For one retired couple, the initial allure of their new Woody Creek, Colorado, getaway overlooking the Roaring Fork River was the quality of the area’s fly fishing—excellent, by the way—rather than the property’s aged log home. It had already borne several additions throughout its life span and, after replacing the roof, the duo called in a team of pros to rethink the residence completely.
“The house had a very convoluted floor plan, and we went through a few iterations trying to make it work,” recalls architect Luis Menendez who, along with his wife and partner, interior designer Nasrin Nourian Menendez, led the revamp. Eventually, they determined that it made more sense to start from scratch.
Out came the wish list. The couple wanted a single-story abode with room to host their four adult daughters (and maybe grandchildren someday, too). But since their family is close-knit, they were happy to have some of the guest bedrooms share baths. The wife, who is Finnish, also desired a classic sauna experience incorporated into the home. And, of course, the duo wanted to take full advantage of the property’s picturesque riverside perch.
Shaped like a boomerang, Luis’ new design divides the home in two. One wing contains the main living spaces and primary suite, while the other houses bedrooms for the owners’ offspring and guests, including a bunk room with two twin-over-queen beds. The house is oriented towards the river with the bedrooms angled to capture the sunrise, and an expansive sauna sits at the intersection of the two wings.
A subtle personal touch comes via the cedar siding, which is made up of boards of four different widths—one for each of the owners’ daughters—spaced randomly to symbolize “the unpredictable nature of raising children,” the architect explains.
Stone became a key design element due to the many large granite boulders found on-site. They were of particular interest since the wife’s family operates a granite quarry in Finland. “We wanted to use that material to connect the site to her history in an interesting way,” says Luis, who imagined an exterior clad in cedar and a jigsaw-like arrangement of giant granite slabs.
For this ambitious plan, he worked closely with project manager Martin Taffarelli and builders Mike Simpson and Ryan McGovern. “The granite veneer was a unique challenge,” notes Simpson. A monthslong search for the right stone led the team to Millennium Granite, a small quarry in Maine.
To source the massive slabs required—some of the individual pieces weighed more than 2,000 pounds—the stone was extracted in large blocks with the faces sawn off for a cleft finish. Specialists from Suarez Masonry assisted with the install and were “masterful in the details, which yielded a one-of-a-kind result,” notes Simpson.
The stone-and-wood theme continues inside, where many interior surfaces feature European white oak. Stone accents appear on the fireplace, near an entryway window seat and within the sauna. The wife’s Nordic roots also inspired choices such as the Josef Frank fabrics on throw pillows and chairs, and the birch Secto Design light fixtures. And the homeowners’ love of travel shaped the decor in the form of Moroccan rugs, Moorish tiles and art they’d collected.
Outside, the couple tapped landscape architects Ryan Vugteveen and Jane Lanter to craft their immediate surroundings. Luis had determined where decking, limestone patios, a cold-plunge pool and a spa would rest in the landscape. Vugteveen and Lanter then took his visions to the next level by determining their precise locations and how each space would interact with the surroundings.
For the plantings, Vugteveen and Lanter looked to the wilderness and selected a palette of mostly native plants. The turf lawn’s fescue sod was selected for its low water needs and because, when left unmown, it lies in whorls that lend the impression of movement.
And around the aspen trees and shrubs that ring the house, the duo sowed seeds for local grasses. “The homeowners appreciated the intrinsic qualities of their land and did not need it to become a garden,” explains Vugteveen. “They understood the beauty of embracing a less manicured ruggedness.”
The landscape architecture team also incorporated boulders, slicing some in half to turn them into benches and placing others in aesthetically pleasing spots. Working with The Landscape Workshop, Inc., Vugteveen and Lanter designed substantial stone steps—custom-cut from the same granite as on the façade—leading down to the riverbank. Which, in essence, brought the project full circle: It’s now easier and even more compelling than ever to grab a rod and stroll down for a fly-fishing session.