2017 Home of the Year: An Aspen Grand Legacy

A mountain marvel provides plenty of space for friends and family—while keeping future generations in mind

Photos by David O. Marlow

It started with a simple but universal desire to build a family home that could be passed down through the generations. A place of laughter in good times, a refuge during trying times—but always filled with love. A close collaboration between the homeowners and their design team resulted in a LEED Silver-certified home of extraordinary character. The Los Angeles-based homeowners began vacationing in Aspen about 14 years ago so their two young children could learn to ski. “The kids fell in love with skiing and quickly became better skiers than my husband and I,” the homeowner says.

Then they visited in summer and were charmed by the small-town feel, the area’s extraordinary natural beauty and unique cultural offerings. “Where else in the world can you go white-water rafting during the day and, in the evening, see an opera at the Wheeler Opera House?” asks the homeowner.

So they decided to build “a place where we could bring our parents and friends…a place the kids would enjoy now and bring their own families in the future.”

Where else in the world can you go white-water rafting during the day and, in the evening, see an opera at the Wheeler Opera House?” — The Homeowner

The next step was to decide on an architect. The homeowners chose Charles Cunniffe Architects because they wanted a local architect renowned for great design, one who understood Aspen’s culture and, perhaps most important, someone who had extensive experience with building for Aspen’s temperature and climate—sunny, warm summers and cold, snowy winters.

“The homeowners were very clear that they wanted a well-built legacy home that would stay in their family for many generations,” says Charles Cunniffe, principal at Aspen–based Charles Cunniffe Architects. “Further, they didn’t want their heirs to have to focus on maintenance and operating costs in order to continue living in the family home.”

With this in mind, a team was assembled—including Jim Kehoe, senior project architect, and Erica Delak, senior project manager, Charles Cunniffe Architects; Chris Powell, principal interior designer, Studio 133; Shane Evans, principal contractor, Structural Associates; and Active Energies for sustainability consulting (for a complete list of others, please see Resources). The possibility of LEED certification was part of the initial discussions the homeowners had with the design team.


The great room has multiple seating areas that can accommodate large gatherings but also feel cozy for just a few. The homeowners have favorite chairs where they often sit to chat and to enjoy both mountain and meadow views. “We feel like we’re outside and inside at the same time.”


The 15,000-square-foot, six bedroom, seven-bath (plus two powder rooms) home took nearly two and a half years to plan and more than two and a half years to build. It was designed to look and feel contemporary and luxurious but built to be as low maintenance as possible, especially in terms of energy consumption. Using geothermal heating, hot-water solar panels on the roof and a large photovoltaic solar field (hidden in a nearby depression), the practically off-the-grid home is capable of running itself without outside resources.

Situated on a historic 10-acre ranch, the home was designed as a wing-shaped structure to accommodate the owners’ love ofentertaining. The center structure acts as a gathering space, where the homeowners host parties for up to 100 people, while the two wings provide private living quarters—one for the family and one for guests, who often stay for weeks at a time. The elongated shape of the home allows uninterrupted mountain views and for sunlight to come in from all directions. “The home has a wonderful sense of magic throughout the day’s ever-changing light,” Cunniffe says.

As much as the homeowners love to entertain, they’re appreciative of the quiet evenings spent chatting and taking in the mountaintop views. “I have a favorite chair in the corner of the living room,” the homeowner says. “I love it because I can see the mountains of Snowmass and Aspen to the right of me and fields and meadows to my left. It brings a comfort and contentment to the end of the day.”

The dining room can be configured to seat up to 30 people. A specially designed ceiling fixture features 60 glass shades in various hues of blue—the homeowners’ favorite color.


Copper and mahogany gleam in the casual-dining kitchen.


A casual place to gather after a day of hiking or skiing, the family room encompasses both kitchen and breakfast room. The 14-foot-long sectional sofa invites relaxation.


Triple-glazed windows—on both main windows and clerestory—in the family room bring the outdoors in. “The home has large expanses of glass,” says Cunniffe, “and everything extends to the views.”


The multifunctional bar has a custom zebrawood game table.


A 22-foot screen is the centerpiece of the media room, which has plush theater seats and seating at a polished concrete counter.


A ground-floor guest suite (meant to be used by the owners’ parents) has a large closet, private patio and comfortable seating area (with good reading lamps) in front of the fireplace.


The bunkroom is just off the sitting room. A modern take on Pullman sleeping cars, each bunk has a reading light and a nook for a book. Curtains provide privacy.


The sitting room is a relaxed space for kids to hang out.

