A Maker's Mark
A Denver creator puts her unique stamp on a Winter Park getaway
Photography by Kimberly Gavin | Styling by Stacey Weiss
This beautiful Winter Park mountain house is what happens when a nonstop maker, aka Samantha Robinson, injures her knee. Robinson has a knack for creating useful, beautiful pieces from unexpected materials, such as the fence slats, farm signs, bedsprings and, yes, turbines that give this home its cozy and entirely unique aesthetic.
Interior Staircase The railing is made from the same cold-rolled steel used on the home’s exterior. “On the outside, it will gradually form a rusted patina, but inside, protected from moisture, it will keep this clean look,” Munn says.
Robinson was trained in fashion design; owned Manorisms, a Denver design shop her clients still miss; and has been hunting down design treasures and putting her own spin on them since she was 5 and her mom opened an antiques business.
She tells the origin story of her family’s mountain getaway this way: “We’d been talking about getting a place in the mountains for a while, and one year we [Robinson, her husband, Mike, and their two teen daughters] were visiting friends and skiing, and I tore a ligament. I couldn’t ski, so I drove around looking at places. This house is what happens when I have too much time on my hands.”
Powder Room The sepia tones of the Biblioteca wallpaper by Ekaterina Panikanova match the warm wood perfectly. “Is that paper not the coolest?” Robinson asks. “Because wallpaper styles come and go, I like to use it in just a few places as an accent, and bathrooms are pretty safe. I love to look at all the ephemera the designer collected.”
Robinson and Mike, a Denver engineer, had recently finished the renovation of their in-town Denver home. “After we did the remodel, we said, ‘How hard can it be to build a house?’ I mean, in theory it seemed like such a great idea,” Robinson laughs. They found a building site that ticked all the boxes in a subdivision called Leland Creek. ‘It’s near Devil’s Thumb resort, it has amazing views, and it’s close enough to town that we can walk down the hill for a coffee or dinner. And it abuts the national forest, so out back will always be wilderness.”
Seating Area The furniture is a comfortable mix of new (the armchairs) and old. “The wooden star is a flea-market find, and the table—it’s not finished,” Robinson says. “I got these two metal turbines—of course I did—with these fans in the center, and I thought they’d look great under a glass tabletop. Then I got preoccupied, and I had that big door, so we put the door on top for right now, so I get to keep procrastinating about that great big piece of glass.”
On the recommendation of her Denver architect, Robinson hired Granby architect Scott Munn to design the new build. “We knew we wanted four bedrooms, the wide-open spaces we have in our remodel and something a little more contemporary than our Denver place, but not too modern. Scott did a great job finding that balance,” she says. Both Robinson and Munn are cheerful about their run-ins with the usual construction hiccups. “We ran into a bit of an excavation nightmare,” Robinson recalls.
Kitchen “My mom and I were at a show in Kansas,” Robinson recalls, “and we stopped into a little shop on our way home—I can’t even remember the town—and I saw this great ‘Tree Expert’ sign. I said to my mom, ‘This could be my oven hood. Mike will hate it if I bring it home, but it would be perfect!’ So we load it in the car and get it home, and Mike was like, ‘No. No. Absolutely not.’ It does look good, doesn’t it?”
“It’s not uncommon around here,” Munn says. “You start excavating, and you find a huge boulder, then some clay, then a few feet away a spring, then an old mine shaft. But sometimes the workarounds we find make the design even better.” Robinson agrees. “In the redesign, we had to move the kids’ rooms, and now the girls have some of the best views from the house.”
Great Room Choosing the right spot for the fireplace took some planning. “The challenge was finding a way to take advantage of the room’s incredible east/west views,” architect Scott Munn says. “A central fireplace was actually common back when people counted on fireplaces for warmth, and that traditional, central placement worked perfectly for this space.”
— Samantha Robinson, Homeowner
Deck “That table is from Rare Finds in Denver,” Robinson says. “They use old boxcar flooring for the tops and a heavy, metal base you can crank to raise the table from dinner-table to bar height. It’s so heavy and perfect, because the wind can really blow up here!”
Munn also shares Robinson’s enthusiasm for vintage materials. “I like the challenge of repurposing and reorganizing vintage stock into a more modern design,” he says.
Exterior Weathered wood, rolled steel and stone make the home look as if it’s been there forever. “Part of my design philosophy is to recognize that everything we build is always evolving and changing with exposure to the elements,” Munn says. “Our minus-35-degree storms to those blazing, 80-degree summer days are tough on a house, and using weathered materials—and materials designed to weather—makes a house as low-maintenance as a house can be up here.”
“We really wanted to use all reclaimed wood,” Robinson says, “but that’s very expensive. So we ended up using about half vintage materials and half new materials treated to look older. The floors, for instance, are new white oak, and they took a saw to it and roughed it up a bit to give it the look of old wood flooring,”
What you won’t find in the house are any of Robinson’s considerable collection of craft supplies. “Nope, I don’t have a craft space in the house,” she says. “I didn’t do it deliberately, but when you are up in the mountains, you’re doing mountain things. You’re outside. And when we’re up for the holidays, we’re visiting with family and cooking. And other times, you go up there, and you’re dead, and you just want to read a book. It’s a true getaway. I go out onto that deck and, wow—it’s just gorgeous. It really is.”
Daughter’s Room “This is my younger daughter’s room,” Robinson says. “She said, ‘I want a four-poster bed’ and I was like ‘why???’ The first bed she picked wouldn’t fit in the room because of the ceiling angle, so we found this one.”
ARCHITECT Scott Munn, AIA, NCARB, Munn Architecture INTERIOR DESIGNER Samantha Robinson