Some homes are designed to support a family, some as gathering spots for guests. Others are envisioned as entertainment hubs. In the case of this mountain getaway, the California-based owners were simply looking for a serene space from which to enjoy Aspen’s spectacular setting. “My husband grew up here, our kids grew up skiing here. This is a place that, to us, feels very much like coming home,” the wife shares. And the duo discovered a rare find: an empty lot within walking distance of downtown. “Our goal was to create a residence nestled into the environment and that would feel as if it had always been there,” she says. Chimes the husband, “We wanted to focus on the living experience.”
They called in architect Ramsey Fulton, whom they had met through friends, to tackle the challenges inherent to the steep site. He conceived a structure that is entered from above and tiers down along the property. “It’s a really amazing spot, but the trick was to go from higher to lower without it feeling contrived or forced, and to do so in a way that would feel like an experience rather than a necessity,” he explains. He looked to the setting for inspiration. The house’s understated swooping façade, perched low on the land, takes its cues from the surrounding ridgelines, while the wood-and-stone exterior merges with the landscape. Inside, the transition from larger, open public rooms down to more intimate private spaces mimics the undulation of a mountain hike—where expansive vistas at the apex give way to a low forest canopy below. The gentle northern light that suffuses the interior creates a sanctuary-like feel, while a vast use of glass keeps the focus on astonishing views that stretch as far as the Aspen and Smuggler mountains.
General contractor Scott Scherer shouldered the task of bringing Fulton’s vision to life, tapping project manager Wally Sheata to handle the complex logistics. And the late landscape architect and Mt. Daly Enterprises founder Julia Marshall, collaborating with firm partner Louis Wilsher, pulled the native flora and fauna up to the house. “Our challenge was to restore the sense of being surrounded by nature while also creating a visual separation from any neighboring homes,” Wilsher explains. “The series of terraces embrace the hillside while creating places for the family to enjoy.”
To shape the interior, the owners turned to designer Eugenia Jesberg, whom they had worked with over a decade prior. She relished the opportunity to reconnect on a project that was essentially a blank canvas. “We wanted to make sure that the home felt warm and welcoming,” Jesberg notes. “So we really worked on layering in personality.” She relied on natural materials and textures, as well as a palette of grays, rusts and especially greens to soften the abode’s clean lines while further emphasizing the link between indoors and out. Salvaged California Fire Oak culled from trees charred in the fires that raged across Napa Valley in 2020 was used for the millwork throughout as well as the kitchen’s cabinets to symbolize the family’s connection to the Bay Area. “The wood not only adds color and richness, but also a moment of reflection and history,” Jesberg comments.
Gray granite tile flooring continuing all the way to the exterior was chosen for its ability to withstand temperatures that range from -20 to 80 degrees. “We even did a ‘sock test’ to ensure that it wasn’t too slippery,” the designer recalls with a laugh. This informality set the tone for the furnishings. “We didn’t want any antler chandeliers or river-rock fireplaces,” Jesberg stresses. Instead, she leaned into comfortable yet elegant pieces, such as various swivel chairs upholstered in plush fabrics, to address the homeowners’ desire to have places to relax and read or to listen to the wind whistling through the aspen groves that border the house.
“I sought out furniture that could envelop you in a ‘yummy’ feeling,” she shares. “And our focus was always to make the most of those big views.” The result has brought her clients a sense of contentment. “It’s very peaceful, quiet and beautiful,” the husband says. “That was our vision for this house—and it just worked.”