The Inspiration of Tranquility

Sometimes a change of pace is the precise remedy. And that thought is just what inspired a couple to move from their traditional Vail home to a more secluded spot—a place that would be more a homestead and less a stopover on a ski vacation. They envisioned having a home somewhere that could, perhaps, become a permanent haven, fulfilling their artistic needs and an inherent desire for quiet. What they finally settled on is both gorgeous and seemingly remote, set in a small enclave of just a handful of homes.

Surrounded by trees and steep, striking hillsides and teeming with wildlife, the quiet enclave of Elk Meadows in Buffher Creek is just minutes from Vail proper and some of the world’s best skiing. Cradled amidst a grove of aspen, with views that span more wilderness than development, the property offers an inspiration for the wife’s writing acumen as well as a peaceful interlude from the husband’s hectic stints in surgery. It’s hard not to be creative when surrounded by nature’s glorious riot of colors, or serene while watching deer and moose wander through your backyard.

Developed by Solaris Redevelopment Company, the home on Buffher Creek’s topmost point is striking in its vertical placement on a steep slope. Yet, it is a surprisingly roomy 4,200 square feet, with abundant clean sweeps of space throughout its generous 10 rooms. Not a sprawling home, but architect Mike Suman of Suman Architects has maximized the home’s high, vaulted ceilings and wide windows to make the most of both inner and outer space. Case and point, the two story, glass-stone-and-steel entryway takes advantage of the mountain horizons and the open space surrounding the home on three sides.

The owners previous home, purchased furnished, was much more traditional in design. A mountainside home, it fit the original bill for this pair of avid skiers and second homeowners, with ease of access to Vail Mountain. But it didn’t fulfill their long-term vision of life in Vail. This Buffher Creek home, on the other hand, was brand new construction, a clean slate on which the couple could stamp their own needs and personalities.

From the dramatic entry, a grand sweep of steel staircase leads past floor-to-ceiling windows to the upper level and the main living space. Throughout the home, the steelaccents underscore the earthier elements of oak trim and rift-sawn, white oak slab doors and ceilings, Arrigoni wood floors, stone counters and wool carpets.


Taking a cue from both the interior finishes and the owners’ preferences, Yvonne Jacobs and Kelsey Cole, lead designers with Slifer Designs, created more of a mountain contemporary look, with hints of mid-century modern. The couple has passion for modern design, explains Jacobs, principal of Slifer Designs, and showed the team pictures of their very modern lake home in Texas. But the owners also wanted this home to have a warmth and be inviting. They didn’t want a place that was staid, but, rather one that would let them unwind, relax and would emphasize their personal passions.

The home had a sophisticated palette with which to work—clean white walls and beautiful, oak wood flooring, finished with a warm, brown grey stain. The design team built on the existing palette and the natural textures, adding vibrant shots of color to bring warmth to the basic gray tones of the overall design. Throughout the modern theme they wove complimentary styles and accents, such as an antique chandelier and artistic lighting, handcrafted rugs and inviting, custom furnishings. As well, a wonderful collection of pottery and artifacts, which the owners had brought back from their travels, most notably Africa, added global, homespun accents to the décor. These, including the artwork the owners had collected over the years, as well as various prized belongings from their Texas house, makethe house unquestionably their own.

“The house has some beautiful pieces, but it’s not over the top,” observes Jacobs. “They wanted to live in this house. They didn’t want to worry about their two dogs.” In fact, one of the dictates in designing the home was that it be dog friendly.

It was important the home lend itself to family gatherings, so everyone could be together, yet retreat to their own private spaces. The upper level of the home flows seamlessly from living room to dining area to kitchen, providing a welcoming space for family get togethers, as well as entertaining friends, while the lower level of the home offers private retreats.


