Families grow in more ways than one. “We started coming to the Vail area when our boys were little, and bought a two-bedroom duplex in Edwards. It was perfect for us at the time,” says a Florida woman whose family fell for the Colorado ski experience. Flash-forward 20 years, and the “boys” are towering at 6 feet, 4 inches and in their mid-30s, with seven little ones of their own to tote cross-country for the family’s frequent ski sojourns.
Like their mother and father, the sons and their wives have demanding careers. So if the homeowners wanted to preserve the family togetherness they had long enjoyed during their Colorado winter retreats, which had expanded during the year to take advantage of the cooler summer climate and good hiking, change was in order.
“They needed a very different kind of place,” says interior designer Tracie Schumacher. Top priorities for the new home’s physical design were privacy for each family and a state-of-the-art home office for the adults. The wife also had a newfound desire for something more decoratively compelling after seeing a project Schumacher had just completed for another client.
“She hadn’t considered what interior detailing could do for the home’s architectural demeanor, or how the de´cor could impact the quality of their family life,” explains Schumacher, who realized the owner’s vision with the help of designer Gina Sikora. “I wanted something tailored to our needs, but also beautiful and full of color,” says the wife.
The couple consulted architect Tab Bonidy, who came up with a novel, multilevel architectural program to meet their needs. “Each son has his own private home-within-the-home, complete with two bedrooms and baths and a sitting room. It’s a suite approach,” he quips. “And above the kitchen, there’s a vaulted hexagonal office tower with views of the property and enough workstations to accommodate all six adults.” Bonidy also thought ahead, adding a guest suite with an additional bedroom and bunkroom that sleeps up to eight for the time when the kids will want privacy from their parents.
Bonidy and builder Andy Schifanelli steered the couple toward an intriguing 35-acre tract outside of town with great potential but tricky terrain. It offered good hiking and natural springs for water features, such as serene waterfalls and an outdoor spa, but also invited technical difficulties. “It’s a steep, craggy site for such a large house,” notes the builder. To accommodate the topography, Bonidy devised a tiered series of retaining walls, executed by Schifanelli, to terrace up the property, as well as a system of streams and ponds to surround the house. “The home took two years to build, and two-thirds of it is on piers,” Schifanelli says.
Schumacher tailored the home’s interior architectural details, adding character-rich wooden beams to ceilings and burnished board-and-batten mahogany paneling to walls to complement the handsome hickory floors, casings and doors. She also beefed up the four hearths, giving them sculptural burnished-steel surrounds.
The home’s furnishings were designed to be comfortable, cushy, oversize and childproof because “most of us are big people, and the grandkids will be too one day,” says the wife. “There are no sharp corners, and all the fabrics are super-durable,” says Schumacher, who kept much of her sourcing local. “I scoured area antique shops and had many of the pieces made here, such as the fireplaces and bedroom furnishings.” In many of the public areas of the house, shades of red and orange add depth and warmth. And between the dining room and contiguous kitchen, there are three large tables for communal family meals.
Today, Schumacher figures the house can accommodate an impressive two dozen people for sit-down meals and sleeping. “That should hold them until there are great-grandkids in the picture,” she muses.