Transforming a Mountain Vacation Home Into a Permanent Residence

You took the plunge and moved to the mountains…Now what? Solutions for living permanently in your second home
Home Addition Landscape

Kevin Banker at Banker Cinefoto

Retreating away to the mountains sounds like a cozy escape from the world, especially during these uncertain times. However, those who are looking to either purchase a new home or move into their existing mountain home have found the original design was meant for a different lifestyle. Vacation homes are about gathering together and being close with few outside distractions or pressures. A full-time home often includes options for work, school and alone time. If a mountain home is beginning to feel crowded, people are left with the option to either renovate, add on, or start from scratch. An architect can help envision options for adapting and renovating a home to fit your lifestyle.

Renovation Before A 1

Renovation Before A 2







Renovation After A

Kevin Banker at Banker Cinefoto

This before-and-after kitchen truly defines the power of architecture and design. The kitchen remodel was designed to open up the space by removing a few of the existing walls, and reconfiguring the layout to include an island that opens to the space beyond. The expansive mountain views and increased daylight were achieved by adding sliding glass doors to the adjacent deck, a larger, almost frameless window above the sink. The island provides casual seating for a family meal or to invite guests to socialize during meal prep. Now the kitchen is completely transformed into a modern, efficient focal point within the house. When remodeling, don’t be afraid to move or enlarge a window, remove walls that block views or relocate internal functions. Sometimes all a home needs is a refocus on the hierarchy of spaces, finishes or objects. An architect can help you evaluate the opportunities within your home and prioritize changes that will make the biggest impact while keeping your budget in mind.

Home Addition Before

Kevin Banker at Banker Cinefoto

Home Addition After

Kevin Banker at Banker Cinefoto

If space allows, adding to an existing home can solve many problems and often present unexpected benefits. Mountain towns often limit the amount of a property that can be covered by buildings and some limit the area of the building itself, which is why it is important to understand local regulations to determine what is possible. The addition can take advantage of a beautiful view or be used to connect the home to the outdoors in a way the original designers of the home did not imagine. Expanding the garage, for example, frees up space for today’s larger vehicles, storage and toys. Shuffling of spaces can also free up opportunities for new rooms like offices, home gyms or guest rooms. In the example above, we added a two-car exterior garage to make room for the client’s vehicles and utilized a second floor as a new family room. 

Home Addition Interior

Kevin Banker at Banker Cinefoto

Finally, sometimes the changes necessary for a home to truly take advantage of its site and match the owner’s dreams requires starting from scratch. A blank slate means every design decision is made to craft the home to fit your unique needs. Expansive windows, large opening doors and covered outdoor rooms that bring the mountains into your living room are typically the biggest drivers for starting over. The photo above shows the family room that was added above the garage, which used level changes to create break out spaces within a single room. Break-out spaces can also be great to bring together different generations by including a game room, fitness area or coffee bar. Spaces can also be added to act as a catalyst for relaxation; spas, saunas or steam rooms are popular options that create separate nooks and bring balance within the home.

With any approach, evaluating how you live is an important part of the renovation process undertaken by the design team. Understanding your lifestyle will help us construct ideas that support the way you live, and eliminate any impediments preventing the full enjoyment of your mountain home. 

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. 

Categories: Contemporary Homes, Native Content