In the winter, the Gorsuch house sparkles, light glittering through paned windows on pristine snow. In the summer, the house becomes expansive in its surprisingly rambling outdoor setting in the Vail neighborhood, complete with a postcard view of the Gore Range. It is a beautiful, expressive house, lovingly designed with time-honored grace and craftsmanship. A home for people who love the mountains, love skiing, love life. More importantly, it is a home for family.
The Gorsuch name is well known in this region. It is no secret that David and Renie Gorsuch come from a deep tradition of skiing—former Olympians at that. Nor does it come as a surprise that they are successful business owners—their Gorsuch stores, renowned and well respected for the fine ski gear and elegant, yet functional, clothing and home lines. The couple found their niche in the mountains decades ago and have built well on that beginning.
It follows that the Gorsuch home should exhibit the same sensibilities—a pension for fine quality and for the ski life that brought them here.
But what does surprise people is that the Gorsuches are such down-to-earth people, where family comes first. “We have beautiful stores,” says Renie. “People think we are fancy people.” In fact, Dave grew up in Climax, Colorado, where his father worked the molybdenum mine, and Renie grew up in the Adirondacks. The Gorsuch home in Vail, complete with handcrafted details and beautiful antiques collected from around the world, is still first and foremost a family home. From its charming, rough-hewn “tree house” to its grand living area, this is a home meant to celebrate family and friends, a home that embraces the journeys and memories that Dave and Renie have enjoyed with their two sons, nine grandchildren and extended family—their employees. “This house is very well loved,” assures Renie. “It is a great family house.”
Renie explains that the Gorsuch house reflects influences from the Adirondacks and the Rocky Mountains, as well as the pieces the couple has collected from their travels abroad as competitors on the U.S. Ski Team. “Although it is not an Adirondacks’ house,” says Reni, “as, in the Adirondacks. People live with wood and old things in the mountains.
They don’t have a lot of things, collectibles.” The deeply sloped roof, with its generous overhangs easily could be found in the Alps where its design has offered protection from deep snows and cold for countless generations. Carved corbels and deep, shuttered windows, along with white-washed stucco punctuated by copper gutters, massive timber beams, stone accents and a carved balcony further the classic European appearance. The home is surrounded by an enclosed yard, that one enters through an aspen-faux-painted, heavy wooden gate.
And, the family’s great Saint Bernard, Zeus, is always there to welcome visitors.
Warm Grandeur Inside
Venetian plaster walls, rich paneling, framed tray ceilings and wide-plank floors create an elegant backdrop. At the same time, this is a home that has withstood two active boys and countless visits from a growing family and friends, while retaining its lovely, serene ambiance.
The living area portrays this elegant home beautifully in the summer, and quite dramatically in the winter. In fact, this grand, but not overstated, room seems almost made for Christmas. The vaulted ceilings, with the wide timber supports, and dark wood paneling and floors contrast nicely with the white Venetian plaster walls. Local artisan Rudi Neumayr did much of the woodwork in the home. Classic and inviting furnishings are paired with antiques collected on travels, and artwork that reflects the mountain settings dear to the couple. “When you are married this long,” Renie says, “you acquire beautiful things.” The antiques and armoires found throughout the home “can be Austrian, German, Italian …” The implication is that it matters less where they come from and more that they are beautifully crafted. Gorgeous scenic paintings given to them by their two sons adorn the walls, while a painting of Stowe, Vermont, near where Renie grew up, hangs over the fireplace.
In the fireplace is a set of vintage, ski shaped andirons recovered from an old ski lodge. Twin, deep-rose sofas sitting center stage are surprisingly bold and invigorate the space, stage-lit by the light pouring through high palladium windows. Dave and Renie bought the sofas in Denver 40 years ago. The sofas have since been recovered several times, and have gone through various incarnations in blue and patterned fabrics. Renie always wanted rose-pink couches, but everyone told her not to get them. Dave finally told her she should have what she wants; and she did.
