A Life on the Land
Stand in the south-facing loggia of this Spanish Revival home in Cherry Hills Village, take in your surroundings and be rewarded with a direct view of Pikes Peak. Turn exactly 90 degrees west and you’ll spot Mount Evans. Now cross those two sight lines and you’ve traced the main axes of this stone-and-stucco abode. “That kind of crossing is an important element in Spanish Revival design,” architect Don Ruggles says.
Indeed, those sight lines—and the views—are the starting point for the layout of the house. While the loggias frame the vistas, the interior spaces are carefully arranged to flow from enclosed volumes to light-filled covered walkways, then out onto wide-open terraced lawns.
It takes more than thoughtful vistas and a careful layout to create a Spanish Revival composition, though. “To support the style you have to get the fundamentals right,” says Ruggles, who uses a specific recipe of materials—thick stucco walls, red tile roofing, ironwork and deep-set windows trimmed with stone and accents of tile—to recreate the iconic style that sprang from the early California missions. While these elements are historical, Ruggles also channels local inspiration into his designs, particularly for these nature-loving homeowners: “There is a row of trees on the site and I echoed the curved shapes of their canopy to create the slightly flattened arches we used.”
But the real celebration of the owners’ intimate connection with nature—and their passion for growing their own food—was expressed with the help of landscape architect Herb Schaal, FASLA, who created a rabbit-proof, 600-square-foot kitchen garden (which is enclosed by a three-foot-high buff sandstone wall). Within the plot, he laid out raised beds for tomatoes, beans, carrots and the like. On the outer edges of the 2.5-acre site lie beds for vegetables that require more room to sprawl, like squash and pumpkins. Chickens in a coop provide eggs.
Vegetables aren’t the only delicacies these homeowners harvest. Their property also contains a full-fledged vineyard—with more than 200 vines yielding cabernet sauvignon, merlot and muscat grapes—that Schaal designed in a semi-circle to echo the lines of the house. “The owners have been making their own wine for years,” he says.
The family connects with its environment in deeper ways as well. The lower bass pond is sited so that in March and September, the equinox months, the full moon reflects upon its surface. A path lined with sandstone pavers and thyme plants invites meditative strolls. Brass lines on a customized sundial mark where the sun will rise on the children’s birthdays.
Of all these outdoor features, perhaps most beautiful is the terrace off the south-facing loggia, where a swath of grass accommodates guests for fundraisers and parties. On one side is an outdoor kitchen, and on the other the expansive water feature designed by Schaal—a cascade that flows along a stone wall, then into a boulder-strewn stream flanked with water iris, sedges and Mexican feather grass and finally around the hot tub and into the bass pond. “This feature, this entire home, is a celebration of the owners’ passionate interest in connecting design and nature.”
ARCHITECTURE Don Ruggles, DHR Architecture, Denver, (303) 355-2460, dhrarchitecture.com LANDSCAPE DESIGN Herb Schaal, Fellow, American Society of Landscape Architects INTERIOR DECORATOR Mikhail Dantes, D&D Interiors, ddinteriors.com HOMEBUILDER Jeff Barnett, J.K. Barnett, Ltd., (303) 619-5230