When architect Matt Robertson began discussing floor plans with his clients, he quickly discovered that they were not afraid to think outside the box. The couple initially wanted to build a courtyard-style house on their 19-acre property near Denver, with enough entertaining space to accommodate a room full of football fans or their 15 grandchildren. But, realizing that a rectangular courtyard design wouldn’t use the site to its advantage, Robertson suggested a different solution. “I said, ‘It’s probably not for you, but you should see this one,’ ” the architect recalls about showing his clients a layout in the shape of a semi-circle. “To my surprise, they said, ‘Yes, that’s it.’ Even though their aesthetic is fairly traditional, they went for a nontraditional plan.”
Not only would the crescent-shaped structure give every room better light and views—spaces are shaped like pie slices rather than squares— but with five bedrooms and numerous public areas, it would also make the house easy to navigate. The center of the home is made clear as “the major spaces are organized around a courtyard that’s roughly 80 feet in diameter,” says Robertson, who designed the courtyard with a series of archways and glass doors to create a blurred transition between indoors and out.
“We wanted to coax people outside to the various exterior rooms,” says Robertson of spaces that include a complete kitchen and heated living area. Robertson also designed the landscape, including the courtyard’s 7-ton sandstone slab and water feature, to incorporate more than 600 tons of boulders from Cañon City. “We had a boulder that weighed 38,000 pounds,” says builder Lance Cain, who worked with the company’s president, Tim Pleune, on the project. The massive stones had to be moved and placed with large cranes, backhoes and earthmovers. The arduous work paid off as “now the clients spend most of their time outside,” says Robertson.
To underscore a sense of continuity, Robertson clad the exterior and interior walls with Kansas limestone and used cedar and Douglas fir for the balconies and pergolas. “The entire material palette was limited to a handful of strong, simple elements,” explains the architect, who chose clear vertical-grain fir for the coffered ceilings and beams. “They are materials of integrity that are natural and exude a sense of permanence.” Extensive cabinetry throughout the house was another important aspect of establishing the material palette. Kitchen designer Joyce Jardine Combs, CKD, of Joyce Combs Kitchens worked closely with the owners on designing the intricate cabinetry, which was realized predominantly in rich cherry, in about 30 spaces.
“The architecture and setting are so dramatic and spectacular that I felt the furnishings needed to support the spaces, not overpower or detract from them,” says designer Sallie T. Sloan, who crafted interiors that also took into account the owners’ wish for a casual, warm and inviting home. To meet that goal, Sloan refreshed many of the furnishings the couple had in their previous house and then anchored them with pieces she custom-designed for the new rooms.
Sloan wanted the double-height great room, crowned by a barrel- vaulted ceiling, to feel both expansive and cozy. “They wanted to have football-watching parties there and seat a lot of people, but I wanted to break down the furniture arrangement into smaller groups so they could live intimately as well,” Sloan explains. “The room has a lot of volume but you don’t need a big group for it to feel comfortable.” She created a primary seating area, with a custom sectional sofa, to correspond with two peripheral seating areas. One comprises four swivel chairs, and a second features a group of chairs encircling a table with a pneumatic lift. “It drops to coffee table height for conversation or raises to accommodate overflow from the dining room.”
In addition to the main living spaces, the residence also boasts some unexpected amenities. The property has a horse stable and a large pond with a paddleboat, while the house offers billiards, shuffleboard and even a bowling alley on the basement level. “This home really has become a gathering place where their friends bring their friends over,” says Robertson. “I think they’re still discovering little spots that are perfect for different times of the year.”