Behind the Design: Creating a Modern Mountain Home in Vail

When you think of mountain homes, chances are you conjure up images of rustic log beams, river-rock mantles, antler chandeliers and crackling fires. Though this archetype cues warmth, comfort and nostalgia, it doesn’t always feel personal or reflect the client’s style. But how do you incorporate individuality and contemporary touches into a mountain home without making it feel out of place?

Such was the question for the Dowsons, a family of four who recently bought a spacious five-bedroom ski home on the west side of Vail, an area surrounded by forest and just a quick drive to lift access. The Dowsons are outdoorsy and love to ski (they are already teaching their three-year-old the wonders of a powder day), but their palate is more refined. I became well acquainted with their clean, sophisticated sense of style after furnishing and accessorizing their Denver home in 2014, and knew that a traditional mountain-lodge look wouldn’t cut it.

My challenge was to achieve balance between modern style and mountain setting, and to subtly incorporate the surrounding landscape the Dowsons know and love into the home. After months of space planning, sketching design concepts, selecting color and material palettes, building custom furnishings, ordering and tracking products (a time-intensive step that Sarah commandeers), and a series of hairy snowstorm install days, we are nearing completion and can’t wait for this family to start making memories here.

Keep scrolling for a sneak peek, and to see how we towed the line between mountain and modern:

For the main living space, I chose a striking wood veneer LZF pendant in a hue that mimics Colorado bluebird skies. Coziness was key for this home—the homeowners both have dynamic, fast-paced jobs and wanted a space to disconnect from work and reconnect with their family. I chose Bernhardt sofas and covered them in textured, highly durable fabrics to provide a soft landing while incorporating the clean lines the homeowners love.

For the main living space, I chose a striking wood veneer LZF pendant in a hue that mimics Colorado bluebird skies. Coziness was key for this home—the homeowners both have dynamic, fast-paced jobs and wanted a space to disconnect from work and reconnect with their family. I chose Bernhardt sofas and covered them in textured, highly durable fabrics to provide a soft landing while incorporating the clean lines the homeowners love.

My go-to woodworker and I designed a series of custom furniture pieces for the home, including this cerused-oak-top dining table with modern, lacquered MDF bases carved to look like tree trunks. Adam Hodgdon of  Denver Woodworks  expertly executed my vision. The result is a fun and whimsical nod to the outdoors.

My go-to woodworker and I designed a series of custom furniture pieces for the home, including this cerused-oak-top dining table with modern, lacquered MDF bases carved to look like tree trunks. Adam Hodgdon of Denver Woodworks expertly executed my vision. The result is a fun and whimsical nod to the outdoors.

Nubby, organic textures were incorporated throughout the home to add warmth and texture. This set of hand-twisted lampakanai rope chairs designed by Kirk Nix for  Palecek  were the perfect complement to the dining table.

Nubby, organic textures were incorporated throughout the home to add warmth and texture. This set of hand-twisted lampakanai rope chairs designed by Kirk Nix for Palecek were the perfect complement to the dining table.

The color palette was inspired by Colorado mountain hues—pale blues, soft greens, cornflower yellows and deep oranges were sown into every room, even in the kids’ bunk room.

The color palette was inspired by Colorado mountain hues—pale blues, soft greens, cornflower yellows and deep oranges were sown into every room, even in the kids’ bunk room.

And finally, shout out to my install team who made the moving process smooth and fun despite snowy road conditions. The Ryder truck almost slipped off the edge of the mountain at one point—yikes!

And finally, shout out to my install team who made the moving process smooth and fun despite snowy road conditions. The Ryder truck almost slipped off the edge of the mountain at one point—yikes!

Looking to design your own mountain home? Let’s connect.


Mark HaynesComment