It was 1993 when Al Rosenthal and Rosanne Iversen built their first house at 875 Douglas Street. Several years later, they met with an architect to draw up plans for 885 Douglas Street – both homes, they remember, were the last house on the left. Nearly three decades later, they knew and loved their downtown neighborhood but were ready for their dream home. After several years of heartfelt and meticulous planning, they were able to build their final masterpiece.
From the outside balcony, it’s easy to spot their former homes. “We both love mission or craftsman style homes with straight, clean lines,” Rosanne explains, describing their journey to their newest project. The home highlights both Al’s kitchen design expertise – he’s the owner of Alpine Design Kitchens – and Rosanne’s artistic eye to create the home they’d always dreamt of. The iconic home features an unforgettable state-of-the-art kitchen, inherited antiques and innovative passive house techniques. Rosanne’s artistic touch can be seen in every attribute of the home, while Al’s expertise in kitchen design provides an efficient and purposeful layout.
Coming up the stairs from the ground floor entryway, it is the beautiful, open kitchen that is revealed first. The owners love to cook and host, thus needing a very functional yet inviting space to do so. It is in fact, a kitchen designer’s kitchen, with all the bells and whistles, yet in a minimal setting.
Two islands have been incorporated into the layout; the first with a sink that doubles as a food prep station with two faucets and moveable butcher blocks. The chef can therefore prepare food while still being able to enjoy and interact with company. A drawer reveals a hidden refrigerator, making it convenient to turn and reach for the most-used ingredients. The second island features an induction cooktop as the main focus. Growing rapidly in popularity, these cooktops are 40% faster than gas, with more controllable heat and a higher safety rating due to the fact that the area around the stove does not get hot. Stainless steel gleams in the sun, another feature that makes cleaning easy. Pots, pans, plates and bowls are neatly tucked behind long modern cabinets; there is no clutter at all. The couple was pleasantly surprised that family and friends tend to gather in the kitchen as this was not the case in their previous two homes.
Next to the kitchen sits an antique couch, upholstered in a bright blue fabric which divides the living room in the midst of the open-concept room. The centerpiece of the living room, the couch is from the mid-1800s, reupholstered by Rosanne who sought to put her art degree to good use with the intention of finding ways to incorporate curved lines into a house full of straight ones. The couch is one example; she was also able to find a dining room table with a curved base and next, a camel back sofa and chairs to help the antique couch blend in with the rest of the home’s décor.
The open concept is found again in the master bedroom as there are no doors separating the bedroom and bathroom. The faucets in the bathroom bring in more curved lines, resembling ski jumps. “After purchasing them, we realized the angle of the slope of the faucet is the same as that of a ski jump,” Rosanne explains. “It all made sense and came together, why we liked that faucet so much. Our son ski jumped. We spent a decade on the side of a ski jump, marking or shooting photos. The lines of the faucet felt like home.”
The duo wanted to bring nature into the house as well, with some unique accents to their home. One way they accomplished this is by extending materials used inside the home to the outside. The stone used for the indoor fireplace extends to the outside in plain view of the expansive window both above and next to the fireplace. The small interior touches – light covers that look like tree branches, river rock tiling on the floor, shower tiles that resemble waves – add to the natural feel.
Lines of rock columns and beams continue from outside to in and the soffit wood continues from exterior to interior. The outside siding stretches down the hall and is found on the headboard in the master bedroom. The outdoor stucco color is used again in the office and the family room. The theme of many of the windows is repeated on the interior doors. And the color of the antique Victorian sofa – blue velvet – mirrors the sky.
Expansive glass patio doors, made by local company Zola Windows, feature triple pane windows to optimize heat retention and provide breathtaking mountain views. Each window was designed to face a specific direction and each is a different size depending on its purpose to either help heat or minimize heat in the house. This strategy is growing popular as part of the passive house system that minimizes heating and cooling costs making even the largest home have a smaller environmental impact. Large South and East facing windows ensure warm winter days and carefully designed overhangs ensure the sun is heating the house at optimum times of the day. The West side of the house has smaller and fewer windows to minimize unwanted solar heat gain. Part of the passive house method includes an air exchange system with a heat recovery component to ensure proper air quality to the home without losing heat. In the master bedroom, nearly floor to ceiling length windows embody a newly-trendy “tilt and turn” design, in which the window opens into the room from the top. This allows for fresh, mountain air to flood the bedroom without any unwanted furry visitors as well.
The home includes 100% LED lights to minimize electricity consumption, a component that was important to the owners. They own 20 solar panels at a solar farm in Craig and estimate that they will have a net zero electric cost after a year’s cycle. Part of their electric savings is due to the fact that their insulation greatly exceeds standards. Builder Kevin Hendrickson noted “the build was challenging because of the high R-value they desired and making sure it was an air tight home; but it was worth it because we were all passionate to achieve a very efficient home.”
The owners would like to “age in place”, thus they have thought through the sustainability and longevity of their design. Main floor bedrooms and an elevator ensure that they can live out their days at their home rather than a senior living facility. And while an elevator may seem extravagant, it’s a much better financial decision than some of the alternatives.
“The owners were very open minded during the design process,” Erik Lobeck of WorkshopL, a Residential Design Firm in Steamboat Springs with a focus on fusing modern architecture with energy efficiency. “The end result was allowed to develop naturally from a combination of their desire spatial arrangements coupled with the unique characteristics of the site.” The building design morphed from a three story structure to a two story structure when it was determined that a two level home would suffice. “From the onset, the owners expressed a desire to have an efficient and comfortable home. That was a good fit for our firm’s emphasis on blending modern architectural design with top tier efficiency and comfort – a combination not typically found within the larger, high end home realm. The design isn’t something that’s cherry picked out of a magazine and replicated; it’s a spectacular site.”