Rock-Solid and Light-Filled in Telluride
Photos by David Patterson
It started with the mountains.
The magnificent San Juan views from Telluride’s Mountain Village captivated the Texas couple, convincing them to buy a perfect lot for their family getaway. But they were in no hurry to build. In fact, they spent about five years roaming the site and dreaming of their ideal home before they even hired an architect. And then it took two years of construction before they were able to move in. Dreams just can’t be rushed.
“They put their arms out and said, ‘We want this view,’” recalls architect Jamie Brewster McLeod—president of Aspen- and Telluride-based Brewster McLeod Architects—of her first on-site meeting with the couple. “On the back side, we’ve got 180-degree views of one of the most beautiful mountain ranges I’ve ever seen,” says the husband. “And on the other side we’ve got beautiful views of Mt. Wilson.”
Armed with “about 100 photographs out of Mountain Living,” the homeowners were able to show Brewster McLeod and builder Steve Margetts—of Telluride’s Getts-Built Custom Homes—exactly what they wanted. “We’re very detailed people,” the homeowners confess. Brewster McLeod responded with a design that mixes mountain and contemporary moods—showcasing wood and stone—with a slight Texas accent.
Everything was geared toward producing a sturdy and substantial effect that recalled a bygone era. “We wanted it to look as uncommercial-looking as possible,” the husband explains. “Like you built your own cabin.” Margetts heeded the homeowners’ suggestions, mixing local stone with stone sourced in Arkansas for just the right rugged blend. “They asked for large grout lines between the individual rocks to give more of an Old World look,” Margetts says. “We also used extra-wide boards and wide chink joints to create a more massive look.”
Margetts devised a perfect solution for the home’s outdoor living area. “We came up with a glass panel railing that provides the safety needed and meets code, yet it is basically invisible when you sit in the house or on the deck,” he explains.
All of that outer strength frees up the home’s interior to welcome natural light and sweeping vistas. “We wanted as little wall as possible,” the wife says. “Just stone and glass.” Brewster McLeod adds, “We looked at sighting the house toward specific views for specific rooms.” And, particularly in the great room, that meticulous strategy produces a dramatic punch: “You come in from the entry right into the great room,” the architect explains, “and there are these huge windows, big truss, and vaulted ceilings—that really give you this feeling of height and space that leads out toward the mountain view.”
A family-friendly layout was a major priority. “The reason we’ve got seven bedrooms—and one of those is a bunkroom—is we counted up all the family we wanted here at Christmas,” the husband says. “That set the size of the house.” The floor plan was specially designed to accommodate the couple’s mothers, with two comfortable master suites on the main level—each with its own rocking-chair-furnished outdoor deck.
The two-story great room draws the mountain scenery inside through enormous floor-to-ceiling Loewen windows.
Bright, intermingling great room, dining room and kitchen spaces provide an open and airy setting that’s perfect for the family’s daily life. Designed with bare feet and dog paws in mind, the natural stone tile floors are a Texas touch, warmed by Colorado-savvy, in-floor hydronic tubes. Colors are intentionally subdued. “We have a neutral palette, so the eye is drawn to the landscape,” the wife explains. “With warm honey and chocolate and paprika furnishings: just heavy wood and leather.”
The design/build team—including landscape designer Beth Bailis, of Caribou Design Associates, in Telluride—crafted a subtle berm as a visual and sound barrier between the home and the road. A wildflower meadow, installed by Telluride-based Landscapes by Lance, adds a softening touch. “We used a native palette of plant materials along with boulders and earthwork that created smaller vignettes of a mountain landscape,” Bailis says. “It’s important to create these spaces where we can sit outside and breathe the mountain air, frame the views, feel the sun, soak in the hot tub, sit by the fire and just enjoy.”
The great room’s soaring ceiling creates a dramatic setting for piano music. The rugged stone wall was designed specifically to showcase a much-loved horse picture that has been in the family for years. A handcrafted, built-in bar is recessed into the wall below, complete with a sink, refrigerator, ice maker and wine storage. Stone tile floors with hammered copper medallions are both beautiful and practical—warmed by in-floor hydronic tubes to welcome bare feet.
And now the couple are living their dream at last. “It’s extremely difficult to go on vacation,” the wife admits. “Because there are very few places where we can go that are as nice as our home here in Telluride.”