Homes Your Vail Valley Home

Rugged Harmony

The stars aligned when the home high above Eagle Ranch was built, assures owner Kasia Karska. And, indeed it would seem that way. Outside, it is in harmony with the rugged Western terrain which embraces it. Inside, it is in beautiful harmony with the lifestyle and philosophy Kasia and husband, George McNeil, cherish.

The siting of this high-perched home was intentionally aligned with the constellations and earth in mind. “It was the perfect lot to be able to apply Vaastu Shastra, the 6,000-year old knowledge of how to place a building so it reflects the very surroundings and can’t be alienated from the universe,” explains Kasia, a designer and president of KK Design & Build.

The description of 360-degree views couldn’t be more apropos to this bird’s-eye setting. Only a short hop from Eagle Ranch, the town of Eagle and Highway 6, the couple’s home still seems in a world all its own. Pirouetting around the lot brings panoramic vistas of yet another mountain—the Sawatch Range, both north and south; New York Mountain; Castle Peak and Bald Mountain are among the soaring backdrops. The acre lot itself is dotted with pinion pine which rambles into the tree covered hills climbing the lofty peaks beyond. Yet, it is minutes from “all the fun things the valley has to offer,” notes Kasia.

The exterior of the home was drawn from its surroundings, as well. Covered in weathered, 30-year-old barnwood, it perfectly echoes its Colorado heritage, topped with a carefully rusted, metal shed roof, upheld by metal columns over the front entry.


An upright horseshoe above the front door captures both the western atmosphere and good luck, and slim wind chimes make delicate music when westerly winds blow. Kasia’s mother once told her, “My daughter lives in a barn.” And a deliberate and very elegant barn it is. Although the exterior is pure Colorado ranch, even from the outside foreshadowing of the contemporary is seen in the home’s slashes of rows of windows and the gray porcelain panels surrounding a side entrance. From the wide glass front door, one can see straight through the house to the back of the lot—almost as if there were no interior at all.

rugged_harmony_2Stepping inside the home, however, is like entering another realm. The tranquility of the simplistic, but elegantly contemporary interior is palpably soothing, a striking juxtaposition to the rustic exterior. A pale, sculptured light hangs entrancingly over the entryway, while a recessed art niche holds a lovely orchid watercolor in bold Japanese styled strokes. Beyond the entrance, the only reflection of the rustic exterior is the soaring barnwood ceiling, its peak off centered and inset with a high niche with two skylights.

Throughout the home, Kasia, the home’s contractor, applied the principles of Feng Shui, as well as Vaastu Shastra. For instance, the living space follows the Vaastu Shastra’s golden rule, or ratio: width=X, divided by length=X times 1.618, which is considered to be the most pleasing ratio in which to live. “That (rule) is in every space we created–living, dining, cooking, “sleeves” or connections, and master bedroom and bath,” explains Kasia. “It just feels right.” Visitors, she assures, love the spaciousness of the home and the way it captures the views. “Nowadays, there is so much going on in our lives and so much of it is spent apart, we wanted an open area where we could be together.”

The entire east side of the home is wide, sectioned glass panels that fold back to open the living/dining area to the wide patio beyond and truly mesh indoors with the outside. “The home was built to maximize the views,” states Kasia. The home’s very color scheme of tone-on-tone rugged_harmony_3grays, metal, glass and black and white accents perpetuates the feelings of peacefulness. It is impossible not to unwind and relax in this interior. The wide, porcelain tile of the exterior side entrance adds continuity throughout the common spaces of the first floor and extend to the patio beyond. Paler gray covers walls and galvanized steel window casings provide an invigorating contrast. Everywhere, Asian touches add a meditative ambience, furthered by the Buddha statues in every room. Orchids strewn lovingly throughout the rooms add soft sprays of color and provide a delicate beauty, while Japanese modern art elicits vitality to the muted backdrop. “We wanted a sleek, minimalistic look and feel,” explains Kasia. “We were the clients. Our children are grown.”

