The mountains were calling and the Wintermans answered. Their custom mountain modern home was built as a reflection of the bold and beautiful surroundings in one of Steamboat’s most idyllic neighborhoods.
By: Cassie Crooke
Those seeking a place to call home in the Fish Creek Falls neighborhood are drawn to the area for a common reason: built-in bold and beautiful views. Centrally located between Mount Werner and downtown Steamboat Springs, residents of the Fish Creek Falls neighborhood enjoy views from every direction. Another neighborhood perk is the short drive to its namesake: Fish Creek Falls, an iconic, year-round attraction for visitors and residents from across the Yampa Valley.
The eclectic style of homes that make up this mature neighborhood vary from 20 to 30 years of building and development. The architectural styles range from single-family cottage-style builds to condos, townhomes, and luxury homes hidden on larger lots. In this well-established, family-friendly neighborhood, a few undeveloped lots can still be found for the opportunity to build in any style of architecture while adding to the character and charm of the neighborhood.
Paul and Pam Winterman secured one of these rare gems, a single vacant corner lot, where they built their forever home. After planning year-round trips to Steamboat Springs over the past 25 years and raising their kids to enjoy seasonal activities, their retirement plan came to life as the “Yampa Valley Curse” set in.
“We spent three summers looking at homes and lots. We considered other locations, but kept coming back to Steamboat,” Pam explains.
“Pam loves the feeling of coming over Rabbit Ears and descending into our beautiful valley,” adds Paul.
The couple actively sought a mountain modern design, which was a vast departure from the traditional 1950’s ranch they left behind in Kansas City. The Wintermans drove around several Steamboat neighborhoods to identify this style of home and chatted with local homeowners about recommendations for an architectural firm. The legwork they put in led them to meet with Erik Lobeck, Principal Owner and Architect at WorkshopL, an established and progressive architectural firm in Steamboat Springs. Lobeck reviewed the Winterman’s homesite and recalled feeling good about how the corner lot would contribute to a greater presence of the structure while still fitting in with the sloped landscape.
Mountain modern architecture has grown in popularity because it is an energy efficient solution to building structures that function effectively in seasonal climates like ours. When Steamboat’s first residents settled in the valley, they constructed log cabin-style homes that were cave-like retreats for our long winters with short periods of daylight. However, even as this building style evolved, its heavy, dark, and inefficient features proved less desirable for the contemporary home dweller. Mountain modern design blends the rustic and natural elements of the surrounding landscape with modern efficiencies in a clean, simple aesthetic. With big windows, neutral finishes, organic textures, and soft, bright colors, the mountain modern home is considered a healthy environment that contributes to a homeowner’s overall wellbeing.
“The most cost effective approach for this lot was the single pitch structure,” Lobeck explains. “This was the starting point for our design.”
With the bold, yet simple, angular exterior approved by the Wintermans, Lobeck worked with Alpenglow Engineering Solutions to create the interior of the home. After brainstorming an alternative approach, the final drawings incorporated inverted trusses that became a unique feature of the interior.
“Typical roof trusses are triangular with v-shaped peaks. When inverted, they provide a different effect,” Lobeck explains.
The various ceiling slopes were further emphasized with accent lighting and added warmth through a wood panel design that extends from the interior to the exterior soffits. With additional wood left over from the ceiling application, a complimentary accent wall was installed opposite the front door, defining a warm, welcoming sense of entry.
In classic modern home design where bold color is used sparingly, the Wintermans confidently added pops of color where they could. Stemming from inspiration found in a lighting catalog, the Wintermans selected the blue kitchen island pendants and used the accent as a color scheme for other small touches. The vibrant blue kitchen backsplash, blue cabinetry in the primary bath, and a stylized blue marbled wallpaper in the powder room add personality and interest around every corner.
“For us, it was a bold choice to go with all white painted walls, especially since we have pets,” Pam notes. The couple has implemented additional color through artwork and rugs sourced locally and from their home in Kansas City and they have plans to layer in additional pieces as they come across them.
Modern home design is hallmarked by brightness and openness, making the expansive windows and glass doors a critical design element of this Steamboat home. For that reason, the entire structure was built as efficiently as possible. New Mountain Builders of Steamboat Springs installed a high-quality, triple pane window package, air-tight wall and roof insulation, and other sustainable features that optimize the lifetime of the structure. The home also utilizes energy recovery ventilators, a system that uses less energy to transfer heat and moisture between incoming and outgoing airstreams and significantly reduces heating and cooling costs.
“There is much more under the surface of this home than meets the eye,” Scott Kemp, owner of New Mountain Builders points out. “Clean, simple looking modern design actually takes more effort to execute than conventional architectural types.”
Clean lines and an open floor plan define the single level living off the main entrance. The functional rooms in this space include; the kitchen, dining area, great room, owner’s suite, laundry room, and garage. The stairs leading down to the lower level include additional bedrooms, a recreation room, and a spacious storage room. The storage area provides plenty of room for all of the gear a Steamboat lifestyle requires: skis, snowboards, hiking packs, fishing rods, and other seasonal outdoor equipment.
“We love to ski, hike and fly fish. There is nothing better than loading up our labrador retrievers and heading out for a great hike combined with some fishing,” Paul says.
The Wintermans also added a secondary, smaller living unit as a long-term tenant suite for local renters. “This is a true Steamboat house, with primary living on the main level, and plenty of space to accommodate guests and kids and nothing over-the-top,” Lobeck adds.
Despite considerable challenges, including a shortage in construction labor and building supplies during the height of the global pandemic, all parties involved reflect on the success in completing the Winterman’s new mountain modern home. “This project brought together ideals of architecture, skills of construction, needs and desires of the homeowners, and the realities of budgets in a way that is rare in the valley,” Kemp states.
During the day, this one-of-a-kind structure will catch your eye with its luxurious simplicity. Gazing past the home into the valley, a natural stillness sets in. The local moose have already adjusted around the new structure, enjoying the columnar aspens and other shrubs as an afternoon snack on an average Steamboat day. At night the subtle exterior lighting softly highlights the architectural features without emitting light pollution or drawing additional attention. Outside of the home, family and friends enjoy multiple gathering areas, all with the picturesque views that were built-in from the start. The Wintermans answered a calling to the mountains of Steamboat Springs, and they are so grateful to be living out the next chapter of their story in their bold and beautiful, mountain modern home.
Photography: Tim Murphy
Engineer: Alpenglow Engineering Solutions
Builder: New Mountain Builders
Landscaper: Flora Distinctive Landscapes
Cabinetry: Alpine Design Kitchens
Stone & Stucco: RAMS Masonry
Roofers: High Point Roofing
Electric: Steamboat Electric
Insulation: Accurate Insulation
Concrete: Pour Boys Concrete
Plumbers: Downhill Plumbing