Integrating Architecture and Interior Design

Seamlessly blending elements of architecture and design enhances a home's timeless quality
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Where does architecture stop and interior design begin? At Berglund Architects, it is a seamless continuum. The interior design of a home enhances its timeless quality when the interiors blend, build on and continue the overall architectural expression. This project, for a family in the Vail Valley, is a prime example.

The clients had a personal connection to the very steep site, having hiked and skied to and from this lot for years. The key challenges were how to design a sophisticated yet casually eloquent home that connected them to the landscape, while filling the home with daylight on every level, even though the site dictated that the first two stories are below grade on three sides.

Two key tools Berglund Architects use throughout the design and construction documentation process are extensive interior and exterior 3D modeling and hand sketches to sculpt the interior space in the early stages of design making the interior design elements integral to the overall home.  The 3D modeling lets the clients easily visualize how the architecture, exposed structure and interiors design and materials all work together.

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The tone for the house is set at the entry. The detailed floor-to-ceiling windows align with the exterior paneling, but also flood the entry with daylight and views. From there, the materials create a continuity of design. The same porcelain tile on the exterior covered porch is used in the foyer, powder room, and mudroom; the exterior stone veneer walls extend into the interior, and the exposed steel beam ties to the entry porch detailing.

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Because the home is four levels, the open exposed steel structure stairway is a dynamic design element that relates to the exposed steel detailing at the exterior of the house. The lower stair tread wraps around the steel clad stair mass to invite visitors up and into the home, while a steel art niche carved into the stair landing creates a moment for a personal piece of art.

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The third story is the primary living level with a large, open floor plan housing the kitchen, breakfast nook, dining room, and living room. The exposed steel beams, with integrated accent lighting, supporting the roof and primary suite above, are a central design feature in the space adding a sophisticated subtle industrial contrast to the refined rifted oak cabinetry which adds a softness and warmth to the room. 

Little touches in interior finish selections include a lighter limestone veneer at the coffee/wine bar which speaks to the exterior materials in color and texture, while adding a slightly more refined detailing that complements the wood and steel cabinet.  The warm wood floors and softwood ceilings bring an inviting warmth into the bright, airy space, while the exposed steel structure adds connection to the exterior architecture.

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The interior and exterior fireplaces were thoughtfully designed to be aligned so that when the doors are open, the living room seating relates to both fireplaces perfectly. Monolithic stone boulder hearths adorn both the exterior and interior fireplaces, creating calm, balanced energy. 

Steel paneling used at the exterior around windows and on the ground-level stairway is reintroduced at the interior fireplace wall. The large TV is almost hidden away, allowing the elegant character of the fireplace design to be the driving visual focus while allowing for casual, comfortable living.

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The living room opens to the south with large windows and sliding doors that wrap the corner and connect the home to an outdoor living space. Both are wrapped in dark wood trim so that the eye travels beyond the windows out to the aspen-covered hillside. The proportions of the room, the fireplace detailing, and the material selection grounds the great room and balance the expansive views across the valley and hillside.  All of this was carefully studied in 3D during the design process.

Using a rich, yet simple, regional palette of materials for the interior fixed finishes that relate to the exterior of the home, creates a timeless backdrop for the ever-changing scenery and the owner’s colorful and playful art. With careful study of proportion, detail and finish selections through 3D modeling, the home has a rejuvenating feeling of relaxation for the owners and their families to connect and experience all the site offers.

The home is elegant yet comfortable when it is just the two of them or when 20+ family members visit at the holidays. The final result is an environment that is both uplifting and calm with spaces that play with structural expression, rich materials and the stunning landscape.

Stephanie Lord-Johnson is a Principal at Berglund Architects, an Edwards, Colorado-based firm that specializes in custom residential and commercial design for the mountain environment. View their profile or contact Hans at 970.926.4301.

Content for this article provided by Berglund Architects.

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