The recent debut of Altus Vail, a luxurious 15-residence property adjacent to Vail Village, was a major milestone for the mountain enclave, which hasn’t seen a significant new development in 10 years. And it couldn’t have come at a better time: In 2020, just as demand for residential real estate in the valley soared, inventory dropped to historic lows. Altus’ offerings look and live like single-family homes with an intimate setting and private 8-foot-deep balconies accessed via retractable sliding doors that facilitate indoor-outdoor living—and dramatic mountain and ski-run views.
Designed by Denver-based architecture firm 359 Design with interiors by OCG’s Kellye O’Kelly, the mountain-contemporary dwellings also offer finishes not often seen in multifamily developments, from quartz-clad kitchens with Wolf and Sub-Zero appliances to stone fireplaces inlaid with sleek metal accents. But it’s the rare single-family home that offers this kind of access—the Golden Peak and Vail Village base areas are both just a short walk away.
Mother-daughter duo Betsy and Megan Jamison have always had an eye for beauty. Before launching Littleton home-goods and luxury floral boutique Conservatricein 2015, Betsy worked as a professional photographer and interior decorator, while Megan was a pastry chef with a knack for floral design.
With their current creative outlet—housed in a charming storefront on Littleton’s historic Main Street—the pair have indulged their taste for the unusual and dramatic. “We love abundance and old-world European styling; decadent paintings and English gardens inspire us,” says Megan, who channels these themes into romantic floral designs that incorporate seasonal and locally grown blooms.
In addition to custom and pre-designed bouquets, the duo offers houseplants of all sizes, along with an assortment of ceramic pots and planters in styles that range from simple to timeworn. “We’re always on the lookout for quirky vessels,” Megan says. “We don’t like pigeonholes or relying on a certain genre,” Betsy adds. “Conservatrice means curator in French, and we thrive on surprising our customers with everything from candles and textiles and interesting wall art to stacks of pots and lovely smelling hand creams. Our aim is to guide customers to discover what they love, because when you collect what you’re drawn to, it always works.”
It’s a far cry from the day when architect Carlos Alvarez and designer Carolyn Morris first saw the dwelling. “Back then, there was no rear garden to speak of, and the home was designed to look inward,” says the architect.
Everything changed when a large adjoining lot came up for sale and the owners (a couple with school-age children) snapped it up. Suddenly, the house was open to a multitude of exciting new possibilities. “They went from a small lawn to a giant garden,” notes Alvarez. “Now there were options. We looked at several, including adding a large addition to the house, but we decided to shift the interior perspective 100 percent to look outside to the new backyard.”
To embrace the lush setting designed by landscape architects Adam Hallauer and Collin Bentley, Alvarez and Morris—partners in business and life—worked with designer Emily Young Alford and general contractor Dave Mosely to gut the home for a fresh start. In addition to making way for a modern interior aesthetic and erasing a confusing layout, starting from scratch gave the team an opportunity to open the rear walls to the garden with a series of large windows and floor-to-ceiling folding doors. The reimagined layout focuses on social events both large and small and seems to draw visitors outside where an architectural pavilion that’s crisscrossed by iron girders awaits.
From the front door, the new story unfolds beginning with a geometric floor composed of taupe travertine and charcoal marble. “The entry is large and very tall, so we created a patterned floor that grounds the space and makes it feel cozier,” says Morris. “Plus, it introduces the clean and modern palette.” Visitors will note another design motif here with a 50-foot wall of rift-cut white oak paneling that runs the length of the first floor. “It’s something like the spinal cord of the home. It’s also warm, organic and modern,” notes Morris. But this is not a feature that’s solely about form—it also contains storage and screens a set of elevator doors.
The main floor is dedicated to the social needs of the family. “They wanted spaces for different types of gatherings,” explains the architect. “There’s a large kitchen with a distinct dining island and a banquette-surrounded table for the family, a separate dining room for entertaining, a formal living room, a family room and a multipurpose room that serves as a study and a music room.”
Upper floors are for family, with one level reserved for the kids and another dedicated to adult spaces for work and relaxation. “We changed the circulation on the second and third floors. On the kids’ level there’s now room for a lounge in addition to the bedrooms. On the parents’ floor there’s a more luxurious primary suite with room for an office and individual closets,” says Alvarez. Morris adds, “Having private work and play spaces for adults and kids is perfect for a family. They can retreat for privacy or come together to share interests.”
