From Unusual Building Site to Clever Home
A thoughtful collaboration transforms an unconventional lot into an extraordinary home
Photos by Kimberly Gavin
Sometimes it takes bold vision to recognize hidden potential. “Wow! How do you even get down there?” is the reaction architect Ron Preston remembers hearing from folks who first glimpsed the unconventional building lot in Colorado’s Cordillera Valley Club. But Sentry Construction’s Mike Young had no time for those skeptics: “People said: ‘It’s in a hole; it’s so low!’ and I said, ‘No—it’s perfect!’”
Everyone agreed that the lot would afford magnificent views of New York Mountain, but actually constructing a house there wasn’t going to be easy. “It was probably one of the toughest sites I’ve dealt with before,” says Preston, of Isom & Associates in nearby Eagle. “This thing had four or five different angles, and none were 90 degrees. Everywhere you turned a corner it was a weird angle,” he explains. “A lot of people looked at buying that lot and they just couldn’t figure it out.”
As luck would have it, Robin and Sara Thurston had bold vision to spare, and they happened to be searching for a mountain house. Robin had grown up in Denver, racing as a professional cyclist before pursuing a business career that included co-founding MapMyFitness. The California-based Thurstons were eager to find a Colorado vacation getaway, but after touring the Vail Valley with a realtor friend, they were feeling frustrated. “The traditional look of mountain homes was not our style,” Sara Thurston says. “We went and saw the lot in the Cordillera Valley Club, and we immediately fell in love with the view,” she remembers. “And we caught the project early enough that it was going to be a really nice spec home, but it ended up becoming a fully custom home.”
— Homeowner Sara Thurston
The Thurstons added interior designer Tracie Schumacher to their team after admiring her work on the Houzz website. “They wanted a more modern feel,” Schumacher explains. “And they have little children, so they wanted this to be a house that everybody could grow up in.” The rooms have a laid-back elegance and sophisticated coziness. “When we started picking out the furnishings for the home, we had so much steel and wood and stone, we literally wanted to warm that up with color and comfort but still keep it modern,” Sara Thurston says.
The wide open spaces blending living, dining and kitchen zones suit the busy family’s life. “It’s a great space for the kids,” Thurston says. “They can roam; they can go outdoors to the patio and do art while I cook.” Retractable patio doors and over-counter windows open the kitchen area completely to the south-facing balcony, much to the children’s delight. “They absolutely love to have lunch or dinner at the bar area outside, because it’s like a restaurant and I can serve them,” Thurston says with a laugh.
The angular kitchen was modeled after one the homeowners had fallen in love with in a magazine. Vail Cabinets custom-crafted the walnut cabinetry, which is topped with a honed black granite counter surface and a porcelain subway tile backsplash. The custom range hood was designed to complement the nearby living room’s peninsula fireplace—both in steel specially treated with a bluing acid.
Since work keeps them in California most of the year, the family spends vacation time at the home for now, but they look forward to longer stays in the future. “The mountains are so powerful and calming at the same time,” Thurston remarks. “It’s a completely different vibe than our life in California.” And all of the ingenuity that went into fitting the house into the tricky site was worth the effort. ”You just relax the second you walk into that house and see the view,” she says. “There’s nothing better.”
Custom walnut cabinets by Vail Cabinets are topped with absolute black honed granite, with a backsplash crafted from Ann Sacks Lava Calda porcelain tiles. The Eiffel walnut-
and-leather bar stools are by sohoConcept.
The black BlueStar gas range is balanced by a custom steel vent hood.
The steel-clad bar is flanked by Blu Dot Knicker bar stools, with Tom Dixon Pressed Glass Pendants above. The adjacent smoked-glass wine storage area is both stylish and convenient. In her tips to creating a great bar, Schumacher suggests you consider how you entertain and what types of drinks you plan to serve.
A pair of Mitchell Gold Cooper Swivel Chairs offers both window and fireside seating, while the dining room’s Kimora table and Sidney chairs, also from Mitchell Gold, are lit by a Ralph Lauren Home Roark ring chandelier.
The master bath features custom walnut cabinetry, Caesarstone countertops and a fun Mongolian faux-fur-and-acrylic stool from AllModern.