“We have winter outside the majority of the year here,” explains Renie. “It brings a little color inside.” With a glowing Christmas tree placed near the red-patterned armchair and matching ottoman during the holidays, it’s hard to find a more picture-perfect Christmas setting. The dining area shows strong European influences, too. The table includes a corner bench, upholstered in green plaid, which wraps around a wide pine table.
The bench design was chosen, not only because it is traditional in parts of Europe, but also because it invites coziness and togetherness. Ivy trimmed curtains and emerald green walls complemented by the Green Leaf Majolica tableware given Renie by her mother, continue the serenity on view through the surrounding windows.
The kitchen is wide and generous, with all the modern accouterments for feeding family and friends. Carrera marble slab countertops and wooden cabinets continue the traditional look. Rows of cheery cows look down on the setting. Renie explains the family loves cows. In fact, a painting by Ford Ruthling in the room states, “Cows Have an Inner Light.” A sunny seating nook faces a welcoming fireplace. An antique pine table with an intriguing pullout extension and hidden drawer, is paired with a carved bench and keyhole-cut chairs.
Dave and Renie’s master bedroom is secluded, reached through wooden doors and a wide, plaster archway. Inside is a homey mix of cheery colors and beautifully crafted furnishings, such as the impressive cabin bed and the grandchild’s diminutive bed in one corner, as well as more fine examples of Neumayr’s woodwork. Blue-and-white gingham-upholstered walls and matching bed skirt are
inviting, topped with a crisp, white coverlet.
Gunmetal-and-brass railings lead to a lower landing, where a wall of photos, mostly black and white, tell a story of a life filled with skiing and family. There are pictures of David and Renie ski racing, an old gondola and treasured memories. There is a picture of David with his father; David with his son, John; David’s mother and father; and Renie and David relaxing.
Downstairs is both Renie’s mother’s room, and what used to be David Jr. and John’s room. In the boys’ room, some of John’s early artwork, along with a framed, illustrated poem hang on the wall. “John is a great watercolorist,” Renie says. A charming antique armoire from Austria in here is one of many found throughout the home. A sunken, two-story room this level now holds a gym and library, but once held a trampoline for the kids, where they used to do flips off the half-wall onto the trampoline below.
Out back is the wide-stone patio, with built-in fireplace and stone bench, that opens onto a rambling yard sloping downhill. Fifteen years ago, the Gorsuches remodeled their home to accommodate two growing boys. Gordon Pierce was the architect and Shaeffer Construction that also built several of the Gorsuch stores, built it. Marilyn Nicola, interior designer and owner of Pinecones in Edwards, helped with the interior design.
A Skiing Life
It was skiing that first brought David and Renie together. They met as teenagers in 1960 as members of the U.S. Olympic Ski Team. That casual encounter began a lifetime of ski dreams. Both grew up skiing: Dave on the small Climax Ski area, built for its tiny, but then thriving mining community at the Climax Mine, and Renie on hills near the Great Lakes, where she would skin up to take runs and where she had one day off from school a week to ski. Long after David’s mother died, Renie still had a copy of a Country Gentleman magazine that featured Dave’s mother and father poised for skiing on its cover. Later, a friend found the original painting in a store in New York.
It now hangs in the Gorsuch’s living room, a beautiful, vintage reminder of their family and its skiing roots.
When Renie graduated high school, she recalls her mother asking, “Well, you’re a good skier, but now what are you going to do?” When she told her mother she was going to marry David, her mother protested that he had no money. But her grandmother saw something else. “He’s crazy about her and will always be good to her,” she said. Renie and David married after the 1960 Olympics.
Renie attended Middlebury College in Vermont, before transferring to Denver University (DU). David also went to DU until he transferred to ski for Western State Colorado University. It was that move that led to the couple to open their first store in Gunnison. And it’s a great story.
It began with a store that was in a space attached to a garage, when David was attending Western State. The store opened at noon for the college crowds