With its exquisite setting and rhythmic flow of design, art and livability, it’s hard to fathom that this Strawberry Park home was not a carefully orchestrated effort. No one sat down and poured over room after room of floor plans and house-wide samples before beginning the construction. Instead the stunning design—inside and out— of this mountainside home was born of harmonious brainstorming sessions and ideas on the fly between talented designers and the fine sensibilities of the owners. “It was a house that evolved,” explains Karin Lanham, interior designer and owner of Karin’s of Beaver Creek, who completed much of the design on the home. “We didn’t have a master plan.”
It took two years to pull the design together, and each room was an almost playful collaboration of ideas and preferences that evolved over time refined into beautiful rooms that are a pleasing mix of the best of traditional and contemporary worlds. It is a home where the owners’ preferences and active lifestyle shines through with grace and abundant personality.
This home in Strawberry Park is not a new build. Rather it is a re-visioning of an existing home. With a gorgeous setting to fuel the imagination, and the fine bones of the original home, it wasn’t hard to find inspiration. The owners, who both grew up in Germany, were drawn by their loving memories of Europe and the mountains to this house of dark timber accents, which climb to high, chalet-style dormers over a substantial moss rock base. The boulder retaining wall, sprouting wildflowers in the summer and snow during winters, offers a surprising seclusion from the quiet road above. But the owners had their own ideas of how the home could better fit their active lifestyle of hiking and skiing, and an extended family of children and grandchildren, while satisfying their eclectic design sensibilities. “It is not about what it looked like,” Lanham explains. “It was about the way they wanted it to look. The way they visualized it could be.”
When Lanham received the call to design the home, she was actually visiting Berlin. It was easy to bring some of that European inspiration home to help. A contractor was hired to remodel the plumbing, to revamp ventilation, and to create a backyard living space. Coming from a different environment, it is natural for the owners to bring some preferences with them, such as air conditioning or preferred lighting plans. “I told her to live in the house first,” says Lanham of the wife. By living in the home a while, the owners came to know how the morning sun played over stonework or how the sunset glowed in the wood finishes They knew what rooms drew them and why, and what things still felt foreign. Then, Lanham and designer Kelly Porter-Smith of Porter Smith Designs of Florida, got to work, bouncing ideas off each other and the owners, until they came up with a design that is timelessly elegant, yet alive in the moment.
Elements of the traditional Colorado house are found inside and outside of this Strawberry Park home. Perched near ski trails of its namesake ski run, the house, built into the mountainside, rambles from the private road above, down a hillside of aspen. The owners brought in a landscape designer to turn the tumbled hillside below into a livable, inviting place to enjoy the scenery. A wide sandstone terrace was installed, with hand-forged, iron railings. Below, another patio with outdoor hearth warms chilled mountain nights, while whimsical figures bring to life to a series of decorative pools and waterfalls.
Inside the home, traditional touches, such as Old World chandeliers, coffered ceilings and impressive woodworking in rich, dark hues make warm contrast to cream plaster walls. Much of this was already part of the home. So, the new owners kept what they loved about the original home and molded it to their own needs. The carved, solid wood front door was beautiful but made for a dark and somewhat gloomy entry, so cutouts were created to follow the curves of the molding and waterfall and bubbled glass, commissioned from an artist from Basalt, was installed. The result is a stunning door and a light-filled entry that actually brings to life the 15th-century tapestry hanging on the wall: a gorgeous Venetian mirror, once owned by Doris Duke, renowned benefactor of Duke University and a sleigh, circa 1800s, just waiting to glide stylishly through the snow. Amid this room of tradition, the owners prominently hung a contemporary painting of aspen, and commissioned an etched-glass fire screen by the same Basalt artist who enlivened the entry’s stone fireplace. The time-honored features inherent in the home did not preclude the owners from liberally mixing contemporary with classic furnishing and finishes. It is this pairing that brings the home to life. “It is what makes this home so special, so beautiful and cozy,” assures Lanham.
At first glance, the living room seems ostensibly traditional, with its great curved trusses and wood-paneled, vaulted ceiling. Lit at night with frosted, gold-hued sconces, and adorned with handsome Oriental rugs and a Black Forest cuckoo clock, it is a room of timeless beauty. Yet, just as the view at the far end of the generous room surprises with its endless mountain vistas, the room holds multiple contemporary touches that keep the room anything but static. A multi-hued wooden cat curled up on the bleached sandstone fireplace looks cozy under a bold contemporary painting of stylized wild horses hanging above. The see-through fireplace was fitted with aspen-etched, custom glass inserts to lend privacy to the master suite on the other side. Traditional leather chairs and twin, chenille sofas are paired with Karin’s cowhide-covered ottomans. A lovely burled-wood coffee table glistens beneath contemporary glass pieces, while an amber stone lamp in the corner lends a warm, golden glow. Layering even more centuries to the room, eye-catching throw pillows are adorned with copies of 17,000-year-old parietal wall paintings found in the famed Lascaux underground caves of France. Nearby, a contemporary blue stone bear adds a charming light-hearted touch, while a corner display lovingly showcases the wife’s father’s German hiking hats.
