Finishing Touch

A Dynamic Duo
Creates a spectacular Colorado Aerie

By Laurel Lund

When the Big Apple meets the Big Sky country, big things happen. That’s just what occurred when two young singles met in Denver. Boasting entirely different backgrounds, the dynamic duo crossed time and tide to create big dreams together.

And big they are-an expansive marriage and a high-country home where the 180-degree views of the Rocky Mountains are as magnificent as the 46 acres on which their 14,000 square-foot haven rests.

Now happily ensconced in their classic Colorado contemporary home, the unpretentious pair are enjoying nature and nurture, and entertaining friends amidst spectacular surroundings. Both pursuits were pivotal to the design of the home, inside and out.

“My clients wanted a home that was spacious enough in which to entertain guests, whether two or 200, yet cozy enough to afford them the privacy they both enjoy,” says Mickey Ackerman, principal of the award-winning interior design firm Amirob & Associates, who specified the interior details for the home.

For such presupposing space, the home exudes a cozy countenance and composure-thanks to Ackerman, architect Sears Barrett of Sears Barrett Architects, and builder/contractor Ken Gray of Gray Construction Inc. “The team we assembled to create the house was great,” says the homeowner. “Each member was wonderful to work with. We not only would welcome working with them again, we recommend them highly to anyone who appreciates design excellence.”

The results of the team effort? The commercial-grade, steel-frame structure of the house, with its seven dramatic pyramidal rooflines reaching skyward, allows a free flow of interior space without interruption from unsightly pillars and posts. It also supports a cantilevered outdoor deck. Covering the impressive structure is a buff-tone Colorado sandstone encircled by a decorative 1-1/2-inch clear-heart redwood band toward the roofline.

To maintain design continuity, matching redwood doors provide entry into two insulated, 1,500 square-foot, three-car garages-one of which houses a driving range-whose nonslip seamless epoxy floors allow for ease of cleaning.

Nearby is a spectacular water garden, designed by Jim Sullivan of JMS Services, complete with dramatic boulders, soothing wading pools, and a waterfall that flows under one of the home’s four guest bedrooms and culminates in a front-entry pond.

“It’s truly my dream home,” says the homeowner. “I’ve had most of the amenities and details in mind for over 15 years, and it’s a thrill to see my dream become a reality.”

The initial impression of the home is first rate. The front door, designed by Vince Vandever of Amirob and crafted by artist Keith Chew, was custom designed to match a painting the couple found on one of their many art sojourns. From the foyer inside, one is immediately impressed with the innovative use of natural materials and exquisite taste so obvious in the interior. An Aspen slate floor imported from China is rife with the rich natural buff, gold, sage, sand, and slate palette that-when combined with ebony and metallic accents-is the core of the home’s color scheme.

The foyer leads to the hallways that link garages, mudroom, laundry facility, and home office. The brains of the house, the office is home to a state-of-the-art computer system that regulates everything from security to temperature to cutting-edge media equipment throughout the interior. Here, too, the compatible couple shares a custom-designed desk of glass, limestone, and wood on a stainless-steel spiral pedestal with views of the water garden or mountains beyond.

The expansive foyer also leads directly to a spacious stepped-up living area crowned by a beautifully crafted pyramidal maple-and-cherry wood ceiling that adds visual volume to the interior. Floor-to-ceiling window panels invite the outdoors in and frame one of three built-in collectible cabinets recessed into the room’s adobe-like walls. Lush custom-dyed chenille fabrics in a neutral palette wrap oversize furniture pieces and add softness to the otherwise rugged décor. And two conversation groupings accommodate intimate conversations in what could have been intimidating space, focusing on a grand piano the homeowner plays or the two-way fireplace whose façade wears the same Colorado sandstone found on the home’s exterior.

Whether lovely sit-down dinners or lavish buffets, all are served in the dining area opposite the living room. An imported Tibetan area rug anchors the massive dining table consisting of two 450 pound stone pedestals topped with a 126 by 54 inch glass top whose edges have been chipped and frosted to give it an Old World look. The same ambiance is echoed in the 24 karat, gold-leaf ceiling inset, bronzed to give it an antique look and complement the dramatic Scavo-style lighting fixtures. But the real focal point of the room is the view, framed by six panels of floor-to-ceiling glass and a matching double door that leads to the cantilevered deck beyond.