The building envelope stretches along the northern edge of the 10-acre property. The home includes every amenity while respecting its historical ranching site. Large patios feature an infinity-edge pool, hot tub, 12-person fire pit and a back-lit pop-up outdoor movie screen. “When the screen is lowered, it reveals a split waterfall…and views of preserved agricultural fields and wild meadows,” says Cunniffe. Aspen and Snowmass ski areas are clearly visible in the distance.

A 15-foot-wide, 9,000-pound Starglass screen lifts from an underground temperature-controlled vault. The image is project from behind the screen from an ultra-bright 4k projector. The experience is truly 21st-century Cinema Paradiso.

Remote and local access via the Savant App provides control and energy management of lights, shades, motorized windows, climate control, pool/spa control, security, gate access and keyless access control.

The ultimate performance home theater, rivaling the best commercial theaters in the world. It starts with the Digtial Projection 4k ultra-bright laser projector, producing an immersive cinematic audio and visual experience.

A dual-action motorized lift hides the TV and bar stock when not in use.


From the design team and owner:

STICK WITH ONE OR TWO DOMINANT COLORS. Then play with variations of that color. Maybe include some subtle patterns or textures.

Powell cautions NOT TO OVERUSE PATTERNS AND COLORS so the interior does not compete with the landscapes.

A room absolutely NEEDS SOMETHING IN IT THAT SHINES, so add a little bling—polished metal, lustrous glass—but not too much.

COMPLEMENTARY COLORS AND SHAPES help public spaces flow.

EACH OF THE BEDROOMS AND PRIVATE ROOMS SHOULD HAVE ITS OWN FEEL. Maybe find a rug that you love and build the room around it.

PROTECT YOUR RUGS, FLOORS AND FURNITURE FROM SUN DAMAGE—especially important at altitude. Use low–E glass in the windows and light-sensitive motorized shades on the inside.


