Timing is everything. When Michael and Hilairy Guerriero found the perfect lot for their new family home, the spot was right, but the timing? Not so much. The family had been coming to Steamboat to ski for many years and had been looking for that perfect place to build their home base in the mountains. When they found their homesite in Sidney Peak Ranch, it seemed like everything was coming together. Except that with two young boys at critical phases in school, the timing wasn’t right to build their dream home over 1000 miles from their full-time home in Arkansas. Fast forward 11 years, and those two boys are now college-age and much more open to a second home in Colorado. That’s when the family enlisted the expertise of Steamboat Architectural Associates and JSM Builders to turn their family dream into reality.
The Guerriero family has a long history with the Steamboat Springs area. Like many winter visitors, they came for the skiing, but fell in love with the area for the unique community and Western character. Sidney Peak Ranch checked all the boxes of wide-open spaces and spectacular views and even included easy access to an equestrian facility, a plus for Hilairy. When the time was right to build, the entire process took just over a year, a feat homeowner Michael attributes to smooth and trusting partnerships with the architects and builders.
Steamboat Architectural Associates wanted to maximize the benefits of the site. That included situating the home at just the right angle to take advantage of the expansive views. The layout is aligned in layers to create a natural framing of the landscape, much like a picture within a picture. “With every project we do, we look at how to situate the house to best capture the view and the design carries on from there,” says Erica Hewitt, Project Manager and Architectural Designer for Steamboat Architectural Associates. And in this home, it all starts with a grand entryway.
Tucked into the otherwise unassuming front of the house, the massive front door greets you.
That welcoming feeling continues throughout the home, where each pocket of the home is designed to feel warm and comfortable, a space where anyone is welcome to stay and chat.
The home has an open floor plan, but strategic use of furnishings divides the space into smaller areas, each with their own purpose. For a couple that likes to entertain, a well-appointed kitchen with equal parts prep and congregating places was a must. Granite countertops serve as bookends to the central range and maintain a perfect line of sight to the very lounge-able living room. Yet each area feels distinct, thanks to the keen design eye of Hewitt. Hewitt worked closely with Hilairy Guerriero and Hilairy’s close friend, Houston-based designer Mersina Stubbs, to create the perfect furnishing complements to the architecture. Says Hilairy, “SAA created the spaces, and the design amplified the space to create these natural places that are conducive to conversation.”
The vast living room area features smaller conversation pods within it, including a perfectly placed round table and chairs. This corner spot invites the visitor to sit and enjoy a cup of morning coffee while soaking in the unobstructed views of Steamboat Ski Area’s Mount Werner. Opposite the table sits a pheasant-clad lounge chair and matching ottoman, primed for solo reading or piping into the larger conversation in the living room.
In fact, the entire home seamlessly merges spaces so everyone has a place to belong.
The lower floor features most of the home’s four bedrooms, but also a bunkbed room, with eight large beds designed for the couple’s twenty-something sons to crash with friends after a long day of skiing. Typically a space designed for kids, this bunk room features a grown-up design palette, reminiscent of an upscale European hostel.
Even the dogs have their own space in this thoughtful design. The homesite’s 50 acres give the family dogs plenty of space to roam, and plenty of opportunities to get nice and muddy. A strategically placed dog wash in the garage works to contain the mud before the dogs can track it inside. “It’s one of my favorite features in the house,” says Hilairy. “We use it almost every day in the summer.”
Creating spaces that encourage communication
One of the couple’s primary goals in building the Steamboat home was to have a place to gather. “At the end of the day it is a vehicle to spend time with the family; it just happens by itself because there are so many areas where people can come together,” says Michael. With their children now older, living away from home with friends of their own to invite to the house, the Guerrieros wanted a home base; a place for their family and friends, a central meet-up gathering point. The home was specifically designed to that end, with the design creating spaces that are welcoming, where people would want to come back to. Someplace where future grandchildren and great-grandchildren would want to spend time.
One way SAA achieved this goal was by creating social and inviting rooms, where people can see and communicate with each other in different spaces. Thoughtful design choices like swivel chairs in the main living area encourage communication between areas. They chose furnishings that are inviting and comfortable and not too sterile.