Whether rooms are for individual or group pursuits, Morris gave them an enfolding nature. “I wanted to wrap each room in a distinct material, such as wood or fabric,” she says. “This softened the backgrounds, making great backdrops for the sculptural furniture we selected. Each piece is very intentional and edited, which results in a graphic composition.” That purposeful nature was applied to every element of the house. “The design team created unusual detailing that required ingenuity to build,” notes Mosely. “We worked closely together to make it a reality.” Alvarez recalls the large amount of time and care that went into the smallest features, noting how he worked with Mike Scott of 5280 Custom Cabinetry on elements such as the minimal handles on the pocket doors and the seamless paneling. The labor was not lost on the clients. “These are people who put a lot of thought into things,” Morris says. “They appreciate features that are well done.”
Today, whether relaxing beside the hearth in the living room or lounging by the outdoor fireplace on the pavilion, the family enjoys the sophisticated and serene nature of their new home. “If I used one word to describe the house, I’d choose ‘peaceful,’” says Morris. “It’s a very restful environment.”
Not everyone believes in second chances. But for anyone who missed out on the 30 Ascent Golf Villas released in mid-February, now is the time to check out the latest from Ascent: 40 luxury condominiums enclosed within a sleek, linear building at the base of Camelback Mountain in Arizona.
The Mountainside Residences offer bespoke design features such as Bulthaup kitchens, two-color palettes that integrate natural materials, and freestanding sculptural soaking tubs in the main baths. And residents will enjoy access to the adjacent Mountain Club, too. This private club is modeled on the historic Jokake Inn, which still stands on the resort grounds. With its rustic wood beams and adobe façade, the club serves as an oasis where residents can pursue wellness and simply relax.
The clients emphasized the importance of respecting the surrounding environment. To speak to the local vernacular, Dunham recommended residential designer Larry Pearson. He was familiar with Pearson’s work and confident that he could create the contemporary but relaxed vibe the couple was looking for yet stay true to the setting. “We love regional materials,” notes Pearson, who worked with general contractor Kelcey Bingham to incorporate recycled timber and Montana moss rock. “The exterior color scheme and materials blend into the setting,” adds Bingham. A sense of place was top of mind for landscape architect Kurt Vomfell as well. “The goal was to reflect the character of Montana,” says Vomfell. He points to the native and near-native plantings he used that “feel like they were found in a meadow here.”
While the team wanted the residence to fit in, they also wanted it to be aesthetically interesting. So, Pearson flipped the script on a classic lake house. A guest house was erected at the top of the hill, with the main house set below. The entry from the motor court leads to a foyer from which a stone staircase descends into the social spaces at lake level. “This is a home that touches the water,” Pearson says. “So, you’re engaging with the lake.”
A contemporary style was important, but, Pearson asserts, an ultra-sleek modern home was never his goal. It was important, he says, “that you can take your shoes off, walk down to the beach, jump in a boat and come back in soaking wet.” Adds Dunham: “It was much more about organic modernism. Larry was very invested in how his design was working between these materials. You’ve got really beautiful stonework, woodwork, hand-troweled plasterwork and iron elements that he brought in.”
Since the clients didn’t want what Dunham calls “a serious, monochromatic house,” he incorporated color but carefully considered its usage. “The outside view is stunning with the shades of blue and gray-blue. When the lake goes bright, it’s green,” he says. “You’ve got the green of the trees and the colors of the mountains. So those are what you want to celebrate.” The designer worked in verdant tones through furnishings such as teal pendants in the kitchen, a sea-green sofa in the foyer and light green swivel chairs in the living room. Varying shades of sand that nod to the beach set the backdrop.
When Dunham did choose to use other colors—mixing in burnt-orange and saffron-yellow dining chairs among the blue and green ones; designing a sectional upholstered in a pumpkin-colored chenille for the sitting room—he kept them muted rather than bright and intended for them to support the vibrant art. “A lot of the art is quite fresh,” Dunham says. “You didn’t want to put up works that felt sludgy.”
To this end, he hung a vintage tapestry prominently in the dining room. Its black background and bold colors contribute an eye-catching graphic quality and a bit of drama, while the textile itself mutes noise and adds softness against the stone walls and steel-framed windows. The result: A room where dinners last for hours, thanks also to the generously scaled chairs covered in a stain-proof leather that is “semi-indestructible,” says Dunham.
This isn’t the only room for gatherings. The entire house is designed for groups. There’s the cozy nook in the living area warmed by a fireplace—the perfect spot for card games—the inviting orange sectional and the many seating areas out on the deck. Which is precisely the point, Dunham muses. “I look back, and I see the picture over the lake or the chairs around the fire pit and think, ‘that’s somewhere I’d like to be.’ ”
As a central element, water endows the modern dwelling with the quality of an oasis. It’s introduced at the front door with a cubist fountain and a rock-lined pool that ripples from the front to the back underneath a long, glass-sided hallway. In the backyard, the lap pool is mere steps away from the living area and is a frequent gathering spot for the family. “They wanted this home to feel like a retreat, and celebrating the concept of water helps make that happen,” says Walton. “Wherever you are in the house, you can glimpse water.”
