Nature Sets The Tone For This Contemporary Aspen Abode


Down By The River in Aspen

Built alongside a waterway, an Aspen abode is designed to connect with its picturesque property.

Off White Neutral Horizontal Glass Dividing Living Room with Art and Flowers

Inside an Aspen home offering views of a nearby river, designer Noelle Hernandez kept the palette muted to maintain the focus on the outdoors. A custom silk-and-wool rug by Stark from Floor Coverings By CPA and a metal-and-oak coffee table by Holly Hunt from Kneedler-Fauchère lend textural interest to the living area.

High Vaulted Ceiling Living Room with Stone Fireplace and Dangling Artwork

Architects Bill Poss and Kim Weil designed the living area with a soaring ceiling and clerestory windows to let in ample natural light. Hernandez furnished the space with a pair of sofas and a custom upholstered chaise, all by A. Rudin from Town. A chandelier by Ochre, also from Town, hangs above the fireplace, which is clad with Kansas limestone from Suarez Masonry. The artwork is by Peter Max.

Neutral Comfy Chair Kitchen with Fall Foliage View and Wooden Cabinetry

Bar chairs by A. Rudin from Town pull up to the island in the open kitchen, where an aluminum pendant by Boffi illuminates the leathered-granite countertop from Balentine Collection International. A Wolf range from Alpine Appliance Center integrates into custom cabinetry by BenchCraft Custom Woodwork.

Blue Velvet Sofa with Campbell's Soup Can Artwork Sitting Area

Just off the kitchen, a sectional and a swivel lounge chair, both by A. Rudin from Town, sit on a custom silk-and-wool Stark rug from Floor Coverings By CPA. The coffee table and the fabric covering the sectional are by Holly Hunt from Kneedler-Fauchère.

Wooden Wall Dining Room with Dangling Chandelier and Flower Arrangements

Doors by Pacific Architectural Millwork open the dining area to the river outside. A polished-bronze chandelier by Ochre brings a water-like feel inside and pairs with a walnut table by Altura Furniture and upholstered armchairs by A. Rudin, all from Town. The rug is by Stark from Floor Coverings by CPA; the artwork is by Kadir López.

Roaring River Backyard with Outdoor Seating in Fall Foliage

“The landscape is a modern-day interpretation of a forest floor; it blends the character of the natural environment with the contemporary architecture,” says the project’s landscape architect, Roland Crighton of Forma Design Partners. “The lawn engages the riverbank and sets the scene for dramatic views of the water.”

Wooden Siding Master Bedroom with Bunny Rabbit Artwork and White Bedding

In one of the master bedrooms, a wall of reclaimed barnwood anchors an upholstered bed by A. Rudin and a polished lacquer-and-steel nightstand by Troscan, both from Town. The table lamp is by Arteriors, and the artwork is by Robert Bissell.

Master Bathroom White Bowl Soaking Tub with Large Windows Large Rectangular Mirror and Side Table

One of the master bathrooms evokes a peaceful feel with a soaking tub by Hastings Tile & Bath from DSKB Plumbing + Tile beneath a large Jeld-Wen window. A Caesarstone countertop caps custom cabinetry by BenchCraft Custom Woodwork; limestone from Decorative Materials grounds the space.

Between the running waters of a nearby river and the abundance of tall mature trees, a secluded lot next to a couple's Aspen home offered possibilities too enticing to ignore. Enthralled with its potential, the husband and wife reached out to designer Noelle Hernandez and architects Bill Poss and Kim Weil to create a structure on the site that could provide a place for them to gather as a family, to entertain and to accommodate their frequent guests. "The goal was for it to feel like a sanctuary, and the river offers that atmosphere naturally," the wife says, noting a kayaker passing by. Hernandez agrees, explaining how the waterway would influence her design: "We wanted the house to have quiet places to nap or read with the sound of the calming water in the background, common areas for visiting and a place to sit on the patio and enjoy the river. It should have a spot for all moods."

In siting the home, making as little impact as possible on the grounds was an important goal for Poss and Weil, who worked with project designer Keith Howie and team members Ryan Doremus and Nick Massman. They positioned the residence carefully between the towering trees, which include evergreens, aspens and cottonwoods, and in close proximity to the water. "The river was both the greatest asset and the greatest challenge," Weil says. "It provided a spectacular setting; however, designing and constructing next to it presented a whole set of challenges in dealing with underground water." To keep the land dry during construction, builder Cameron McIntyre installed a pumping and filtration system that diverted the underground streams around the site and into the river.

When it came to designing the structure, the architects achieved a modern aesthetic set off by rustic surfaces. The home's clean lines are clad with a mix of vertical reclaimed barnwood and horizontal cedar siding. Steel accents and a standing-seam metal roof round out the material palette. "This is a modern house, but the barnwood adds texture and gives it a sense of belonging on this property," Hernandez says. "There's a nice balance."

Inside, large lift-and-slide doors allow the indoor and outdoor spaces to function as one. Even in the winter, horizontal windows–including long clerestory ones in the lofted living area–flood the interior with natural light. "With all of those trees, the house is in shadow a lot," Poss says. "The clerestory windows let more light in, and they also allow you to see the treetops." Further blurring the distinction between the inside and outside are porcelain-tile floors Hernandez had laid in a subtle herringbone pattern that flow from the main living-dining space directly outside to an ample terrace. The tile is one of many neutral tones in the interior; another is a custom silk-and-wool rug in the living area the designer used to anchor twin sofas upholstered with fabric and leather in soft taupe and gray tones. "By keeping the inside quiet, you immediately look out to the greenery and river," says Hernandez, who, with colleagues Soraya Gallego and Nicole Stewart, came on board the project as plans were still being developed to help the owners select furnishings and materials. The muted palette maintains the focus on not only the views but also the owners' extensive art collection.

Textural variation within that tonal palette ensures the dwelling is far from austere. The living area's pitched ceiling, for example, is clad with custom-stained white oak, and the soaring fireplace surround is sheathed with Kansas limestone. "The natural wood and stone elements paired with the large glass windows and sliding doors create a warm, contemporary feel," Poss says. In the dining area, Hernandez clad a wall with reclaimed barnwood to pull the exterior material inside and balanced the aesthetic with a chandelier made of long glass beads. "They look like big drops of crystal water," she says. "It has a lovely, very soft glow at night." The piece illuminates the custom table and upholstered chairs below it.

In the family area, the designer kept the comfort level high with a generously proportioned sectional sofa covered with a deep blue chenille fabric that punctuates the room's neutral palette. The open space also contains the kitchen, where black leathered-granite countertops and a white back-painted-glass backsplash set off the custom oak cabinetry. "I like to have my kids in a family room setting when I'm cooking," explains the wife, who collaborated closely with Hernandez throughout the design process.

Upstairs, more barnwood makes an appearance as accent walls in the two master bedrooms, where the rustic material is juxtaposed with upholstered beds and whimsical artwork. Glass railings line balconies to ensure nothing obstructs the view of the river outside; likewise, sculptural soaking tubs in the limestone-clad bathrooms offer bird's-eye views of the water. "Both sides of the tub are comfortable, so you can look up or down the river," Hernandez says.

The water, both its proximity and presence, proved integral to the design of the house–and to the experiences the owners have there. "You can see, hear and enjoy its ever-changing beauty from season to season," Hernandez says. "It's always comforting, just like the interior of the house. It's rare to have a home set right along a river on a flat lot in Aspen, and this house takes full advantage of that opportunity." 

Tate Gunnerson