East Meets West
Adirondack and modern, Asian and Western styles blend effortlessly in a free-flowing home on the slopes of Aspen Highlands
Emily Minton Redfield
Designing a home for a slopeside site alongside the main ski lift at Aspen Highlands presented architect Rob Sinclair with a variety of challenges.
Chief among them was a logistical challenge: fit a 10,000-square-foot, four-story home on a steep quarter-acre lot, while considering city and county setback zoning restrictions and the additional constraints imposed by the presence of a ski lift just a stone’s throw away. Sinclair, principal of Aspen-based Robert G. Sinclair Architecture, met those requirements by designing a floor plan that gradually rotates, level by level, down the mountain’s slope.
In addition, Sinclair’s clients were very specific about the vistas they wished to maximize, ranging from the ski slopes on the east, south to Aspen Highlands Mountain, southwest to Willow Peak, westward up Maroon Creek Valley and north to the Aspen Highlands village—and encompassing almost 360 degrees. “We built platforms on the site to simulate the floor levels,” Sinclair says, “and then we spent a lot of time assessing the views at different times of day, orienting the home to make the most of them.”
The husband-and-wife owners also had specific stylistic requests for Sinclair and interior designer Petra Richards, of Denver-based Petra Richards Interiors. First and foremost, they wanted a modern house, which nonetheless had to adhere to the Adirondack-style design guidelines set forth in the development’s master plan, conceived by Robert A.M. Stern Architects. The team successfully harmonized those past- and present-day styles, says Sinclair, “by adding contemporary polish to traditional Adirondack details.” They included heavy timber rafter tails, for example, but gave them more sleek-looking radius ends. Lead-coated copper flashing between the exterior cedar siding boards represents the chinking you might see on an Adirondack-style home’s facade.
Still more harmonies were struck when accommodating the clients’ desires for a clean-lined, modern home that also honored the wife’s Malaysian heritage—and a collection of fine Far Eastern art and artifacts. “She has her own very sophisticated sense of style,” Richards observes, “so our goal was to marry the modern world with the traditional world of Asia.”
Richards accomplished this goal in part by designing many furnishings specifically for the home, then commissioning Patrick Robert, a French furniture designer based in Myanmar, to create each one—from sleek pieces with gilded surfaces that evoke traditional Asian finishes to elaborate, oversized living room chandeliers fashioned with folk-art flourishes. “The way those custom pieces were detailed and scaled ensured they would accommodate the Asian pieces our clients already had,” Sinclair says.
The design duo intently focused on every last detail of the home to blend cultures seamlessly (see above). The result is a dwelling that in many respects feels like a contemporary museum devoted to the display of Eastern art.
Not that there’s anything museum-like about the ease and comfort the finished home offers. Open living spaces flow effortlessly from one room to the next. Clean-lined seating upholstered in plush fabrics offers sublime relaxation. And large expanses of energy-efficient glass keep panoramic views on constant display, especially in the living room, where frameless corner windows “make the space feel as transparent as possible,” Sinclair says.
Divergent design elements—modern architecture coupled with traditional Adirondack style, East married to West—and a challenging site, made for a project that, Sinclair says, “often felt like a 3-D chess game.” Fortunately, he and Richards seem to have made all the right moves. “We brought our clients’ imaginations and heritages into a mountain setting without it looking misplaced,” Richards says. Adds Sinclair, “We’ve achieved as much as could have been achieved, given all the constraints and wish lists. And well-satisfied clients are our best rewards of all.”
MARRYING EAST & WEST
Interior designer Petra Richards and architect Rob Sinclair offer words of advice for blending different styles in a single setting.
• Keep an eye on proportions: “I like to mix and match furnishings from different parts of the world,” Richards says. “The key is to get the scale right so everything is proportional, and to give each piece the space to speak for itself, whether it’s Asian or Western, old or new.
• Choose finishes carefully: “To create a feeling of warmth in a home, avoid using cold, uninviting wall colors,” Richards advises. “We used a lot of grays, taupes, greens and browns to reflect the mountain setting while providing a warm, neutral background for the Asian art.”
• Encourage collaboration: For any project, and particularly one this complicated, it’s always important for the interior designer and architect to function as a team, Sinclair says. “Especially with respect to the finishes and detailing, we worked closely and held every meeting together. That way, when the Asian elements were inserted, they fit perfectly.”
