Stone, Steel, Glass—and a Pop of Color
Historic and modern come together in Aspen
When Susannah and Jim Adelson first spotted their home in Aspen, it was under construction. “There was plastic sheeting everywhere. You couldn’t even see the front door,” Susannah remembers. Unable to envision the finished house, Jim had to trust his wife, an experienced interior designer. But she knew the house was right for them. “It spoke to me,” she says.
Other things spoke to her as well—notably art. “The finishes throughout the house— basalt stone, steel, glass—gave us the perfect backdrop for colorful artwork,” Susannah says. The Adelsons worked with New York-based art advisor Kristy Bryce. “I made sure that each piece of art was museum quality, and Susannah made sure it was perfect for the feeling she was creating in each space,” Bryce says.
Some of the rooms posed a challenge. In the primary bedroom, for instance, the bed is against a partial-height wall. The couple commissioned a piece by Native American artist Jeffrey Gibson. “Those circles are actually drums. Gibson infuses his culture into the art, and his use of color is inspirational,” Susannah says.
Of course, the house itself is a piece of art. Architect Kim Raymond renovated the Victorian miner’s cabin facing the street, which is the focal point of the house. She designed an addition that connects to the original home via a light-filled hallway. “We made it glass on both sides, almost like you are walking outside. The linking element is a transition into the modern space,” Raymond explains. “It’s like a portal,” Susannah adds.
The house also features a vertical portal of sorts: a dramatic glass-enclosed staircase. The architect planned this focal point carefully. “We look at stairs as art, so we created a folded metal staircase,” Raymond says. “It looks like one large piece of metal that was folded—it’s very sculptural.”
The Adelsons and their three daughters spent more time at the house during the pandemic, because the family worked remotely, “picking different ‘work’ stations throughout the house,” Susannah says. At the end of the day, everyone congregated in the kitchen. “It’s the central hub where we connect with each other while coming and going. It’s easy to find a great work-life-play balance in the mountains when a bike trail or hiking path is right outside your door!”
Susannah worked from her favorite spot, the dining room. On one wall, artwork by Jacob Hashimoto made of bamboo sticks and kite paper softens the straight lines of the room. “I can lose myself in that piece,” she says.
Visitors all have their preferred pieces of art. “Artwork is a secret language that speaks differently to each viewer,” Susannah says. “When you’re doing an interior space, a lot of time the artwork is the last thing people think about. It’s really important to me—it’s like the candy, the jewelry.”