Sometimes fairy tales do come true—and there’s a family living happily ever after in a hilltop house in Boulder to prove it. But before they arrived at their idyllic abode, the couple’s fairy tale briefly took on a “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” tone. The couple—who were individually drawn to Boulder for the mountains before meeting and marrying—tried different houses and enclaves on for size until they found a just-right property in a just-right neighborhood. “I think we moved nine times in eight years,” the husband says of their experiences living in places ranging from Washington Park to downtown Denver. They eventually made their way back to Boulder and moved into a neighborhood with “a throwback feel,” the wife explains. “There’s limited car traffic and kids constantly riding around on their bikes.” Unexpectedly, the couple got an offer on their home that they couldn’t refuse. “It wasn’t even on the market,” the husband says. “But we said yes and then bought the spot just across the street that we’d been coveting.”
Architect Dale Hubbard then stepped in to design a dream home for that property, which was situated on a ridge overlooking the city to the majestic Flatirons, for the couple and their two daughters. “When we talked about the design for this house, we threw a lot of ideas around,” the wife says. “One thing we told Dale was that we love the feel of old castles.” Responding to that visual sense of permanence, Hubbard conceived a sculptural home with a modernist collection of geometric forms clad with a blued-steel rainscreen, Kansas limestone and tight-knot cedar. “The house that was there before was a 1970s ranch, which didn’t respond to the views,” Hubbard says. “The new design takes full advantage of the lot’s one-of-a-kind views that wrap around from the north to the south.” The front façade looks like a fortress, while the lower level of the rear façade is almost completely open to the yard via a 34-foot-wide NanaWall. “The stone and the metal create a boundary and defend against prevailing winds from the north,” he adds. “On the rear or south side of the home, the indoors and the outdoors become one. When the NanaWall is open, you don’t really know whether you’re inside or out. It’s seamless.”
The boxlike blued-steel volumes hold the staircase and the second-level master suite and children’s bedrooms. “They’re dynamic and sort of pop out from the rest of the structure,” Hubbard says. “The blueing process retains the organic feel of the material.” The limestone encases the garage and office, as well as the kitchen, living and dining areas, which make up one large open space. “The cedar-clad volume is ambulatory space between the master and the kids’ bedrooms and the stairs,” he adds. “Wood conveys warmth and nature,” says the architect, who created rustic awnings from structural Douglas-fir beams that cantilever over the front and rear terraces and the master suite, tempering sunlight and providing shade.
Wood elements add warmth to the interiors, as well. The flooring, for instance, is made of reclaimed hickory, and the ceiling in the living room is made of Douglas fir. In addition to designing the interior architecture, Hubbard, along with his team—associate architect Timothy Laughlin, project architect Nick Fiore and project designer Laura Marion—selected all of the materials and surfaces, and even custom-designed the built-ins for the main rooms, as well as the kitchen’s walnut cabinetry. “We hand-selected and oiled all of the wood,” says the project’s builder, Derek Guarascio. “It’s a timeless approach to craftsmanship that gives the house more soul.” Guarascio teamed up with the company’s cabinetmaker, Steve Abernathy, to fabricate the cabinetry, the headboard for the master bedroom and two buffets that Hubbard designed to help define the living and dining spaces. Crafted of walnut, one buffet features a perch for a metal raven sculpture that was made by the wife’s father, who works with steel, and symbolizes Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem, “The Raven.” Says the husband, “She was really in love with Poe when she was growing up.”
Landscape architect Luke Sanzone created a different kind of perch for the exterior—an artful and textured lodgepole-pine fence that wraps around the rear of the property. “We used first-cut boards,” he says. “It’s the purest part of wood and has bark on the edges, which gives them a rustic look.” He then stacked the 8-inch-wide boards so they overlap, leaving gaps that allow for light and shadow play. “The woven effect is beautiful,” says Sanzone, who also planted draping and geometric patterns of succulents, roses and ornamental grasses that play off the architecture of the house and the topography of the site.
Once the home was completed, the couple called on designer Megan J. Hudacky to help furnish the interiors. “With furniture, you need to live in a house for a while before you can really know what’s going to work,” says the wife. As such, the designer focused on unique main pieces, including a comfortable Room & Board sofa for the living area and a custom marble-top dining table. “The owners love to travel,” says Hudacky. “Now, they can start to build a collection of artifacts and art worthy of their traveling experiences.”
As the owners settle into their modern castle-like home, they find it both practically and aesthetically all that they had hoped for. “The ascending roof form reaches toward the mountains,” the architect says. “It’s a call-and-response effect.” Indeed, the mountains called to this couple just as the property did—and just as Hubbard’s design does. “This is our final home,” the husband says. “It’s a masterpiece. When I open the blinds in the morning and everything is still and quiet, I can see the sun coming up and the Flatirons glowing red; it’s spectacular.”