low and steady wins the race–at least that’s how the old saying goes. The expression has borne out for a pair of empty nesters who took five years to build the elegant home they had long imagined for themselves on a spectacular double lot in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, overlooking the Rocky Mountains. “I didn’t have children when I started this project, and now I have two,” interior designer Nadia Watts says, putting things into perspective. “The clients wanted it to be their dream home, so they weren’t in a rush.”
With its vaulted ceilings, porte cochere, and arched windows and doorways, the result of their years-long effort makes a striking addition to the area, which is known for its eclectic mix of architectural styles, including Cape Cods and modern farmhouses. “It’s a fresh interpretation of the kind of classic and elegant architecture you don’t often find these days,” says architect and project manager JR Lamicq, who collaborated with principal architect Mike Woodley on the project. “It’s timeless and profound.”
The soaring ceiling and curvaceous open staircase in the foyer makes his point. A white porcelain-tile floor with a brown diamond-pattern inlay creates a sense of movement that leads the eye toward the exterior balcony, which extends over the landscape and delineates the private spaces on one side of the house from the public areas on the other. The separate wings, which sit at slight angles to the outdoor structure, also provide a shield. “On this location, there’s not much protection from the wind, so it was important to shelter the area,” Lamicq explains.
In the nearby great room, the architectural high point (literally) is a series of dramatic arched ceiling beams hovering 20 feet above the floor, a striking feature that took careful planning. “We had every piece of trim mocked up first, so we could see it in the space,” Watts says. Down to earth, the flooring changes to brown porcelain tile designed to resemble wood but without the natural material’s care requirements–a crucial point for the owners, who have busy lives and two large Bernese mountain dogs. Patterned draperies provide a lively backdrop for the neutral leather sofas and upholstered chairs and, along with the double-height fireplace mantel, draw the eye up to the striking ceiling.
That’s just one of several overhead statements. The drama continues in the turret adjacent to the great room, where the round wood ceiling features spoke-like beams. The space serves as a breakfast nook with a near 360-degree view, illuminated by a Swedish chandelier and furnished with a round antique table and a set of upholstered chairs. There’s more seating at the island in the adjoining kitchen, which has been outfitted with classic white-painted cabinetry, a walnut-wood island and quartzite countertops. And in the corridor to the master suite, a groin-vaulted ceiling holds its own against a porcelain-tile floor laid in a chevron pattern. “It adds interest to the spine of the home, which connects the private and entertainment spaces,” Lamicq says.
A coffered ceiling does the same for the master bedroom, a peaceful space with grass-cloth-covered walls and built-in cabinetry. A plush chair and an oversize ottoman create a lovely location to sit and read by the room’s stone fireplace. Another place to unwind is in the spacious soaking tub nestled in the bay window of the en-suite marble bathroom. “The owners travel often, so I wanted them to have a serene space to relax when they are home,” Watts says.
The way the spaces and materials harmonize makes a pleasant atmosphere–and, as Watts explains, “it’s all about the details.” The taupe marble-tile floor in the dining room, for instance, seems to flow up onto the walls in the form of a natural-stone patterned wallpaper, and the cabinetry has been painted in a matching shade.
The pleasing nature spreads through the house with key details carried from room to room. “It feels good when there is a strong relation between the spaces,” Watts says. For instance, the color and pattern of the dining room ceiling has been replicated with a faux finish on the inlay of the coffered ceiling in the music room–an adult space with an ornate black-marble fireplace mantel, custom-painted cabinetry and tailored, neutral furnishings.
The owners are thrilled with the outcome of the project and enjoy hosting friends, who have their own space in the detached guest home that has a more mountain aesthetic with an exposed-stone wall and rustic beams. “The clients have a very tight group, and they like entertaining,” Watts says, “The house is like a hotel sometimes.”
The story of the residence proves another ancient adage is sometimes true: Good things come to those who wait. As Watts says, “They finally built their dream home, and they love it here.”
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