A Sturdy Yet Delicate Wing-Roofed Home
A contemporary abode in Aspen, Colorado
Photography by David O. Marlow
Built to withstand an avalanche, yet exquisitely delicate and airy, this wing-roofed Aspen home embodies the strength and grace of a butterfly’s controlled glide. And that analogy isn’t entirely lost on the project architects, Basalt-based Cottle Carr Yaw (CCY). “This is where the house wanted to be, to take advantage of the best aspects of the site—the views, the meadow—so that’s where it landed,” says Matt Smith, CCY’s project architect.
Of course, it takes a lot of strategic thinking and clever design to make a mountain home look so effortless. The homeowners, who split their time between residences in Aspen and Chicago, had admired CCY’s talent for merging homes with their natural surroundings. Partner and principal John Cottle says, “I hope our architecture exemplifies how to bring the most out of a site—and then embody the way to live there, right down to the cabinetry.”
This particular site offered gorgeous views of Mount Hayden, but the tranquil alpine meadow was also classified as an avalanche blue zone, where homes are required to have structural reinforcement. The team at CCY embraced the challenge to collaborate with avalanche experts and structural engineers.
Bowles and Linares chandelier and Caste bench grace the entry.
“The house is divided into a series of pavilions, bending or rotating with the contours, driven by what the land is doing around it,” Smith explains. It is a house in two parts, with heavy north protective walls on one side, and clear, steel-framed walls of glass opening toward southern vistas. Floating above it all is a butterfly roof.
Inspired by the alpine setting, interior designers opted for earthy, high-contrast neutral tones reminiscent of aspen bark, snow and earth. A plush cashmere rug, subtle mauve custom sofas and a pair of Christian Astuguevieille armchairs offer a warm welcome in the living room. No one would suspect that the steel panels conceal a television.
A team of interior designers from Chicago’s Gary Lee Partners, who had worked with the homeowners on their city residence—including Gary Lee, Joseph Sperti and Anne Lukan—collaborated with the architects to infuse the home’s free-flowing spaces with contemporary sophistication. The owners made it clear that they didn’t want the home to be too precious. Lukan explains, “While they wanted it to feel sophisticated, they also wanted it to feel livable and comfortable.”
The wet bar offers another bold surprise, with a burst of high-lacquer, tomato-red color challenging the sleek-lined restraint of the kitchen.
The light-drenched kitchen, dining and living areas were aligned to blend easily for entertaining. With enormous windows framing breathtaking views, precious little wall space remained for displaying artwork. So the designers rose to the occasion, crafting features and finishes with gallery-worthy beauty. The undoubted masterpiece is Lee’s design for the living room’s fireplace wall—an irregular grid of blackened and waxed steel panels the architects admiringly compare to a Mondrian painting.
Nestled into an aspen grove, the media room claims a sunny corner of the house. Custom cabinetry provides ample storage, while a pillow-strewn sofa and nesting tables set a cozy scene for movie nights. The mohair rug offers a splash of the homeowner’s favorite red-orange color.
“Since the fireplace is the heart of the home, we wanted that wall to read in connection with the kitchen,” says Lukan. Indeed, that surface’s deep, rich coloration provides a counterbalance to the bright Colorado sunshine, sounding a shadowy note that resonates throughout the home—in dark built-in cabinetry from kitchen to media room to master bedroom and bath.
Serene and sophisticated, the master bedroom is arranged in deference to the view. Designers treated the entire wall opposite the windows as a framed headboard, with suede upholstered panels striking a note of low-key luxury. A fireside seating area shares the calm, monochromatic palette.
Lee, Lukan and Sperti chose furnishings with an eye toward understated elegance. “With all the wood, metal and stone, we wanted the furniture to feel grounded and comfortable,” Lukan explains. Luxurious materials—a mohair blanket, linen upholstery, fur pillows—help soften the space’s feel.
The light-filled home’s clean lines and simple elegance exude a quiet drama that feels as right and real as nature itself. As Matt Smith admits, “It’s a pretty magical place.”
RISE & SHINE:
Abundant natural light in a home is a wonderful gift, but high-altitude sunshine can become an overwhelming glare. Interior designer Anne Lukan shares design tips to welcome the warmth while taming the rays.
- Raise the roof: The upward pitch of a butterfly roof opens rooms to tall mountain vistas while enhancing a home’s passive-solar capabilities. Since the shape tends to hold rooftop snow snugly in place, it’s also a great insulator.
- Line the ceiling: “Wood lines in the ceiling draw the eye to the outdoors. An uninterrupted line of sight will make spaces feel bigger and keep details clean. The wood provides another source of warmth in a glass-encased room.”
- Consider contrast: “Assess the natural light in the room. A room flooded with light can handle dark materials. Contrast is about highlighting sight lines and details.”
- Shade the windows: “In a private home with spectacular views, the window coverings provide a layer of filtered light.”
- Lay on the lighting: “The key is layers of light.”
ARCHITECTURE CCY Architects INTERIOR DESIGN Gary Lee Partners CONSTRUCTION Brikor Associates LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE Shannon Murphy Landscape Architects, Basalt, CO 970-927-2889 CUSTOM CABINETRY Brown Dog Designs, Inc., Carbondale, CO 970-963-1924 CABINETRY FINISHING Bob Levey Decorative Finishing DECORATIVE STEEL Company K