By Tera Johnson-Swartz | Photos by David Patterson Photography
A classic style in the fashion industry is easy to spot: clean silhouettes, tailored cuts, neat hems, minimal detail, and neutral colors are just a few identifiers. Designing an ageless home is similar. Susse Budde and Corey Larsen of Dimension Fine Homes in Steamboat Springs are experts in the field. Having worked together for over a decade and providing their clients a rare full-service Design+Build experience, this husband-wife team have become a featured staple in the tight-knit circle of professional home design.
However, before transplanting to Steamboat, Budde already had a name in custom work in Los Angeles; where starting trends, keeping abreast with fashion, and investing in stylists are prerequisites for anyone who’s on the rise in their industry. And though designers and stylists in that metropolis come a dime a dozen, few can say they’ve had as much recognition for being repeatedly featured in magazines and articles about a single home.
Budde and Larsen just so happened to be in the right place at the right time in 2013. They were at home in Steamboat when a visiting couple driving up the winding mountain road got stuck. After a brief exchange of neighborly help and thank-yous, the visitors spotted a selection of tile samples and asked if Budde was an interior designer. That was the beginning of a two-year project that launched Dimension Fine Homes into the archives of timeless design history.
While Larsen had been a builder since 1995 and as a couple, Budde and Larsen had already built three other homes prior, what made this project resonate was how similar the design process – it’s ebb and flow – related to a relationship. “It was a lot of give and take,” Budde said. “We brought a lot of work home, and toward the end, we were there night and day.” Where she’d sketch a roofline, he’d chime in to prevent ice dams. Where he’d build a wall, she’d make sure the materials used complimented each other aesthetically.
The over 6,000 square foot masterpiece was no easy feat, however. The owners’ primary residence was in Dubai with a 10-hour time difference, and both had demanding careers: he, often in Vietnam, and she, all over the world. Budde and Larsen embraced the challenge and pushed forward to flesh out the couple’s dream of a spacious, functional home that complimented both of their tastes.
He wanted a “man room,” a traditional log cabin with antlers and wagon wheels and taxidermy décor. She wanted elegance with a sophisticated-feel and contemporary touches. And both were used to bustling around big cities and being frequently on the go, so conveniences like a complete gym in their home were crucial; all the while allowing enough space for visiting family and friends to have their own piece of heaven in the mountains.
First, they focused on the outer architectural plans. Attracting opposites was the theme. Clean lines, floor-to-ceiling windows, and minimal detail with steel edging brought a subtle modern-look without clashing with nature’s neutral color pallet of stone and wood often found in a typical log home.
Next, the concept of bringing the outside-in was key. The open space between the kitchen overflowing into the great room was Budde’s inspiration.
So, the home’s 270-degree unobstructed mountain view became the focal point in the great room; not to mention the awing beetle kill pine ceiling, hand-distressed beams, along with a mix of barn wood, stone, steel, and clean-painted walls paired with varying floor mediums such as concrete, tile, and wood.
The mix of opposites throughout the home – steel and glass, old and new, shiny and rough – allowed pieces that normally blend in with the background a chance to shine. Like the reclaimed wooded staircase next to the muted steel handrails and cables, back-splashed with sleek metallic walls brought out texture and color and interest in a place most would pass by without a thought.
Once it was time to fill the finished rooms though, Budde had an interesting approach. “People don’t remember the color on the walls,” she said. “They remember the big light fixtures.”
Budde found a similar 2-tiered version of the 60-inch-diameter halo of contemporary lighting, featured in the great room, at a showroom in New York. But she felt the second tier too distracting. Because of her history and access to exclusive showrooms and custom designers though, she was able to have the original piece altered to a single tier in order to create the subtle elegance the finished product clearly exudes.
“Only designers can purchase or alter from most upscale showrooms,” she explained. “When clients invest in hiring a designer, they’re not just paying for styles and ideas – they’re paying for access to the newest, most exclusive concepts.” And she’s right. Think of a much nicer, but equally reputable version of a Miranda Preistly from The Devil Wears Prada.
Besides the many eye-catching light fixtures throughout the home, custom cabinets and tile are Budde’s other focuses. “Don’t cheap out on the tile,” she advises. “The cost of labor isn’t determined on the price of the tile itself, and quality matters.” It’s hard to argue this point; no one wants to bring in a jackhammer and demo crew to replace cheap tile. It’s better to invest in quality at the start, Budde insists.
But what Budde and most designers are known for, isn’t just where they encourage their clients to spend their money. It’s where they help them save it too. Often folks get caught up in trends that are either impractical and cost more than they’re worth, or are simply fads that go out of style as quickly as they came in. “Keep it classy,” Budde advises. “Neutral pallets for things that are permanent – like cabinets, ceilings, and in some cases walls too. You can always add color in the accessories and items that are easily replaceable.”
Throughout this particular home, it’s easy to spot exactly what she’s talking about. A mustard-colored bench sits in the entryway. Purple-plush throw pillows dot the living room. The legs of the dining room table are painted a muted blue. Colorful wall art adorns the hallways and guest bedrooms. All splashes of color are in otherwise neutral toned spaces.
So too, like the classic styles of fashion, the longevity of timelessness is in the simple touches. The plain, minimally-detailed backdrops that allow varying trends and fads to fall in and out of style through the accessories. And if there’s someone who knows a thing or two about where to save and spend on those, Susse Budde has probably got their number too.