A Home That Melds With Its Stunning Mountain Backdrop
A design-savvy couple builds a home that blurs the lines
Photography by Emilio Collavino
Somewhere in between running two law practices, tending to four children—including 4-year-old twins, and splitting their time between Miami, Tuscany and Aspen, Juliean and William Charouhis have a passion for home development. “We’ve done six turnkey properties, all in Florida,” shares Juliean, whose enviable energy level is akin to that bunny in the battery ads. “Bill works directly with the architect and builder, and I handle the interior design.”
A custom chandelier by Kenneth Cobonpue distinguishes the entry.
Accordingly, the decision to build an Aspen, Colorado, retreat was just another day in the life for the busy couple, who after finding that sweet-spot property—endless views and only seven minutes from town—used their combined knowledge to collaborate with architect Seth Hmielowski, of Z Group Architects, to create their mountain getaway.
The sprawling structure encompassing panoramic views of the Elk Mountain Range that Hmielowski delivered was perfectly in sync with the couple’s vision for a mountain contemporary home. “The architecture is meant to be very open and provide connectivity with nature,” says Hmielowski, noting that in lieu of damaging excavation they sliced into the hillside to merge the structure into the land. “And you are always walking next to natural materials,” he adds about the honed limestone, expanses of glass and rough-cut Telluride stone that define much of the materials palette and bond the modern building to its impressive surroundings.
In the living room, homeowner Juliean Charouhis went all Italian with 14-foot sofas by Dandy for Gamma Arredamenti, and dark ash-and-glass coffee tables by Giorgetti. Gray concrete floors complement the stone walls. A sculpture of hollowed-out logs is strategically placed to obscure and further delay the “wow” moment.
Accessed by a long driveway, the home’s entry sequence keeps visitors guessing about what lies beyond the punched openings in the massive stone walls visible on approach. “On the first bend you get a glimpse, but the house blocks the views,” says Hmielowski, who continued the tease inside with a sculpture composed of hollowed-out wood logs, found by the homeowners and strategically placed to obscure and further delay the wow moment. When the full majesty of the landscape is finally revealed, the architect’s decision to dub the project Elysium—a moniker suggesting a place of bliss or delight—makes perfect sense.
Lighting by Patrick Townsend illuminates a chair quartet by Gamma Arredamenti and a table by Giorgetti.
Meanwhile the sparseness of a cowhide bench and the whimsy of a Kenneth Cobonpue chandelier composed of hundreds of miniature metal people hint at the clean-lined design style within. In the living room, for example, sleek 14-foot Gamma Arredamenti gray suede sofas blend seamlessly with the like-colored limestone walls while exposing the homeowner’s affection for all things Italian. “I am partial to Italian furnishings, particularly for leathers and suedes,” says Juliean, whose polished instincts come from years of studying masters of design. In the family room the combination of armchairs wrapped in steel-blue leather and a putty-toned suede sectional take an intentional back seat to the formidable backdrop. “I wanted soft colors that would not in any way detract from the incredible views,” she adds.
Leather Gamma Arredamenti chairs surround a live-edge walnut wood table by Taracea in the kitchen; the 17-foot-long island is topped with durable quartz and the lighting is by Flos. Glass doors provide the essential outdoor connection.
For interior finishes like kitchen cabinetry and wood paneling Juliean turned to Marcel Menegolla, whose Armazem showrooms in Miami and Chicago specialize in custom cabinetry, for advice. “For the kitchen and butler’s pantry we explored a combination of matte white lacquer and grayish brown oak with a touch of smoked glass and brushed metal,” says Menegolla, who has worked with the homeowners on other projects. “We felt it was a great combo to go against the polished concrete floors.” His selection of darker brown oak to flank the headboard in the master suite melds with the room’s soothing gray tones.
Suede fringe on the Gamma Arredamenti sofa in the daughter’s bedroom is a Western nod. The white leather bed is trimmed in gray grosgrain; the lighting is by Bocci.
Ceiling-to-floor white marble and a Silk tub instill the master bath with a touch of Miami.
Thanks to generous fenestration, almost all the living spaces benefit from an intentional in-your-face relationship with the outdoors—most notably in the kitchen, where the glass doors disappear and effectively place the gathering space in the landscape. “The retractable walls open the home to the mountain air,” says Hmielowski, adding, “Throughout the house, boundaries between the living and outdoor spaces blur with the surroundings and create a visceral luxury mountain experience.”
The outdoor living room furnishings are by Janus et Cie.
No amount of huffing and puffing will blow down the substantial granite, limestone and glass Aspen mountain home designed by architect Seth Hmielowski. But after a hard day of skiing no one wants to return to a place that even when the heat is on reads as cold. Hmielowski took these steps to ensure the ambient temperature stays up even when the snow falls. MIX IT UP Multiple colors and a rough texture take the edge off otherwise cold granite. WOODWORKS Wood overhangs outside continue on the ceilings inside, providing a warm contrast to the stone walls. TOASTY TOES “Concrete is a cold surface for floors, but with radiant heat they feel great on bare feet all winter,” Hmielowski says. LIGHT IT UP Come nightfall, windows go dark and the temperature drops. Up lighting and down lighting cast a glow on the textured granite, highlighting its nuances, while warming the cool gray limestone.
As seen in the November/December 2019 issue