The dining room, too, plays with time and color. Its cream plaster walls, rich wood floors and timber accents in the high- peaked ceiling are striking. Under the moose-antler chandelier, a lovely oak dining table is encircled with loop-back chairs, upholstered in snow-leopard fabric. To one side, an Oriental buffet, with Chinese-red bubble finish and mirrored shelves, makes a sophisticated statement, while Native Americans roam the plains in the painting above.
Originally fitted with floor-to-ceiling cabinetry, the kitchen was re-envisioned to keep the traditional European style but remodeled for contemporary sensibilities and a family lifestyle. The designers removed the heavy cabinetry and installed a series of wide archways that opened the kitchen to the dining area and added stunning architectural frames to both rooms. Carved wooden corbels were added to the high ceiling near a series of high, dark A-beams and the floor was covered in brick pavers. Today, the cabinetry is still in grand scale, with a warm, welcoming mixture of molded dark and light oak. On one end of the room, an impressive cabinet actually hides dual, modern refrigerators. Above the modern, gourmet stove hangs a European-style, carved white hood, while the granite-topped island offsets the square edges of the room with its curvy lines and upholstered bucket-seat stools. Above hangs an intricate metal grapevine pot rack, custom-made by the same artist who created all the metalwork in the house, and a cheery fireplace in one corner is topped with warm, taupe marble.
The master suite is entered through a traditional, library-style sitting area. Napoleon-era sconces adorn the handsome paneling and several of its shelves hold Western and Native American sculptures. Beyond, the master bedroom and bath are alight with pale tones of white, cream and gold. Tone-on-tone gold, floor-to-ceiling, motorized drapes warm the bedroom— the colors echoed in the rich, muted gold, purples and oranges in the comfy coverlet adorning the wide sleigh bed. Lanham, who designed most of the fabrics and upholstery for the home wanted to ensure the luxurious finishes were ultimately warm. Porter-Smithhelped create a juxtaposition of modern and traditional by pairing a slim Plexiglas chair and cubical desk, which blend seamlessly with the more classic finishes.
A generous dressing room is fitted with molded white cabinetry and topped in caramel-patterned granite, accentuated by balloon valances of the same tones hung over a series of paneled windows. An egg-shaped, solid granite bathtub artfully dominates the master bath. It required a crane to install, but now looks like it grew right out of its stone and marble surroundings. Opposite, a grand archway encloses a very modern glass-and-granite shower.
Custom iron railings lead downstairs to the guest rooms, past a rainbow-hued wall of small, embedded river rock. It is on this level personal tastes come to the center, playfully embracing preferences of extended family and guests. The colors on this level blend with those above, but are deliberately designed a couple of shades different in warmer hues, explains Lanham, to add warmth to the lower level and create a separate statement. On this level, too, the owners’ penchant for the Wild West comes to the forefront in Western and Native American paintings and artifacts scattered throughout the rooms. Each of the several guest bedrooms on this level are strikingly unique with innovative uses of fabrics and finishes. In one guest room, the bed, with its upholstered headboard, appears to have sprung up out of a grove of trees and form a cozy canopy. A luxurious fake fur throw completes the woodsy feel giving the occupants a restful sleep albeit not outdoors. Leather ottomans sit at the foot of the bed with artistic pottery lamps with natural shades on night tables. A scenic view of the backyard can be seen from the writing desk that completes the room. One of the owners favorite guestrooms is a bit of an exception to the predominately Western theme of this level. Its vintage, throwback décor was a vision of the owner. The charming red-and-white room holds a mixture of original and new. Existing carved white twin beds are newly adorned with charming red-and-white, Alps-inspired coverlets and bedding. Vintage ski posters decorate the walls, near a red-painted chest and an antique keyhole stool.
This beautiful home also includes several rooms not shown including a wine room. The delightful wine room has hand-forged iron vines entwining its double-glass doors. Lovely blue-and-maroon striated granite covers counters and a stone mask of the Roman god Bacchus watches merrily from the wall. On this level, too, a high- tech media room, with blanket-covered lower walls and cushioned upper walls offers ideal acoustics and the perfect setting for entertaining. Several tufted leather chairs, a walnut-plank dining table, fitted with teal leather chairs, and an ottoman complete the comfy hangout. And, a well-equipped exercise room on this level helps keep the family fit for the lifestyle they love, with miles of hiking and endless vertical feet of skiing on the beautiful surrounding trails and ski runs of Strawberry Park and Beaver Creek beyond.