outside, the architects clad the bridge—which stretches over the swale—with vertical cedar siding. Inside, they used it to separate two distinct wings: One consists of the main living spaces, master suite and a study, while the second is fitted with three matching guest suites to accommodate visiting kids.
Within this floor plan, the architects placed the entrance at one side of the bridge, where a vestibule strategically obscures the “big bang views,” says Jodie Shike Wright. “It’s not until you step down into the kitchen and then down again into the living room that you make the outdoor connection.” Outside, landscape designer Beth Bailis enhanced the surroundings with mass plantings of aspen trees and scrub oaks. “The house doesn’t have a typical yard with an intimate landscape, so I only added in things that you would find locally in nature,” she says.
Having such staggering natural beauty to contend with, designer Kelly DelRosso, whom the couple discovered through a furnishings shop she had owned in New Jersey, opted to tread lightly. “While the living room is where you feel the most enveloped by the outdoors, it called for the most refinement,” says DelRosso, who introduced a subtle, pattern-free neutral palette. The room’s centerpiece is a custom 48-inch-square solid-walnut coffee table, which she flanked with a pair of sofas upholstered with a linen-cotton blend. Blue velvet pillows provide soft accents, while a hand-woven Tibetan rug anchors the space.
The living room steps up to a dining area curated with a walnut table and Lee Industries chairs. Just beyond, the Wrights designed the farm-style kitchen with rift-sawn white-oak cabinets and custom metal-mesh accents. Plenty of open shelving makes it easy for guests to find things without having to poke through cabinets. “The combination of wood and metal is an example of using historic materials with a modern application,” adds Evans. The low-maintenance metal reappears in a three-sided fireplace—which faces the living room, kitchen and dining area—the risers on the stairs and a 50-foot-long wall that defines the interior bridge.
Upstairs in the master bedroom, DelRosso created a masculine-feminine merger. She upholstered the headboard with heavy cotton accented with a natural nailhead trim and dressed the bed with a white eyelet duvet. A shapely blue chaise catches the sun’s rays from the corner windows. “It’s a reflective space, yet it still allows for the vastness of the outdoor landscape,” she says.
Throughout the project, the easy collaboration of all of the team members resulted in an end product that suits the lifestyle of its occupants while integrating respectfully with the environment. “We selected good, strong materials that work well in this climate,” says Bruce Wright of such elements as the bamboo floors and cedar-clad ceilings. “It’s a limited but sophisticated palette that repeats itself without being too underdone or overdone,” adds Jodie Shike Wright. “It’s just right.”