When a professional couple found a sizable acreage in a suburb of Denver, they decided it was the perfect place to build their dream home. To get things started, they called on their designer, Janice Fisher, to help them flesh out some ideas and consult on the choice of architect. After interviewing and bringing on Douglas M. DeChant, and rounding things out with builder Bryan Brubaker and landscape architect Terry Rudolph, the team began to zero in on the aesthetic. “The clients wanted a Colorado-style house, but they didn’t know exactly what that meant and didn’t want a theme house,” Fisher explains about her clients, who had relocated almost two years before from California. “They challenged the design team to present them with that vision.” Collectively, the group decided that a Colorado-style home “was not to be a ski house, a mountain lodge, a ranch house, a cabin or an urban Denver solution,” says DeChant, “but an appropriate hybrid that could speak to those genres and embody Colorado.”
The team proceeded to meet frequently throughout the collaborative process to realize just that vision. The property’s mature trees and expansive vistas also played a role in guiding the design. “We knit the home together with the setting,” says DeChant, who worked with senior associate Adam Harrison on the articulated structure designed with deep overhangs on the western exposure and a sheltered courtyard to the east. To further tie it to the locale, the structure was built with granite walls and slate, copper and beetle-kill-pine accents. “We were looking for ways to use materials from the region,” DeChant says. “In addition to the heavy stone, which speaks to the mountain vernacular, we brought in wood and steel structural elements that are a little more urban.”
Just outside the front door, for instance, a massive Douglas-fir structural beam includes a vertical steel insert—a detail that can be found on timber columns both inside and outdoors. For the living room ceiling, DeChant incorporated horizontal steel truss chords with sloping timber truss chords to walk the line between rustic and industrial.
“Mountain homes typically leave the structure expressed inside,” he says. “It shows strength.” In orienting the house, the architect gave it a primary north-south axis, so “you’re always seeing or at least flirting with the amazing westerly view,” notes DeChant.
In addition to defining the structure’s exterior, the granite used for the home’s massive walls also reappears inside to shape the living room fireplace surround and reaches out into the landscape, where it is used for low walls that hold back newly created gardens of lavender, shrub roses and other flowering perennials blooming alongside the swimming pool. “The design was about embracing the opportunities that the architecture provided, as well as the sight lines,” says Rudolph.
Just as the sight lines were important to establishing the landscape design, they were also integral to siting the home. Before construction even began, Brubaker worked with the design team and owners to identify the optimal placement for key rooms based on the mountain vistas. “We set scaffolding up in the general area of the husband’s office, so that he could check out the views,” explains Brubaker. “The architects worked on the design for close to ten months before we actually broke ground.”
During that time, the architects designed every door, window trim and molding in the home, which they call a “museum of wood,” for the many species that can be found throughout. “The clients had a wish list,” says Fisher, who worked with DeChant and Harrison to select the various types of woods. “It included cherry, mahogany, walnut and exotic veneers.” The dining room and husband’s office are clad with book-matched, highly polished mahogany, while the walls of the family room are lined with cherry. “And as we were picking out furnishings,” says Fisher, “the clients wanted pieces with creative inlays, marquetries and other details to complement the interiors.” Fisher notes the walnut dining table with a cherry inlay, for example, that appoints the dining room, which has a floor-to-ceiling limestone-and- plaster fireplace with a bespoke bronze relief depicting a mountain scene. A Tibetan rug and draperies made with a Rodolph textile introduce color into the elegant space. “The wife is very traditional, so we tried to use a more current palette in a traditional way,” Fisher explains, noting a botanical tapestry chenille covering the backs of Ebanista dining chairs.
In the adjacent living room, Fisher outfitted the expansive space with a hand-forged iron chandelier by Gregorius Pineo that reaches nearly 6 feet across at its widest point. “It anchors the room and pulls your eye up to the steel and wood in the ceiling, which are beautiful details,” she says. Playing off those wood and metal elements, the designer incorporated a vintage rug and selected fresh fabrics in a palette that brings the outside in. She centered the space with an iron-and-limestone coffee table she had custom-made and flanked it with a pair of sofas upholstered with a celadon chenille.
The verdant hue picks up in the kitchen, where Costa Esmeralda granite countertops play off both the custom bleached-walnut cabinetry designed by Hazel Zeller and a handmade ceramic backsplash. In the master bedroom, Fisher shifts to blues by choosing a floral to cover a pair of matching armchairs and having draperies made in a coordinating shade. “We used texture and color to achieve a soothing, comfortable master suite,” she says.
Through its blend of rustic and urban, traditional and current, the house resonates with an all-encompassing Colorado style. “We all listened to each other’s viewpoints,” says Fisher, “and it resulted in a beautiful house.”