When exquisitely designed rooms end up perfectly aligned with equally spectacular vistas, it’s no coincidence; it’s collaboration. And in the case of a custom home nestled in a mountain valley near Vail, the design team sited the house, laid out the rooms and positioned the furniture, all with a focus on highlighting the Colorado landscape. “The views from this land are absolutely frameable,” says builder Tom Solawetz.
How did they get it spot on? “We built platforms,” Solawetz adds. After the preliminary room ideas and siting were considered, the builder, with the help of landscape architect Nicholas Soho and a land surveyor, erected wooden viewing platforms to the exact floor level height and window alignment as the future structure’s design. “It took the guesswork out of capturing the scenery,” says Solawetz.
And the owners insisted on maximizing those panoramas, which include glimpses of the Gore Range to the east and, off to the south lift, the Sawatch Range. “The house wanted to be transparent,” says architect Bill Poss, “because there are mountains on one side and valleys on the other.” He and architect Julie Maple spread the home east and west along a bit of a ridge, and most of its major spaces have windows on both sides.
“We think of it as being a contemporary Texas ranch,” says Maple. “Contemporary” because of the tall, wide expanses of glass and the crisp simplicity of the detailing inside. “Texas ranch” because of the low-slung profile, the board-and-batten siding, the deep, wraparound porch and the particular way in which the stone is laid up. “It’s called buttered stone,” says Maple, identifying the buff limestone culled from several quarries with mortar joints that are especially wide and visible. “It’s very Texas.”
The Lone Star aesthetic is visible on the interiors as well; a rack of Texas longhorns rides herd above the buttered stone fireplace in the main living area, for example. The furnishings are soft and warm, and the rooms are spacious and filled with light. “We wanted the interiors to be almost blonde,” says Kansas City, Missouri-based designer George Terbovich.
That gleaming openness is achieved in three ways. “The rooms are large but perfectly scaled,” explains the designer. He doesn’t like to overwhelm homeowners with big furniture, preferring instead to design things to fit their personal sizes and tastes. Secondly, the major materials were kept simple and clean. White plaster is used throughout, and the wood floors, trims and trusses are a reused, resurfaced Austrian spruce. “The facing on the cabinetry and casings has been wire brushed to bring up the texture, but we also used a light-colored wash to brighten them a bit,” says Terbovich. Finally, sunshine comes in from all directions via walls of glass. The architect and designer agreed; swaths of glazing let in both the foreground and the far vistas, plus they allow the volumes to echo the luminescence that fills Colorado’s dazzling skies.
The furniture blends pieces that the owners brought with them, such as the billiards table and the leather chairs facing the fireplace, and new pieces, selected or designed by Terbovich to fit the scale of the spaces. Fabrics are natural: linens, leathers and wools. Colors are generally muted except for punches meant to keep things from getting too bland, such as in the dining area. “You might say that the dining area and bar have a little bit more to say, color-wise,” muses Terbovich.
So paint this place collaborative. “The house is all about harmony,” says Terbovich. “Harmony with the site, harmony of ranch and contemporary, and the harmony of the team working together.”