Modern in the Mountains: One Architect’s Take
Zane Levin, head of Collective’s architecture team, was excited when this project on a three-acre lot in Breckenridge came across his desk: The client wanted true modern design in the mountains (not the amorphous “mountain modern” that seems to represent a whole range of styles, most of them contemporary). “These owners wanted flat roofs, big glass expanses, a material palette of metal and wood, and exposed structure throughout the home—all elements of classic modern design,” Levin says.
Driven by the stylistic goals, Levin began by designing boxy volumes and flat roofs of varying heights. “With modern design comes a very open floorplan,” Levin says. So here, the great room, kitchen, and dining are all in one form with doors on both sides of the rectangle: One set of doors opens to the front patio and the other, to the backyard. “The owners wanted that open, modern feel in the public gathering space great for entertaining,” the architect says.
Upstairs are additional bedrooms, a flexible office/exercise space, and a family room with tucked-away bunk beds. The second floor also offers access to a big rooftop deck that stacks over the great room and dining area. “The house is in a valley with mountains all around it,” Levin says. “We wanted to capture those views.”
And nothing’s quite so helpful in that pursuit as glass, which Levin calls this home’s “number one material.” (It’s also essential for the home’s passive-solar design, maximizing energy efficiency throughout the year.) To accent the glass, Levin specified cedar siding to add visual warmth, metal fascia for a handsome contrast, and stone to provide additional texture.
For the home’s interiors, Levin and his team designed architectural details on par with the home’s gorgeous exterior. The most notable of these is the staircase. “We have this massive, glassy corner and the tallest ceiling in the whole house,” Levin says. “It was a great opportunity to showcase the stair from both inside and out.” Warm wood treads, an industrial-style structural system, and glass handrails all combine to give the staircase the desired effect—an ethereal, sculpture-like installation.
The staircase isn’t the only area where Levin focused on the interior details: In the entry, a slatted-wood ceiling treatment was designed to “look purposeful and elegant and also have integrated lighting,” he says. “We spent a lot of time planning exactly what that would look like.” Similarly, Levin brought an industrial look to the dining room’s tray ceiling with a faux I-beams: “We didn’t need those beams to be structural, so those are painted aluminum,” he says. His team dreamed up the design for the bar adjacent to the kitchen and planned careful recessed lighting in the main bedroom’s tray ceiling. “I think we do a really good job coordinating details, visually and functionally, so each house is just what a client wants,” he says.
During his architectural work, Levin collaborated with his interior design colleagues at Collective, who selected finishes, furnishings, and fixtures to complete the home’s modern look—and deliver the clients’ dream home.
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