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An Aspen Condo Gets a Facelift



Gibeon Photography

Art collections are like extended families. Each piece has its own distinct character and personality, and deep relationships develop between the collector and the collected. So when Baron and Darlene Cass purchased a dark, cramped condo in the heart of Aspen and began planning its renovation, they wanted to ensure that each member of their beloved art collection—“Frankenthaler, Natkin, Diebenkorn, Box, Kohlmeyer, Arp, Moore and Channing Cass, our youngest child,” Darlene says—was treated right.

The Texas couple selected a team of visionary designers—longtime friend and architect Holly Hall, principal and president of Dallas-based HPD Architecture; and new friend, Vail-based interior designer Amy Casey—to transform the original space from what Casey describes as “outdated and worn” to a home that reflects the beauty of its setting.

The homeowners gave the designers simple yet comprehensive instructions: “Create a place for art, make the master suite more livable, design a home office space that can also serve as a guest room, use finishes that are easy to maintain, and renovate everything else,” recalls Hall, who set to work moving and removing walls and reconfiguring windows to better accommodate both the art collection and the Aspen Mountain panorama. Meanwhile, Casey and Darlene collaborated “to find the right color palette, lighting, fabrics, finishes and furnishings to enhance the art collection, but also to create an interest of its own,” Casey explains.

Entering the reimagined condo now feels like walking into a sleek yet comfortable art gallery.

The lackluster, closed-in stairwell and barrel-vaulted vestibule were completely transformed with the addition of a new glass ceiling and accents of split-faced limestone and maple. A diptych painting by artist Lamar Briggs draws visitors into the bright and airy space and also calls attention to a dramatic new stainless-steel staircase with makore and black leather treads and a black-leather-wrapped handrail.

A new wall of sliding glass doors makes alpine vistas the focal point of the living room, kitchen and master bedroom. “They make you feel like you’re right on Aspen Mountain,” Casey says. An adjacent 50-foot-long terrace is perfect year-round for what she calls “quintessential Aspen living”: sophisticated, fun and focused on enjoying the outdoors. But the deck wasn’t always so inviting. As Hall remembers, it was “hot during summer days and dark at night, with a rotting railing that administered splinters to anyone who touched it.” The remedy included a motorized awning; a new railing composed of stone, stainless-steel cable and wood; heaters and recessed low wall lighting. Now, Darlene says, the deck is an ideal space for entertaining guests, and “it provides a perfect location for watching the fireworks on the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve.”

Indeed, the new mountain condo is an elegant place to relax in good company. “Our Aspen home is filled with a cacophony of artists—known, unknown and soon-to-be known,” Darlene says. “We still have spaces that are begging to be filled, and we can hardly wait to add to our ‘family.’”

To illuminate a dining room filled with fine art, architect Holly Hall chose an architectural “light cloud” rather than a traditional chandelier. Glass cherries by Donald Carlson rest on the limestone-topped table, with a small Henry Moore sculpture on a metal console nearby.

Opening onto a terrace with a sweeping Aspen vista, the redesigned kitchen—with waterfall sapele cabinetry and spaces just for art—is “almost as efficient as a boat’s kitchen,” interior designer Amy Casey says. A trio of ceramic vessels rests on an upper ledge, and a lively painting has pride of place on the end wall. Bronze-tinted concrete countertops transition to a glass bar-height counter that’s perfect for serving guests.

A bold Ida Kohlmeyer painting above the new see-through fireplace lends a playful air to the living room, while a Jean Arp sculpture rests atop a faux-bois-embellished acrylic table between a pair of comfortable swiveling armchairs.

Hall walled over an original window to create the ideal spot to display a large piece of art—a painting by Robert Natkin—above the sectional sofa.

Casey describes the master bedroom as “sophisticated yet serene,” with a neutral color palette that cedes the spotlight to the owners’ art collection. A cozy fireplace warms the room beneath a painting by Ida Kohlmeyer. A painted cast-bronze sculpture of a dress by Kevin Box claims a niche, with another Box piece, “Center Peace,” in painted cast aluminum on painted steel, hanging above the bed and a Richard Diebenkorn painting on the adjacent wall.

Faced with raked limestone, the two-sided fireplace with a black granite bench separates the kitchen from the living area.

Even the powder room is a potential gallery for art, including a piece by the owners’ daughter, Channing Cass.

With comfortable and sleek outdoor lounge furniture by Brown Jordan, motorized awnings and spectacular Aspen views, the terrace might be the most popular “room” in the house.  

LIVING WITH ART

Art breathes life into a home, adding flashes of color, form and meaning to deepen everyday experiences. But there’s an art to incorporating a collection into your living spaces. Here, designer Amy Casey shares her expert tips for hanging and installing art in your home.

ARRANGE ON THE LEVEL 
Think of your home as a gallery. Don’t hang art too high; you want it to be at eye level even on a very tall expanse.

CONSIDER THE WHOLE ROOM 
Use symmetry and balance. For example, a large piece could balance a window or fireplace on an adjacent wall or the other side of the room.

CAREFULLY CURATE 
There’s no need to hang something on every wall. Give each piece or series some breathing room.

DESIGN DETAILS:

ARCHITECTURE HPD Architecture INTERIOR DESIGN Amy Casey of Casey St. John Interiors CONSTRUCTION Steve Smith Construction DINING ROOM Table: Stone International LIVING ROOM Coffee Table: Custom; Rug: Odegard, Dallas TX KITCHEN Barstools: Altura Furniture MASTER BEDROOM Bed: Henredon Furniture Nightstands: Century Furniture Leather Chair: Custom; End table next to leather chair: Baker Interiors Linens: Matouk

Did you like this article? You might also like: An Artful Escape

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