While searching for a weekend mountain dream home, a Colorado couple agreed there was one thing they didn’t want: a log house. After viewing many properties, they found a ski-in, ski-out dwelling in Bachelor Gulch that’s blessed with inspiring views. But while the landscape was compelling, the house was, ironically, a classic log structure. In the end, mountain vistas trumped timbers, and they purchased the property. “When they walked into this particular home, they were able to see past the orange logs and heavy interiors to the stunning views,” notes designer Katy Allen. “They knew what they didn’t want— and that was a log house that looked and felt dated. But they trusted I could reinvent it.”
The views, which encompass Beaver Creek and its ski areas, were the inspiration for the home’s complete redesign. “We wanted to connect the interiors to the exteriors and let the scenery take center stage,” says the wife. She asked Allen to work with residential designer Rick Hermes who—with the help of architect Don Eggers and builder Jeff Townsend—worked to open the house up and give it a more modern aesthetic.
“The clients wanted to make something that felt fresh and more relevant in today’s world,” says Hermes, who revised the floor plan and removed some walls, which made way for a more open concept in the public spaces. “It also allowed us to get rid of a good bit of the heavy log architecture. We thinned out the logs and kept only the structural ones.” To modernize the timbers that remained, Allen had them gel-stained black, a technique that allows a bit of the wood grain to show through.
The new, smooth walls were painted a light gray. “Those two things instantly transformed the space, and we also used some industrial steel here and there, like on the fireplace mantel, to create some contrast and echo the black logs,” she says.
Because the owners have a big family—with children and grandchildren they anticipate will spend a lot of time together in the house in the future—the design team worked to establish a true heart of the home, where everyone could congregate. “It was formerly this rambling structure with many different rooms and separate zones and with no real flow or central meeting space,” says Allen. “The ski-in, ski-out zone used to be right in the living room, which made little sense, so we decided to relocate it downstairs to a walk-out basement. That move won us lots of extra space for a proper great room with a double-sided fireplace and plenty of room for everyone to relax near the new, open kitchen. The clients’ biggest wish was to design a house to easily accommodate a crowd, and that is what it became.”
“We envisioned this as a place where our grandchildren would learn to ski, a place that would be our forever mountain home,” says the wife. “But to make it that, we had to have enough open spaces where the family could congregate.” Opening up the public spaces meant that each area now shares the same abundant natural light. And new, more modern windows better feature the views. “That one relatively small change made a dramatic difference,” says Hermes. “It truly lets the outside in.”
With the new bones of the house in place, and the views commanding center stage, Allen wanted to create a livable, modern vibe inside—where furnishings would add flavor and visual interest without creating a distraction. “This wasn’t a client asking, ‘How do we get more statement pieces in every room?’,” says Allen. “They wanted high-quality furniture that is beautiful, functional and stands up to lots of use, without necessarily demanding to be the center of attention. They allowed the house to dictate the kind of furniture and textiles we invited in.”
To that end, the designer kept most of the furnishings neutral and judiciously added splashes of color where they matter most—like the poppy- hued sofa in the sitting room, or a pair of blue chaises composing an adult lounge or notes of burgundy on a bed.
With the new interior and fresh attitude, the “wrong” house became right—and not just for the present. “My hope is that if you look at this home 10 years from now, you wouldn’t be able to peg it to a certain year,” says Allen. “It’s been completely reinvented, but hopefully in a way that feels timeless.”