The Butterfly Effect
A unique Steamboat Springs property is transformed into a multigenerational sanctuary
A midcentury design by a Beverly Hills-based architect is not a typical find for homebuyers in Steamboat Springs. For a Dallas-based couple with a keen eye for design, this rare dwelling with direct views to the ski area was an unexpected outcome to a multi-year search for a second home.
The property, which once centered on a tree-filled atrium, was surprisingly dark inside, and the jaw-dropping panorama was shielded by low rooflines and obtrusive slump-block columns. While the layout didn’t quite work, the home’s unrivaled setting on a secluded lane perched above a creek cemented its appeal. “We went to look at it really to scratch it off the list, but it was unlike anything we’d seen in Steamboat and we instantly knew it was something special,” remember the homeowners. They returned with Hans Berend and Jeff Gerber, principals at Gerber Berend Design Build, who were already familiar with the home and shared a similar vision.
“It was unlike anything we had seen in Steamboat.” —The homeowner
The residence needed to serve a multigenerational family, including two home-schooled children, a daughter in her twenties and grandparents. “We wanted to be able to give one another space while keeping a sense of connection between the areas of the home,” the homeowners explain.
For the first year, the family spent months at a time living in the house to establish what worked and what didn’t.
“We had fun picking and choosing what to celebrate about the house and what could be transformed,” says Gerber, the design lead.
An extensive overhaul began with the center of the property, which housed the entryway and the once-upon-a-time atrium. The midpoint was taken down to the foundation and rebuilt with a butterfly roof to embrace view corridors of the ski area and an aged pine forest in the foreground.
Sliding Ecoresin doors by 3form double as a decorative feature and a partition between the entryway and open-plan living space. Delicate strips of torn paper, reminiscent of ancient manuscripts handmade by Tibetan monks, are layered within the resin. “The owners have a very sophisticated palette, and touches like these are evident throughout the house,” Gerber says.
The design team kept any corner window placements and choreographed in some of the slump-block wall finishes. David Hoffman, the project architect, designed the built-in cabinetry and artistic shelving throughout the home and enlisted Ron Clow of Ullr Designs to custom craft his designs.
A floor-to-ceiling steel façade surrounds the rectangular fireplace in the sitting area, where an elongated mantel was installed and painted in the same acrylic high-gloss finish as the upper kitchen cabinets.
Corridors span from the hub of the house in three directions. Down one corridor are a guest bedroom with an accessible bathroom and a den, where a Focus fireplace is a magnet for bookworms and family guitar jams. In the other direction, an office and home-school room look out to timeworn trees and a sweeping yard, which is being rejuvenated by local green-thumb visionaries Gecko Landscaping. The last stop on that hallway is the owner’s private sanctuary. An existing interior peekaboo window honors many of the home’s original features, while a bathroom received a dramatic new design.
On the lower level, three bedrooms, three bathrooms and a family living room were transported from darkness. “The original staircase was one steep run that blocked any natural light and made the downstairs feel cave-like,” Gerber says. Hoffman widened the opening to incorporate a landing, and step lighting illuminates the soft oak treads. A two-story glass wall flanks the new stairway and encases the kitchen, combining artistic drama with functionality.
The overall transformation was not limited to the indoors. Decks on both levels underwent a metamorphosis, with built-in fireplaces, benches and bar tops of varying heights, making these exterior spaces the ultimate spot for multigenerational fun