Spotlight on Crested Butte

Expert Q&A's from this high-country destination

Somrak Concept + Structure

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Perched at 9,375 feet above sea level, in the saddle of the Elk Mountain Range in western Colorado, sits a mountain paradise with some of the region’s most breathtaking vistas. Quaint 1880’s mining town, Registered National Historic District and the celebrated wildflower capital of Colorado, Crested Butte is one of the few places left that pays homage to a bygone way of authentic western living.

Often referred to as the “last great Colorado ski town,” Crested Butte is a recreational mecca. Best known for spectacular skiing and snowboarding and epic mountain biking, opportunities for fishing, hiking, golfing, white-water rafting, and other outdoorsy pursuits abound. Take a stroll down the multi-hued stretch of Victorian homes on Elk Avenue and discover an eclectic mix of shops, galleries, restaurants, bars and distilleries. Visit the recently renovated Center for the Arts for and check out their year-round schedule of music, dance and theater performances, art exhibits and much more.

With a down-to-earth, artsy vibe and a close community of locals passionate about environmental preservation, it’s no wonder that Crested Butte is home to a talented community of design professionals eager to contribute their skills and innovative ideas. Here, we introduce you to an impressive slate of architects, builders, interior designers and others dedicated to creating a legacy that honors the area’s natural beauty and rich history. Check it out for yourself and discover one of Colorado’s best-kept secrets.


Nikki Pulitzer

Meet real estate professional Nikki Pulitzer, who combines creativity and technical know-how with a passion for the Crested Butte community to help connect people with the mountain home of their dreams.

What is it about Crested Butte that makes it such a special place?

Hands down, I would say the people because they come together and form a community inspired by the friendships and values that make this valley a one-of-a-kind place. This community is united in its commitment to taking care of each other and preserving Crested Butte’s exceptional resources, including open spaces, ranch land, wildlife, and national forests that encompass a rich history and wholesome authenticity.

What do you love best about the field of real estate?

The ability to help people find their dream homes for themselves and their families fills my cup to the fullest. My clients and I are captivated by the diverse architecture to draw from including historic ranch properties to modern contemporary homes. Ultimately, I am honored to assist them in finding their perfect mountain home, creating new memories with loved ones, and falling in love with Crested Butte, just as my family did.

What kind of experience can clients expect when they work with you?

I work mindfully with each client, building a personal, trust-driven relationship connecting them to the community, culture, and splendor of this extraordinary place. My experience with water rights, historic encroachments, and constantly evolving building guidelines paired with strong relationships with local tradesmen and industry professionals ensures my clients are guided seamlessly from the moment they discover Crested Butte to the day they call it home.

Nikki Pulitzer, Real Estate Broker
Crested Butte, CO


Screenshot 2023 03 02 At 120407 Pm

Meet Jeff Deutsch, owner of Artisan Rug Gallery, whose decades of experience and knowledge provide clients with the finest weavings from around the world.

What kind of impact does a high-quality rug have on a room’s design?

The rug is a fundamental element of design. It sets the tone for the entire room with color and pattern. The rug evokes an emotion that connects all other design aspects. Many top designers use the rug as the basis for all that follows, just as a home is built with a foundation first, so it is with the rug for a room.

How long has Artisan Rug Gallery been serving the Crested Butte community?

We have been serving the Crested Butte area on Elk Ave since I returned from overseas with my first collection in 1990. In 2015, we opened our flagship showroom in the RINO district of Denver from which we serve other mountain towns as well.

Tell us about the scope of offerings your gallery provides.

In a situation where a client has all the other pieces of a room in place, we have a breadth of offerings with nuance and beauty for any design need. We realize that trends come and go so we focus on the timeless quality of classic design. Even with our modern rugs there is always an element of history and artistic value, whether tribal, traditional or a combination of both.

Jeff Deutsch, Owner 970.349.0116
Crested Butte, CO



Meet Ben and Kate Somrak, the husband-wife team at Somrak Concept + Structure, a boutique Crested Butte design-build firm committed to delivering luxury custom homes of exceptional quality.

Your family has deep roots in the Gunnison Valley. How does that inform your business?

Ben grew up in Crested Butte and our children are 7th-generation locals! We genuinely care about our imprint on the valley and our inspiration comes from years of living, growing and loving here.
Designing and building custom homes at 9,000 feet requires a commitment to the best in craftsmanship and a discerning eye for design. We are dedicated to the highest quality standards, ensuring that our projects have impact for generations to come.

Please share Somrak’s mission with our readers.

