A Fresh Take on the Classic Mountain Lodge
A design team pools its talents to create a luxurious contemporary residence that honors its site
David O. Marlow
Mountain Living: This home is such a fresh take on the classic mountain lodge. How did you achieve the look?
Charles Cunniffe: We created a mix of modern and “mountain” by combining clean lines with spare natural materials. We incorporated major amounts of glass to let a lot of light into the home, and the primary materials—stone and timber—speak to the mountains. The beams are 120-year-old recycled timbers from an old apple factory in Washington. By combining the solidness of the materials with the transparency of the glass, we created that play of new and traditional.
ML: After the house was built, it changed hands and the new owners asked you to make some changes. What direction did they give you?
CC: The house was perfect for them, but the interior finishes didn’t match their taste. They wanted something soft, elegant, soothing and more contemporary than what was there before.
ML: Now the architecture and interiors seem to have a very cohesive aesthetic.
Andrew Sheinman: Once our clients purchased the house, Francis and I became involved immediately. Charles collaborated closely with us to rework some of the interior architecture.
ML: What was your inspiration for the interior design?
AS: The owners wanted a contemporary design that felt glamorous, and we wanted to pay respect to the architecture by using clean lines and very luxurious materials.
ML: How did you make it feel glamorous but still appropriate for the mountains?
AS: I don’t think those two things are necessarily working in opposition. The mountains are glamorous. We used a lot of winter whites, organic shapes and only natural materials. There’s no reason that nature can’t be luxurious.
ML: It’s a large house with tall ceilings. How did you keep it feeling comfortable?
CC: We incorporated a lot of indirect lighting, which makes the spaces glow. The lights play off the materials of the walls so you get a warm sense of enclosure.
AS: We were also very careful about scale. By choosing large-scale furnishings, we were able to prevent the large living spaces from feeling cavernous.
ML: Many of those living spaces connect with one another. Did that influence your design?
AS: We didn’t want to create a theme for every room. Instead, the home has a few overall themes that make appearances in each space. One of those themes is stone and metal, so we chose alabaster-and-silver light fixtures for the dining room. Those metal accents are carried through the entire house, and they add a sense of glamour.
ML: You also used onyx throughout the house, from the bar in the great room to the bathrooms.
How do you keep such an opulent material feeling elegant instead of overdone?
CC: Less is more. Incorporating the onyx here and there throughout the house creates consistency. By keeping it simple, we were able to achieve elegance without fussiness.
AS: I think the natural variegation of the onyx relates to the home’s surroundings as well. It’s very luxurious, and it has an organic feel to it. The veins in the stone are reminiscent of the grain in wood; you can see nature in it.
ML: How does the home’s design enhance the views?
AS: We kept it simple and didn’t introduce too many materials so that your eyes are drawn to the outdoors. And we only used electronic shades on the windows. We felt that window treatments would have impinged upon the architecture.
ML: This home seems to take mountain style in a new direction. Do you think the mountain-home aesthetic is changing?
CC: There are still a few people who want a log or timber house, but the majority of our clientele wants a contemporary take on mountain living. There’s nothing that says you’re in a mountain house more than viewing the mountains through a glass wall. The house doesn’t have to say “mountain” if the view does.
Architect Charles Cunniffe made use of old-growth wood beams, floor-to-ceiling expanses of glass and regional stone in designing an Aspen house that melds mountain and contemporary forms. Designers Andrew Sheinman and Francis Nicdao, of the New York City firm Pembrooke & Ives, appointed the interiors with tactile fabrics and custom-designed furnishings.
A pivoting glass door allows "light and views to pass through the house," says Cunniffe, who echoed the pitch of the ceiling with a triangular transom.
Cassina armchairs and a chaise lounge from Ralph Pucci International offer comfortable seating in the downstairs entertainment room.
Cunniffe designed the large house as a series of sections to break down the scale. "As you pass by the house, you only perceive a bit of it at a time," explains the architect, who worked with Fenton Construction on the structure and Hansen Construction on the interior renovations. The house utilizes a network or steel in the window walls that allowed Cunniffe to incorporate large expanses of glass.
Sheinman and Nicdao incorporated the home's creamy color palette into the dining room; metallic accents lend glamor to the space. Two Cosmopolitan chandeliers from Urban Archaeology hang above Hudson Furniture's Squares Base table, which is surrounded with horsehair-upholstered Holly Hunt chairs. The custom hand-knotted Tibetan rug is from Beauvais Carpets; its pattern echoes the overlapping square motif of the table base.
Cunniffe designed an elegant curved staircase, with teak treads to match the floors, as "a way to soften the house," he says.
Sheinman and Nicdao kept the open kitchen glamorous with refined materials, including Crema Royale marble for the walls and bar and Indian rosewood cabinetry finished with a high-polish lacquer. At the bar, Skipping stools by Karim Rashid continue the metallic motif. The refrigerator is by Sub-Zero and the stove is by Gaggenau.
"The great room bar is made with onyx that we purchased in Italy," Sheinman says. "I went there to choose it, as I did for all of the stone." Tub chairs upholstered with Italian wax-distressed kidskin leather from Ashbury Hides pull up to one side, while the other side accommodates a bartender. A crystal sconce from Wired Custom Lighting drips down one wall, adding sparkle to the space. The custom carpet from Rug Art is a rich blend of silk, mohair and wool. The sculpture is by Botero.
