A Timeless Generational Retreat in the Roaring Fork Valley
Seeking a more relaxed way of life, a suburban Chicago couple commissions Forum Phi to design their family “barndominium"
At their home in suburban Chicago, the empty nesters have neither the time nor the inclination to chop wood, tend to their garden or tinker around in the workshop—which they enjoy doing at their ranch in the Roaring Fork Valley. “The simple pleasures of working with your hands,” the husband says. “The ranch lifestyle is a welcome reprieve from our busy lives.”
The couple were visiting the area when they first saw the 35-acre property, which boasts majestic views of the Elk Mountains and a local reservoir that attracts wildlife galore. Abutting a national forest and sporting a hayfield that a local farmer harvests, the land seemed like an ideal spot to build a generational retreat they hope their descendants will enjoy for years to come.
To help them create a plan for the property, the couple hired Forum Phi, an architecture and interior design firm they had worked with in the past. Project manager Kurt Peterson and interior designer Rebecca Olson worked with the homeowners to capitalize on the views, and “everything else was up for discussion.” Says Peterson, “A project like this takes a lot of thought and many conversations about what their life will look like in the future. We worked through their history to set up their future.”
Blending the husband’s more modern aesthetic with the wife’s traditional leanings, they designed a long barn that includes horse stables, hay storage and a two-bedroom guesthouse with an open loft. Housed in a framed glass cube at the far end of the floor plan, the modern residence/barn juxtaposes the barn’s reclaimed wood siding and rustic stone accents.
“Working with reclaimed wood is challenging” says builder Brian Pearson, noting that it often “has a high waste factor when cutting to a specific size; still, the result is worth the effort.” Pearson and his team also used reclaimed wood to build the custom cabinetry and hardwood floors in what the team dubbed the “barndominium.”
Thanks to the large expanses of glass, which include large clerestory windows that take advantage of the soaring ceilings, the home’s light-filled living room and loft enjoy nearly 270-degree views of the landscape. Blurring the line between inside and out, large sliding glass doors open to a patio overlooking the hayfield. In the same spirit, the wooden ceiling flows past the building envelope, sheltering the outdoor living area. “It’s not clear whether you’re indoors or outdoors, and it doesn’t really matter,” the husband says. “It’s a small space, but it’s pretty magical.”
Blackened steel elements, such as a linear fireplace and a sleek range hood, elevate the reclaimed materials and rustic stone details, which include the veneered backsplash in the open kitchen. A graphic, contemporary blue-and-white clay floor tile likewise enlivens the rustic wood vanity and dual mirrors in the primary bathroom. “It’s a beautiful palette that walks the line of contemporary and traditional,” Olson says. “There was a lot of ebb and flow trying to find the right balance.”
The first step in a long-term plan that may include a larger primary residence, the multipurpose structure exemplifies the owners’ approach to their decidedly more bucolic life on the range. “This place is about peace, tranquility and enjoyment of the natural beauty around us,” the husband says. “The way we all came together to create and execute our vision was remarkable, and it gave us a great sense of both pleasure and pride to be part of it.”
FRAMING THE VIEWS
While there are no bad views on this 35-acre property in the Roaring Fork Valley, architect Kurt Peterson and interior designer Rebecca Olson were determined to design a home that would capture the very best vistas.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION They walked the land several times before deciding where to place the house. Just before construction began, they decided to move it uphill about 50 yards. “We wanted to see over the oak forest,” Peterson says. “It made a big difference for the view.” THE RIGHT ANGLE The house is oriented so that both sunrises and sunsets can be enjoyed from the living room, which is essentially a glass cube with clerestory windows that frame a jaw-dropping view of Snowmass wilderness and Roaring Fork Valley. The barn was designed to set up a future residence above so eventually as one leaves the property it will require passing through the port cochere on the backside of the barn, which likewise frames a view of Mount Sopris. “The view, the orientation and the openness to the outside all come together and create something super-unique,” Peterson says. LOOK AHEAD Pleased with how the project turned out, the team is looking forward to designing future buildings for the site, which may include a larger residence, a yoga platform and a distillery. “It’s an ever-evolving piece of art,” Peterson says, “a sculptural folly in the landscape.”
LIVING ROOM SOFA by Cathers Home Furniture COFFEE TABLE by Cathers Home Furniture KITCHEN BAR STOOLS by Jayson Home