The half-acre was the last vacant lot in a coveted neighborhood in the Beaver Creek Resort and featured panoramic views, including those of the White River National Forest, that were stupendous. But there were reasons the property had remained unclaimed: In addition to possible soil settlement issues, the extremely steep site had a 40-foot elevation change from front to back. to build the expansive home the owners wanted, it would take a clever design and some fancy feats of engineering.
After interviewing several architects, the owners clicked with Kyle Webb, who not only welcomed the challenge but also promptly assembled his dream team of interior designer Jan Chenault, builder Travis Bossow and project manager Stacey Goehring to get the job done. “Along with the owners, we had a really good team,” says Chenault, who cites the project as her favorite in a 37-year career. “Everyone talked to each other, and we had tremendous respect all around.”
Being simpatico counts big time when a project takes 2 1/2 years, including one just to secure permits. “In Beaver Creek the approval process is complicated, to say the least,” explains Webb, referring to the meticulous environmental, neighborhood and zoning restrictions in addition to special codes for snow, wind and energy conservation. And, of course, the community has to weigh in. “We worked out a very specific building envelope and then tweaked it a few times,” he says, noting one neighbor was concerned that a gable overhang on the entry would block the view. In response, Webb swiftly replaced the obstructing roof form with a smaller sod roof still in keeping with the modified stone farmhouse design.
A green advocate, the architect incorporated other sustainable features such as a solar thermal water system and ample natural day lighting into the getaway, which is used year-round for ski holidays and as a respite from the hot summers of the owners’ native Florida. To further save energy the house was divided into three levels, with the top floor (living/ dining room, kitchen, master suite and sitting room) functioning as a self-contained apartment when the couple are there by themselves. When guests pile in, they open the middle level, which contains three bedrooms and a rec room, and when there’s a full house, three additional bedrooms on the lower level allow the house to sleep up to 18.
Bossow’s first order of business was to shore up the road in front of the house to bear construction equipment. Then, he spent two months painstakingly pouring the foundation in four stages, employing 30 square feet of rigid foam fill to stabilize the auto courtyard. “Our company was able to realize significant savings for the owners by reducing concrete and backfill with the utilization of the rigid foam fill that also diminished lateral pressure on the foundation walls,” says Bossow. The effort allows the house to hang out over the hill, making the inhabitants feel as if they are floating over the mountains.
Indeed, there are 180-degree views, as windows take up most of the walls. Natural light floods every space, even the game room, where the light comes down through 16-foot-tall window wells. Taking her cue from the surrounding wilderness, as well as the structure’s contemporary clean lines and stone, metal, glass and wood palette, Chenault created a soothing color scheme of rich grays and browns punctuated by bursts of orange and green in the main living areas and a flourish of hot pink in the daughter’s room. The cathedral ceilings of the kitchen, game room and living room are clad in locally harvested beetle-kill pine that, according to Bossow, came with its own set of challenges. “The material is somewhat unstable if not properly dried and maintained. If the wood isn’t super dry, it warps, shrinks and twists, so we try to eliminate as much of that ugliness as possible,” he explains, noting his crews spent hours handpicking the best pieces to achieve the desired warm, rustic look.
Early in the process, Chenault and Webb took their clients to a Denver stone yard, where they managed to find all the slabs they needed for the entire house in one day, including copper-colored marble for the spa, mottled black granite for a powder room vanity and gray granite for the kitchen counters. “That particular day they had the most interesting stone I’ve ever seen,” Chenault recalls. “They had this onyx that looked like billowing clouds, all golds and grays. I wasn’t sure what we would do with it, but we just had to have it.”
That onyx became the pièce de résistance as a massive fireplace surround in the master bedroom, where instead of laminating it directly to the wall, the stone was installed on top of sheets of LED lights. Chenault says the effect exceeded her wildest dreams. “When the fire is lit and the lights are on, the stone just glows, bathing the room in this golden aura,” she says. “The result, like everything in this house, is absolutely magical.”
—Laura Fisher Kaiser