A Mountainside Home That Savors the Sunrise
A 2016 Home of the Year Finalist
Photos by James Ray Spahn
After three decades and the construction of two modern homes in Michigan, this couple, both of them chemists, decided it was time to live closer to their grown children, thus prompting a search for somewhere to build yet another home. This time they chose Colorado Springs, where their son, grandson and granddaughter live. It’s also an easy flight to the San Francisco Bay Area home of their daughter and her two girls. “I knew this was going to be our last house,” says the homeowner. “So, we decided we wanted an even more modern one, with lots of glass and natural light.”
They settled on a ¾-acre mountainside lot in the Skyway Heights neighborhood with views east toward the city center. The setting promised plenty of sunshine and panoramas, but its steep slope presented a challenge for OZ Architecture, led by principal Tom E. Hoover, AIA, working with project architect David Rosenfeld. “We had a lot of hillside to contend with,” says Hoover, who calls their two-story solution a “jigsaw puzzle of different spaces." The OZ team conquered the slope with a winding drive that curves past a lower level—with guest rooms, plus art studios dedicated to the clients’ hobbies—to the second-story main floor. Its cube-shaped entry foyer opens to a great room with floor-to-ceiling glass walls facing both east toward the city and west into the forested mountainside, affording the house a “feeling of transparency,” says Hoover.
“That gave us the experience we wanted, like we were living outside,” adds the homeowner. The same holds true for the master suite, angled off the home’s public areas to offer the couple a window-wall view east-southeast from bed. “In our old house, my wife and I got very used to sunsets across Lake Michigan,” says the homeowner, who also notes that the new home’s design includes adaptive elements to enable aging in place, such as grab bars in the bathroom, wide-clearance doorways and an elevator. “Here, at our age, it’s very nice for us to experience the sunrise.”
Colorado Springs–based design consultant Candace Ohlsen worked with the homeowners and architects to select many of the finishes, including the kitchen’s white-quartz island with waterfall edges; the glass backsplash tiles from Glazzio, which evoke the water views of the clients’ former Lake Michigan home; and the radiant-heated, prefinished, engineered-walnut floor from Armstrong, chosen to echo the oak ceiling.
Having sold their previous residence in Michigan with most of its furnishings apart from their coffee table, the owners kitted out their new home with the help of Woodley’s Furniture & Design in Colorado Springs, source of the great room side chairs, and Room & Board in Denver, where they found the sofa.
OZ Architecture designed the fireplace—fashioned from dry-stacked blocks of white Ardesia porcelain stoneware, with a mantel and floating hearth of black granite—to become the home’s sculptural centerpiece. At the rear, glass sliders open to a poured-concrete back deck with a stucco-covered, terraced retaining wall that, says architect Tom E. Hoover, “holds back the mountain.”