A Jewel-Box Home in Colorado
A student-teacher collaboration, a site-sensitive build and an eye for contemporary art result in this Larkspur gem
When Tim Lowell, his partner Cindi Roberts and their four teenage children were ready to build in Larkspur, Colorado, Lowell knew exactly who he’d trust with the blueprints. Now a partner in his family’s construction business, Lowell began as an architecture student at University of Colorado, where he completed two courses taught by architect E.J. Meade. For every student, there’s a standout teacher whose impact is carried beyond the classroom, and Meade was that instructor to Lowell.
“For whatever reason, his aesthetic, his manner and personality, and his passion for architecture and design resonated with me in a way I could really appreciate,” Lowell says.
Though the trajectory of his career turned away from residential architecture, Lowell kept tabs on Meade’s work with Arch11, the Boulder-based firm Meade co-founded in 1993. Lowell was drawn to Arch11’s modern, site-sensitive designs that take full advantage of Colorado’s stop-you-in-your-tracks views.
“I loved seeing how the things we talked about in theory in architecture school translated to the real world,” Lowell says.
More than 20 years after sitting in that CU classroom, Lowell reconnected with Meade, this time with an assignment of his own: create a budget-friendly home in which his blended family’s unique dynamic, the surrounding landscape and his love for the creative arts were paramount. Lowell and Roberts’ four children—two from each of their previous marriages—came first and foremost while devising the footprint.
As the sun sets, the glass-enclosed home is set aglow. Lowell chose gravel landscaping for its minimalistic aesthetic and maintenance needs.
“We have a schedule where half of the time we’re engaged with four teenagers in the house at once, and half of the time the kids are at their other homes and it’s just Cindi and I,” Lowell explains. “So programmatically, we wanted a space that served both family situations equally.”
Meade and project manager Larry Sykes devised a plan that divides the home into a “kid zone” and an “adult zone.” All of the kids’ rooms and a shared bathroom make up the second floor, while the common areas and the master bed and bath comprise the main floor. Additionally, each of the kids’ bedrooms is equal in size and shape in order to keep sibling rivalry at bay.
“We wanted to be super conscious and respectful to all four kids, but still do it in a creative and interesting way,” Lowell says.
This sense of creativity and interest isn’t limited to the kids’ spaces. While Arch11 worked on design plans, Lowell—a lifelong art enthusiast whose creative outlets include writing, painting, photography, building furniture, and, most recently, cooking—began collecting pieces made by contemporary artists from around the world. Now, he’s the proud owner of more than 90 paintings, sculptures, screen prints and neon lights, many of which hang throughout the home and share wall space with pieces made by Lowell and his family.
The vibrant art collection is complemented by Arch11’s minimal approach to materials and color palettes.
“We always try to stay honest with materials and not cover them up,” Meade says. “Most of our homes have a calm, neutral palette, and let the color come from artwork, furniture or, in most cases, the site itself.”
Floor-to-ceiling glass walls in the great room and master bedroom welcome natural light and mountain views, while raw, unfussy materials such as Cor-Ten steel, honed concrete floors and cedar siding give the home the air of a modern art gallery—and allow the surrounding site and the art collection to be the eye candy.
“The home has a bit of a museum quality to it, like a jewel box,” Lowell says.
The kitchen blends into the living and dining spaces, where a monolithic Cor-Ten steel structure conceals the TV on the inside, and houses the grill on the back patio.
Bright blue works by Bill Armstrong and Michael Ballou, and a paint-splattered papier-mâché trophy head gifted to Lowell by his stepson, occupy the kitchen space.
At the foot of the stairs, “Molten Meteorite” by Mary Ehrin hangs among other tactile works.
Both the dining table and painted-rock art piece were created by homeowner Tim Lowell, a creative at heart. Sculptural critters by Lowell (cube) and Paul Edmunds sit atop the concrete bench.
A pillow-lined window seat at the top of the stairs was designed as a hangout area for the kids and is both Meade and Sykes’ favorite space in the home.
“There’s something sublime about waking up in a glass cube,” says Meade of the master bedroom.
Even a soak in the master bath’s Victoria + Albert tub affords uninterrupted pine and mountain views. A peek of a vibrant Franco DeFrancesca pigment print can be seen in the top right corner.
Perched on a forested hillside, the aerie’s elongated, boxy shape was designed to capture west-facing mountain views in as many rooms as possible. Deep overhangs and slat siding on the southwest end provide shade from intense summer sun.