A contemporary Vail home blends high-tech, prefabricated building elements with spaces designed for old-fashioned family togetherness
In the ski resort town of Vail, where mountainside mansions are as common as city slickers on the bunny slopes, the vision that Balz Arrigoni and his wife Christina had for their new home was charmingly down to earth. “We told our architect that we wanted a true family home where we could all be together,” he says.
As the owners of Vail-based luxury flooring company Arrigoni Woods, the Arrigonis had worked with DeChant professionally and long admired his work. This project presented the architect with a challenge: The building site is backed by national forest land, and its narrow profile restricted the width of the house to just 17 feet. But DeChant was undeterred. “When we focus on potential rather than limitations, we find that unexpected solutions emerge,” he says of the spacious three-story design he developed for the family.
“My wife and I felt it was important to have our children’s rooms on the same level as ours,” Balz explains, “and we specifically requested smaller bedrooms and a shared bathroom for them because we didn’t want our kids off living independently behind closed doors. We also asked for open living spaces, many windows and huge sliding doors to bring in as much natural light as possible.”
While the site was excavated and the foundation was poured, the majority of the home was pre-built in Switzerland through the Arrigonis’ recently launched company, Concept 4012. Unlike earlier “prefab” homes, Concept 4012’s sophisticated building modules are meticulously engineered using the latest energy-saving technologies. The super-insulated walls have an advanced R-value of 46 and are fitted with pre-installed highly efficient windows.
After traveling by boat to Houston and via train to Denver, three enormous shipping containers arrived by truck in Vail. Much like an Amish barn raising, a professional team of builders erected the 3,800-square-foot home in just seven days. “You cut out four or five months of construction time” compared to traditional “stick-built” homes, Balz says of the system. Because so many of the elements were prefabricated, the house was move-in ready just four months after the containers arrived.
In a nod to Balz’s Swiss heritage, the home’s chalet-style design features overhanging eaves that keep the interiors cool in the summer and a sharply angled roof that sheds snow in the winter. The reclaimed exterior siding, imported from Austria, was left in its natural state and never has to be treated; the roof shingles are made from recycled tires.
In dramatic contrast to the home’s traditional exterior, the Arrigonis created a contemporary interior with modern furnishings and a palette of soft neutrals accented with bright colors. The sleek kitchen, which Balz calls “the centerpiece of the house,” is fitted with handsome gray cabinetry by Bulthaup. A central hearth provides heat and a natural gathering place that unites the open living and dining areas. Bedroom walls are covered in reclaimed wood, and old beams from Salzburg show the hand-chiseled notches that were used in homebuilding more than a century ago.
Not surprisingly, Balz chose some of his favorite woods for the home’s floors. The main level features wide hand-hewn planks of old-growth Bavarian oak, which he says is a good, functional choice for a family. “The natural gray tones are neutral, like the Swiss,” he jokes. The top and bottom-level floors are Siberian larch, a soft wood enhanced with a white oil finish.
The home is temperate and comfortable in both summer and winter, with energy bills averaging just $120 a month throughout the year. Best of all, the house supports the couple’s original vision of family togetherness: “We live on all the levels and use every space in this home,” Balz says.
ARCHITECT Doug DeChant, Shepherd Resources, Avon CO, 970.949.3302 sriarchitect.com HOUSE SYSTEM & WINDOWS Concept 4012, Minturn, CO, 970.827.5301, concept4012.com LIVING ROOM SOFA Flexform, Studio Como, Denver, CO, 303.296.1495 studiocomo.com FLOORING Old-growth, hand-scraped Bavarian oak, Arrigoni Woods, Vail, CO, 970.479.1800, arrigoniwood.com DINING ROOM WALNUT TABLE, Magnum, CHAIRS, Magnum Stricktex, Batinau Design Group, Kansas City, KS, 888.521.9663 SITTING CORNER CHAIRS Ligne Roset Togo Lounge Chairs, Studio Como, Denver, CO, 303.296.1495 studiocomo.com KITCHEN CABINETS B3 System Kitchen Cabinets, Bulthaup, 310.288.3875 bulthaup.com APPLIANCES Miele, Alpine Appliance, Eagle/Vail, CO, 970.949.1199 alpineappliance.com BATHROOM TILES Decorative Materials, Edwards, CO, 970.827.4194 decorativematerials.com CABINETS Duravit, Euro Bath & Tile, Denver, CO, 303.298.0908 MASTER BEDROOM BED AND BOOKSHELF, Burgess Fine Woodworking, Red Cliff, CO, 970.390.4581 burgessfinewoodworking.com WALL PANELING AND BEAMS, Arrigoni Woods, Vail, CO, 970.479.1800, arrigoniwood.com