An Artist-Built Mountain Home in Evergreen
Colorado artist William Matthews spent decades creating, crafting, and enjoying this property with his family. In 2014 the beautifully designed 5-acre compound was purchased by an East Coast executive who has overseen a respectful renewal and hopes to make this hillside hideaway his permanent passion as well as home base for his crew.
This was The One. John Tarpey was sure of it the minute he laid eyes on the custom-built home just west of Denver. Colorado artist William Matthews, known for his depictions of working cowboys in the American West, found sanctuary on the 5-acre, multiple-dwelling compound that includes a two-bedroom main house inspired by the century-old Chief Hosa Lodge.
Tarpey immediately appreciated the artist’s vision. “The main house is one of a kind, extremely unique, and highly custom. The level of detail and craftsmanship is incredible,” he says. “I love that. But it was the property that sold me.”
The house and its sister structures, a guesthouse and artist studio, perch on a hillside, capturing panoramic views of the wooded property, a valley below, and Mount Evans beyond.
The divorced D.C.-based executive wanted a mountain home to which he could retire—currently for weekends and holidays but on a full-time basis in a few years when the compound’s upkeep and gardens will be his sole commitment. “I wanted a place I can care for and take care of,” he says. And the distinctive property is a place Tarpey is committed to preserving—not as a museum but as a place for living, welcoming loved ones, and enjoying all the adventure the area’s landscape has to offer.
Enter designer Joanne Brutsch of Casey St. John Interiors, whom Tarpey charged with outfitting the main home’s 4,400 square feet for living, celebrating, retreating, and relaxing alone as well as gathering en masse. “John wanted to make the house his own, but he also wanted to respect the painstaking detail that William went to while building the house,” Brutsch says, “so we were careful to breathe new life into the house without hindering its original charm.”
Brutsch says her design mantra was “Keep things simple not fussy, rustic yet refined, and wherever possible enhance the outdoor spaces and those amazing views.” She adds, “John has grown children and lots of family that visit often, so the house needed to be comfortable and casual without worry of damaging something too precious. He and his family are very active, outdoorsy people, so I wanted the interior to reflect that lifestyle.”
To that end, Brutsch chose deep hues and masculine materials—distressed leather, hair on hide, and rustic woods—for the main floor’s public spaces, where hefty wood beams stripe the ceiling and a large stone fireplace holds court in the living room. The second floor master suite has its own stone fireplace from which Brutsch pulled a palette of creams and grays for walls and furnishings.
The lower level hosts the main house’s second bedroom, where Brutsch invited a primary palette. “It’s a guest room with a welcoming, energizing vibe,” she says. Brutsch didn’t limit her designer touch to the interiors; comfortably appointed gathering spaces continue outside, where several terraces are outfitted for large dinner parties, solitary reflection, and intimate conversation. The house “is a rare combination of elegance and rustic charm and comfort, all blended together,” Tarpey says.
For John and his 20-something sons, Sean and Ryan, who live in the guesthouse—the property serves as their own destination resort. The trio enjoy skiing, fly-fishing, and mountain biking together, as well as gathering around the outdoor dining terrace’s fireplace to kick off their boots and grill their dinner—bringing to mind one of Matthews’ trademark cowboy scenes. Following the artist’s lead, the Tarpeys are dedicated to preserving the property, and John sees his role as continuing the legacy of what Matthews began there years ago. While the Tarpeys’ friends call their home “the man compound,” John says, “I call it my sanctuary.”
Red Sky by artist Tom Corbin adds a bit of modern cowboy and large-scale color to the neutral-hued foyer. It also lends Western contrast to the space’s East Coast-traditional look—white wainscot panels, black-and-white tile floor.
Leather furnishings, a wood-plank ceiling, and iron chandeliers speak to artist William Matthews’ (who originally built the home) rough-hewn, masculine style. Says designer Joanne Brutsch, “I felt a bit of an unspoken influence to keep the original vibe that William had created.”
“The stonework is phenomenal,” Tarpey says, in obvious awe of mason Bob Boll’s artistry. The hillside site boasts terraces on all three levels. A flagstone patio outside the main level includes a fireplace and a fountain.
A flight of stairs leads up to a second terrace outside the master suite.
Brustch updated the master bedroom with fresh, neutral colors and a sweaterlike carpet. “We wanted to enhance the palette of the existing natural stone fireplace and highlight the gorgeous views,” she says.
White subway tile in the master bath’s steam shower was replaced with Carrara marble subway tile and bench seats, designed to match the existing bathroom countertops.
The master suite’s octagonal office space offers a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding landscape. A Lexington Home Brands desk in a light gray finish, and off-white upholstery on a desk chair and a pair of spool chairs plays off of the bedroom’s fresh palette.
On the lower level, the guest room offers a color palette all its own—inspired by Pendleton’s classic Glacier National Park blanket that dresses the bed. “We even coordinated the books in the built-in bookcases to match those colors,” Brutsch says. Cole & Son fabric was used for the window treatments to create an extension of the wooded views beyond.
ARCHITECTURE Bill Poss, Poss Architecture and Planning INTERIOR DESIGN Joanne Brutsch, Casey St. John Interiors BUILDER Bill Couch, Couch Builders STONEWORK Bob Boll, Boll Masonry CUSTOM CABINETS & SHELVING Peter Eggers, Woden Woods, Denver, (303) 322-9351 PAINTING David Schultz, David W. Shultz Painting, Evergreen, (303) 674-5767