A Modern Cabin Compound in Colorado

Maricel Blum was at the checkout of a Denver grocery store when she spotted a modernist hut by architect Renée del Gaudio on the cover of a local magazine 5280. “She called immediately and insisted on coming,” reports del Gaudio, who works in his family’s glass and steel alpine house in Boulder. “Seeing my place, Maricel said,” You are designing a house for me. “”

Blum, a Colombian artist with bases in Bogotá and Key Biscayne, Florida, has made winter pilgrimages to Colorado since her college days in Boston. Over the years, she and her two children have tried all the ski resorts and loved Breckenridge so much that they have decided to build their own place at a startling distance. That’s how she arrived on her cliffside property, 45 minutes south (and less than two hours from Denver), in Fairplay’s almost windswept, almost undeveloped old mining town, at an altitude of 10,000 feet.

“I thought about building my own log house like everyone else here,” says Blum. “But when I saw this point of view, I said no, no, no, it must be completely open and all that.” Del Gaudio, who operates a woman’s own office, specializes, she says, in “an in-depth analysis of the region’s climate, landscape and history to create contemporary architecture that belongs here”. In other words, she was ready. To start the design process, she and her husband and their children set up a tent directly on the rocks on the one hectare site of Blum and spent the weekend getting to know the place. Join us for an overview of the striking, but also low-impact, energy-efficient results.

Photograph of David Lauer, courtesy of Renée del Gaudio Architecture.

Maricel & # 8
Above: Maricel’s design brief was “I want to feel like I’m perched on this cliff.” Del Gaudio obeys: located above the South Platt River, the main house faces south and overlooks the Sangre de Cristo mountains and the collegiate peaks of the Rockies.
Connected to the main house by a bridge, a second smaller cabin houses two bedrooms for Blum & # 8
Above: connected to the main house by a bridge, a second small cabin houses two rooms for Blum’s children, now in their twenties. The decision to build separate structures was made in response to the narrowness of the property and also to ensure integrated privacy.

“The gable roofs of the cabins and the rustic materials are reminiscent of the first shelters in the region,” explains del Gaudio. Note that the two structures are raised on steel pillars to minimize excavation and preserve the natural topography of the site.

Designed to blend into the surrounding pine forest and ponderosa forest, the house is clad in rustic quality cedar-tinted ebony using Broda Prot-Tek-Tor, a low VOC and UV resistant product. of the CBR of Canada that del Gaudio uses in almost all of his projects.
Above: Designed to blend into the surrounding pine cone and ponderosa forest, the house is covered with rustic quality cedar-tinted ebony using Broda Prot-Tek-Tor, a product to Gaudio’s low VOC and UV resistant CBR uses almost all of its projects.

The standing seam roof is made of galvanized steel in a matte finish: “It is a material called Bonderized which is made to take paint. I installed it raw and I left it as is because I liked that it was not shiny, ”says del Gaudio. “It was an experience here, but it’s now my favorite.”

Another essential material from del Gaudio & # 8
Above: Another essential material from del Gaudio is open grid steel decking, “the type used in ski resorts, so that snow only flows through.” Blum says that she never had to shovel: snow falls through the openings and from there, thanks to the fact that the house does not rest directly on the ground, natural drainage takes over.

The decking has been carefully constructed around a pine cone with ripe hairs that rises next to the house. Del Gaudio notes that the material is also non-slip and says that it has only one drawback: “it’s horrible barefoot”.

A sliding glass door with triple glazing manufactured by Pacific Architectural Millwork opens the living room with panoramic views of the south. The windows, from Loewen of Canada, are double glazed and allow natural light and breezes to filter on all sides.
Above: A sliding glass door with triple glazing manufactured by Pacific Architectural Millwork opens the living room with panoramic views of the south. The windows, from Loewen of Canada, are double glazed and allow natural light and breezes to filter on all sides.
Del Gaudio aligned the src =
Above: Del Gaudio lined the interior with 1,300 square feet of clear sealed Baltic birch plywood and used Douglas fir for the rafters and other exposed timbers. The rustic quality walnut floor has radiant heating installed in a concrete slab, and there is also a Rais wood stove powerful enough to heat the entire cabin: “when the stove is cooking, a thermostat stops the radiant heating”, explains del Gaudio.

Cabins have closed and open cell foam insulation, and in summer, cross breezes and ceiling fans keep things cool (no air conditioning). Del Gaudio has also pre-wired the structures with photovoltaic panels, so that 100% of the electricity can be supplied by solar energy – Blum says that at the moment the house is not used enough to justify the installation complete system.

An island, finished in the same walnut as the floor, separates the kitchen from the rest of the room. Blum uses the 0 square foot loft as a painting studio, storage space and additional guest bedroom. & # 8
Above: An island, finished in the same walnut as the floor, separates the kitchen from the rest of the room. Blum uses the 180 square foot loft as a paint studio, storage space and additional guest bedroom. “It is accessible by a ladder and is a flexible space that keeps the main level free of clutter,” says del Gaudio.
The kitchen island has a John Boos butcher block countertop and the sink countertop is poured concrete in place. The attic & # 8
Above: the kitchen island has a John Boos butcher block counter and the sink counter is in poured concrete. The steel balustrade in the attic is surrounded by welded wire mesh: “it is an inexpensive agricultural staple food sold in sheets,” says del Gaudio. “The version we used has four-inch squares – they can’t be any bigger to pass code.”
  Blum asked for an outdoor shower, something doesn't work & # 8
Above: Blum requested an outdoor shower, which doesn’t make sense most months of the year here, so instead, del Gaudio designed a master bedroom with an en-suite bathroom that gives the impression of being outside.
Del Gaudio enclosed the shower and the bath in a glass cube tiled by the metro, & # 8
Above: Del Gaudio enclosed the shower and the bath in a tiled glass cube in the metro, “so you can be in the bathtub and watch the Sangre de Cristos directly.”

The sinks and twin faucets come from Ikea and the bathtub is the Eaton model from Signature Hardware: “It’s acrylic, which makes it more affordable, but unlike ceramic, it doesn’t retain heat . ” The tub filler is Lethe from Signature Hardware. The toilets are tucked away in their own compartment across the hall.

A painting by Blum is hung in one of the small bedrooms in the cabin. Blum and artist friends meet at the complex in the summer to paint and follow art workshops in Breckenridge.
Above: A Blum painting hangs in one of the cabin’s small bedrooms. Blum and artist friends meet at the complex in the summer to paint and follow art workshops in Breckenridge.
  & # 8
Above: “Trust me, this is Fairplay’s first modern booth,” says Blum. At first, she considered buying property in Breckenridge and Vail, but fell in love with the idea of ​​being in a remote and much more affordable corner of Colorado.
  The cabin & # 8
Above: The main entrance to the cabin is on the north side, so that visitors are greeted by a great view on the cliff side. The two structures are connected by the metal bridge; together, they frame the view and create what del Gaudo calls “a space protected from the wind between the two”.

Here are three more of our favorite modern cabins:

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