If you happened to be waiting in line by yourself for the ski lift on the Vail slopes in the early 1980s, you were obligated to yell out, “Single!” A little embarrassing, yes, but for the owners of this house the practice resulted in becoming a couple. “I yelled out ‘Single!’ and these two guys turned around and said, ‘Come on up!’ ” the now wife recalls. “So, I went up and we skied together for the rest of the day, and that’s how I met my husband—a cheesy lift line pickup!”
Needless to say, the Colorado region has held a place in the couple’s hearts ever since. In 2001, they purchased the secondary side of a duplex overlooking Gore Creek, a tributary that runs toward Vail Valley. But as their family grew, space began to feel tight, so when the owners of the duplex’s primary townhouse decided to sell, the couple snapped it up for themselves. It took the owners a good six months to decide whether to combine the two townhomes into one house or tear it down and build a single-family dwelling from the ground up. Eventually, they chose to start from scratch and build a new five-bedroom house with a rustic-modern ambience that capitalizes on the spectacular views.
Regular entertainers, the owners wanted an open-plan, one-level living space and as much outdoor usable space as possible for summertime gatherings. Large glass walls open up onto a deck that wraps from the home’s north side to the west side dining and lounge area with a fire pit. Inside, the living, dining and kitchen areas flow together in one organic space that opens up to the decks. “We had the opportunity to really take advantage of the views of the creek and the mountains around the house,” architect Kyle Webb explains. “They gravitated to a kind of traditional great room idea, but they also wanted a home that brings the outdoors in. We settled on something that you could call a modern glass house with a rustic flair.”
The secret to that aesthetic lies in the materials. Webb worked with general contractor Ted Leach on a combination of stone veneer, stucco, reclaimed barn wood and steel accents to tie it all together. The furnishings are a similar material mix. “The couple was looking for modern but not over-the-top,” designer Dana Hugo says. “They wanted a rustic mountain feel with a little bit of industrial flair, so I knew it would be about textures. At one point we realized we had enough metal and wood, so we softened it with the fabrics, pillows and throws.”
To bring warmth to the neutral, modern spaces, Hugo brought in specific accent colors for each room. Alongside the purple chairs, pillows and throws for the great room space, she also used a creative interpretation of the hue for the pantry door—a black and white print of beets by a local artist in Denver. Downstairs in the media room, blue and orange accents complement wallpaper with an industrial tanker print. The wallcovering appears so real, Hugo says, that guests find it temptingly tactile. “People automatically go in there and touch the walls thinking that it’s really metal flaking off the wall.”
Hugo continued the modern-industrial theme with lighting in the dining room and kitchen, as well as an operable steel dining table cranked up just above the 36-inch countertop level. “I think it weighed about 1,200 pounds and it took about eight guys to get in there,” Hugo laughs.
Outside, the cultivated garden and expansive yard by landscape designer James Fitz provides a gentle natural contrast to the more rugged expanse of aspen, spruce and pine trees of the surrounding terrain. “I’ve never gotten tired of the view here. To wake up in the morning and look down the creek—I love it,” the wife says. “During winter, it’s beautiful and snow covered, and as everything melts in the summer, it becomes like a raging river by June and sounds like we’re living beside the ocean.”
That’s just one of the scenes the largely glass house allows the couple to view. “We’ve seen quite a few bears and foxes over the years, and last year we had an eagle that was roosting down the creek from us,” the wife says. “But I have never seen a mountain lion—and I’m not unhappy about that!” But the scene from the windows that is the most sentimental is not fauna, it’s the mountain face where they met nearly 40 years ago. As the wife says, “We still giggle about it when we use that lift.”