A Charming Aspen Home With Mountain Views

After years without a home to call their own, a single mother and her three daughters settle into a charming Aspen, Colorado, abode with mountain views in every direction
Greenline Ext Open

Unrecognizable from its first incarnation as a quintessential 70s-era split-level, the dated dwelling was reimagined by architect Steven A. Novy with crisp white siding, a welcoming covered front porch and charming gables, including a spacious new bedroom addition over the two-car garage. | Photography by Brent Moss

After her divorce in 2012, Ellen Valentine packed most of her things in boxes and embarked on a period of semi-nomadic existence with her three daughters, ultimately moving the family into her parents’ pre-war penthouse condo on Chicago’s tony Gold Coast.

For outdoor enthusiasts like them, it was less glamorous than it might sound. “You can’t just let the kids roam free,” Valentine explains. “We felt stuck.”

Greenline Entry

A chandelier from Urban Electric illuminates the home’s elegant entry foyer—one of interior designer Kristin Jensen’s favorite spaces. “It’s graceful, civilized and a pleasant way to enter this jewel box of a house,” she says.

Enticed by easy access to outdoor activities, Valentine and her daughters relocated to Colorado four years ago and soon purchased a 1970s-era split-level home in Aspen with fantastic mountain views.

While the house had a wonky floor plan and numerous other problems, something about it resonated with Valentine. “The previous owners had lovingly cared for it for decades, and it had a really good feeling,” she explains. “We saw fancier houses, but this one felt like a truly loved family home.”

That’s exactly what the family needed after so many months in limbo. After closing on the property, Valentine assembled architect Steve Novy and interior designers Kristin Jensen and Michaele Dunsdon to redesign the house.

Greenline Kit Detail

Architect Steven Novy found space for an old-timey pantry outfitted with Shaker-style cabinetry with inset doors by Cabinets West and butcher-block countertops.

From the outset, Valentine made clear that she wanted something more traditional than the contemporary modern mountain milieu that is so au courant. “I wanted it to feel a little bit of Midwestern and a little bit East Coast,” Valentine explains. “Those are my roots.”

Meeting her objectives, the formerly boxy house has been transformed into a sprawling abode clad with white siding accented by stone detailing, copper gutters and gables with oval windows—one of Valentine’s ideas. “The more minds you have on a problem, the better the solution,” Novy says of his client’s participation in the process.

Greenline Kit

A dynamic patterned backsplash tile by Decorative Materials adds an undeniable sense of verve to the new, far more spacious kitchen, which now sports handsome white cabinetry with quartzite countertops and black pendants from Urban Electric.

In fact, Valentine was more involved than many clients. When she lived in Manhattan years ago, she would often wander the city, mesmerized by the architecture. One of her favorite spots was the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum, a late-18th-century Dutch Colonial farm that’s now open to the public.

Intrigued, Novy researched the National Archives and found drawings of the historic dwelling’s molding profiles and other interior features, which inspired millwork and other design elements throughout the renovation. “This house has a lot of detail, which modern architecture is getting away from,” he says. “It feels very warm and inviting.”

Greenline Green Bed Detail

A newly added window niche creates a spot to enjoy the mountain views.

Reclaimed hardwood flooring and salvaged ceiling beams contribute to the welcoming ambience, imbuing even the newly added space containing the kitchen and family room with the traditional feeling Valentine envisioned.

Juggling different meal requests from each of her three daughters is a breeze in the space, which sports thick white quartzite countertops and an eye-catching gray-and-white-patterned terra cotta tile backsplash. “We wanted that to be impactful and eye-catching,” designer Dunsdon says.

Greenline Tub

Marble tile from Decorative Materials covers every square inch of the wet-style main bathroom.

While Valentine prepares a meal, her daughters will often gather in the adjacent family room, where a pair of plush chairs covered in red-and-white plaid take advantage of both the fireplace and a jaw-dropping view of Red Mountain through the rear windows—a favorite spot for the entire family.

Greenline Green Bed

A gorgeous fabric chandelier by Fortuny softens the reclaimed ceilings in the main bedroom, where a floral wallcovering by Colefax and Fowler creates a feminine backdrop for a painted chest from the owner’s collection.

