Given that this penthouse residence is surrounded by the natural beauty of Beaver Creek, designer Annie Kern didn’t want its interiors to compete with the area’s postcard-worthy, mountain-ringed panoramas. There already was a lot going on architecturally, Kern observed, from the great room’s vaulted ceiling to an abundance of orange-hued butternut wood. Right from the first glimpse with her clients, who planned to utilize the sky-high home as their family getaway, she wanted to tone down the woodwork, walls and surfaces. “I just thought, ‘What can we do to give your eyes a softer place to land?’ ” she recalls.
Kern had known the homeowners for a long time and worked with them over the years on smaller projects. As a result, they kicked off this renovation with an established level of trust and a deep understanding. The couple, both longtime art collectors, “love to play with color,” she notes. They also have eight adult children and dozens of grandchildren, and wanted their retreat to be stylish, welcoming and fun. “My clients asked for a ‘mountain modern’ feel, but they didn’t want it to feel austere or minimal,” the designer adds.
But first, some walls needed to fall—and others needed to rise. Architect Amy Salter spearheaded the changes. “It was traditional but dated, with a wonderful volume and interiors that were beautiful for their time,” she explains. Salter largely retained the home’s layout, “pushing and pulling” several areas to improve both the spatial setup and flow. To wit, the kitchen and pantry changed shape, the study’s wet bar was nixed to make room for a wider fireplace wall, and the primary bath’s enormous footprint was reduced to carve out a spacious den.
The architect also replaced the two-level penthouse’s heavy wood railings—prominent due to an upstairs balcony—with contemporary metal-and-glass ones. That choice decisively brought the interior architecture up to date and let in more light. It also offered the upstairs hall’s art gallery visibility from below. “Using glass opened everything up and gave that space a much nicer presence,” Salter comments.
But the one change that really set the tone for the interior’s new direction was the decision to strip the extensive orange-butternut woodwork that had previously contributed to the abode’s lodge-like look. “A lighter, neutral tone just worked better with the natural surroundings,” Kern observes. And this was, after all, one of the main objectives.
Builder and project manager Robyn Boylan sourced new butternut to craft interior doors, coffered ceilings and other trim—which became a labor of love. “Butternut is more uncommon now due to a disease known as ‘butternut canker,’ ” she explains, “so our supplier had to go through a network of mills nationwide to find it in the widths and lengths we needed.” New wide-plank, light oak flooring paired well with it, she adds.
Kern devised a plan for the interiors, keeping in mind her original goal to provide restful points of interest. One such example is the smooth-cut limestone surround in the great room that replaced a busy moss rock wall. “It’s a beautiful backdrop for all the seasons,” the designer says. On the opposite side of the open living-dining space, the kitchen’s waterfall countertops in White Macaubas quartzite mirror this simplicity.
To kick off furnishings, one key piece set the stage: “I fell in love with a large-scale camouflage rug in shades of brown, cream and taupe to anchor the great room—that was the springboard,” Kern remembers. Next, she plucked aubergine and blue accents from a few choice oil paintings in that same space and used the hues throughout the home, from the great room’s chevron-patterned seats to the sofa and mix of upholstered armchairs in the casual dining area.
In the formal dining space, Kern introduced camel leather chairs and a pair of azure ones in a bold, graphic print. The sturdier fabrics introduce stronger textures while balancing what looks like a metal caged chandelier overhead (but is actually made of steel and gilded papier mâché). “It elevates the space without feeling heavy,” she says.
This palette and its various blue hues continue through the entire home, from the den’s immersive, lacquered cobalt walls to the primary bedroom’s crisp but quieter pairing of indigo and white. A guest room’s immersive Cole & Son’s Wood & Stars navy wallcovering also echoes these tones while evoking a nighttime fairy-tale woodland.
But in the end, everything still cedes way to one major scene-stealer: “So much of this project had to do with the views,” says Kern, looking back at her work. “There are just so, so many. They wanted every room to take advantage of that.” And now, she’s happy to report, everywhere your eyes rest is stellar inside and out.