The home’s concept began with the kitchen–the center of the home. “When you walk into the kitchen, you see views,” notes Kasia. “The important thing to us was not to put a backsplash on the counters, but to use the windows as the visual backsplash.” Here, the couple’s love of balance, function and space becomes evident. The kitchen is enticingly open–a clean, attractive sweep of efficiency that proves an appealing extension of the serene living space. A striking interplay of lustrous wood, shining stainless-steel appliances, chrome fixtures and glass aligns with therugged_harmony_4 couple’s preference for a minimalistic look. Two long parallel sets of counters provide ample space for eating and cooking over Echowood cabinets, a composite wood that reflects the couple’s commitment to sustainable, earthy elements. In line with Feng Shui principles, the gas range faces east in the outside counter; opposite, granite countertops enclose the sink, above which is a wall-mounted TV. rugged_harmony_5But who needs TV when you have gorgeous mountain views to gaze at through banks of windows both above and below the frosted glass upper cabinets? The gray breakfast bar is paired with wire stools, fitted with slim, poppy-red, leather seat cushions that provide an unexpected and enlivening contrast.

On the northeast wall of the dining area, a large blowup picture of an idyllic waterfall hangs prominently. This not only adds to the prevailing serenity of the home, but also applies the requisite Feng Shui element of water for abundance to the home’s north side. The long plank dining table, capped with metal on each end and paired with sleek gray dining chairs, offers the needed warm, earthy elements.

In the living area, a fascinating treatment of steel cables strung from the high celling above is anchored to an iron I-beam on the floor, creating the illusion of a room divider from the nearby entry. The inset fireplace, the space’s element of fire, faces south.

Surrounding it, rows of narrow Basalt tiles resembling gray-washed bamboo provide a dramatic backdrop to the room as they climb to the ceiling. Two richly textured, Armani charcoal-gray sofas are strewn with various textured, tone-on-tone throw pillows. A wide glass coffee table catches the fireplace’s light, and is strewn with orchids, candles and a singing bowl.

The wide spacious patio beyond holds a long table for outdoor dining, and two cozy seating areas; one with an enclosed firepit to extend the mountain evenings long past the gorgeous sunsets the property enjoys. “Today, we don’t have a lot of time to spare. So creating a space that feels good and is a harmonious building is essential,” says Kasia.

Just beyond the kitchen and dining areas, a quiet reading nook doubles as an office. Windows to the west continue to showcase the western vistas. A floor-to ceiling pane of glass overlooks an enclosed tiny courtyard to the east, and then opens beyond into the wide Western landscape, where birdfeeders dot the scrub brush and birds flock for dinner in the summer. In the winter, it provides a perfect frame for the winter-frosted range beyond and roaming wildlife. Two diamond patterned, upholstered chairs are paired with a rich, petal-stitched ottoman and an oriental throw rug. A floating desk—an attractive stone slab—hangs in front of the wide window and provides an inspiring space for the creative pair to work.


A magnificent barnwood door hangs cleverly from rails, sliding open to reveal the master suite beyond on the north end of the home. A small entry speaks to the importance of peace and tranquility to this couple. A puzzle fitted, wood floor leads to a niche holding a Buddha statue below an Oriental picture. The master bedroom is a serene private sanctuary. Three sides of the room are glass. “I never want to leave here,” exudes Kasia. “There is sunlight from morning to night.” Low antique wooden tables flank the bed. A prayer flag from Tibet serves as a colorful window treatment over one window. Nearby, sits Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, while across the room, a 1700s-era, antique Chinese chair is paired with a wooden display rack, ablaze with colorful, hanging scarves.


The master bath is a wonderfully iridescent play of light, with pale marble, wide windows and chrome accoutrements. Boldly veined marble counters play up the Oriental feel over pale cabinets and forms the backdrop in a stylish open shower, with a freestanding frosted panel of glass in front, while hidden showerheads in the ceiling rain a cascade of water below. Kasia wanted an Oriental boat for a bathtub, but settled instead for a pleasing, pale, boat-shaped tub. A second shower is enclosed in glass and holds a granite bench. A stacked washer and dryer are hidden in a closet; and just beyond, a generous walk-in closet features a wall of tiny cubbies to neatly and attractively display belts and adornments without searching.


Through a second hanging barn wood door is the home’s second entrance and the entrance to the guest suite. Kasia explains, “We wanted a space for us to enjoy guests and a space where guests can come and enjoy themselves without being disturbed.” A collection of Western-style hats hang from a rustic coatrack above a walnut slab bench, on a steel I-beam in the entry. The entire second floor is devoted to the guest suite. Recycled carpet lines the floors. A sitting room, dining area, stacked washer and dryers, Echowood-fitted bath and charming bedroom complete the secluded suite. A slim balcony gives guests the same grand sweep of New York Mountain and the northern Sawatch Range as the main residents enjoy below.