A Dreamy Cabana Makes a Splash in Aspen
Photos: Gibeon Photography
Not many architects persuade their clients to build something more modest. But Jamie Brewster McLeod, president of Aspen- and Telluride-based Brewster McLeod Architects, had an inkling that her clients’ plan for a 6,000-square-foot, three-bedroom guesthouse on a lot adjacent to their main Maroon Creek Club residence would just be too much.
“I’m not into pushing square footage,” Brewster McLeod explains. “I’m into making sure that I’m really listening to my clients.” So when the homeowner, a competitive triathlete and year-round swimmer, confessed that he really just wanted a place where he could relax and swim in his pool, Brewster McLeod responded with a refreshingly simple alternative—one seldom seen this high in the mountains: a perfect little cabana.
An umbrella shades a pair of Summit Furniture chaises from the Colorado sun.
The 1,000-square-foot structure would be divided into 500 square feet of living space above and 500 square feet of storage, mechanical and laundry space below, linked by an exterior stairway.
The long rectangular pool accommodates lap swimming and lazy lounging.
Jaw-dropping alpine panoramas influenced the design. “This is a very unique piece of property,” Brewster McLeod explains. “The owners have three private lots all located on a knoll and separated from any other house by the golf course. There are unobstructed views of Aspen, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk, so you get all three mountains in your view plane. It’s quite spectacular.” She recommended a 50-foot-long pool with an infinity edge to enhance the drama of the setting, which landscape architect Kurt Culbertson of Design Workshop created, along with lush plantings, meandering paths, a cascading water feature and a large putting green.
Drifts of colorful plantings soften the hard lines and textures of stone pathways and patios.
— Interior designer Joyce Wirth
The cabana was designed as an extension of the 1980s-era main house, which Brewster McLeod had been commissioned to remodel on three separate occasions, guiding it through a stylistic evolution from rustic to contemporary.
The cabana’s cedar shake roof and fieldstone exterior were designed to echo the look of the main house just up the hill.
The cabana’s exterior—clad with the same fieldstone and cedar used for the main house, which is situated just 75 feet uphill—conceals interiors that are bright and airy. Interior designer Joyce Wirth, of Glenwood Springs-based Weiss & Wirth Interior Design, focused on creating sophisticated yet durable spaces for both daily life and entertaining. “The mandate was to match the house,” Wirth says. And since she had also worked on that project, she knew just how to echo the main home’s design details, right down to the stone flooring, plaster wall finishes, interior doors and hardware, and reclaimed wooden beams. “The finishes are designed to be very simple and clean,” she explains. “The indoor furniture is elegant for both day and evening, with fitted slipcovers—which keep the fabric white and fresh during the day—that can be removed in the evening to reveal the dressy fabric underneath.”
An entire corner of the small structure virtually disappears thanks to a clever lift-and-slide glass door system that connects the living room to the patio.
Although the cabana is small—measuring 30 x 17 feet, with just four rooms—sophisticated functionality abounds. Two changing/powder rooms offer privacy, while the kitchenette and living room—complete with television and fireplace—open onto the sun-splashed outdoor patio through broad, corner-mounted Loewen sliding doors. The free-flowing living space makes entertaining a breeze, whether gatherings are held inside or at the outdoor cooking area and pergola-shaded dining table.
Joyce Wirth designed the simple and efficient kitchenette to support dinner parties, cocktail hours or business meetings. Decorated in creamy shades of white, with crisp elegance and a clean, modern aesthetic, the cabana’s rooms are no less sophisticated than those in the main residence.
Bright and airy his-and-hers changing rooms feature Carrara marble countertops.
Though her intent was for the cabana to be a casual space that services the main house, it has become “a healing place” that holds its own, Brewster McLeod says. Whether her clients enjoy it with guests or for quiet early morning laps in the pool, it’s just “a magical little place for them to get away.”
“We wanted the cabana and this whole area to feel like an extension of their main house,” architect Jamie Brewster McLeod says of her design.