Timeless in Telluride
City sophistication meets mountain town casual in an antique-filled, anything-but-fussy home
On a street lined with Victorian homes at the base of a Telluride mountain, there’s a tall white house that looks as if it’s been there for ages. But it hasn’t. While it may resemble one of the town’s vintage residential gems, this home is relatively new but deeply respectful of the past, with a charm that’s just about timeless.
Designed in the mid-1990s by Telluride’s Bercovitz Design Architects, the home offers spectacular views, but the interiors were ready for a remodel when the new owners arrived. They called upon interior designer Catherine Frank, of Studio Frank, to add a touch of the laid-back local character to their mountain retreat. “Being based in a large urban city, they have long appreciated Telluride’s casual attitudes and natural beauty,” Frank explains. “They wanted to infuse their home with these essential characteristics of the town.”
With stunning box canyon vistas beckoning through every window, it was obvious that the home’s décor needed to collaborate with what nature had already provided. And, because the owners wanted a cozy place to share with friends and family, comfort and livability were priorities. Given the existing structure’s relatively formal architecture, Frank wanted to introduce contrasting elements for balance. “The existing painted wood trimwork and millwork is more reminiscent of traditional East Coast style,” she remarks, “so we worked to create contrast by utilizing soft, inviting furnishings and rich, textural textiles.” Plainly elegant herringbone-patterned Belgian linen drapes hug the ceiling in the living room and den, while the master bedroom has delicately hand-embroidered linen drapes from Larsen that lend an air of Victorian nostalgia. Throughout the house, antique rugs in rich yet gentle hues warm the floors.
Frank’s meticulous approach to design moves toward sophisticated luxury despite its apparent simplicity. And she doesn’t shy away from using earthy materials to play against fine finishes and sleek surfaces—Frank gravitates toward the raw and the rustic, the natural and the ruggedly textured, often with a nod to Telluride’s early mining history. In this home, every detail is carefully chosen and thoughtfully calibrated for comfort and warmth, from the leather-wrapped and hand-stitched stair railings to the extra cushioning added to plump the window seats and make them even more inviting. To create a more durable floor surface on the home’s entry level, Frank chose a poured concrete in a patinated charcoal color reminiscent of authentic, weathered warehouse floors.
The designer painted the walls and millwork in soft neutral shades to create an understated and nearly monochromatic backdrop for the owners’ impeccable collection of furnishings and artwork. “Our clients have excellent taste,” Frank explains, “and they’ve procured an impressive art collection over the years. With their input, we placed pieces throughout the house.” Many of the home’s finest antiques, such as the graceful leather club chairs, are mid-20th-century French pieces from Paris, and a carefully chosen mix of antique furnishings from near and far graces every room. Walls in several rooms are hung with a series of compelling contemporary photographs featuring old barns and country landscapes, striking a rural note in keeping with the local vibe.
When you’ve landed in a small town at the end of a deep canyon, surrounded by enormous mountains and 45 miles away from the nearest stoplight, time slows down and simplicity seems to come naturally. And with a collection of gorgeous antiques, vintage finds and fascinating artwork like this, relaxed comfort gains a refinement that ends up feeling totally Telluride.
Bringing Bright Ideas to Light
Interior designer Catherine Frank shares some of the secrets behind this home’s unique lighting solutions:
A MIXTURE OF FIXTURES
For this project, Frank sourced a combination of retro and reproduction beauties that complement the home’s more traditional detailing with an industrial aesthetic that references Telluride’s storied past.
VINTAGE VOLTAGE “Vintage light fixtures have such character and are often masterfully constructed. Nowadays there’s so much emphasis on hiding the working components of a fixture, but that’s what interests me most. And, those metal rods and cogs allow for adjustability, too.”
GLASS ACTS “Hand-blown glass shades have natural imperfections that add visual texture and disperse light in unique ways. When the bulb is exposed, bulb selection is of paramount importance. I like Edison bulbs because the exposed filament is so delicate and sculptural.”
ARTFUL IMPACT “I see light fixtures as a supplement to artwork. When illuminated, they almost become living sculptures, whether mounted from the ceiling or a wall. Floor and table lamps also have this impact, with more atmospheric light.”
FAUX ANTIQUES When they couldn’t find the perfect fixture, Studio Frank created their own that look like Victorian originals. For the powder room, the design team paired a vintage fabric cord with a shapely tungsten-filament bulb for a simple hanging pendant that glows.