Some clients choose a site with panoramic views, others prefer one nestled into the landscape—this one is definitely the latter,” says architect Andrew Dillon of a newly-built Colorado home at the confluence of Roaring Fork River and a smaller creek in Aspen. At the tail end of a quiet street on the riverbank, the residence is ringed by cottonwood and aspen trees, with the murmur of rushing water softening all sounds and enhancing its feeling of seclusion. Intriguingly, about half the abode’s rooms are located belowground, including four of its seven bedrooms. “It’s a 9,600-square-foot house, so it is large, though it appears unassuming,” explains Dillon, citing Aspen’s strict height and floor area limits. “Going down made more sense than going up.”
Given the proximity to two streams, the build itself required considerable waterproofing efforts. The loamy soil had to be drained before a 4-foot-thick mat slab foundation could be poured. “We dewatered almost a billion gallons over 16 months,” notes project manager Jim Gohery. Now anchored by a subterranean living space that even houses a large game room, the home unfurls aboveground with blackened components and large expanses of glass reflecting the trees—creating a trompe l’oeil effect that’s become one of its most alluring features. Completing the façade’s palette are red cedar planks and rough-cut Lueders limestone sourced from Texas, the owners’ home state.
The exterior materials of this family getaway carry straight through to the interior. “The thin profiles of the windows and doors are meant to appear as unobtrusive barriers between inside and out,” says Dillon. That impression is supported by 12-foot-tall vaulted ceilings, windows that appear to wrap around the corners and details such as the wood ceiling’s seamless transition to the outdoors. “Whenever ceiling planks reached a window, we cut them and used the rest to extend outside,” explains Dillon, saluting the craftsmanship of Gohery and construction manager Ward Page. “It made a huge difference.”
As the clients had requested a turnkey home—right down to the linens—due diligence to interior design details was crucial as well. “The trick was figuring out exactly who this family is,” remembers designer Brook Sherick, who teamed up with designer Rebecca Olson. The husband wanted something contemporary while the wife campaigned for comfort, and their three young children suggested that ease and functionality should be priorities. “Our challenge was to make it approachable—a mountain home where people wouldn’t be afraid to sit on the chairs,” adds Sherick. Scale also played a major role in transforming cavernous into cozy. This played out through such elements as tables that seat a dozen guests, custom stools accommodating the husband’s height and sculptural Ovuud fixtures illuminating the great room. A preponderance of tactile materials and warm, natural hues enhance the effect while nodding to the home’s incomparable setting.
The design team also gave careful thought to how the house would be used for entertaining, particularly via the rooftop deck and lower-level living spaces. Olson points to the subterranean floor’s pool table, state-of-the-art home theater and large custom couches that can be pushed together to form a bed. On the roof, a pop-up TV, heaters and glass-front hot tub are instant draws for guests. “The original plan was to install a hot tub at ground level,” notes Dillon. “But the husband saw an opportunity to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the river.” On the main level, a built-in bar and coffee station, as well as a towering glassed-in wine room, answer to the family’s emphasis on hospitality. Same goes for the children’s bunk beds and the quartet of guest suites whose layers of furs, velvets, leathers, sateens and fine wools are a study in inviting yet discreet luxury.
A narrative of sensual, pulled-back opulence serves as a through line in the abode, from the primary suite’s channel-tufted bed and substantial tub—carved from a single piece of marble—to the antiqued mirrors and green leather stools in the kitchen. “Every detail is a work of art, but the whole is well-balanced and approachable,” enthuses Olson. Not to mention comfortable. “You just melt into every piece of furniture,” she says. “It’s cozy but still very glamorous.” Adds Sherick, “This is a project that demonstrates how you can make a big home feel luxurious in an intimate way.”