Telluride’s strict building guidelines help shape a new addition that gracefully complements a historic Victorian home
James Ray Spahn
“We called it the pink flamingo,” architect Eric Cummings says of the neglected early-20th-century Victorian—painted a cotton-candy pink hue—perched on a steep slope in downtown Telluride, Colorado. But with its sunny site and unfettered views of Bear Creek Preserve, the house caught the attention of a Washington, D.C., couple who hoped to turn the modest 1,300-square-foot structure into a spacious second home where they could relax with their two teenage daughters and entertain with ease.
The resulting renovation and addition would expand the house to just under 4,500 square feet—and challenge Cummings and interior designer Catherine Frank to honor the owners’ modern aesthetic and a laundry list of guidelines mandated by the town’s Historic and Architectural Review Commission.
“The goal was not to reproduce the original house, but to have the addition complement its forms and materials in a contemporary interpretation of the historical vernacular,” Cummings says. He responded to this challenge by first assessing the Victorian’s existing materials. Original siding that could be reused was stripped and re-installed on the old structure’s most prominent façade, and damaged boards were replaced with siding custom-cut to match the existing pieces.
“Regulations required the [old and new] structures to be distinctly different without compromising the historical integrity of the original,” says Cummings, who topped the addition’s gable roof with gray standing-seam metal to differentiate it from the original structure’s gray-stained shingles. A veneer of vertical board-and-batten wood siding further distinguishes the new structure, as does a base of smooth stone slabs, a contemporary interpretation of the rough split-faced stone on the existing building.
The new addition is situated perpendicular to the old house—an orientation that maximizes sun exposure and views—and is connected to it by a central staircase located at the rear of the original building. Featuring open treads and glass railings that filter light, the staircase is an integral part of the seven-level home’s flow, connecting the kitchen, dining room and second-floor master suite in the existing house with the new lower-level mudroom, living room and garage (with a guest suite above). “It’s really a series of half levels, with a living space at each level so you don’t feel like you’re just going up a bunch of steps,” Cummings explains.
To create a sense of continuity among these various levels, the architect and interior designer selected a limited materials palette. “With clean, modern design, the transitions from space to space need to be seamless,” Frank says, “and a consistency among materials helps connect spaces.” Visitors enter the home through the kitchen, which is finished with gray antiqued limestone slab flooring, white oak cabinetry stained a rich warm hue and white composite-quartz surfaces—the same materials and colors used throughout the rest of the house.
The soothing palette of soft taupes, warm grays and gentle whites was inspired by a collection of pebbles the client gathered during a beach vacation; the subtle hues prevent the modern aesthetic from overwhelming the traditional architecture, and easily translated into furnishings and accessories.
“We used velvet, silk, leather and hand-embroidered Italian fabrics to take the edge off the hard surfaces,” Frank says. “The serenity one feels in this house is realized by all the gentle layering. It’s a place where natural materials, collectible objects, textured draperies and modern forms can all co-exist.”
The town of Telluride’s Historic and Architectural Review Commission had many requirements for the rehabilitation and expansion of this old Victorian home. The following design elements helped architect Eric Cummings achieve the commission’s stamp of approval:
Front porch This home’s front porch—one of the most traditional and recognizable elements in Victorian architecture—had been modified over the years, so Cummings restored it to its original form.
Gable roof The first homes in Telluride typically had simple, symmetrical gable and hip roofs. Cummings repeated the form of the original house’s gable roof on the addition.
Gray stone base In Telluride, heavy, coarse materials like stone and brick were traditionally used to build foundations. So for the original structure’s base, Cummings selected stone quarried from a local site near the airport, then set it in a rough ashlar pattern. The addition’s base was constructed with smooth gray stone slabs for a more tailored, contemporary look.
Window placement Telluride’s building regulations called for replacement windows that are compatible with historical sizes and patterns. Cummings was careful to maintain the locations of the existing openings and chose traditional double-hung windows for the original house and simpler casement windows for the new addition.
Roof materials The original home’s existing roof was replaced with gray stained shingles to conform to guidelines. The standing-seam metal roof on the addition is traditional, too; it references the metal sheets that were often placed over worn and weathered shingles.
Siding When practical, the old structure’s existing siding was stripped and re-installed on the most prominent façade. The addition is clad with vertical board-and-batten wood siding.
INTERIOR DESIGNERS Catherine Frank, Studio Frank, Telluride, CO, 970-728-0662 www.studiofrank.com ARCHITECT Eric Cummings, Telluride, CO, 970-728-8177, ecummingsarchitect.com BUILDER Paul Ricks, Fortenberry Construction, Telluride, CO, 970-728-4321, fortenberry-construction.com WOOD WORK Shavano, Montrose, CO, 970-252-8315 TILE WORK David Glynn, Ophir, CO, 970-728-3433 PAINT Oak Brush Painting, Montrose, CO, 970-249-1918 KITCHEN BARSTOOLS, Metal and leather barstools, Studio Frank, Telluride, CO, 970-728-0662, www.studiofrank.com DINING TABLE Custom, Studio Frank, Telluride, CO, 970-728-0662, www.studiofrank.com DINING CHAIRS Leather dining chairs, Donghia, donghia.com DINING ROOM DRAPERY Studio Frank, Fabrics Knoll, Telluride, CO, 970-728-0662, www.studiofrank.com, DINING ROOM CONSOLES Vintage, Interiors in New York DINING ROOM ARTWORK Provided by client BEDROOM CHAIR White leather chair, Flex Form, flexformny.com BEDROOM BEDDING Provided by client BEDROOM SIDE TABLES Mirrored tables, Pottery Barn, potterybarn.com BED Upholstered bed, custom by Studio Frank, Telluride, CO, 970-728-0662 www.studiofrank.com BEDROOM WALL SCONCES Vintage, Studio Frank, Telluride, CO, 970-728-0662 www.studiofrank.com STAIR CHANDELIER Hand-blown glass chandelier, Esque Studio, esque-studio.com LANDING CHAIRS Goat-hair chairs, 1stdibs.com LIVING ROOM CHANDELIER Bradley Hughes LIVING ROOM COFFEE TABLE Custom design by Studio Frank, Telluride, CO, 970-728-0662, www.studiofrank.com, vendor Bradley Hughes, Atlanta, GA, LIVING ROOM CHAIR Town Studio, fabric by Travers Fabric, Denver, CO LIVING ROOM CHAIRS, LEATHER Leather and Metal Chairs, Flex Form, flexformny.com LIVING ROOM PILLOWS Provided by client LIVING ROOM RUG Provided by client