For this Southern family, communication is uniquely important. Providing spaces where people wanted to sit down and visit over coffee or cocktails was a must. Strategically placed chairs around the main living areas, plus additional seating on the vast deck, check that box with style.
One thing you won’t notice in the main living area is a television. That’s by design. Steamboat Springs-based Fedewa Custom Works created a custom cabinet to shield the tv from plain sight, but it can easily rise into view when guests want to turn on that must-see football game. Then the tv becomes another stimulus for conversation, rather than a distraction from it.
Fedewa created custom cabinets throughout the home, solving for the homeowner’s requests for unique style and functionality. “I’ve always thought our job is to bring the client’s mental picture to life,” says Kevin Fedewa, owner of Fedewa Custom Works. “The front-end collaboration was Steamboat Architectural Associates, JSM, my design team and the clients. From that point my cabinet shop took the reins and turned the drawings into cabinets.” The result is beautifully designed storage that fits perfectly into the family’s needs and style.
The lower level boasts another large gathering area with long, comfy couches perfect for lounging. A shuffleboard table lines the wall, while a poker table in the corner serves as another inviting place to pass the time between family and friends. Even the home gym was designed to allow family and friends to share a space during what is typically a solo activity. Designed as an afterthought, when excavation revealed a hole in the landscape that needed to be covered, the gym is a clever way to utilize space and provide a bonus room that increases the home’s unique appeal. Spanning the entire length of the upstairs garage, the well-equipped home gym has the typical cardio equipment, and then some. “I may have gone a bit overboard with that space,” laughs Michael, “but it’s a great place that everyone enjoys.” He worked with a personal trainer to outfit the gym with everything from free weights and punching bags to complete strength training systems. Glass garage doors allow for a unique view during each workout.
A marriage of styles
When creating a custom home, a designer is working with a blank slate. And when the tastes of the homeowners skew in vastly different directions, that can create unique design opportunities. In the case of this home, that meant going neutral in most of the home’s spaces to accommodate Michael’s refined tastes, then turning up the design with pops of color and texture in select spaces to satisfy Hilairy’s love of bold design. Bathrooms are a natural place to have fun with design, and each one in the home reflects Hilairy’s personal taste. No place is that more evident than in the choice of wallpaper and sinks in the powder rooms. Bold wallpaper patterns with bright colors play together with Mexican-style sinks and tile.
Another unexpected and dramatic design element is a colorful glass chandelier that hangs in the entryway. It’s enough to stop anyone in their tracks. Designed by James Hayes Art Glass Company, calling this chandelier a lighting fixture would be an understatement. Crafted in his Arkansas studio then carefully transported to Colorado and installed for the first time in the home, the piece brings just the right amount of drama to the lofted ceilings.
Throughout the rest of the house, the design team sweated all the small stuff too, including flush Trufig outlets that blend seamlessly into the kitchen and hand painting other outlet covers to match the carefully selected wallpaper. Personal reading lights in each of the bunk beds make every guest feel at home. It’s these finishing touches that help transform this custom build into a unique home.
Twelve years after the Guerriero’s purchased their dream lot, they can now enjoy their cozy gathering place in the mountains. It was the first home the couple built together, and they’re proud to call out that their marriage has come out intact. As Michael notes, at the end of the day, building a home can either be stressful or enjoyable.
The home was worth the wait. Now it’s ready for the current generation to enjoy their time in the home they so carefully crafted and create a legacy space for future family and friends to gather together.
Laura Soard is a writer and marketing professional based in Steamboat Springs. When she’s not writing, you can find her running, biking and hiking on the trails around the Yampa Valley with her husband, daughter and Chocolate lab.
- Builder: JSM
- Architect & Interior Design: Steamboat Architectural Associates
- Custom Cabinetry: Fedewa Custom Works
- Lighting: Tricia Hauan, The Light Center
- Building Supplies: Northwestern Supplies
- Roofing: Revelation Roofing
- Doors: Carriage House Doors
- Chandelier: James Hayes Art Glass Co
- Insulation: Accurate Insulation