it's the details that are worth noting

At Home's Tom Ross and John F. Russell take a tour of three luxurious local homes to find out what sets them apart


The Shel and Peach Johnson home

Builder:Ken Kruse Construction

Design Team: Lynne Bier and Jen Gallagher, Home on the Range

Architect: Joe Patrick Robbins

Tatanka Ridge

Listed: by Nick Metzler, Colorado Group Realty

Listing price: $3.85 million

Square feet: 8,536, including unfinished basement

Building site is 10 acres above Spring Creek Park on the flanks of Buffalo Pass

Builder: Maynard Kline of Fort Collins

Hezmall residence

Developers/owners: Pat and Jennifer Hezmall, Arlington, Texas

Architect: Thomas Hein, Telluride

Contractor: Mike Bell, Steamboat Springs

Listed: Pam Vanatta of Prudential Steamboat Realty

Listing price: $5.7 million

A growing number of spectacular homes are appearing throughout the Yampa Valley, and increasingly it's the details that set them apart.

The Shel and Peach Johnson home, perched on the side of a ridge overlooking Lake Catamount, is a stunning example.

The 10,000-square-foot home doesn't live as large as it really is. And everywhere one looks, unwavering attention to detail makes the home a masterpiece.

Throughout this "refined mountain home," all but a few furniture pieces are one of a kind, custom built to the meticulous specifications of Lynne Bier and her design team at Home on the Range.

"It was designed as a family retreat and a means of getting away from the East Coast," Bier said. "From the planning stage through construction, it took three years to complete. Every single detail was thought out. The attention to detail is what makes the home cozy."

The details have been worked out right down to the antique white oak flooring in the elevator and the custom billiards table.

The kitchen cabinetry, beautifully crafted by Rich Tucker at Rustic Woodworks in Steamboat Springs, is like nothing we've seen in the Yampa Valley. The reclaimed elm wood is blond with subtle gray streaks.

"Rich is an artist in his own right," said general contractor Ken Kruse of Ken Kruse Construction.

"I'd estimate we spent hundreds of hours going over the plans for the cabinets," Bier added.

Kruse helped hand select the massive sandstone blocks in the moss rock fireplace surround. They were found in a quarry that is a privately owned in nearby Moffat County's Dinosaur National Monument. They are indigenous to Northwest Colorado.

It also was Kruse who hung all 50 interior doors in the home.

Kruse, Bier and architect Joe Patrick Robbins began collaborating on the home a full year before construction commenced.

"Anything we picked for the home was only done when we had every component laid out in front of us, including the plaster and samples of the antique wooden beams from Oregon," Bier said.

Every piece of fabric used in upholstery and every sample of buttery leather was scrutinized.

The Johnsons were active participants in choosing the finishes on the home.

The recreation room, with its billiard table made by a Roaring Fork Valley company that turns out no more than 35 or 40 a year, provides a perfect example. An area rug from Latin America was selected with the help of David Scully at Chase Oriental Rug Co. to complement wall hangings the Johnsons brought back from a trip to Machu Picchu in Peru. The door to the adjacent wine room was custom built to have a colonial Spanish feel - right down to the wrought iron grill over a tiny window and the distinctive "clavos" style nails with their noticeably fat heads.

Among our favorite details is a pair of humble antiques in the bathroom of the bunkroom, where an old livestock feeding trough with a lid and peeling red paint has been transformed into a bench. Above it, an antique wooden ski, also painted in fading red, serves as a towel rack, with its eclectic assortment of antique iron hooks.

They are humble pieces to be sure, but they succeed in making a large home feel cozy.

Tatanka Ridge

The Tatanka Ridge home overlooking Strawberry Park is a soaring example of how modern mountain design can complement nature.

At first impression, a massive portico shelters arriving visitors from the falling powder that makes Tatanka Ridge a spectacular winter playground. The tinted concrete archways lining the great room and the towering trusses in the vaulted ceiling take one's breath away. Gradually, the details that make this home a wonder begin to reveal themselves.

The interior designer from Atlanta saw the opportunity to etch delicate snow crystals into the frosted glass over the tub in the master bathroom.

The master has its own cozy sitting area set in its own alcove with a fireplace. In one corner of the sitting room, a secret stairway leads into the nursery above. Each bedroom, laid out symmetrically around the corners of the rectangle, has its own deck with stone flooring. In one, an old-fashioned washstand evokes another era in the valley's history.

Outside the second-level bedrooms, a gallery level rings the great open space. Carefully planned lighting would make this the perfect place for the next owner to display an art collection.

This also is the best vantage point for admiring the dry-stacked effect of the rock surrounding the towering 25-foot fireplace and the elaborate arched timbers in the ceiling.