INTERIOR DESIGN Petra Richards, Petra Richards Interiors, Denver, CO, 720-201-1999, petrarichardsinteriors.com ARCHITECTURE Robert Sinclair with Alison Agley, Scott Kraehnke, Paul De Leeuw, Michael Bilger, Robert G. Sinclair Architecture, Inc., Aspen, CO, 970-925-4269, rgsarchitecture.com CONSTRUCTION John Davis and Travis Stewart, Aspen Custom Builder, Aspen, CO, 970-925-4269, aspencustombuilder.com OWNER’S REPRESENTATIVE Scott DeWind, Compass Construction Management, Aspen, CO, 970-704-1700 LIGHTING DESIGN Robert Singer, Robert Singer Lighting, Aspen, CO, 970-963-5692, robertsingerlighting.com LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE James Hyatt, James Hyatt Studio, Denver, CO, 303-825-2010, hyattstudio.com WOODWORK (Cabinetry, millwork, flooring, doors) Mark Terkun, Aspen Design Works, Aspen, CO, 970-963-8560 ASIAN ARTWORK From homeowners’ private collection DINING ROOM TABLE Promemoria, Milan, Italy, promemoria.com CHAIRS Aventura Dining Chairs, available at Charles Eisen & Associates, Denver Design District, 303-744-3200, eisenassociates.com WHITE GOLD VASES Town Studio, Denver Design District, 303-282-8696, townstudio.com CHANDELIER Cellula Chandelier, Design Within Reach, Denver, CO, 720-407-0000, dwr.com METAL GOLD CONSOLE TABLES Custom built in Myanmar MAIN LIVING ROOM SOFAS Havana Sofas by Christian Liaigre, available at Kneedler-Fauchere, Denver Design District, 303-744-7474, denverdesign.com BLACK GOLD COFFEE TABLE Custom built in Myanmar LARGE CHANDELIERS Custom built in Myanmar DAYBED Bond Daybed by Donghia, available at John Brooks, Inc., Denver Design District, 303-698-9977, johnbrooksinc.com LINEN SHEER DRAPES Kravet fabric, available at Kravet, Denver Design District, 303-733-1891, kravet.com WHITE/BLACK VASE Town Studio, Denver Design District, 303-282-8696, townstudio.com KITCHEN CABINETRY Custom built by Aspen Design Works, Aspen, CO, 970-963-8560 FLOWER DRAPES Osborne & Little Collection Boheme, available at Shanahan Collection, Denver Design District, 303-778-7088, shanahancollection.com ALUMINUM BAR STOOLS Crate & Barrel, Denver, CO, 303-331-9300, crateandbarrel.com MASTER BEDROOM SILK DRAPES Nobilis, available at Kneedler-Fauchere, Denver Design District, 303-744-7474, denverdesign.com CEILING LIGHT Barbara Barry for Baker, available at Town Studio, Denver Design District, 303-282-8696, townstudio.com TABLE LAMP Town Studio, Denver Design District, 303-282-8696, townstudio.com GRAY LEATHER OTTOMAN Barbara Barry, Town Studio, Denver Design District, 303-282-8696, townstudio.com SOFA Vera Sofa, available at Charles Eisen & Associates, Denver Design District, 303-744-3200, eisenassociates.com HEADBOARD Custom built HALLWAY LEADING TO GUEST ROOM GOLDEN CONSOLE Custom built in Myanmar GILDED SUNFLOWER MIRROR Found in antique store GUEST ROOM PURPLE FABRIC (on Roman blinds and pillows) Skye Linen by Osborne & Little, available at Shanahan Collection, Denver Design District, 303-778-7088, shanahancollection.com NIGHTSTANDS Christian Liaigre, available at Kneedler-Fauchere, Denver Design District, 303-744-7474, denverdesign.com HEADBOARD Custom made MASTER GUEST BEDROOM FOUR POSTER BED Custom built in Myanmar ROUND TABLE (in corner) Christian Liaigre, available at Kneedler-Fauchere, Denver Design District, 303-744-7474, denverdesign.com CHAIR Nicole Chair, available at Charles Eisen & Associates, Denver Design District, 303-744-3200, eisenassociates.com WOODEN WHITE OWL Town Studio, Denver Design District, 303-282-8696, townstudio.com