Find Sanctuary In A Colorado Family Compound Built For Outdoor Adventure


entry way from the front...

A family makes a life changing move to build their dream home in boulder -- and it pays off.

living room with tall fireplace,...

For this Boulder home, the design team at Surround Architecture created a more compact stone-lined entry that opens to a soaring space containing the living room, kitchen and dining area. “The entry gives an idea of compression, and then when you walk farther in the expanse is revealed—it’s a moment that feels really good,” says architect Dale Hubbard. The Croft House sofas in front of the stone hearth provide another feel-good moment.

kitchen with two sets of...

“We chose a simple material palette and crisp colors,” says residential designer Anna Slowey. The concept is illustrated in the kitchen/dining area, where a row of dark-hued Normann Copenhagen pendants hang over an island topped with honed Absolute Black granite. A wooden dining table is paired with a dark-toned light fixture and chairs, all from RH.

guest room corner with sitting...

Given that the owners are part of a large family, having comfortable guest quarters was a must. “We wanted this house to be the family headquarters,” says the husband. This guest room is outfitted with a vintage metal cart, as well as an armchair, ottoman and dresser from Room & Board.

master bathroom with stand alone...

Hubbard envisioned the master suite as a sanctuary, so the master bathroom is a serene, window-lined space. The oval bathtub is by Victoria + Albert and perches on a slate herringbone tile floor. The beefy vanity top is a custom design and crafted with honed dolomite.

master bedroom with wood bed,...

The master bedroom continues the simplified color and material palette. A photograph by artist Erin Shirreff makes a bold statement, while the wooden bed by RH, Allied Maker sconces and Charleston Forge bedside tables offer quieter notes. The gray rug is also by RH.

back exterior of the home...

Landscape architect Luke Sanzone says that the entire property was “conceived as a conduit and connection to the incredible mountain vista and open space.” He notes that the planting design was also inspired by the flourishing native landscape of the mountains above the house. An outdoor seating area is furnished with lounge furniture and RH lighting .

When a Chicago couple with three children decided they wanted a lifestyle change, it set them on an adventure that landed them more than 1,000 miles away in the house of their dreams. “We realized we could live anywhere, as long as it was near an airport,” remembers the husband. “So, we started thinking about where that place would be.” Although they spent hours considering the ideal location, they kept coming back to Colorado, given the happy childhood memories the husband had of camping and skiing with his family in Steamboat Springs. As they researched the perfect town, all signs seemed to point to Boulder, Colorado. “It has everything we want—including access to nature and better weather,” the husband notes.

With their location determined, they set out to build their dream house. “We found a lot in an awesome neighborhood that offers both nature and a great community,” says the husband. “We wanted our kids to spend a ton of time outside, and this neighborhood has great access to trails.”

The next part of the adventure involved building a structure that made the most of the site while allowing the homeowners to live the family life they envisioned. Since they would be managing the project remotely, working with a team they could trust was key. “They were only on the job site a handful of times, and the trust they put in us was extraordinary,” says general contractor Tom Stanko. “Every person there knew the family had a lot of faith in us, and we did our best to give them the house they wanted.”

What that looked like was hard to categorize. The homeowners came to architects Dale Hubbard and Kim Cattau and residential designer Anna Slowey with the idea of a modern farmhouse. “The thing about that term is that it has been used so often, it can mean just about anything,” says Hubbard. “But after talking with the clients, we realized that what they wanted was a family compound on their land—something with deconstructed massing, like a group of buildings you’d find on a traditional farm. We also realized that they wanted ornament that was deliberate, utilitarian and almost industrial in feel.” Slowey notes that the choice of color palette and crisp details advance the concept of a modern farmhouse. “Everything is crisp and beautifully articulated,” she says. “We took the traditional idea of a black and white color palette and modified it a bit, nothing here is a true black—the dark color comes from blackened steel. It gives the house a clean, modern feel.”

The house became a U-shaped structure that, at first glance, resembles a cluster of buildings. In this configuration, one wing is for the bedrooms, the other is a guest suite and in between—or the bottom part of the U—is the public space comprising the entry and a combined great room, kitchen and dining room.

One of the forces that propelled this family from the Midwest to the mountains was a desire for their kids to live outside. With that in mind, Cattau says that the architects designed the house from the “inside out,” making access to the yard and the open spaces beyond priority. “We worked to make the volumes inside feel good, they are comfortable and flow together—it’s an easy space to be in,” she says. “But we also worked to make sure that all those rooms have access or sight lines to the yard and the hills.” In practice, this means that someone could get up from the kitchen table and walk unimpeded through the large sliding doors and into the pool, if they are so inclined. The same goes for the ground-level master suite.

The outdoor space, executed in concert with landscape architect Luke Sanzone, looks like a residential version of a mountain resort. After all, it contains the aforementioned pool, an in-ground spa, a generous lawn and a large fire pit all set against the backdrop of rolling mountains. But this is sophistication for all ages; the boulders surrounding the pool are set in a way that allows kids to climb and, most importantly, leap into the pool. “The home is designed with a series of little landing spots and places to retreat,” says Slowey. “The landscape is no different, it has very intentional destinations to gather. The whole backyard has a very fun feeling.”

It’s a feeling that flows upstairs to the kids’ rooms, which were crafted not only for rest, but for sleepovers with cousins who visit frequently. “We worked in collaboration with designer Megan Hudacky on all the rooms, and we wanted to make the boys’ room feel a bit like a sleepaway camp,” says Slowey. Adds Hubbard, “you could look at the entire project as a sanctuary.”

And after the stress of relocating, a sanctuary was what was called for. “To pack up and move like that was scary,” says the husband. “But it was so much fun to have the vision, and then execute it. Today we walk around in the house we dreamed about, and watch our kids enjoy it as we hoped.” This is one leap of faith that had a happy landing.