A Clifftop Beauty in Vail’s Buffehr Creek Neighborhood
Transforming a tight site on the top ridge of Vail valley into a mountaintop masterpiece
One of the most exciting things about architecture is embracing challenges in order to create something exceptional. We recently worked on a project in Vail that was just such a challenge.
Perched atop a steep incline, this teardrop-shaped lot offered amazing views but was very difficult to access. In addition, the site was crowded by two existing properties set above on the hilltop. The challenge was to create a privatized location for the home and create space so that it didn’t feel like the three homes were on top of each other.
Based on the extreme nature of the site, we nested the building into the hillside, taking advantage of the breathtaking views of the Gore and Sawatch Ranges with an expansive deck that projects out over the valley. The grade falls so quickly the home is really three stories, but it doesn’t feel that way at the entry.
The low-slung profile of the front exposure gives the entry a wonderful intimacy in contrast to the wide-open views off the back side of the home.
Centered between the grass-topped garage and the main entry is a stair tower resembling a lantern with windows on every side designed to bring light all the way down into the lower levels.
The home fits perfectly into its context through the thoughtful choice of regionally-sourced natural materials. Rich, warm cedar and sandstone blend into the hillside and the colors in the background while the clean architectural lines offer a modern flair.
In order to make the home optimally livable, with a convenient flow throughout the house, each of the home’s three levels is centered around bedrooms linked with living spaces.
The top level houses the entry, living room, dining room, kitchen and primary suite. In the middle, a cozy TV room, study, guest suite and another bedroom reside. And on the lower level an office, two additional bedrooms and a recreation space that opens up to the patio and pool provide ample opportunity for family fun.
The thoughtful layout of the vertical structure results in good relationships with the living spaces on each level linked through the elevator and stairs.
As you enter the home to the open floor plan living space, stunning views of the Gore and Sawatch Ranges encircle the living, dining and kitchen areas. Large windows and glass door systems link each space to the wraparound deck. A see-through fireplace separates the living spaces and provides discretion between them. An exposed steel ridge beam on the ceiling centers the space and carries the sight lines to the deck trellis.
The dining room flows seamlessly into the kitchen. Centered by a huge marble-topped island, the finishes are natural and understated, allowing the views beyond the wraparound glass to be the true star of the show.
Bright natural light cascades down the home’s staircase lit from the stair tower above. Open treads on the staircase allow the light to bounce from the entryway all the way to the bottom level.
The brightly lit family/recreation room on the lowest level provides space for games, parties, and family gatherings. Large sliding doors provide access to the patio and pool.
Perched on the top level, the primary suite is privileged with front-row views of the ski runs at Golden Peak beyond. Large windows throughout the bedroom and bathroom allow for 360-degree views and the sliding door leads to a private balcony.
Michael Suman, AIA, founded Suman Architects in Vail, Colorado in 2004, which specializes in custom residential and light commercial design. View their profile or contact Michael at 970.471.6122.
Content for this article provided by Suman Architects.