Every Detail Modern

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Just south of downtown, Steamboat starts to open up into greater expanses of land. Routt County’s agricultural features begin to reveal themselves. Wind drifts, bright sun, and glaring snow are reminders of harsh environs. But a seductive sense of peace permeates and real life fades away.

Tucked behind a modest hill, a home—with gleaming red siding, warm cedar wood, and radiant metal exterior—catches your eye and takes your breath away. With clean lines and sharp angles, the modern design is unmistakable. With multiple garage bays, the functionality is visible. It’s a home that’s alluring and inviting.

Sitting on a plateau within the 35-acre plot of land, the home is surrounded by nearby hills. Capturing views of distant, more prominent mountains, the landscape is spacious. Originally, the home was intended to be a support building. Phase one was to create an oversized three-car garage with a shop plus storage for snow removal equipment and an Airstream trailer.

“It was a simple and low cost structure with a few small modern embellishments,” architect Erik Lobeck of WorkshopL clarified. Phase two was intended to build a larger main home on a nearby tract of land. But the owner realized she didn’t need much more space, so phase two became a remodel of the newly constructed accessory building. By adding a second floor, the plan for a second structure fell away.

General contractor Bradley Bartels of PureBuilt, Inc. admitted this project wasn’t an easy one. “There was a lot of structural work to do to get a second floor. Ideally, we didn’t want to disturb the lower level frame,” Bradley said, “but it became clear that it would be more cost effective and efficient to open everything up and re-do it. I’ve never taken apart anything so new and well built—it wasn’t meant to be dismantled.” Because plans for phase two evolved, the sequencing was backwards and the timeline was longer. Finishes went in prior to drywall and paint, and Bradley took extreme care to protect the finished products.

Part of what made the realization of phase two possible was that the owner knew exactly what she wanted. “She has really modern sensibilities,” Erik described. “She gave me a binder full of magazine clippings all of which were modernist white interior finishes with large expanses of glass.” Her clean and modern aesthetic was one of the biggest challenges of this project and also what makes the home striking and stunning. As Bartels puts it, “Its modern and commercial-like architecture and finishes puts the home more on the scale of a Malibu, California home. And with its glass walls and austere finishes, it was quite the challenge.”

Entering into the first floor through a sliding glass door, there’s a living room furnished with a white L shaped sofa to the right and a black and white kitchen straight ahead. The Wolf appliances are high end and the engineered stone island is spacious, but the kitchen isn’t big and boastful. The island’s seating consists of clear stools that disappear into the background. The radiant concrete floors throughout are durable, low maintenance, and eco-friendly. Off the kitchen is a small powder room and off the living space is another glass door leading to the wrap-around driveway and a silo.
The silo was originally brought in for storage, but the owner decided it would make a perfect gym. Its superinsulation and galvanized corrugated steel matches that on the home. The round shape offers a counterpoint to the sharp angles of the house and brings in the agricultural surroundings. The top of the silo is a concrete deck with a fire pit and an attached catwalk connecting to the second level composite deck off the house. The re-appropriation of a grain bin to a workout facility and viewing platform highlights the functionality inherent in the design concept.

Back inside the home, floating steel stairs ascend to the second level. On each side of the stairwell is a large, open, and simple bedroom. The guest bedroom is on the north end of the home, and the east wall is floor-to-ceiling glass with a door to the deck. The south wall is white and the west wall is black. Both bedrooms have platform beds and are minimally furnished. The oversized doors are vertical ash wood, softening the black and white palette and introducing a sense of the organic. The floor on the upper level is comprised of two-by-two-foot porcelain tiles weighing 18 pounds apiece. Miles of tile was the best way to create the feel of concrete, and the floor had to be just right to receive the black and white of the walls.
The master bedroom across the landing is similar to the guest bedroom. One difference is the master suite’s steel wrapped fireplace accented with various sized panels. Another variation is that both the east and south walls are floor-to-ceiling glass, granting 270 degrees of valley views. Both walls provide access to the steel beam and railing deck that wraps east to west around half the home before jutting out to the silo. With continuous views, this room in particular gives the comforting feeling of being adrift or alone. The upstairs views are part of the rooms themselves—they’re extensions of the floors and walls. The mountains sit at the end of the beds. The sky is eye-level and endless. The sun is warm and welcoming. And at night, the owner attests, “Steamboat glows.”

