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Designing from the Outside In

Architects and designers often talk about “bringing the outside in” to unify a home and its surroundings. But in his 1970s design tome, A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction, architect Christopher Alexander puts it another way: “Prepare to knit the inside of the building to the outside, by treating the edge between the two as a place in its own right, and making human details there.”

Alexander’s iconic book—and the mindful design it proposes—inspired one Loveland couple to build a home that honors the landscape with quiet, spacious interiors, walls given over to large-scale windows and the family’s art collection, and well-appointed entertaining areas inside and out.

“We followed the book through the initial design of the home,” says Chuck Mayhugh of CRM Architects in Wellington, who has worked with the homeowners on various projects for more than 30 years. In response to Alexander’s belief that there are certain patterns in architecture and design that encourage human interaction, they structured the home in a modified “L” shape, with a guesthouse and studio on one side. This move formed an open-ended courtyard, which, according to Alexander, adds life to the structure and helps minimize the home’s grand scale. They also varied the ceiling height throughout the home to create more intimate settings for private spaces and airy, light-filled rooms for communal spaces—another Alexander tack.

Inside, the focus is on the lakefront views, so much so that the home’s furnishings seem to serve as a backdrop—and that’s just what the homeowners and their design team intended. “We were attempting to create viewing conditions where you could see through the interiors to the exterior,” says designer Judy Gubner, who collaborated closely with Mayhugh and the homeowners, with the help of her partner at Denver-based In-Site Design Group, Colleen Johnson. “Everything was designed with the views in mind.”

In the main living space—which they call the “gathering room”—the design team settled on a muted palette of creams, tans and natural wood tones. They outfitted the room with a carefully edited selection of furniture that’s well proportioned so the interiors aren’t too busy. “The finished package is very monochromatic and quiet, to allow the views—and the art—to dominate the space,” Gubner says.

To create inviting outdoor spaces, the homeowners worked with Loveland-based landscape architect David Beadle to erect a dry-stacked stone wall and lengthy trellis, plant a bed of wildflowers and well-tended vegetable patch, and set up comfortable, conversational seating areas. These elements also circle back to Alexander’s philosophy in A Pattern Language, where the architect suggests you “build outdoor details to finish the outdoors as fully as the indoor spaces.”

The finished result is a home that melds interior and exterior living spaces, knitting inside and outside together by blurring the edge between the two. Christopher Alexander just might approve.


Interior Design: Judy Gubner and Colleen Johnson, In-Site Design Group, Denver, (303) 691-9000, insite-design-group.com
Architecture: Chuck Mayhugh, CRM Architects, Wellington, (970) 222-8228

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