A new Telluride home fits seamlessly into its traditional neighborhood, thanks to a design team that deftly handled the unexpected
James Ray Spahn
Those who build homes in the mountains understand that the rewards are tempered by risks, from blizzards and forest fires to pine beetles and grizzly bears. What most people never have to deal with, however, is an unwanted intruder in the form of a 33,000-pound boulder. On January 4, 2009, a rock the size of a Volkswagen bus rolled off a Telluride hillside and crashed into the construction site of Simon and Linda Eyles’ new home. Fortunately, no one was there at the time.
“The rock destroyed much of the wood framing and bent the steel frame, so we had to start the framing process again almost from square one,” says Connie Giles, the project’s Telluride-based architect. “It took us about three months to remove the rock and clear the debris, and then we all just got back to work.”
The sunny lot was originally the site of a 1970s home that the Eyles discovered for sale during a vacation. “As soon as we drove into Telluride, we knew we wanted to be here,” says Linda, a Houston-based interior designer. “Telluride is an authentic town with history, culture and charm—not to mention a world-class ski resort. But we wanted our home’s design to be a little more modern, and we weren’t sure if that meant remodeling or building something brand new.” And so the couple commissioned Giles to help them create a home with a contemporary aesthetic that would also be a welcoming retreat for family and friends.
“We explored remodeling the existing house, but the foundation would have restricted our design options so much that we decided to start from scratch,” Giles explains. “The challenge was to create as much width as possible on a 25-foot lot. With setbacks on either side, that left us with about 19 feet to work with.”
Giles researched the other houses in the district to get a feel for the existing architecture, as well as the elements the town’s strict architectural review commission had allowed in the past. Her final design, while distinctly modern, relates well to the surrounding neighborhood. “The home’s steep roof pitch and vertical proportions acknowledge its tradition >> in a historic town,” Giles says. “We used a limited palette of materials and muted colors to create a backdrop for the dramatic landscape toward which the home is oriented.”
Giles situated the main living area of the three-story, 2,500-square-foot home on the central level, giving it generous 11-foot ceilings. “The added height really helps the space feel less narrow,” she explains. The garage, entrance and guest spaces are located at ground level, and the top floor houses the master suite and a home office.
Eyles created the home’s clean-lined, comfortable interiors with durability and low maintenance in mind, choosing wood paneling for the entry walls, sturdy wide-plank hardwood floors and a galvanized-metal-topped dining table. “We’re in snow country and we have three chocolate labs, so we appreciate easy-care materials and furnishings,” she says. “We also wanted the home to feel peaceful and calm. The color palette puts the focus on the views outside, with natural browns, beiges, taupes, greens and blues highlighting the trees, sky and earth.”
Flexibility was the key to making the relatively compact space work. “Many of our furnishings do double duty,” Eyles says. “I had the velvet dining chairs custom made, and they’re extremely comfortable. We often pull them into the living room when we’re entertaining. We also have an ottoman that fits underneath a custom coffee table, so you can pull it out and put your feet up or use it for additional seating.”
Glass doors open out to a spacious deck, further extending the living area and overlooking magnificent views. High above the house, a sturdy rockfall catch fence is a safety feature that provides added peace of mind—and a reminder that a tenacious design team’s determination to overcome the challenges of mountain living yielded a great and lasting reward.
Living Large in a Compact House
Architect Connie Giles and interior designer Linda Eyles share seven secrets for squeezing maximum livability from every inch of space:
White and light-colored ceilings reflect the natural light in a room.
Flexibility is key when creating sleeping spaces for guests. “Our guest room has a king-sized bed that separates into two twins, and we also have a bunkroom, and a day bed with a trundle,” Eyles says. “These options are great for guys’ ski weekends.”
Skylights make spaces feel larger and brighter. “If a skylight is placed close to a wall that’s finished in a light color, then that wall will reflect light into adjacent rooms,” Giles says.
Sliding doors are a space-saving choice, since the doors glide along the wall rather than swinging open.
Built-in cabinetry installed near the front entrance “keeps things off the floors and helps everyone stay organized,” Eyles says. “It’s our ‘mud room.’ When we have guests, they’re each assigned their own basket.”
Closets under the staircases provide spacious, unobtrusive storage.
Rooms that do double- or triple-duty maximize space. The couple’s home office serves as both a guest room and laundry room, with a washer and dryer hidden behind closet doors.
ARCHITECTURE CONNIE GILES ARCHITECTURE, Telluride, CO, (970) 728-3957 conniegilesarchitecture.com INTERIOR DESIGN LINDA EYLES DESIGN, Houston, TX, (713) 520-7426, lindaeylesdesign.com CONSTRUCTION JAMES HUGHES CONSTRUCTION, Telluride, CO, (970) 729-1975 OUTDOOR SUNDECK Helios Table and Chairs, Pierce Martin, piercemartin.com LIVING ROOM CUSTOM SOFA AND COFFEE TABLE Linda Eyles Design, Houston, TX, (713) 520-7426, lindaeylesdesign.com LAXAMANA LOUNGE CHAIRS AND CLUB OTTOMAN, Upholstered in Rogers & Goffigon Bechamel, Bright Chair Company, brightchair.com BRANCHES AND BERRIES RUG, M&M Carpet, Houston, TX, (713) 621-8557, mandmcarpet.com CUSTOM DRAPERIES in Ralph Lauren Weathered Linen with Rustic Naturals Scalloped Border, Horton Draperies, (713) 774-7477 MOSAIC Untitled, by Chris Silkwood, Houston, TX silkwoodmosaics.com SIDE CHAIRS Upholstered in Brunschwig & Fils Chandigarh, brunschwig.com RUSH BASKET Coco and Company KITCHEN FAUCET Dornbracht, dornbracht.com NUCRETE COUNTERTOP Sonoma Stone, in Natural BACKSPLASH Sienna Silver Limestone Slab by Walker Zanger, walkerzanger.com DINING ROOM CUSTOM DINING TABLE AND CHAIRS Linda Eyles Design, Houston, TX, (713) 520-7426, lindaeylesdesign.com, Upholstered in Joseph Noble Penumbra Velvet MASTER BATH CUSTOM IRON BENCH Linda Eyles Design, Houston, TX, (713) 520-7426, lindaeylesdesign.com, Upholstered in Perennials What Knot CUSTOM DRAPERIES in Bennison Bird & Basket, Horton Draperies, (713) 774-7477 BATHTUB Clear Water, from Fixtures & Fittings, (713) 808-9069, fixturesfittings.com MASTER BEDROOM CUSTOM WING HEADBOARD AND BENCH Linda Eyles Design, Houston, TX, (713) 520-7426, lindaeylesdesign.com, Headboard upholstered in Joseph Noble Biltmore ultrasuede, bench upholstered in GH Leather Colorado ZAK TABLE LAMP Crate & Barrel, crateandbarrel.com