With its knotty cedar paneling, paucity of natural light and lightweight timber framing in need of reinforcement, a Telluride house stuck in the 1970s was in serious need of an update. But with its unique hillside property nestled against a forest and panoramic mountain views, homeowners Joel and Shannon Cantor were torn about what to do next. After weighing the possibilities of either replacing the ailing structure or building on a different lot, they came to the realization that the existing layout actually worked quite well and that an extensive renovation would deliver the home they wanted without sacrificing their ideal locale. “We were looking to open it up more to the wilderness and add a more modern, updated vibe,” Joel says. “We wanted something a little different than the typical log cabin look.”
To start, architect Eric Cummings and builder John Simon took the original three-story cedar home and stripped it down to its posts and beams—and then some. “A lot of the framing was compromised by previous alterations to the house,” explains Simon. “It was a balancing act to try to keep everything standing while we would demolish a section and rebuild it.”
According to Cummings, the most challenging maneuver was reconfiguring a large sloping roof that came all the way down to the ground on one side. “By adding a more horizontal roofline, we ended up with a net gain in usable square footage, especially upstairs,” he says. “As a result, we were able to enlarge the master bedroom considerably.”
Cummings’ plan also included adding several skylights and expanding the size of the existing windows. “You want to do everything you can to get balanced light, especially in the winter with the light reflecting off the snow,” he adds. “It makes the space feel so much more comfortable.” After passing through a double-height ground-floor entry, an open stairway leads to the living and dining areas on the second floor to maximize views. In crafting the combined living-dining areas, interior designer Michelle Jennings Wiebe (who worked with the Cantors on several previous projects) found inspiration in the picturesque landscape.
“They wanted a contemporary mountain look, warm but rustic,” she says. “My intent was to take the colors from the outside and bring them in, but in a soft way.”
In the living room, that idea translated into a travertine fireplace matched with a pair of chairs upholstered in dove-toned tweed. Twin sofas give off subtle blue tones reminiscent of the clear blue Colorado sky, with a touch of orange, inspired by autumn hues, picked up in the accent pillows. Wiebe and Cummings collaborated on the materials palette, rooted in wood with metal accents, starting with the home’s ash hardwood flooring, originally devised for Audi automobiles. “This is a family with four boys, so it needed to withstand high traffic and be durable,” Wiebe says.
Darker woods such as walnut and oak with an espresso stain provide accents on the kitchen cabinets and dining room table. A variety of metals, including the steel-framed stairway and copper accents in the kitchen, contribute to the home’s unusual aesthetic. “It adds warmth and a little bit of shimmer,” says Wiebe about the copper sink and backsplash tiles. “And it brings in the tones found in the mountain views.”
Thanks to a combination of soft gray, ivory and pale green, the third-floor master suite exudes a spa-like feel. The freestanding bed, with a custom headboard serving as room divider, sits in the middle of the room, where spectacular views are visible from two walls of windows. “The whole concept for the room was to just make it very light and airy,” Wiebe explains. “During the harsh cold-weather months this space is very soft and serene.”
In the end, “the team really worked their magic,” says Joel, contentedly. “We wake up in this wonderful setting and see the peaks, and it’s just ethereal.”
— Brian Libby