It’s fitting, then, that the glass passageway seems to float between the black metal-clad portions of the dwelling, which contain the living and dining areas and the main bedroom suite. According to Walton, the hall provides a transition that’s both practical and soulful. “Walking down it to the bedroom, you have a feeling of lightness,” says the architect. “There’s the sense of going to a space that’s quiet and removed, a place where you can relax.”
The concepts sound lofty, and that was the intent. “This project took a few years to construct,” says general contractor Eben Schreiber. “The clients have a great understanding of design and architecture, and they were meticulous—and that’s a good thing. Their appreciation of quality shows in the details of this house.” Walton calls out the stairway composed of floating treads and a rail that resembles a wide, unbroken ribbon of metal as one of those defining features. “The treads and the articulation of the rail, they speak to the whole dark-light, floating-grounded contrast found throughout the house,” she notes.
Working closely with Walton on the interior architecture, designer Alexandra Loew staged a balancing act herself. The designer, who completed the couple’s primary residence in the southern part of the state, kicked off this project by asking them how they wanted to feel in this home. Their answer was distilled to a single word: harmonious. To engender that feeling here, the designer started by studying the architecture of places of peace around the world, looking at everything from temples to meditation spaces for inspiration. Her goal was to create a sense of tranquility while embracing the husband’s appreciation of minimalism and the wife’s enjoyment of cozy spaces. “They gravitate to black and white tones, so we have a lot of those,” says Loew. “But we’ve added in many textures and finishes that give the spaces a tactile quality. The linen-and-silk carpets, the weathered wood of some rustic antiques and the embossed leathers in this home give it a warm, earthy and inviting nature.”
Operating on the idea that peace is hard to achieve with the presence of visual clutter, Loew worked with Henrybuilt to create the kitchen cabinetry, the bedroom closet systems, the bathroom vanities and the mudroom and ski lockers. “There is a sense in this house of everything being in its place,” she explains. “This is a family for whom physical decluttering leads to mental decluttering, so well-considered storage was necessary for moments of creativity and repose.” With the elements of everyday life behind a door or in a drawer and a soothing color palette in place, the designer was able to highlight what she calls the home’s finest art. “The most important artwork here is the view,” Loew notes. “The landscape is an ever-changing, always beautiful canvas.”
This family plans to enjoy the retreat and its landscape for many years to come. “There were two things that were really important to these clients: the feeling of harmony and refinement they wanted to create here and the fact that this is a forever home they want to leave their children,” says Loew. “All of us understood this is a legacy project.” And, like all good legacies, it is meant to be as enduring and timeless as the mountains that surround it.
Denver-based design firm River + Limeoperates under a simple premise when creating spaces for homeowners, architects and developers: “To complement, not compete with, the natural environment,” says founding principal Margaret Selzer, who oversees residential projects that span the mountains of the American West. “You’ll see that we’re drawn to organic materials and the layering of textures to create warmth and interest; minimal palettes that complement the uncomplicated beauty of the location.” Here, Selzer shares what drives her designs and what’s next for her firm.
What’s your take on “mountain” design? The days of embroidered bear pillows are over. I think good mountain architecture and design has evolved to be a reflection of the location—a more harmonious response to the environment and how clients are interacting with nature.
Do you have any current design obsessions? I’m currently obsessed with Caste, a furniture line from Montana. Their pieces are sculptural and organic—functional pieces of art that make a statement.
What’s on the horizon? I’m really interested in the artisans and makers behind the products we buy. Last year, through Jaipur Rugs Foundation, I visited a rug-weaving village in India that helps to create opportunities for women through entrepreneurship and social development. I want to move our firm toward partnering with manufacturers like Jaipur Rugs, so that our purchases can have a much larger impact.
The Madeline Hotel & Residences, an Auberge Resorts Collection property located in the heart of Mountain Village—high above the dramatic box canyon that cradles the town of Telluride—has long lured travelers with its Heidi-esque alpine views. But after a property-wide redesign completed in May, it’s the scenery inside that’s catching eyes.
Led by interior designer Liubasha Rose of Rose Ink Workshop, the refresh highlights a hygge palette of wood-grained walls, hefty ceiling beams, rough-cut marble tables, sweater-stitch carpets, and the work of more than 30 collaborators and artisans, from wood accents by Matt Downer to oversize artworks by Hanna Margetson-Rushmore.
