If serendipity could be defined by an object, then this 6,150 square-foot home on a sloping Aspen hillside would be its visual translation.Its owners had purchased the lot near a ski area with plans to build a spacious second home atop it for hosting family and friends.But when the couple sought out architects Tim Hagman and Kurt Carruth, of Hagman Architects in Basalt, to develop plans, they realized the road to their dream house could be a bit rocky.“The lot limited us quite a bit,” says Carruth.“It had a high bench of dirt that really sloped off quickly.”Adds Hagman, “It was actually passed over before because it was so steep and challenging to work with.”
While the lot presented initial problems-and called for quite a bit of excavation to make construction feasible-the architects accepted the challenge and recruited builder Scott Duryea, vice president of Basalt-based Rudd Construction, and his job superintendent, Dale Abbott, to hash out ideas.What resulted was a unique and ultimately highly functional plan.“When we started reworking the design, it became obvious that the entry would be at the top of the slope, and the main living areas would be down a story, “Hagman says.The somewhat backwards plan allowed the home to flow effortlessly from the entry, down through a sculptural stairway, and into the main living areas.“It almost feels like you’re sitting in a treehouse,” he adds.
The home’s connection to nature was also an important part of the project, as the owners were adamant about sustainable practices.“Every decision was made with sustainability in mind, and everyone was on board with it from the beginning,” says interior designer Annette K. Stelmack, senior project designer with Denver-based Associates III, who was brought in, along with project designer Rachael Morton, early on in the process.The final team-all familiar players in the field of green design-worked together to make sure every aspect of the home was built to standards.
First affected by the commitment to green building was the design style.While the owners had a taste for traditional log homes, the architects convinced them to opt instead for a sustainable and, in turn, more contemporary exterior aesthetic, utilizing a materials palette that consisted primarily of stone, cedar, fir and metal.“They showed us what they liked, and we turned it into a more progressive form of the home,” Carruth says.
Building practices, materials selection and ease of shipping methods were all considered from the beginning.“Sustainability is not just about the materials used,” Duryea says.We look at the machinery, the simplicity of excavation, and ways to eliminate bulk and use stronger materials.”Whenever feasible, the team ordered materials from as close as possible and opted for durable, high-quality products, such as the Albertini windows utlilized throughout the home.“They’re double paned and tinted for solar protection,” Duryea says.
Inside the glass windows, designers Stelmack and Morton took their cues from the contemporary architecture, as well as the owners’ input on color preference.“When the wife came to talk to us about fabric, she had made a chart of the home where he used colored pencils to illustrate the palettes she wanted in each of the rooms,” Morton says.Using that as a guide, the designers sourced tile, fabric and furniture that respected both the wife’s color wishes and the couple’s desire for functional, comfortable transitional interiors.Continuing the team’s pledge for sustainability, FSC-certified walnut wood dominates the interior plan, adding elements of architectural interest throughout.“We made sure all finishes were formaldehyde-free and water-based, and many of the furnishings were made by local craftsmen using sustainable materials,’ Stelmack says.
While the home’s beginnings suggested a rough project ahead, the happy collaboration between the homeowners and design team ultimately yielded a smooth journey from start to finish.“At the end of the project, the client decided he wanted to place a wet bar in a small space underneath the staircase,” Stelmack says. “We had no idea how it was going to fit, but we all worked together to make it happen.” Adds Morton, “That tiny space became the culmination of the project.It’s now the highlight of the entire room.”