A Fresh Start in Snowmass Village

Moving from traditional to contemporary and never looking back
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Strong lines, contrasting textures, and the use of formed concrete “fencing” give the front entrance of this contemporary house its unique look. Front doors offer views of the Roaring Fork River. | Photography by Dallas & Harris Photography

After 22 years in her custom-built Snowmass Village, Colorado, home, Suzy Karlinski began thinking it was time for a change. Her residence was a traditional log home with a big stone fireplace and magnificent views of the Elk Mountains. It had been a warm and loving family home, but Karlinski, now an empty nester, was excited to do something different, to modernize and update her living space. One of her daughters, a realtor in Aspen, helped her find this property— a contemporary 4,000-square-foot home on three acres on the banks of the Roaring Fork River.

While the purchase was pending, Karlinski contacted interior designer Denise Taylor, founder and principal of Aspen Design House, who was familiar with the property, having worked with the previous owners. “I said that I wanted lightness and color,” says Karlinski, “and to bring the outside in by using the natural colors of the river, sky and meadow.”

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A bronze edge gives a touch of glam to the reclaimed wood table. The sleek midcentury light fixture was custom made for the space. Elegant-and-comfortable velvet chairs evoke the soothing green of the garden.

“I was a little worried that this home might be too modern for Suzy,” says Taylor, “but the more I communicated the possibilities of what we could do, the more excited about the spaces she became.” During the design process, and as her affection for her wood, glass and stone home grew, Karlinski decided to make a complete break from her previous ideas about interior design. “Everything was left behind—except for my favorite paintings and artwork,” she says.

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The curve of the granite-slab counter mirrors the curve of the windows. The kitchen nook, a “found” space, looks out on vegetable gardens and meadow grasses.

The home’s entry courtyard, with its Japanese-style garden, water feature, natural grasses and colorful plantings (perfectly timed to provide color all summer), sets the mood. “You can look through the glass front doors and right through the house to the river in back,” Karlinski notes, adding that this view always gives her pleasure and that first-time guests are “bowled over upon entering the open foyer and beholding the river beyond.”

Inside, the home is contemporary but not cold. To give the rooms an open and uncluttered look, Taylor helped Karlinski choose furnishings and finishes that are organic, natural and light in color. “We also made sure that nothing was too precious or too difficult to take care of,” she says.

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The living room has views of the ever-changing riverscape.

Everything in the high-ceilinged living room was chosen to complement (and not to compete with) the stunning river views.

“Earthy greens and blues reflect inside what we see outside.” —The homeowner

Twin sofas are an eye-soothing neutral; the cozy blue velvet bucket chairs can swivel to face the river or the two-sided fireplace. Walnut wood doors on the console mimic the river’s flow, and the rug picks up colors of both river and sky.

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“The Japanese garden’s formed concrete walls, natural grasses, pebbles and water feature set the mood for what you’ll see inside the home,” says interior designer Denise Taylor.

With its large, practical counters, the curvilinear kitchen looks out to a meadow of natural grasses and five raised garden beds in which Karlinski grows cutting flowers (peonies, zinnias and dahlias) and a wide array of vegetables. Another of her daughters—a personal chef—uses Karlinski’s fresh garden vegetables in her recipes all summer.

In a corner of the kitchen (a previously underused space), Taylor created an inviting nook. “We designed a custom banquette and a little rough-edged walnut table in kind of a triangle to fit the space,” she explains.

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Interior designer Denise Taylor papered a wall to make the main bedroom’s soaring spaces feel more intimate; long-hair fur chairs flank a nesting table.

When it came to decorating the bedrooms, Karlinski wanted lush, poetic, feminine spaces. The wallpaper choices—timeless and classic—in green and blue tones help brighten and embellish the rooms. The main bedroom looks out to the river, and, in summer, Karlinski enjoys sitting on the deck reading and watching the fly-fishers, paddleboarders and kayakers. The main bath with its huge free-standing tub has a resort-like vibe.

With this move, Karlinski traded the spectacular mountains of Snowmass for the peace and tranquility of her riverside home. “I’ve never loved a home so much,” she says.

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One of the homeowners’ favorite spots to relax, riverside.


Homeowners commonly overlook the little nooks and those awkward little areas that, with a little imagination and customization, could be turned into charming, workable spaces. Interior designer Denise Taylor of Aspen, Colorado-based Aspen Design House offers these tips for re-thinking, re-purposing and re-designing the underused spaces in our homes.

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Main bath windows frame an adjacent meadow.

FIRST, LOOK FOR UNUSED SPACE The area under the stairs can become attractive bookcases or if close to a tiny kitchen, can be reworked into a pantry with pull-out shelves. An attic with peaked ceilings (often too short for an adult to stand up in comfortably) can be turned into a magical play-and-sleep area for kids or grandkids. A small bedroom or storage room can be turned into a mini-media room with the addition of a giant-screen TV and a daybed, sofa sleeper or modular seating. In older homes, a built-in cupboard in an upstairs bedroom can be turned into a reading nook by taking off the doors, building custom bookshelves, a cushioned bench seat and wallpapering the entire inside with a whimsical paper. IMAGINE WHAT THE SPACE CAN BE In order to use every single inch, work with a designer or builder to create furniture that fits the shape of the nook. With the right shelving and a custom desk, a closet can become a compact, well-organized workspace for those who work part- or full-time from home.




DINING ROOM ORION 5 PENDANT by Nuevo CHAIRS & TABLE by Aspen Design House LIVING ROOM EGON SIDEBOARD MEDIA CABINET by Nuevo SOFA AND SIDE CHAIRS by Chaddock from Denver Design District COFFEE TABLE by Aspen Design House SIDE TABLE by Aspen Design House CUSHIONS by Aspen Design House BANQUET BENCH FABRIC custom Metissage by Casamance from Denver Design District CHAIRS by Aspen Design House TABLE by Aspen Design House BENCH by Aspen Design House KITCHEN BAR STOOL by Nuevo

Categories: Contemporary Homes