Tom and Sunny Corrigan are intimately familiar with the terrain surrounding Vail Mountain, where they work as ski patrollers. So when they began to search for a house in the area to raise their young children, they knew just what they were looking for. The family had been living in nearby Minturn but wanted a larger home with a modern look that would reflect their alpine surroundings and stand up to their active lifestyle, which includes days filled with skiing, hiking and cycling. “Our lives revolve around the outdoors,” Sunny says.
Enter architect Hans Berglund, who had already been in the beginning stages of working with builder Ted Leach—an old friend of Sunny’s—to develop plans for a steep mountainside property fewer than 10 minutes from the slopes. “Houses should reflect the local vernacular in a clean, modern way and use indigenous materials,” Berglund says of his “mountain modern” philosophy. That approach matched the Corrigans’ own aesthetic, and when Leach introduced them, “the house went from a spec home to a custom home for Tom and Sunny,” Berglund says. As it happens, the lot is up the street from where Sunny’s parents live, and it overlooks a trail the wife has hiked since childhood. “The stars lined up, and the timing was right,” says Leach, who worked with superintendent Greg Johnson and project manager Benno Scheidegger. With the property in place, the rest of the team soon followed as designers Courtney St. John and Amy Casey came on board.
The designers selected interior finishes to complement the vertical reclaimed wood cladding the home’s exterior, the exposed I-beams inside and the Colorado sandstone veneer Berglund used to define the foundation, frame the entry and form the back-to-back fireplace and chimneys that face both the great room and the deck outside. “We took our lead from the architecture and tried to make the inside indicative of the elements used on the outside,” St. John says, pointing to surfaces such as the oak flooring and reclaimed spruce ceilings. In addition to the home’s architecture, the system of huts used by backcountry skiers in the area also provided an influence on the decor. “Tom and I have always loved the simplistic design of the huts in the 10th Mountain Division,” Sunny says, “and the natural and reclaimed materials we used in our house were inspired by those.” In that same vein, the designers kept the furnishings minimal and functional. “They are modern yet livable, as this is a mountain home,” St. John says. Pieces like a custom-made table and walnut-slab sideboard appear in the dining area, and a streamlined leather-upholstered sofa occupies the living area.
Berglund expressed similar motivations. “We wanted to design a home that felt really hunkered down into the site—like it grew up and out of the ground,” he explains. But with pitched ceilings that reach 17 feet at their highest point, along with floor-to-ceiling windows that invite broad views of the Rockies, the architecture soars just as much as it remains grounded. “Simultaneously, we’re trying to connect people to the land and engage them with the sky and the mountains,” the architect says. He also integrated wide eaves to provide shade from the summer sun and environmentally friendly items, including solar panels, to make the house energy-efficient.
About midway through the construction process, the couple found out they were expecting their third child. To accommodate the growing family, a guest room on the lower level was transformed into a nursery for the baby. That meant a second-story space, which was intended to be left unfinished and accessible only through the garage, would now become a multipurpose guest area. Berglund revived an earlier design iteration of a stairway and a bridge that stretches above the entry door in the foyer to create an interior entrance to the newly finished area. “That stair system really makes the house,” Leach says. “Without it, it would have been less interesting.” Tom now counts the stair and bridge among his favorite elements of the residence. “I really love those stairs,” he says, explaining that he can use the connected space to repair skis and bicycles, work out and display the drum set he has had since he was a boy.
For Sunny, it’s the expansive deck that stands out as her favorite space. “The furniture Courtney and Amy chose makes it even more spectacular,” she says. Outside and inside, the designers worked with pops of turquoise, yellow and pink to energize the neutral palette. “With all of the rustic materials, Sunny wanted to incorporate those bright colors, and we think it was necessary to add interest,” Casey says, noting items such as a bright stripe covering an armchair in the living area and cheery yellow seat cushions on the outdoor dining chairs. “Having color in the interiors is representative of the fact that they’re a young, adventurous family,” St. John adds. Gardeners Hayley Gough and Lynsey Majewski, owners of Dragonfly Gardening, followed that lead with potted flowers on the deck. “They’re sun plants with lots of vibrant colors—petunias, verbena, cosmos and calendula,” Gough says. Berglund, meanwhile, worked with colleague Keegan Winkeller to design the initial landscape plan, which Doug Weinheimer of Upper Crust Landscaping installed with a few modifications, including adding a lawn to the backyard. Boulders, native grasses, local aspens and blue spruces reinforce the home’s ties to its surrounds.
The Corrigans can now access hiking and mountain-biking trails from their front door. And on top of its dream location, Tom says, the house the team designed is a perfect fit for their family. “We can’t say enough about them,” he says. Sunny agrees, adding, “They nailed our taste and style. They were our A-Team.”