A 1980s Aspen Duplex Receives An Artful Renovation

HOME TOURS | BY | June 18, 2018

House Details

Style: Contemporary

Produced By: Christine DeOrio

Photography: Peter and Kelley Gibeon

Architecture: Steev Wilson, Forum Phi

Interior Design: April Russell, April Russell Designs, and Rebecca James, Rebecca James Studio

Home Builder: Steve Smith, Renovate

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spen has a way of turning business into pleasure. At least that’s what happened when Lady Alison Deighton, a London-based investor, art collector and design aficionado, bought a duplex there in 2012. Her original plan was to refurbish the dated 1980s unit and flip it for a profit, but she and her husband were quickly charmed by the mountain town’s cultural amenities and access to outdoor activities. “I love skiing, hiking and biking, so Aspen has all my favorite sports,” she explains. “It has become our second home.”

To bring the residence up to their standards, Lady Alison undertook the overall design and material selection for the project and collaborated with architect Steev Wilson and builder Steve Smith. The first step was to give the three-story home an open and airy new floor plan by replacing the top level’s load-bearing walls with a concealed structural-steel skeleton. This open room now contains the kitchen as well as formal and casual living and dining areas flanked by hearths that “create two focal points and balance within the large space,” Lady Alison says. The next step was to convert the former garage and a steep driveway into a first-floor family room flooded with natural light, thanks to a new skylight. Perfect for relaxing, the 1,500-square-foot space comprises a cinema room and a cozy reading and bar area.

Special attention was paid to the home’s central staircase, which the team positioned to receive maximum daylight from a series of top-floor windows. “Shadows come through the stairway and enliven the space,” Wilson explains. “You always feel like you’re being led through the house by the light.” A multi-globe chandelier provides additional illumination, bouncing light off the metallic fibers of a grass-cloth wallcovering. At the second-floor landing, custom wood flooring with a composite-stone inlay echoes the bronze pattern on the home’s oak interior doors that was inspired by the work of Piet Mondrian. “My aspiration for any home is a feeling that there’s always something new to discover,” Lady Alison says of the thoughtful detailing.

That sense of discovery extends to Lady Alison’s extensive collection of contemporary artwork, which she amassed and displayed throughout the house with help from advisors Tamar Arnon and Eli Zagury of The Art Ahead. An arresting drawing by Nigerian artist Toyin Ojih Odutola shares a corner of the lower-level family room with a mixed-media work from Los Angeles painter David Korty’s Film Strip series. In the formal living area, a vibrant mixed-media piece by the Brazilian graffiti and street artists known as Osgemeos commands attention. And Antonym, a 5 1/2-foot-tall contemporary sculpture of a woman in repose by Syrian-American artist Diana Al-Hadid, is displayed on a steel-and-glass plinth suspended from the top of the staircase–an ingenious solution Smith devised. “We couldn’t find the right place for it,” Lady Alison says, “but now it takes center stage.”

To complement the art collection, designer April Russell developed a pattern-free palette of furnishings and fabrics that hews to quiet neutrals with occasional pops of color: lime-green accent pillows on the sofa in the casual living area, a soft red headboard and chairs in the master suite and deep purple chairs in the formal living area. To furnish the latter, Russell designed a hand-tufted rug and a contemporary sofa, which she paired with an antique mirrored-glass coffee table. Jonathan Browning Studios‘ Le Pentagone chandelier illuminates the steel-plate fireplace, and rich velvet upholstery gives the clean-lined furnishings a sumptuous appeal. “I usually choose fabrics that are very tactile, beautiful and unusual,” Russell says. At the opposite end of the top-floor space–and adjacent to the walnut-and-marble-clad kitchen–she furnished the formal dining space and casual living area with more custom pieces of her design: a round dining table with a high-gloss palm-veneer top, hourglass-shaped upholstered dining chairs and a curved sofa that perfectly hugs the edge of a round area rug.

To furnish the family room, Lady Alison collaborated with designer Rebecca James. The space functions as a home theater, but “it was key that it not feel like other cinema rooms,” James says. “It needed to be multifunctional, with an air of sophistication.” A felt covering on two walls provides a textural backdrop for a massive Minotti sofa upholstered in a deep-blue velvet James says will look even better as it wears. Nearby, on the other side of a vintage Willy Rizzo etagere, a seating area ideal for reading faces a linear, brass-clad fireplace.

Since their home’s completion, Lady Alison and her husband have been spending more time in Aspen–in part, she says, because the spectacular new retreat entices their children, who live in New York, to visit their parents more often. “It’s the ultimate bribe,” she laughs. “We have a houseful of guests all the time.”

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