Culinary creations for the couple’s frequent fetes come from the gourmet kitchen, custom designed with the pair in mind. A bilevel cooking island of slab bird’s-eye maple topped with 2-1/2 inch thick Juperanna granite has a lowered cook-top space to accommodate the distaff side of this social pair, a diminutive woman who loves to cook. The matching bird’s-eye maple cabinets with custom –designed, broken-bone handles of ebony wrap the room and support a granite-topped baking center, also lowered to accommodate the homeowner’s height. Appliance garages for baking utensils are recessed into the adjacent pantry to save counter space.

Casual dining is enjoyed in the gracefully bayed kitchen nook. Here, crackle-finish walls by Nancy Chew of Is It Real? Serve as a backdrop for a custom-designed circular table of burnished stainless steel with deconstructivist cutouts topped with a Juperanna granite top whose tiered top is the opposite of its counterpart on the cooking island. The curvilinear shape of the eight-faceted windows is repeated again in the graceful form of the Italian chandelier.

When more formal fare is needed, it’s prepared in the adjacent catering kitchen-leaving the main kitchen free for guests to mingle. The copper inlaid ceiling adds an elegant touch to the space, as does a crackle-glass window below the bird’s-eye maple cabinets that brings the outside in.

In the master bedroom the owners enjoy movies on a 120-inch projection screen recessed into the ceiling. The projector is housed in a cherry-wood soffit above the custom-designed upholstered headboard, while the VCR is stored in the nearby console. When not viewing their favorite films, the couple enjoy warmth of a fire from a two-way fireplace, whose pre-cast stone surround is framed by Baltic Brown granite with a serrated shape that echoes that of the mountains.

On the opposite side of the fireplace is a small sitting area with a glorious view of the high country and a walk-in closet that rivals those found in the world’s finest fashion houses. Designed by the homeowners and crafted by Mark Lestikow and Debbie Watts of the Closet Factory, the maple cabinets store everything from scarves and ski clothes to tuxes and ties to hats and hampers-even a Lilliputian mangle.


Further luxury may include a dip in the soaking tub-for-two, whose Andre faucets resemble metallic ribbons and whose façade is wrapped in Baltic Brown granite, or it may include a literal wake-up call in the large curvilinear, frameless-glass, steam shower outfitted with stereo speakers, dual showerheads and computer-controlled faucets.

Or it may include a brisk swim in the indoor swimming pool in a room opposite the dining area. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows punctuate adobe-covered Durock walls to show-case an outdoor gazebo whose ceiling resembles that in the living area. The pool area is crowned with multilevel, curvilinear soffits hosting two translucent, bullet-proof skylights imported from Israel to protect the space from hail damage and solar gain. Protecting the space from chemical odors are several Ozonators. In addition, an assortment of exercise equipment stands guard nearby, as does a poolroom bath with antiqued Kraft-paper walls, slate ceiling, and series of maple lockers for quests.

For more pool activity, the charismatic couple enjoys a great game of billiards in the downstairs great room. The massive space sports an oversize, wraparound sofa facing an impressive Colorado sandstone fireplace façade, a semi-circular wet bar with commercial ice maker, a mini-kitchen, a CD-version of an antique Wurlitzer juke box, and an old-fashioned theater-style popcorn machine.

For further entertainment, these avid Avalanche fans can cheer on their favorite team in a high-tech, high-touch home theater designed by Ken Karnes of Residential Systems Inc. This state-of-the-art, THX-plus-rated theater, which includes three plush rocker-recliners and a sink-into sofa, also offers “surround sound” in the form of tactile speakers-all against the stunning backdrop of richly burnished cherry wood and natty gray upholstered walls.

As guests are always welcome in this contemporary Colorado haven, the homeowners have four guest bedrooms available on the lower floor, all with walk-in closets, private baths, and fireplaces. This includes “Mickey’s Room”-a guest suite over looking the water garden reserved specifically for Ackerman, who has become a family friend. “We’ve had so much fun designing the house together,” says the homeowner’s wife. ‘He’s like a brother to me.”

Ackerman’s sentiments are similar. “I’ve been blessed to know such special people. We’ve all become best friends.”

This spectacular Colorado aerie has truly been a labor of love for all. “We dreamed big dreams,” says the homeowner. “And we got big results.”

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