Inviting spaces redefine traditional design in a Vail home with strong ties to the outdoors
When Kathy and Peter Huddleston arranged two chairs in front of the living room window of their Vail home so they could gaze at the surrounding landscape, they didn’t anticipate that some of the majestic scenery might just stroll directly in front of them. “We discovered we have a large moose with two calves living in our neighborhood,” Kathy says. “It’s thrilling when we see them lumbering into our yard.”
The 4,225-square-foot home is a getaway for the couple, whose primary residence is in Houston. “For 30 years we’d been coming to Vail for family vacations, so we’re very happy to finally have our own home base,” Kathy says. “When the weather turns hot and humid in Texas, we love to pack up and come here.”
The house, a duplex that was originally a spec home, is in a quiet neighborhood within walking distance of Vail Village’s restaurants and shops. Designed by Evergreen, Colorado, architecture firm Reslock & Sullivan, its exterior is clad in earthy, rugged materials including stone, wood and weathered steel, and capped with a gently sloping roofline. The floor plan features an open living area on the main floor, family bedrooms on the upper level, and media and game rooms on the lower level.
The Huddlestons turned to designer Dana Hugo, principal of Vail’s J & O Studio, to help them update the home’s interiors. “Kathy and Peter like traditional design, but this is a quite contemporary home,” Hugo explains. “So we incorporated clean-lined traditional furnishings with textured fabrics to marry the two styles, and even replaced a wall of wood paneling with Oklahoma flagstone to achieve a more traditional look—and bring a bit of the outdoors in.”
Hugo acknowledged the home’s mountain setting in many of her design choices, like the tree-patterned custom floor-to-ceiling drapes in the living and dining rooms, natural grasscloth wall coverings in the master bathroom, and rugs woven with a subtle aspen leaf motif. She covered the dining room wall with the same Oklahoma flagstone used on the home’s exterior, and fitted a custom powder room vanity with a striated onyx vessel sink. To update the kitchen, she topped existing oak cabinets with new granite countertops and had the hardwood floors finished with a warm stain that brings out the grain of the wood.
The Huddlestons love to welcome guests, so Hugo chose furnishings for their comfort and versatility. “The living room coffee table is one of my favorite pieces,” Kathy says. “Dana had it custom made for us, and it has four ottomans that tuck under the glass top. We can pull them out if we want to put our feet up, or use them for extra seating if we have a party.” A casual round table by the fireplace is perfect for intimate dinners, and the chairs can do double duty in other rooms when needed.
The home has abundant outdoor living space, including two balconies and an oversized patio landscaped for privacy. “The patio has its own refrigerator, stove and grill, so the couple can be with their guests while they’re cooking and entertaining,” Hugo says. An outdoor fireplace warms the space when temperatures drop, enabling them to use the patio for most of the year.
“Whenever we’re here, we appreciate the home’s peaceful, welcoming feeling,” Kathy says. “Plus, we always have so many interesting things to look at outside, like the flowers, trees and wildlife.” To the couple’s delight, the moose and her calves now stop by their yard often to munch on the aspen tree leaves.
“Our goal with this house was to create interiors that keep the emphasis on the outdoors,” Hugo says. “I like to think the moose family simply appreciates our efforts.”
The Gracious Outdoors
Interior designer Dana Hugo shares tips for creating a practical, versatile outdoor room:
Plan for Privacy Fences may make good neighbors, but trees, rocks, plants and vines can help create natural-looking, secluded spaces.
Consider the Landscape The hardscape and plantings should complement each other. An experienced landscaping company can help you create a space with good scale and balance, climate-appropriate plants, and fragrant, colorful, low-maintenance flowers.
Think Shade The mountain sun can be intense, so create shady places with trees, overhead umbrellas, pergolas or a covered deck to block the rays.
Create Comfort Plan gathering places for different functions: a table for dining, chairs for warming up around the fireplace, seats to enjoy the views and loungers for relaxing.
Make Tough Choices In the high country, Hugo prefers resin outdoor furniture over real rattan or teak because it’s low maintenance and better withstands temperature fluctuations.
Add Warmth An outdoor fireplace extends the patio’s usability to three and sometimes four seasons. Portable heaters or a fire pit also provide welcome warmth on chilly evenings.