Metamorphosis in Vail
Transforming a vacation getaway steeped in memories into a stunning, sublimely comfortable family home
An interesting transformation is occurring in Vail. Many homes from the early days are being acquired by new owners with very different needs. Second homes are becoming primary homes, however, primary homes often have different priorities. Many clients opt to tear down the existing home and start over, but the original homes often include great spaces, orientation, etc. that really only need updating. So, starting over isn’t always the best way forward.
Case in point: A client recently came to us hoping to renovate their parents’ home built in the 90’s as a family vacation destination. In 2019, the client’s family moved into the mountain home after a complete renovation. Strings of nostalgia and family memories keep the home rooted in its history, while a pulse of new, heartfelt attention has authentically reimagined the property.
“It was always a special place and we spent a lot of time there,” the homeowner shares. “My spouse and I had the opportunity to take over the home and we decided that first we just wanted to redo the kitchen and the bathrooms, and then, after talking with the builder, we discovered it was going to need to be a gut job to take it from a vacation home to a home that we could live in year-round.”
Our client was looking to update the house and make it more practical for full-time living, while not completely changing the essence of what the parents had built. “It was a beautiful home when it was built in 1990,” the client says. “It was dated, but the bones and the layout were still great. It was just a really good, livable space.”
The homeowners wanted the home to be brighter; removing dark, heavy woods and bringing in light and bright materials. They also wanted to open up the kitchen, extend outdoor living space from the great room, redo the master bedroom, create more storage and make the daughters’ bedrooms and bathrooms bigger.
Our team thought a lot about the idea of legacy throughout the design process and how to update this client’s home while respecting its soul. Every home and client are different and each has its own story to tell. We just listened to the story and proposed ideas. One of our goals for any renovation project is for the changes and additions to appear seamless and as if they have always been there.
We focused on the living room to make it truly the heart of the home. The view to the Gore Range was opened up by removing two angled walls that limited the window sizes, and added the big sliding door to the covered porch to create an outdoor room that is an integral part of the home.
One significant change was an increase in square footage to the daughters’ bedrooms and newly done bathrooms. “My spouse and I envision our home as a gathering place down the road when they have families or partners,” explains the homeowner. “So we expanded their bedrooms so they could have walk-in closets, and gave them five-piece bathrooms, hoping it will be a place they want to come back to.”
Previously, the narrow front porch hadn’t been very usable. The renovation extended the front porch and made it into a whole new living space, covered and with heaters. “When the doors are open it’s great,” the client reveals, “but even when the doors are closed it’s just this huge picture window out to our neighborhood and the mountainside there.”
“The pandemic came and our daughter had to come home early from college, and the other one was remote learning at home, and we were all so happy in this space. We spent so much time in the spring out on that front porch, and people could come by and we could social distance out there. We just kept saying, ‘We’re so glad we did this. We’re so glad we did this.’”
Brian Sipes is the Founding Principal for Sipes Architects, an architecture firm that designs authentic, sustainable, and modern residential and commercial projects in the mountains of Colorado and beyond. View their profile or contact Brian or Todd at 970.236.1519.
Content for this article is provided by Sipes Architects.