Both upstairs bathrooms have custom designed Silestone countertop with extra wide integral ramp sinks. The built in cabinets are gloss white laminate. The shower in the guest bathroom has vein cut natural travertine ceramic tile, complementing the controlled gloss white cabinets and flat white walls and creating an oasis in the modernity. The master bathroom is similar to the guest bathroom with the distinction of having more window and sunlight, a luxuriously deep freestanding tub, a large walk-in closet, and a washer and dryer. The toilets in all bathrooms are wall hung, epitomizing the clean, functional simplicity of the modern look and feel as well as the hidden challenges of installation and construction.
Throughout the house, there’s no baseboard, trim, or casing. All windows have mechanized roller shades that keep heat and light in or out as desired. For warming up and cooling down, the home relies on the superinsulation of its passive house design including the windows and the sun. The concrete flooring also absorbs warm and cool air, additionally helping with energy efficiency and underscoring the priority on functionality.

While the owner doesn’t like to interrupt a clean line, she still wanted a good ventilation system. The installed whole-house fan is cloaked in the attic above the stairs with a dropped ceiling featuring lights that shine out from above. It was a strategic spot to exhaust warm, stale air. The fan is quiet and yet another reminder that this stealth home is all about what you feel but don’t see.

Interior designer Kande Blair Iken of Designed Interiors confirms that when designing a modern interior, less is everything. “Creating a space with minimal decoration requires disciplined design and superior craftsmanship,” Kande points out. Kande loved showing off the architect’s brilliant work rather than concealing it with decorative finishes. Her affinity for open space, symmetry, and light and dark helps give this home its modern appeal.

“We pride ourselves on being able to design what the client wants and design it to science,” Lobeck asserts. WorkshopL focuses on proper site planning, integration with landscape, solar orientation, energy efficiency, and efficient spatial layouts. They choose honest, necessary, and reliable materials. While PureBuilt also embraces contemporary and modern aesthetics, they adhere to the most current building science technology and focus on the resiliency and science of construction.

The home’s exterior, for example, has American Fiber Cement black concrete board to protect against the harsh exposure, wind howl, and UV light. “We wanted a durable material that wouldn’t change over time,” Erik explained. He created a design to soften the look, so the pieces vary in size and shape. Upstairs the pieces are bigger and downstairs the pieces are smaller. “It was a lengthy exercise in engineering to identify patterns for each side and size and then generate a cut list for the carpenters to follow.” The modern effect was born of precise science. The composition offers something you don’t initially see but reveals itself the closer you get.

This behind-the-scenes factor plays a big role in making the home work. To ensure the single pitch roof didn’t look like a flat lid, various layers had to peel back while also appearing cohesive. An undeniable modern obstacle is being able to line up everything to crisp perfection. Considering this project became a remodel, the 3D computer engineering needed to translate smoothly into reality. Erik depended on Bradley’s feedback and input. Interactive teamwork was fundamental to crafting an ultra modern house that’s super durable, efficient, and tight.

Finding balance between ethereal views and the desire for privacy was the owner’s main objective in building the home. Full height window walls allow her to seemingly float above her property in the sleek sanctuary of her bedroom, and the blackout shades offer complete privacy at the push of a button. The bold black walls were at the top of her wish list and became the anchoring feature for the home’s interior. Great lighting was another important element, but hanging lights and wall sconces were not for her. The matrix of dimmable, recessed LED cans with square trim was the solution. “At night,” she says, “they look like twinkling stars.”

Pure Built – General Contractor
workshopL- Home Design
Fedewa Custom Works – Interior Doors, Closets, Bathroom Cabinets
Zola Windows – Windows
Designed Interiors – Interior Design
Alpine Lumber – Building Materials
Ferguson Selection Center – Appliances

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