IMAGINE LEAVING THE chaos of Hong Kong, flying 19-plus hours across multiple time zones and arriving at your doorstep amid the silence and serenity of Aspen. That’s exactly what one couple with three young children do as often as they can to reach their private home in the upper reaches of Starwood. “It’s a respite for them,” says Aspen architect Al Beyer of Al Beyer Design (410 N. Mill St.), who, together with Della + Zella Interiors’ (410 N. Mill St.) Maggi Whitmer Thompson and Carrie Wolfer, designed and oversaw the building of the home. “Three or four times a year, they come here for a month or so to decompress. Sometimes they don’t want to go home.”
No wonder, considering that every element of the home was meticulously planned to suit the family’s sensibilities, lifestyle and needs. The siting, for instance, was organized to respect the privacy of both the owners and the neighboring homes, its profile kept low and long so as to appear to wander along the landscape. Earthwork around the perimeter was “graded up” to further the sense of privacy, as well as to provide a buffer from any sights or sounds that might escape from the Aspen airport across the valley. Materials, including sustainable cedar plank and stucco siding, combined with simple aluminum-frame windows and protective overhangs, emphasize the clean lines of its design.
Connectivity with the outdoors doesn’t stop at the threshold. In fact, from the outside, the oversize glass-paned front door allows views straight through the house to the Buttermilk and Snowmass ski slopes and mountainscapes beyond. Inside, the concept continues with floor-to-ceiling walls of glass framing views in every direction.
All that glass left little room for artwork, but gave the designers a 5,000-square-foot canvas to fill as they saw fit. “Our feeling was that the view and the site were the art,” says Thompson. “We let that stand out on its own and complemented it in the simple, elegant, minimalist modern style the owners desired, with quiet finishes and special, beautiful furniture pieces.”
Custom white oak flooring, treated with a fuming process and finished on-site to achieve the desired subdued effect, runs throughout the home. It lays the foundation for the open kitchen, dining and living room spaces, which serve as the home’s core, and is done in varying tones of white and beige. The kitchen’s substantial waterfall-edge island commands attention. “It’s sandstone quarried out of Taos, N.M., and cut exactly to specifications, so there are no seams,” explains Thompson. “It’s a beautiful product, neutral, but with a play on texture.”
The same sandstone was utilized for the fireplace in the adjoining living room, and that informed furniture selection for the space. “Typically, we would come in and add accessories and accent pillows and draperies,” says Thompson. “But [the owners] wanted neutral and simple.” A Poliform sectional sofa, Christian Liaigre coffee table, Bergamo wool-upholstered Bright bench and Holland & Sherry rug were all custom-made for the space, as was a slab walnut dining table by legendary woodworker George Nakashima. A partially sheltered outdoor area expands the living area in the warmer seasons.
For private time, and to recover from jet lag, a trio of bedrooms is sequestered down a long, windowed hallway. In sync with the rest of the home, the rooms are subtly furnished, oriented toward the views and share key design elements such as a linear stack gray porcelain tile treatment in the bathrooms. Clear and frosted glass walls in the master bath bring in the outdoors, while a Christian Liaigre bed and a plush silk rug from Aspen’s Balentine Collection are a luxurious touch.
Additional space for relaxation and play, especially in the winter, includes a generous entertainment-movie viewing room with a customized pool table that conveniently converts to a dining table. A thoroughly organized mudroom provides cubbies for gear and ample space for athletic equipment storage.
Because of the distance and time difference between Hong Kong and Aspen, consulting with the owners about the design, furnishing, construction and other details of the home often took some creative planning. “The owners came out [to Aspen] while we were in process, and we emailed and Skyped,” says Thompson. “But sometimes it was the middle of the night for them. To not wake up their kids, they’d go into a closet at home and talk with us.”
Beyer and Thompson concur that the home truly reflects its owners. “Whether they’re there with just the family or have 10 people staying, it’s peaceful and calm, like the area around them,” says Thompson. “We’re always trying to create a space that matches the people and matches the setting. I think we did a good job with that here.”