Cozy spaces

to relax in when the weather gets cold

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The cowhide-covered chaise in this condominium at the Highmark was designer Michael Buccino's solution to converting a small nook into a sanctuary in which to relax in the privacy of the master bedroom.

Filling a niche

When Michael Buccino was presented with the opportunity to design and furnish the model unit at the luxury Highmark condominiums, he seized the chance to fund the project himself so he could have free reign.

The overall style of the high-rise structure is a "sophisticated mountain" look as opposed to "rustic sophistication," Buccino said.

"I had a lot of fun with this. It's a chance for me to stand up (as a designer). It's that sophisticated mountain look we've seen in Vail, Beaver Creek and Aspen. It has a rustic feeling, but not an overly cowboy and lodge look," he said. "I'm doing an $800,000 log home at Steamboat Lake - that's rustic sophistication."

One of the creative challenges Buccino tackled at the Highmark was a small niche in the master bedroom.

The solution was a chaise lounge covered in mocha-and-white cowhide - one of the few identifiable examples of the cowboy look in the home. It is paired with an end table and lamp, creating a place to recline with Vanity Fair after a day on the slopes.

Buccino said the horizontal dimensions of the chaise solved a design problem while creating a cozy place to relax.

"We could have put a small desk in the alcove, but it's a bedroom. What we wanted was a reading space. The small chaise draws you right in and says, 'Come sit here.' Its horizontal quality creates a link to the rest of the space."

It's a casual place

Visit Artisans Market of Steamboat and look for antique wooden game boards to hang on the wall. They announce that this is a place to be casual and relaxed. Old Audubon songbird posters once used in elementary schools also scan be purchased for a few dollars.

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At the client's request, Ann Butcher of Bunkhouse Interiors created a special place in this home off Fish Creek Falls Road for future grandchildren to play at an antique picnic table.

Here come the grandkids

The first time Ann Butcher glimpsed the future recreation room of Park and Martha Myers of Tampa, Fla., she wasn't certain what direction to go. The room lacked windows and, so, was a little dark.

Butcher overcame the challenges with pine paneling and deep red Kilim area rugs that make the room warm and inviting. It's a place to watch a DVD, share appetizers or concentrate on a jigsaw puzzle.

And someday it might be a place where the Myers' grandchildren gather to play with their toys.

"Martha is expecting her first grandchild soon," Butcher confided.

With that in mind, Butcher purchased a small antique picnic table and placed it against one wall of the spacious room. It is decorated with a lamp whose base is fashioned out of a period kerosene lantern. And to "let the light in," Butcher hung an antique window sash over the table.

The owner envisions that someday, happy grandchildren will sit at the table to draw in a coloring book or perhaps play with paper dolls.

Make it yours

Hand-carved wooden boxes with a relief carving of a leaping trout, for example, personalize an office desktop in a vacation home. You can purchase these boxes for about $150.

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Hello, old friend

Irene Nelson of Irene Nelson Interiors has worked with her client at Anglers Retreat for so long that they have become friends. They've collaborated on other homes in Steamboat Springs and Florida.

"She's extremely generous and thoughtful," Nelson said. "The qualities that personify her are memories, friends, warmth and coziness. So a very vintage look was really appropriate for her."

The upholstery of the large chair and ottoman in the living room of the home were custom designed by Nelson. She specified eight fabric patterns to be stitched together - almost like a quilt - and used a detailed drawing so the North Carolina manufacturer could follow her vision.

The mirror over the fireplace has begun to lose its silver backing, leaving dark spots that suggest the passage of time. Among the eclectic mix of antiques and reproductions is a Victorian coffee table. The paintings on the walls are reproductions of oils and lavishly framed.

Between the covers

Explore antique stores to purchase old hardcover books with quaint illustrations. Books from another era can quickly remove you from your every-day worries, even if you browse through them for only a few minutes at a time. They can be purchased for a few dollars.

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Mountain elegance

Suzy Lord and Diane DeGroffe have completed the interior design of a dozen of the $2 million duplexes at The Porches. It's a sign that their vision of mountain elegance appeals to the market.

In a recently completed job at The Porches, the two designers created an inviting place to curl up with a book on a mountainous leather chair and ottoman set.

They added an area rug to the hardwood floor and a richly-textured valance to the drapery rod to soften the appearance of the wooden blinds. A large plant stand contains a dramatic arrangement of dried flowers. A whimsical leopard-patterned vase on the end table is emblematic of Lord's urge to gradually introduce modern pieces to her clients' concept of "mountain elegance."

"We try not to be too trendy, so we dabble in the Western and lodge look, and we have started placing a few contemporary and loft-looking pieces in the homes," Lord said.

Lord has a top-secret source for reproductions of landscape paintings that look like they were done in the Yampa and Elk river valleys, even though they weren't. One painting bears an uncanny resemblance to Willow Creek below Steamboat Lake.

A throw-back

Small throw blankets can add color and personality to an overstuffed leather chair, a bench or a guest bedroom for only $40 to $80. And that small price tag means they're economical enough to swap out from time to time for a fresh look.

Books to curl up with

The next time winter weather makes you want to stay inside with a cozy blanket and a warm fire, consider trying one of these books recommended by Michelle Dover, front desk manager at Bud Werner Memorial Library:

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"Beneath a Marble Sky" by John Shor

: Colorado author John Shor's "Beneath a Marble Sky" is set in 17th-century Hindustan. Consumed with grief over the tragic death of his beloved wife, the emperor commissions the building of the Taj Mahal. Love, passion and beauty are recounted alongside the brutalities of war and oppression.

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"The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" by Haruku Mirakami

: Haruku Mirakami's "The Wind Up Bird Chronicle" is a detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage and an excavation of the buried secrets of World War II. Searching for his missing wife in a Tokyo suburb, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists. Alienation and nameless fears are explored in this dreamlike, post-Modern novel.

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"West With the Night" by Beryl Markham

: "West with the Night" is the inspirational memoir of Beryl Markham and her life in 1920s and '30s Kenya. As a pilot, she became the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic - from east to west - in 1936. Breathe and smell Africa with a truly adventurous woman who explores life with the wisdom of one with a poetic spirit.

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