Charles Cunniffe, Charles Cunniffe Architects, Aspen, CO, 970-925-5590

PRINCIPAL: Charles L. Cunniffe

Chris Powell, Studio 133, Carbondale, CO, 970-963-0424

Dan Doherty & Brett McElvain, KL&A, Inc., Basalt, CO, 970-927-5174

Shane Evans, Structural Associates, Glenwood Springs, CO, 970-945-0482

Bob Singer, Robert Singer & Associates, Aspen, CO, 970-963-5692

Taylor Critchlow and Chuck Langston, AEC, Avon, CO, 970-748-8520

Megan Gilman, LEED AP, Active Energies, Inc., Minturn, CO, 970-306-4233

Matt Webster, SGM, Aspen, CO, 970-925-6727

Greg Mozian & Ben Morgan, Greg Mozian & Associates, Basalt, CO, 970-927-2194

David Daniels, Xssentials Technology for Living, Aspen, CO, 970-948-0007


ENTRY/GREAT ROOM SCULPTURE David Wiseman UPHOLSTERED FURNITURE A. Rudin BLUE VELVEET SOFA Clarence House CHENILLE LARGE SOFA Micana CHROME & SHEARLING STOOLS Azadeh Shladovsky LEATHER OTTOMAN Troscan Designs COFFEE TABLE Gregorius Pineo CUSTOM RUG Hokanson, Inc. BAR BAR STOOLS A. Rudin (with custom Aspen leaf relief cut leather from Helen Amy Murray) PENDANT LIGHTS Holly Hunt GAME CHAIRS Bright Chair (with Kravet twill fabric) CUSTOM ZEBRAWOOD GAME TABLE Paul Stover at Highland Custom Woodworks CUSTOM WINE RANKS Vintage View Wine BILLIARD TABLE Brunswick BILLIARD FIXTURE Wired Designs FABRIC ON WINE ROOM AND BILLIARD CEILINGS Sandra Jordan Alpaca DINING ROOM CUSTOM DINING TABLES Randolph and Hein DINING CHAIRS A. Rudin (featuring 2 leather chairs from Jerry Pair) CEILING FIXTURE Shakuff Lighting CUSTOM RUG Hokanson, Inc. FAMILY ROOM UPHOLSTERY A. Rudin SECTIONAL covered in Henry Calvin linen WOOD FRAME SWIVEL CHAIRS Jerry Pair leather frames and Mimi London Shearling cushions LAMPS Arteriors THROW PILLOWS Ryan Studio CUSTOM RUG Hokanson, Inc. COFFEE TABLE Stefan Bishop FIREPLACE Quartzite with a custom steel surround from Living Design Studio BREAKFAST ROOM CUSTOM TABLE with a Robert Kuo folded copper base, Taj Mahal quartzite top by Argento marble and frame, and coppy lazy Susan by Living Design Studio LIGHT FIXTURES Tom Dixon KITCHEN HOOD & BAR TOP Living Design Studio COUNTERS Taj Mahal quartzite APPLIANCES 60” Wolf range, Subzero refrigerator, Miele dishwashers, microwave and coffee center THEATER COUNTERS Concrete Revolution BAR STOOLS A. Rudin in a Jerry Pair suede SEATS Fortress Seating in a Great Plains mohair velvet PROJECTOR Digital Projection SCREEN Stewart Filmscreen SPEAKERS Pro Audio CONTROL Savant DOLBY ATMOS PROCESSING Integra ACOUSTICAL TREATMENTS Noise Control Resource MASTER BEDROOM CUSTOM SOFA A. Rudin covered in Sandra Jordan Alpaca fabric CUSTOM RUG  Tania Johnson SIDE TABLE Mimi London CLUB CAHIR Troscan Design in Sandra Jordan Alpaca FIREPLACE Montigo, clad in reclaimed oak with custom bronze surround from Living Design Studio MASTER HALL CUSTOM RUGS Edleman Leather CUSTOM CEILING FIXTURE Shakuff lighting MASTER BATH FLOOR TILE Decorative Materials SCONCES Orestes Suarez Glaciares CUSTOM SHOWER SURROUND MOSAIC New Ravenna Mosaics through Decorative Materials WHIRLPOOL Diamond Spas FAUCETS Axor with a custom THG tub spout WALL NICHES Navona Travertine sourced from The Stone Collection and fabricated by Argento Marble and Granite TILE AND SLAB INSTALLATION Argento Marble and Granite CABINET PULLS Ochre Designs MASTER CLOSET WALLCOVERING Phillip Jeffries CUSTOM CEILING FIXTURE  Allan Knght Brandonlini DRAWER FRONTS Textured leather from Ecodomo Rainforest Collection COUNTERS Navona Travertine sourced from The Stone Collection and fabricated by Argento Marble and Granite TILE AND SLAB INSTALLATION Argento Marble and Granite CABINET HARDWARE Sun Valley Bronze GUEST SUITE 1 CUSTOM RUG New Moon Rugs CUSTOM BED IDG Studios CLUB CHAIRS A. Rudin covered in Sandra Jordan Alpaca OTTOMAN A. Rudin embossed in Edelman leather LAMPS The Natural Light, FIREPLACE Steel surround by Living Design Studio, hair on hide leather panels installed by Bryan Holland GUEST BATH 2 FLOORS AND WALLS Casa Dolce Casa porcelain from Decorative Materials. Counters are Calacatta Luccicoso from The Stone Collection and fabricated by Argento Marble and Granite CUSTOM CABINETS & MIRRORS CAMS PLUMBING FIXTURES & ACCESSORIES Newport Brass CABINET HARDWARE DuVerre POWDER ROOM/POOL CHANGING ROOM SINK Rocky Mountain Hardward Pond with Newport Brass faucet MOSAIC New Ravenna Mosaics through Decorative Materials MUD ROOM FLOOR Rex Ceramiche porcelain tile through Decorative Materials COUNTERS Neolith Barro porcelain SCONCES Viola from Fuse Lighting CUSTOM CEILING FIXTURE Hubbardton Forge BENCH Holly Hunt GYM WALLS Timberstrand Java bamboo FLOOR Roppe Tuftlex SITTING ROOM UPHOLSTERY A. Rudin THROW PILLOWS Ryan Studio CUSTOM RUG Mansour Modern CEILING FIXTURE, ACRYLIC SIDE TABLES, LOG LAMPS & GLASS COFFEE TABLES Bleu Nature SHAGREEN SIDE TABLES Julian Chichester CUSTOM SHEARLING OTTOMANS IDG Studio UPPER BEDROOM 1 CUSTOM RUG Tamarian Carpets BEDS IDG Studios, covered in Edelman suede and Chris Barrett Textiles CUSTOM CHANDELIER Hive Modern CHAIR & OTTOMAN Lee Industries, covered in the same Chris Barrett fabric as the bed and curtains LAMP Ursona Home BUNK ROOM CUSTOM STAINLESS STEEL LADDERS/RAILINGS McNichols Metals BED CURTAIN FABRIC Sandra Jordan BUNK BATHROOM SHOWERS/SINK Native Trails COUNTER & BACKSPLASH Loveless Taos Sandstone PATIO FURNITURE Dedon with fabrics from Perennials and Great Plains OUTDOOR THEATER PROJECTOR Digital Projection SCREEN Stewart Filmscreen SPEAKERS Sonance CONTROL Savant

2016 Home of the Year: A Contemporary Homestead
2015 Home of the Year: The Legacy House
2014 Home of the Year: Cabin, Reimagin


Categories: Contemporary Homes