Peak Performance

This Rocky Mountain retreat reinforces a family's connection to community.

May 01, 2004


Interior details, including a soaring ceiling, natural log trim and a two-story fireplace, rival the mountain view seen through a pyramid of windows in the great room. The gas-burning fireplace, one of four in the home, is constructed of natural stone veneer and has a flagstone mantel and hearth.

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This modern-day mountain lodge in Genesee, Colo., serves as the primary residence for its owners, who share a long family history with the upscale community 20 miles west of Denver. "They wanted their home to pay homage to their historical connection to the area," says Aaron Zimmer, project architect for D.H. Ruggles & Associates, "as well as demonstrate their respect for the local architectural vernacular.

"The regional architecture of the log cabin here stems from settlers bringing an English Arts and Crafts feel to their homes as they moved west into the Rockies. We tried to bring that same feel to this home in a modern way, pushing the limits of the construction techniques and the materials that were used."

Castle Builders constructed the 6,338-square-foot custom home primarily with conventional stick-built framing, but steel provides the structural strength necessary for the volume ceilings and window walls that provide the interior living spaces with Rocky Mountain views. In addition, a combination of structural and decorative prefabricated log packages, including the log portico at the entry, enhances the home's lodge-style character indoors and out.


To capitalize on the mountain views, the home features a southwestern orientation. Low-e glass, deep overhangs and the high altitude minimize solar heat gain, architect Aaron Zimmer says. Vent stacks for the mechanicals were concealed in flat sections of the roof to avoid interrupting the design's symmetry. The octagon-shaped great room (below) serves as a welcoming entertaining space directly off the main entry foyer.

From the outset, the project benefited from the close cooperation of everyone involved, says Zimmer. From the initial design meeting to the open house celebrating project completion, the home took just 16 months to finish.

"It ultimately came down to this: We had incredible owners who knew what they did and did not want for their home," Zimmer says. "And our firm has a great working relationship with the builder that spans over two decades. We have great trust in their ability as a general contractor."

Kurt Hogue, Castle's general manager, notes that "although we had a 35-acre site to work with, the actual building envelope was less than an acre because of the restrictions presented by the slope of the topography."

A winding driveway approach, defined by a retaining wall constructed of natural local stone, descends from the street to the three-level residence, which is incorporated into a natural hollow. Because the home is below street level, the roof line serves as its major exterior design element. "The roof is really all you see of the house at first from the street," Hogue says.

The steep, varied roof line, multiple dormers and broad, sweeping balconies and terraces characterize the home's exterior. "I really wanted to capture the essence of the site by designing an architectural form that felt appropriate for it," Zimmer says. "This home was really defined by its surroundings and is nestled into the terrain."


The kitchen features abundant counter space as well as a two-level island with snack-bar seating. Knotty alder cabinetry and granite countertops complement the home's forested setting.

Volume ceilings, large windows and the rear orientation of the primary living spaces maximize the view of 14,264-foot Mount Evans nearby. "The floor plan really opens up on its rear elevation with lots of glass," says Zimmer. The focal point of the living space is a 28x28-foot, main-floor great room with an eight-sided design that increases the number of walls available for windows.

Although the view-oriented rear elevation features a sunny southwestern orientation, low-E glass, coupled with the site's high altitude, mitigates the effects of solar gain, Zimmer says.

In addition to the great room, the main floor includes the kitchen and formal dining area as well as a separate master wing and home office. The second floor, dedicated to the needs of the family's two children, includes two bedroom suites and a separate study area. On the lowest level, the walk-out basement features a spacious family room, an exercise room, a guest suite and a stone wine cellar with a reclaimed brick floor.


Echoing the shape of the adjoining great room, the home office has a distinctive footprint and volume ceiling like its octagonal neighbor, but on a smaller scale. The walls feature natural stone veneer. Flooring throughout the main level is rustic walnut.

"The clients are extremely family-oriented, with kids and dogs," Zimmer says. "They embrace all the related activities that go along with this type of lifestyle, so they wanted their home to project a comfortable, informal atmosphere. While they were looking for an extremely high level of craftsmanship throughout the interior, they did not want it to be fragile or off limits from use."

To comply with federal fire-prevention codes recently enacted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, existing vegetation around the home had to be thinned, necessitating the removal of 140 mature trees, Hogue says. A professional landscaping company replaced the vegetation with low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plants and native grasses less likely to fuel a forest fire. The home also features a fire-resistant concrete tile roof.


Custom Log Homes in Stevensville, Mont., fabricated the massive log portico that serves as the home's entry point. Castle Builders' subcontractors assembled it on the job site. The logs conceal a metal support structure and the electrical chases for exterior lighting.

See the Floor Plan

The home was completed in October 2003.

Style of home | Rocky Mountain lodge
Location | Genesee, Colo.
Total square footage | 6,338
Hard costs | $250 per square foot (excluding land)
Builder | Castle Builders LLC, Denver
Architect | D.H. Ruggles & Associates, Denver
Interior design | Linda Watson, ASID, Denver

Custom-built primary residence

Major Products Used | Appliances: GE (refrigerator), KitchenAid (oven), Dacor (gas range), Bosch (dishwasher) | Cabinetry: custom knotty alder | Countertops: granite | Doors: Sierra Pacific (exterior), custom alder (entry and interior) | Fireplace: Heatilator | Flooring: rustic walnut | Home controls/automation: Belden (low-voltage cabling and wiring), Chatsworth Products (relay rack), Panduit (jacks, faceplates, patch panel, wire management), Niles Audio (12-channel distribution amplifier), Jamo (speakers, volume controls), Panasonic (advanced hybrid phone system) | Plumbing fixtures: Franke (kitchen), Hansgrohe (master bath), Rohl (secondary baths) | Exterior finishes: natural stone, cedar | Decking: mahogany | Roofing: Eagle Roofing (concrete tile) | Windows: Sierra Pacific

Photos by Ron Forth

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