Modern Mountain Structure Utilizing Limestone and Cedar Elements


For Dan and Liz Caton, building the expressive mountain residence that would serve as a vacation retreat and eventually become their home began with an extensive scouting project. “We searched all over the Rockies for a town that suited our way of living and point of view,” Dan Caton says. “Telluride was a perfect fit.” In the nearby Town of Mountain Village, they selected a site—a parcel that was once part of a historic ranch—and their search for an architect led them to Tommy Hein. “We knew from the beginning that we wanted to honor the views and that we wanted a modern house built with materials that were traditional to the environment,” Dan explains. “Conceptually, Tommy was on the same page immediately.”

“All of my houses grow from the site,” notes Hein, who took his cues from the property’s topography and past. “This house fits into the hillside, with rooms rotating off like the petals of a flower to embrace views of the San Sophia ridge and open to the eastern light.” An old historic barn nearby provided Hein with inspiration for the structure’s shed rooflines, gabled forms and indigenous materials, which he then reinterpreted in a modern way. “The Western vernacular is evolved and transformed in this design,” he says.

The house’s angular forms alternate between gray limestone and rough-sawn cedar and surround a transparent core. “It’s a sculptural composition of additive and reductive gable forms that are connected by stone elements, symbolizing Western barn compounds that had been added to over time,” says Hein, who cantilevered certain sections of the home out into the landscape, a design element that proved challenging for the builders. “In the mountains, it’s important to protect the thermal envelope of buildings,” explains construction manager Dylan Henderson, who worked with the firm’s president and principal manager of the project, Werner Catsman. “When you have 11-foot pop-outs with external plumbing, it takes some creative and knowledgeable methodology to make sure that the demand is met.”

Inside, the structure’s material palette picks up in a seamless transition. “Spaces flow from the exterior to the interiors figuratively and literally,” Hein says. “The materials are consistent throughout.” The limestone forms reappear in the living areas, and a warm cedar crowns the ceiling. Steel details offer a nod to the region’s mining history.

The considered material palette was chosen in collaboration with designer Amy Hiteshew, who had worked with the Catons on a previous residence in her home base of Columbus, Ohio. “We are fond of Asian antiques and combining them with more modern pieces,” Dan says. “And Amy is particularly adept at making those elements work together.” In approaching the interiors, Hiteshew looked first to the structure. “The architecture is paramount,” she explains. “The furnishings are there to support the statement and provide the owners with comfort and beauty.”

To honor the drama of the space and views, Hiteshew focused on color and shape. In the living area, she chose clean-lined pieces and hung an orb-shaped pendant to contrast the room’s rectilinear lines. “I focused on a lack of color, as well,” says Hiteshew, who painted the walls in a shade reflective of the stone. “There is a strength in the simplicity of the classic and tonal pieces, as they allow the architecture to have its voice.”

To soften the sleek linear kitchen island and cabinetry, the designer had a custom live-edge walnut table made for the adjacent dining area. “For me, the table represents the organic element of the home’s design,” she explains. Bright orange chairs surround the table and balance the saturated tone of an Asian chest from the owners’ collection. Hiteshew picked up the colorful hue again as an accent in the master bedroom’s custom bedding.

After many vacations in their mountain home, the Catons have made it their full-time residence. In a way, the move is part of the natural evolution of the project. “The house,” says Hein, “reflects an intimate knowledge of our time, our past and the course we set for our future.”