Experiencing the Old Snowmass home architect Larry Yaw designed for a family with New York City roots begins even before you get to the curved stone wall leading up to it. “Going through the front door is never entry in my book,” says Yaw. “It’s more about how you first get into the site, and then how you are encouraged through the architectural language to enter.”
Once you do, the connection with the surroundings, a lush alpine meadow edged by a rushing creek and views of distant mountain peaks, remains strong—and deliberate. “When Larry and I first got together, I told him I wanted a modern house that would speak to the language of the American West and allow the natural site to be the star,” explains the homeowner, who had previously owned a residence in Snowmass Village and knew the area well. “It was these ideas around which our sensibilities immediately aligned.”
Laid out in two parallel structures and connected by a central stairway, the home is contemporary in form and organic in feel. Siding is a combination of cedar and purposefully rusted, standing-seam Cor-Ten steel. Offsets faced with clear, vertical-grain hemlock stained black project key living spaces onto the outdoors, while a combination of Oklahoma brown and Telluride gold stone walls ground the structure to the earth.
According to the owner, the idea for the walls was sparked by an old church in Boston that had been badly damaged by fire and rebuilt with modern construction while retaining its existing stonework. “The new church grew organically out of the old walls, giving an impression of being both grounded and solid yet light and transparent,” he explains. In response, Yaw carefully laid out the stone of this house and grouted it with a mix of decomposed granite. “It speaks of permanence and structure,” he says.
Despite what appears to be a minimalist design, the variety of offsets and cantilevered conditions made it a challenging structure to construct. Achieving the desired rust color on the steel elements turned into a lengthy science project involving various chemical treatments, while proper layup of the stone walls required a dedicated crew of stonemasons working with several batches of stone. All of this was overseen by builder David Lambert, who has worked with Yaw for decades, along with project manager Kevin Heinecken. “Larry is always deep into details,” says Lambert. “He is truly an artist who follows the project closely and likes to tweak things as it evolves. But he is always open to suggestions for change from both the builder and the client.”
Interiors were a collaborative effort, informed by Yaw and project architect Todd Kennedy’s selection of materials and finishes, and brought to life by the sensitive efforts of designer Laura Bohn. “Laura is a good friend and did design work for us in New York, so we knew she would get it,” says the owner. “She and Larry also had a great understanding. We had some ideas, and she narrowed down choices; it was never overwhelming.”
The home’s architecture was indeed a major influence on the interiors. “The house was beautifully proportioned and designed,” says Bohn. “The materials were natural, luxurious, and practical, and so we took the color scheme from them.” Throughout, furnishings were selected for comfort—the owner reportedly sat in every chair before purchase—and kept low so as not to obstruct the views. Fabrics range from mohair to velvet to soft, nubby tweed, all in neutral tones. Lighting—such as an arched lamp in the living room and a fixture with multiple round and oval shades over the dining room table—was chosen for its sculptural effect, while accessories were kept to a minimum in response to the home’s clean architectural lines.
Overall, the effect was spot-on. “The house is interesting, not obvious, and it reveals itself over time,” says the owner. “I have an authentic and immediate confrontation with nature every day.” Adds Yaw: “It’s not superimposed on the site, but connects the living experience with the surroundings. Nature is the art.”