The bedrooms are equally well-detailed. In the owner’s suite, a white-and-green wallcovering with a cabbage rose motif plays off of the rustic wooden ceiling with exposed beams. A newly added window niche with a plush cushion in a plaid print makes a delightful spot to relax with a thick novel. “To walk into this house is to feel like you’ve arrived somewhere special,” designer Jensen explains.

Greenline Pink Bed

A playful wallcovering from Cole & Son activates the newly added bedroom over the garage, which is furnished with a white canopy bed from Mecox.

After bouncing around from apartment to apartment for years, the Valentines finally retrieved their things from storage, finding treasured possessions the teenaged girls had not seen since they were young–the final step in turning a house into something a bit more intangible.

“That was another happy moment,” Ellen Valentine says. “This house is truly a home.”

Greenline Ext Backyard

Landscaped beautifully by Julie Hoffner of Elite Land Design, the large backyard entertainment area includes a covered porch ideal for dining al fresco, an inviting hot tub and a stone fire pit surrounded by handsome chairs.


This project was a departure for architect Steven A. Novy and interior designers Kristin Jensen and Michaele Dunsdon, who have juggled more masculine modern mountain manses of late. By contrast, client Ellen Valentine envisioned a traditional Dutch Colonial home with a multitude of color, patterns and curvaceous antiques. “Every design should have male and female elements,” Novy says.

1) In response to Ellen’s sketch on the elevation drawing, for example, Novy added oval windows to the gables. “She said later that she never imagined that we would actually use them in the design,” Novy says. 2) In addition, a nod to the family surname, heart motifs can be found throughout, including the shape of the cedar shingles in the gables, heart cutouts in a balcony railing over the garage and custom wrought-iron fireplace tools–just a few of the many examples. 3) A wall covering depicting cabbage roses likewise introduces a feminine sensibility to the owner’s bedroom, where a new window seat covered in a coordinating plaid fabric creates a spot to relax and take in the view. “This project was about attention to detail, and I enjoyed every minute of it,” Jensen says, noting they rarely have an opportunity to use floral wall coverings these days. “This house is civilized and lovely—a little jewel box.”


Additional Design Details
BUILDERS / CONTRACTORS / OTHERS Robert Cronenberg, Superintendent Phone Number: 970-379-7803 Jay Smith, Project Manager; Regan Construction LIGHTING DESIGNER Aaron Humphrey; Alpenglow Lighting Design CUSTOM IRON {Wrought iron andirons, fireplace tools, shelf brackets and handrail brackets} Olivia Pevec; Scavenger Industries CUSTOM CABINETS Michael E. Scott; Cabinets West, LLC


ENTRY CHANDELIER Urban Electric SCONCE Soane Britain by Surface Lighting from Hector Finch LIVING ROOM SOFA, COFFEE TABLE, SIDE TABLES by Melrose House FABRIC ON SOFA by Rose Tarlow SWIVEL CHAIRS by A. Rudin Fabric from Colefax and Fowler WINGBACK CHAIR by Patricia Edwards FABRIC Moon SCONCES ON FIREPLACE by Holly Hunt KITCHEN TILE from Decorative Materials COUNTER STOOLS by Mitton Spidell FABRIC  from Suzanne Tucker LIGHTING PENDANTS from Urban Electric FAMILY ROOM CHAIRS FABRIC by Colefax and Fowler OTTOMAN by Patricia Edwards from Cowton and Tout CHANDELIER from Currey and Company DINING ROOM TABLE AND CHAIRS Antique CHANDELIER from Ironware MAIN BEDROOM WALLPAPER/FABRIC from Colefax and Fowler BEDSIDE TABLES from Maxine Snider Inc. CHANDELIER from Fortuny BEDSIDE SCONCES Hector Finch MAIN BATH by Marble Tile from Decorative Materials UPPER BEDROOM BED from Mecox NIGHTSTANDS from Motif WALLPAPER from Cole & Son WINDOW SEAT FABRIC from Peter Fasono TRIM from Schumacher WINDOW SHADES FABRIC from Dedar TRIM ON PILLOWS FABRIC from Samuel and Sons PENDANTS from Fortuny

Categories: Rustic Homes