A 1970s Aspen Condo Goes From Time Capsule to Art-Filled Ski Retreat
This vacation condo at the base of Aspen Mountain leaves the wood paneling behind and becomes a sophisticated backdrop to showcase a wicked art collection.
Photos by Dallas and Harris Photography
Before its complete remodel, this condo was a perfectly preserved fossil from the 1970s, with less-than-groovy details: wood paneling, mirrored walls, popcorn ceilings, and dated appliances, to name a few.
The condo is part of the recently revamped North of Nell condominium hotel, but this unit was anything but modern—despite being located in the heart of downtown Aspen’s shopping district and nestled at the base of Aspen Mountain, overlooking the gondola. But once it got into the hands of a Houston couple and their meticulous design team, everything was fast-tracked to the 21st century, with a seriously cool art collection, to boot. Take a look at the almost unrecognizable transformation below.
Upon entry into the original design, it felt like you were traveling back in time. Carpet and slate chopped up the already closed-off floor plan. A guest room was situated behind the dining area next to the master suite (a title earned due to the fact that it was the only room with an en suite bath).
A mirrored wall attempted to create the illusion of a less-than-cramped living area, to no avail. Another unnecessary sitting area was arranged near the front door—not the optimal use of the home’s limited 1,400-square-foot space.
The kitchen’s basic elements and cabinetry (sans hardware) left much to be desired.
Save for the placement of the kitchen and fireplace, a structural eyebeam (present in each unit), and the exterior facade (including two windows), every last detail of the original design was completely gutted—the kind of challenge you dream of in design school! All surfaces—ceilings, walls, and floors—were redone. The original location of the guest room was opened up to create one large living space with two exterior windows overlooking the mountain. A new guest room was placed where the drab dining space had been.
The new kitchen and main living space feel lighter, brighter, and worlds more sophisticated. In addition to a more intuitive layout, a neutral palette continues throughout the entire condo. In smaller spaces like this condo, the more cohesive the materials are throughout, the fewer times your eye stops and starts in any given room. This repetition of design makes the entire home feel larger and more luxurious.
The peninsula in the original kitchen was removed and an island placed in its stead. Light French oak flooring extends throughout the entire unit. All of the appliances are integrated and paneled, and the kitchen cabinetry and living-room bookshelves create a harmonious flow from space to space.
Artwork above the wine refrigerator: “Rue Mouffetard, Paris, 1954,” by Henri Cartier Bresson
A dining table with hammered stainless-steel top adds a touch of shine to the surrounding organic white Caesarstone, with a wine refrigerator conveniently within an arm’s reach. The home’s simple color palette is enlivened by its various textures and incredible mixture of vintage ski photographs and contemporary multimedia art.
Artwork above the fireplace: “Snowmass Gathering, Colorado, 1968,” by Slim Aarons
Understandably, the couple did not want to clean a fireplace or deal with firewood while staying in their mountain retreat. Their new gas setup, with a stone facade, creates the ambiance of warm flames without any of the fuss. Two midcentury modern chairs provide the perfect spot for après-ski drinks by the fire, and blue mohair velvet cushions echo a pop of color from the vintage Snowmass party photograph above the fireplace.
Artwork from left: “Hotel du Cap Eden-Roc, 1976, Guests by the pool,” by Slim Aarons; “Apres Ski Gathering, Squaw Valley, California, 1961,” by Slim Aarons; “Catherine Wilke, Capri, 1980,” by Slim Aarons
Where the guest room used to be, the living room is not only extended but also gains an extra exterior window—allowing for an abundance of natural light to flood the open layout.
Artwork in reflection: “Lipstick,” collage by Jill Kerwick
Artisan mosaic tiles from Decorative Materials were created especially for this powder room, accented by another stunning piece of art.
The old guest room was nothing to write home about, and the private space did not make the best use of its exterior window. It also did not have its own bathroom.
Artwork from left: “Hawksbill Creek Swimming Hole, Luray Virginia, 1956” by O. Winston Link; “Iced Tea,”collage by Jill Kerwick
The new guest suite, situated near the condo’s entry, boasts a split king—the perfect functional stay for loved ones. It acts as a “bunk room” of sorts for when the owners’ adult children visit together, and when one of their children wants to visit with their spouse, the beds come together to form one luxurious refuge. The en suite bathroom door mimics a window and adds additional light to the space.
The guest bath is an interior space without a window, so to create additional light and texture, the design team chose a dimensional tile, upgraded lighting, and a floating mirror. The same flat-paneled oak cabinetry found in the kitchen and living space is continued here, and an oversized sink and vanity help make the room feel larger.
Artwork: “Doris’ House,” collage by Jill Kerwick
Near the guest room is an oversized closet converted into a hidden workspace for the homeowner. When not in use, a barn door conceals the desk and chair—and serves as another display for art.
A subtle, textured wallpaper is a backdrop to the owners’ cozy master bedroom. Custom nightstands add form and function to the room’s limited space. A light blue color palette adds an additional feeling of tranquility; hotel-style linens and an alpaca throw take the luxury factor up a notch.
In addition to the vanity’s oak cabinetry, the master bath also repeats materials found elsewhere in the home with the tile in the shower—but cut at a smaller scale.
An entryway with hooks greets the owners and their guests upon arrival, with a nook that boasts additional storage as well as a washer and dryer.
While this condo never left Aspen, its original design felt completely removed from its high-end surroundings. The new design’s commitment to simplicity and continuous flow not only creates a refined backdrop for the owners’ super-cool personal art collection, it also provides a warm and inviting getaway—one that feels right at home in one of Colorado’s most luxurious mountain towns.
INTERIOR ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN Denise Taylor (Lead Designer) and Amanda Furlong, ASID, NCIDQ, Cathers Home POWDER ROOM MOSAIC TILE Decorative Materials ARCHITECTURE Kurt Carruth, Hinge Architects
Denise Taylor, M.A. Allied ASID, is Design Director of Cathers Home, a Basalt, Colorado-based full-service interior architecture and design studio, as well as a home furnishings retail store and rug gallery. View their profile or contact Denise at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-927-6556.
Content for this article provided by Cathers Home.