The friendly, laid-back vibe of historic Steamboat Springs exudes a particular kind of allure that keeps people coming back. It was that draw that caused a Denver couple to return to their hometown in search of a retreat-like destination they could enjoy with their loved ones throughout the year. “This is not a seasonal house,” says Miranda Cullen, who designed the home with firm partner Devon Tobin. “In fact, its most notable feature is how much indoor-outdoor living they can do all year round.”
That was part of the couple’s vision from the beginning. “We wanted to create a place to escape and elevate the quality of our life and build bonds together,” explains the husband. “We dreamed of walking into a place where your first reaction is to take a deep breath, relax and enjoy nature.” They also wanted to inspire a sense of possibility and adventure during their stays here—feelings they could bring back to their daily lives in the city. Undaunted by the prospect of a renovation, the couple purchased a home located in a lovely spot, but needed a lot of work. To oversee the changes, they brought on residential designer Travis Mathey and builder Chris Rhodes, business partners in a design-build practice.
The focus was reimagining common areas with large, retractable glass doors to enhance that indoor-outdoor connection. Not only is there an expansive patio on the main level with multiple seating areas and a protected fireplace lounge, a covered patio equipped with a radiant heating system under the tile also stretches along the lower level, offering space for a large spa, a second lounge area and a recreation space with a Ping-Pong table. Noting that indoor-outdoor living remains a top trend in Colorado, Rhodes calls the connection between inside and out seamless.
The interior is styled with a similar retreat mindset. Prior to this project, Cullen and Tobin completed the family’s Denver residence with a more traditional aesthetic. Here, they tried something new. “The clients wanted this house to be sophisticated with some fun details,” says Cullen. With the freedom to be a little more playful, the designers created a plethora of special touches. The entry, for example, is designed as a “wow” moment that lets guests take in the views before entering the lobby-like great room. “We leaned on the rustic nature of the beamed ceiling and fireplace, then added more refined lines in the lighting and furnishings. Adding a plaid upholstery to chaise lounges with modern bases was our way of getting a balance of traditional texture with modern lines. It’s all very fun-loving,” Cullen says. “The homeowners come up here to relax, and enjoy the house and location.”
Other special main-floor considerations are a wine room (in truth, it’s also a beer room) and a much-needed mudroom with a locker system for multiple family members and guests to keep all of their equipment organized, be it ski gear in the winter or muddy mountain bike items in the summer. Downstairs a speakeasy-inspired bar was designed for entertaining guests after outdoor recreation, and the fun doesn’t stop there. The team created four en-suite mountain-themed bedrooms, each with their own distinct identity, and whimsical pieces such as faux-fur-covered bean bags and a console where the limbs of the carved deer on the cabinet front extend to become the actual furniture legs.
The master suite, which occupies about one third of the main level, was also given special attention. “Our clients wanted their own personal retreat,” notes Cullen. The bedroom is a calming space done in soft neutrals. “There’s not a lot of pattern until you get to the draperies, and the oil painting over the fireplace is the only color,” she adds. Adjoining the bedroom via a vestibule is the couple’s private lounge. There, the designers installed a chic kitchenette and table on one side and a pair of lounge chairs on the other. “It’s a quiet space for morning coffee or a place to watch a movie together at night,” she says.
The joyful spirit carries outside—embodied in the porch swing, which is actually a chair lift suspended from an overhang. When married with the relaxing nature the owners sought, it creates the retreat they had hoped for and envisioned. “The design team approached the project as if they were creating a resort. The focus is on the quality of experiences that we and our guests feel in every single space—even in the outdoor spaces where you can smell the forest and hear the creek and the birds,” says the husband. “There’s a real sense of harmony here.”