A chandelier by Chameleon Fine Lighting glistens with Czech crystals in the powder room. The walls and vanity are made from Honey onyx.
In one of the guest bedrooms, a custom dresser by Ian Ingersoll presides beneath wood-framed windows. A boxcar bench from Lorin Marsh stands at the foot of the bed, and the striped rug is from Stark Carpet.
“We wanted to keep the house very calm and relaxing, so we didn’t use a lot of color,” designer Andrew Sheinman says. “The unity of surfaces creates an air of luxury.”
The designers took cues from the home’s architecture when selecting the color palette, which ranges from creamy beiges to chocolate browns. The beige and gray tones of the great room’s stonework inspired a rug in similar hues, while the dark stain of the antique beams is referenced in furnishings like the dining room table and chairs.
Sheinman and Nicdao highlighted the home’s custom furnishings by choosing solid fabrics within the purposefully limited color palette. “We were very focused on the form of each piece, and solid colors bring out the shapes,” Sheinman says.
While the solid hues showcase the clean lines of the furnishings, rich,
textured textiles create a sense of balance. “The use of cashmere, wool, mohair and suede keeps the house feeling very warm and luxurious,” Sheinman says.
ARCHITECTURE Charles Cunniffe, Charles Cunniffe Architects, Aspen, CO, 970-925-5590 INTERIOR DESIGN Andrew Sheinman and Francis Nicdao (with the help of Lori Beard Raymond, ASID, and Aaron Dussair), Pembrooke and Ives, New York, NY, 212-995-0555 GREAT ROOM SIDE TABLES Custom polished nickel side tables by Hudson Furniture Inc., New York, NY, 212-645-7800 COFFEE TABLES Custom parchment coffee tables by Mary Kuzma Finishing, Brooklyn, NY, 718-388-8577 CUSTOM THROW PILLOWS Holland and Sherry, New York, NY, 212-355-6241 RUG Custom Fusion Rug by Rug Art, New York, NY, 212-207-8211, rug-art.net FOYER CUSTOM CHANDELIER Marsia Holzer, New York, NY, 212-431-9343 SCULPTURE (through the door) Guy Dill, 212 Gallery, Aspen, CO, 970-925-7117 LOWER ENTERTAINMENT ROOM CHAISE Custom Trace Simple ST Germain Chaise by Ralph Pucci International, New York, NY, 212-633-0452 ARMCHAIRS Prive Armchairs by Cassina USA Inc., New York, NY, 212-245-2121 CUSTOM COFFEE TABLE Jonathan Arnold Inc., Oceanside, NY, 212-245-2121 CUSTOM THROW PILLOWS Holland and Sherry, New York, NY, 212-355-6241 EXTERIOR OUTDOOR FURNITURE 1966 Collection, Richard Schultz, New York, NY, 212-688-3620 DINING ROOM CHANDELIER Custom Two-Tiered Cosmopolitan Chandelier by Urban Archaeology, New York, NY, 212-431-4646 DINING TABLE Custom Squares Base Dining Room Table with Acacia Top by Hudson Furniture Inc., New York, NY, 212-645-7800 DINING CHAIRS Custom City Dining Chair with Horsehair Upholstery by Holly Hunt, New York, NY, 212-891-2500 RUG Custom Hand Knotted Tibetan Rug, Beauvais Carpets, New York, NY, 212-688-2265 KITCHEN BAR STOOLS Skipping Bar Stools by Karim Rashid, DDC Domus Design Collection, New York, NY, 212-685-0800 GREAT ROOM BAR COUNTERS Honey Onyx, Porcelli Marmi sas, Pietrasanta, LU, Italy, +39 0584 793866 /72064 CHANDELIER Custom Crystal McAstor Chandelier, Wired Custom Lighting, New York, NY, 212-446-6025 SCULPTURE Botero Sculpture POWDER ROOM Single Tier Chandelier with Czeck Crystals, Chameleon Fine Lighting, New York, NY, 212-355-6300 WALLS & VANITY Honey Onyx, Porcelli Marmi sas, Pietrasanta, LU, Italy, +39 0584 793866/72064 MASTER BATHROOM SCONCE Custom Evasion 2 Arm Wall Sconce by Jean De Merry, New York, NY, 212-715-0646 CHAIR Custom Ingot Chair, Lorin Marsh, New York, NY, 212-759-8700, lorinmarsh.comWALLS & COUNTER White Pearl Onyx, Porcelli Marmi sas, Pietrasanta, LU, Italy, +39 0584 793866/72064 GUEST MASTER BEDROOM BENCH Boxcar Bench, Lorin Marsh, New York, NY, 212-759-8700 CHANDELIER Oh Mei Ma Chandelier, Ingo Maurer, New York, NY, 212-965-8817 CUSTOM DRESSER Ian Ingersoll, West Cornwall, CT, 860-672-6334 CARPET Custom Hand Knotted Striped Carpet, Stark Carpet, New York, NY, 212-752-9000