The home is secluded in an evergreen and aspen forest, but its sunny southern exposure is open enough to afford stunning views directly into the ski jumps at historic Howelsen Hill.

The large stone deck creates an ideal setting for an Independence Day party complete with the distant fireworks at Howelsen. The bright kitchen is made more spacious by the fact that the Thermador range is set in its own tiled alcove.

The dining table is just on the other side of the concrete arches from the kitchen, sandwiched between two conversation areas. High-backed chairs, their seats upholstered in soft leather, ring the table.

The dark, 5-inch hickory flooring makes the ideal foundation for rich Asian carpets throughout the home.

Hezmall home

The Hezmall home in Agate Creek has achieved outstanding intimacy for a large home perched in the foothills of Emerald Mountain.

"This home is different than other houses in Steamboat," said listing broker Pam Vanatta of Prudential Steamboat Realty. "You just don't see homes like this."

Before drawing the plans, architect Thomas Hein of Tommy Hein Architects in Telluride spent three days camping on the building site so he could visualize the views from varying aspects and study the way light falls on the slopes of the Steamboat Ski Area across the valley.

Guests arrive on the level of the recreation room and are ushered into the main living space via a stunning freestanding staircase. The entire mood of the home is influenced by the play between old growth hickory and the dark luster of charcoal-colored soapstone. The soapstone has subtle white highlights and a soft luster that is distinctly different from the gloss of polished granite.

Unlike many investment properties, no detail was overlooked in the Hezmall home.

General contractor Mike Bell selected a stunning 2-ton mantle from a stone quarry in Lyons. He and his crew went to great lengths to defy gravity and install it above the hearth.

The great room offers twin fireplace chimneys at either end, the second in the kitchen. They are cleverly designed to echo each other's basic shape, and yet reflect geometric differences. Bell built the kitchen chimney to look as though an old wood-burning stove had been removed and a modern range inserted into the alcove in its place.

The wood trim in the home was custom-milled on site. The tinted concrete floor in the recreation level was grooved, or tooled, while it was wet instead of sawn afterward, as is typically done. The extra effort was rewarded with a subtle beveled look apparent only to discerning eyes.

The white custom cabinetry in the large laundry room is antiqued to evoke a Colorado ranch house. And when a member of his crew suggested building a custom cabinet to elevate the washer and dryer, Bell said, "Why not?"

The owners invested upward of $200,000 in a "Light Touch" system that allows the residents to adjust the mood of the lighting throughout the house with one of five custom settings. It also offers the convenience of turning off every fixture in the house at one switch.

Motion sensors in all of the closets turn on the lights when a door is opened or someone passes by.

"You have to build in some of these details when you plan to ask more than $5 million for a home," Vanatta said.

The walk-in closet off the master bedroom is not so much a closet as it is a dressing room, with room for an upholstered chair and a flat-screen television. It has two entrances, the second off a hallway.

The master bath is so secluded that window treatments are almost an afterthought, yet from different angles, the mirror offers varying views of an aspen grove. The centerpiece of the master bath is a pedestal tub that manages to trace clean, modern lines while suggesting a period piece.

Returning to the level of the recreation room, a guest bedroom has the easiest access in the home to a hot tub set against the backdrop of Mount Werner. At the north end of the room, a sleeping room resembling an old railroad Pullman car features four bunks built into their own custom woodworking. Each is a double bed with curtains that can be pulled for privacy.

In the northeast corner of the great room is an alcove that could accommodate a pair of easy chairs or a baby grand piano. It makes an inspiring nook from which to watch the alpenglow fade from Storm Peak's brow.


ColoradoNative 9 years, 3 months ago

10,000 square foot of details perched on what was once a beautiful ridge line for an East Coast retreat.

Impossible to think they could have packed all those details into lets say 5,000 sq/ft do you?


grannyrett 9 years, 3 months ago

Bigger is not always better. Not a cosy little retreat, is it? Maybe it really impresses their friends, but I'll bet it doesn't impress many around here.


id04sp 9 years, 3 months ago

Conspicuous consumption.

These are the kind of people who really SHOULD pay a "carbon footprint" tax. Not because of global warming, however, but because their demand for energy per head helps to raise the total fuel demand, with the result that energy prices increase.

So, what I'm saying, is that people who drive up prices at the margin by using more than their "share" (BTUs per person required to heat 800 sq. feet of living area) of energy, resulting in tighter supplies, results in higher prices. Burn more, pay more. It's only fair in today's economy.


ijustlookhi 9 years, 3 months ago

makes me sick...go back east is all I can say...defintely should pay more in energy use taxes as suggested for driving higher prices for the rest of us


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