When the artist who owns this home began a search for a place to build, solitude was more important to her than anything else. Her quest led her to a location with pristine alpine views, perched on the quiet edge of a Colorado mountain town. “The site is so amazing,” she says. “And it’s right across from an untouchable preserve, so I will never be looking at another house.”
An extraordinary setting begs for a special vision, so she called on architect Candace Tillotson-Miller. “I wanted her rustic style but mixed with my more industrial taste,” the homeowner explains. “We were perfect for each other, because she had always wanted to design something like this but never had the chance.”
Tillotson-Miller began by gaining an understanding of her client’s needs. “Physically, the owner is a small person, and I think stature translates into what kind of space people feel comfortable in,” she says. “Also, this is a second home, so she did not want to be saddled with a lot of maintenance or unused areas.” By selecting a metal roof and windows, rusticated floors and stone walls, the architect delivered with a house that’s easy to take care of and pared down as much as possible. The plan also serves the owner’s needs by placing the main living spaces on the second floor, where they are best oriented toward the views, with an art studio on one end (to capture just the right light for painting) and a master suite on the other.
Tillotson-Miller looked to the artist’s work for further inspiration. “Many times, to get the simplicity of roofline, I consider barns as a way to approach my designs,” the architect says. “The client sometimes paints horses, so she had an affinity for the idea of marrying a couple of barns.” To bridge the space between the pair of agrarian forms that resulted, Tillotson-Miller added a glass-lined passage that became a living room she calls a “living breezeway.” “We both really wanted the indoor-outdoor part of the house to be seamless,” the homeowner says. With long, stacking glass doors that nearly disappear when opened, the room gains a wide-open airiness that earns the space its title and suits the client perfectly.
The plan required exacting standards, and builders Reid Hansen and Steve Hansen were meticulous. “You can’t just throw up reclaimed materials and expect the house to look good,” Reid says. “It was an exciting challenge to express the characteristics of the raw, reclaimed materials while still providing clean lines and reveals.”
Once the structure was in place, interior designer Jane Hallworth was invited to join the project because the owner admired her original and unpredictable style. “Jane has such an interesting, weird, unusual, wonderful taste,” the client observes. “One of the fun things about working with her was that she and I didn’t want things to look new and perfect.” Hallworth agrees, adding: “There’s no material that has age that I don’t appreciate. I like a story that’s layered on with time.” Endowed with a treasure hunter’s gift for discovering antiques from around the globe, Hallworth selected furnishings, fixtures and finishes that have, as she says, “a hand, a texture and a sense of earthiness while still being sophisticated.”
An instinct for the right scale led Hallworth toward comfortable vintage Danish and European furniture that doesn’t take up an excess amount of floor space. “To clutter the interior would be doing a disservice to not only the simplicity and boldness of the architecture but also the nature preserve the rooms look onto and the owner’s painterly eye,” she says. “I also tried to create impact with the minimum number of pieces.” Rugged materials paired with sleek lines make that impact a one-two punch. Lichen-encrusted Montana moss rock, painstakingly smoothed thresher flooring salvaged from an old barn and patinated steel combine to give the house an elemental gravity leavened by sleek industrial features, including slim-mullioned windows and Tillotson-Miller’s custom-designed steel trusses. “They are delicate and feminine, but they are industrial and strong at the same time,” the homeowner says.
The architect describes the aesthetic as rustic elegance. “The owner wanted to have very textural elements–she loves the reuse of materials, because it gives a sense of history,” Tillotson-Miller says. “But she also wanted to combine those with refined features so the home would have an edginess to it.” Detail was key to achieving this, Hallworth adds. “It’s a very beautiful and simple home that’s done impeccably and precisely,” she says. In the end, it was a challenge that paid off by bringing the artistic owner’s vision to life–solitude, tranquility and all. “We expressed everything we wanted to express,” the owner says. “Everyone who comes to the house says they find it peaceful.”