When we incorporate organic elements from our own natural environment, we are discernibly happier and more at ease. We love creating spaces that evoke joy and provide a sense of security; homes that nurture families and celebrate the miracle of experiencing this slice of heaven
on earth. Functionality is our primary goal and good design always follows.

What is the greatest advantage of going with a design-build firm?

The marriage of design-build under one roof is a symbiotic relationship, a one-stop shop, that works in efficiency and value at every stage of the project. When working with us, clients find a genuine, heart-centered connection with their builder, designer and their new mountain home.

Benjamin and Kate Somrak, Owners
@somrakinteriors Crested Butte, CO


El Nido 5522

The team at SHM Architects, a boutique design studio founded in 2005, believes creating beautiful places with purpose requires two things: passion and time.

How do SHM homes fit into the Crested Butte vernacular?

An SHM home isn’t necessarily a particular style but more of a response to the desires of our clients and the nuances of the land that make up the story of how the home will occupy its place. This may solve for logical needs in a mountain environment such as day lighting with views and snow protection, but also solve for emotional needs of respite and fellowship. Our job is to listen and understand the collective “story” of the home and create an architectural expression our clients fall in love with.

What lies at the foundation of your designs?

Good design strategies—things like form, scale, natural light, etc.—are patterns utilized for both contemporary and traditional homes that capture timelessness. We work to create something that transcends styles 30 to 50 years in the future.

Describe your creative process when working with a new client.

Our client’s unique interests, hobbies, and obsessions are our first concern and our creative process begins with listening, understanding, and then interpreting their needs into a one- of-a-kind design solution. Communicating through sketches, storyboards, and photo-realistic renderings and interactive models leave little surprise in the end.

Jim Jose, Studio Director
Mark Hoesterey, Founding Design Principal 970.713.0700
Crested Butte, CO


Kissidugu Foundation

The Crested Butte Wine + Food Festival, now in its 13th year, is the biggest arts-driven wine and food festival in Colorado. Running July 19-23, 2023, the experience promises to delight your senses and expand your horizons.

Tell us a bit about the history and purpose of the CB Wine + Food Festival.

The Crested Butte Wine + Food Festival is the annual fundraiser for the Crested Butte Center for the Arts, the premier arts nonprofit in the Gunnison Valley. The Festival funds year-round access to arts and cultural experiences for all residents of the Western Slope. We feed more than ourselves at the CB Wine + Food Festival, we feed our future – expanding the horizons of our rural community.

What are a few of the festival’s main features?

The heart of the festival is the Grand Tasting showcasing a multitude of wine and spirits suppliers. The Festival also features winemaker dinners helmed by James Beard award-winning chefs and entertainers from around the world, art-inspired wine tastings and adventures, and a wide range of educational seminars for the novice and connoisseur alike.

Tell us about the Festival theme.

This year’s theme is SALT, an element which transforms everything it touches. Essential to cooking, salt preserves and enhances flavor, just as art captures and enlivens the human experience. Salt encapsulates the salt-of-the-earth Crested Butte spirit—essential, a little bit gritty, original—folks “who came for skiing and stayed for the vibe.”

Crested Butte Center for the Arts
Crested Butte, CO


Shaw Home And Guest Cabin By James Ray Spahn

Nestled alongside the Gunnison National Forest, Wilder on the Taylor is an idyllic community dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the Gunnison-Crested Butte Valley’s culture of ranching and Colorado’s outdoor mountain lifestyle.

Tell us a bit about Wilder’s rich history.

The picturesque 2,100+ acres that make up Wilder on the Taylor were homesteaded starting in 1893 as a hay and cattle ranch in a sweet location along two miles of the Taylor River between Crested Butte and Almont. In 2007, upon hearing that land might be turned into a golf course surrounded by a too-crowded housing development, Lewis Shaw and Tom Swift joined forces to preserve the unique character of the ranch by continuing haying and cattle operations, restoring historic barns and structures, and selling 35-acre homesites with one-acre building envelopes.

And today?

Sixteen years later, there is a vibrant community of homeowners at Wilder and a handful of homesites available. A huge riverside lawn and safari-style base camp are prime gathering spots for homeowners and their guests to share stories about fishing, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding and more on-site and beyond. Ranch managers, a fishing guide and concierge/chef facilitate unmatched experiences.

What makes the Wilder community truly unique?

The ranch has grown over the years and has involved a rich cast of individuals, but what remains true is a steadfast dedication to being good stewards of this special place. Wilder is devoted to helping protect wildlife corridors and forest health and supporting community causes, like donating the land and helping make the new Taylor Canyon Fire Station a reality.

Brad Willett, General Sales Manager
Almont, CO

Categories: Spotlight on Design