An ornate oak bar and cozy nooks in the fireplace-warmed Timber Room—the property’s new indoor-outdoor après-ski lounge—nod to Megève and Gstaad, while updated guest rooms lean more modern with black steel desks, leather drawer pulls from Telluride’s Crossbow Leather, and art and accessories in bold black and white. The only thing untouched? Those storied mountain views.
To build this dreamed-of Rocky Mountain getaway, the clients worked with architect Patrick Melancon. “They are well-traveled,” he notes. “Swiss mountain architecture inspired them, so we created a house that reads as a series of gabled cottages connected by hallways. This spot has panoramic views in every direction, and the home’s forms take advantage of them.” Although the project turned the Southern architect into an avid skier himself—“I spent a lot of time here in the winter during construction,” Melancon notes—he relied on general contractor George Roberts and his team (based in nearby Eagle) to build the snow country house. “I have a reverence for people who build in extreme climates,” he says. “George and his team know these mountains and have developed some kind of scar tissue that allows them to work year-round—and they make it look easy.”
When the stone-and-timber home was nearly complete, the owners brought Stuart to the project—not the point the designer generally enters the picture. “They were 90 percent done and hoped to have the interiors complete by Christmas—six months from the time they hired us,” Stuart says. “For our office, this is an extraordinarily abbreviated timeline. But they are wonderful people and the location is beautiful, so we went for it.” The designer began the project with a speed she describes as befitting a “reality television decorating show.”
Melancon set the interiors framework with Montana Chief Cliff stone, rich wood ceilings and sizable beams. “I introduced a textural materiality, selecting elements with warmth, substance and weight to stand up to the scale of the house,” Stuart notes. “You can’t have items that are too refined or understated here. Instead, we opted for chunky rugs, handwoven textiles and grass cloth.”
For designers like Stuart, it’s not enough to simply furnish a home. “There’s a French phrase, l’objet juste, that means ‘the right object.’ That’s the feeling I strive for in design,” she says. “It’s important to assemble unique items that speak precisely to a place. I’m not a designer who presents a design scheme as a complete package, instead I find things as I go.” Without the luxury of time, Stuart relied on trusted craftspeople and vendors and, as she says, “called in more than a few favors.” For example, the spiky, agate-studded chandelier that hangs above the dining table. Crafted by artisans at Tuell and Reynolds, it’s what Stuart calls a “special piece” that sets the tone for the rest of the interiors.
But a number of vintage touches provide the “distinctive and quirky” notes Stuart was also seeking, such as the rare Eternal Forest coffee table by Philip and Kelvin LaVerne in the living room, the 1950s-era ski posters hanging over the fireplace and in a hallway, and the carved cabinet—something Stuart says looks like it was crafted by a “hippie artisan”—in the dining room. “Discovering things is the fun part,” she says with the tone of a person who relishes the hunt. “I love finding pieces that are full of interest, movement and life. These are the kinds of items that once placed, no one would ever want to replace.”
Thus, a tailored home was delivered on time, making it something like a proverbial holiday miracle. “The time constraint was a challenge, and it wouldn’t have been possible if the beautiful canvas of the structure wasn’t already there,” says Stuart. “We were able to quickly create something lovely and appropriate to the client. I can’t say I’d want every project to be like this, but we had a blast working on this one.”
Now that they are in part-time residence, it’s possible the Bayou State owners might find fellow Southern ski enthusiasts as neighbors. “When I’m skiing during the first part of the year, it’s impossible not to notice all the Mardi Gras beads,” says Melancon. “I look at it as a tip of the hat to New Orleans culture in the mountains.”
In Golden, one of Colorado’s oldest mining-era towns, local history has come alive in a fresh new way with the debut of The Eddy Taproom & Hotel, a 49-room boutique hotel and restaurant that opened its doors in June.
Located on the former site of the Golden Fire Brick Company, which dates back to the 1860s, the new building—designed by Denver’s Craine Architecture—nods to its predecessor with a brick exterior, riveted-steel panels, rough-hewn wood floors, coffered tin ceilings and turn-of-the-century light fixtures.
Within that industrial skin, Denver-based interior design firm Studio R Design mixed contemporary and vintage furnishings with Gold Rush references—from the black leather swing chairs that greet travelers as they enter the hotel, to guest rooms’ mining-cart-inspired desks and dark-as-ink headboard walls that riff on classic board-and-batten paneling.
Equally unique are the room configurations, which include family-friendly suites with inviting double bunks.