“The home had an underlying handcrafted element that made it intriguing to work with,” says Jacobs. She and Cole used natural fibers, such as jute and hemp to complement this,noticeable in the rug in the living area. The rift- sawn-oak sectioned paneling surrounding the black-steel fireplace provides a contemporary element, but with polished earth tones in the living area. Atop the fireplace is an African doll and some native-inspired pieces from the owners’ art collection, furthering the earth- connected feeling. To keep the room serene and peaceful, finishes in varying tones of gray were used in the sofa, upholstered side chairs and area rug. The tone-on-tone color scheme is grounded with touches of bright yellow in the sofa pillows, throw blanket and a contemporary glass vase. The views through the wall-to-wall windows and glass doors are so stunning the designers did not want to detract and, with this in mind, they placed the television set off to one side of the fireplace. Then, a sectional sofa with a connecting, cushioned opening between sections directsfocus to the views.

The arrangement still allows ample cushy television viewing or fire gazing on snowy nights. A clever, low shelf attached to the back of the sectional was the perfectspot to display more of the owners fascinating artifacts, including African sculptures, handcrafted houses and prized books. A cocktail table, crafted in three sections, adds a mid-modernistic touch, while its rich wood echoes the wood treatments in the fireplace surround and the room’s oak trim. As well, sculpted wooden bowls filled with African beads add another splash of color.

The owners describe their home’s furnishings as “stunning”. This is particularly evident in the elegant dining room, with its clean lines and rich textures. A cubed, abstract chandelier lends an artistic touch over the split dining table, the golden glow of its lights reflected warmly in the table’s walnut surface. The sections of the table are connected by metal accent pieces, that reflect the steel accents found throughout the home. A handcrafted scarf from the wife’s collection drapes over the back of a custom-made dining chair that is covered in a beautiful, gray suede. The sleek, gray credenza, complements the tone-on-tone scheme of the room and enhances the lovely, gray-washed, oak flooring. And, the room’s wide windows overlook an enchanting aspen grove, which surrounds the stone patio and hot tub beyond.


The living area melds easily into the adjacent kitchen. Sharon Cohn, developer with Solaris Redevelopment, designed the home’s interior fixed finishes. In the kitchen, she paired dark rift-sawn, white oak cabinets from Elegant Cabinetry in Avon, with a custom, stainless steel hood. Custom, smoky-glass pendant lights set off to dramatic perfection the Silestone countertops. Part of the owners’ pottery collection, along with lovely wooden bowls and a little house from Africa, reside in places of honor high atop cabinets and on decorative shelves, lending an inviting charm to the beautifully efficient space. The kitchen opens onto a sitting area where two tulip shaped chairs offer an idyllic place to read or gaze through the floor-to- ceiling windows at a lofty height.


The owners have deemed the master bedroom, “perfect,” and no wonder. The master bedroom has a secluded deck withviews of the climbing hillside and treed open space. Although the master bedroom is a retreat of its own, the designers wanted the space to feel connected to the rest of the home, so they brought in some of the same colors used throughout. “We wanted a feeling of a more flowing house,” says Jacobs. In this room, the modernistic lines and overall monochromatic color scheme were softened with soft, custom, velvet pillows in warm tones on the bed, and a beautiful silk wool area rug from The Scarab in Minturn. The wife’s upholstered dream-bed was custom styled, inspired by an Italian design. A pair of the owners’ art deco glass lamps added the perfect touch atop glass nightstands on either side. Swivel side chairs, with felt seats and leather backs, create another cozy space to reflect and to be inspired by nature’s beauty.


In the adjacent master bath, Cohn, a self-admitted “stickler for details” used silver travertine slate on the floor and tub front, paired with glass and limestone tiles around the glass shower/tub. The honed, white marble countertop and rift-sawn, light white oak cabinets with sleek handle pulls add to the appeal of the exceptional look of the space.

On the home’s lowest level, there is a lovely secondary family room, two additional guest rooms and a mudroom.

“It’s very livable,” says Jacobs of the home.She adds that clients, overall, are going more and more in that direction. “The trophy homes of the ’90s, with bowling alleys and media rooms, are no longer a priority,” she says. “People want a home to be lived in.”