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Ask a Broker: Is it a good time to buy a fractional in Beaver Creek?

St. James Place in Beaver Creek Village is a great place for families to try out fractional ownership. Beaver Creek is a great resort for families, boasting a range of amenities and activities in the village and terrain for all levels on the mountain.
Slifer Smith & Frampton/Courtesy photo

Question: We take a ski vacation every year, usually staying in hotels or an Airbnb. As our family grows, we’re ready to put down roots in one area, and we’re considering buying a fractional residence in Beaver Creek. Is now a good time? And, is a fractional home a good idea with a growing family?

Answer: Yes and yes.

As the 2021/2022 ski season gets going, sales of fractional residences in Beaver Creek remain strong. Many of our existing owners are adding more weeks to their ownership so they can spend extra time in the mountains. We also have a lot of interest from buyers who are new to fractional ownership or new to Beaver Creek.

Fractional ownership opportunities in this area are quite different than many other destinations. In most parts of the country, people will sell their fractional interest after one to three years and move on to a different destination. But 80% of the people who buy in Beaver Creek consistently return year after year, making this a great location to put down roots.

Fractional pricing

Purchasing a fractional can be a good introduction to Beaver Creek. It’s a more reasonably priced way to test out the area and see if you and the kids like it. At Slifer Smith & Frampton, we have clients who had a fractional for years and then moved on to whole ownership, purchasing a single-family home. And some of them even keep their fractional residence for when they have extra visitors.

Located in the heart of Beaver Creek Village, St. James Place is just steps away from world-class skiing, shopping and four-star restaurants.
Slifer Smith & Frampton/Courtesy photo

Pricing for fractionals can vary from $4,500 to $250,000 depending on the week of the year you visit and the size of property you buy. The most popular times of the ski season for families are Thanksgiving, Christmas and spring break. But if those don’t work with your schedule or price range, you can choose another time. You may already have a tradition of taking your ski vacation at a certain time each year. No matter the week, there are options, and you’re sure to find a place that you and your family will love returning to every winter.

A family-friendly resort

Beaver Creek is a great resort for families, boasting a range of amenities and activities in the village and terrain for all levels on the mountain. The winters here are absolutely wonderful. But, as we like to say, people come here for the winters; they they stay for the summers. During the warmer months in Beaver Creek, there are plenty of outdoor activities the whole family can enjoy, such as horseback riding, mountain biking, fly fishing and hiking.

With a fractional property in Beaver Creek, you get 10 extra float days outside of the winter months or you can purchase only summer weeks if you prefer the warmer temperatures. With these extra days, it may be a good time to start a new family tradition – a summer trip to the mountains.

Fractional convenience

A fractional is the most ideal option for a growing family because it’s worry-free. Once you find the place you love, you’re set. You don’t have to spend time on review sites, sorting through the pros and cons of a certain hotel or rental property. You know what to expect each time you visit. It’s cleaned before your arrival and after you leave. Plus, fractionals come furnished, so you don’t have to go through the decorating process necessary if you buy a single-family home.

Multi-generational fractionals

The beauty about fractional ownership is, as your family begins to grow and/or you want to include extended family, you can always pick up extra units during a visit. We’re seeing a multi-generational trend as of late where grandparents are picking up one or two fractional residences during the same time as their kids and grandkids are visiting. Or they’re picking up some extra weeks and encouraging their families to join them for a ski vacation. This may feel like a safer option than a hotel or an Airbnb. Having more control over one’s own space during vacation is a new pandemic-inspired priority.

The lobby of St. James Place in Beaver Creek. The beauty about fractional ownership is, as your family begins to grow and/or you want to include extended family, you can always pick up extra units during a visit.
Slifer Smith & Frampton/Courtesy photo

As you’re weighing the decision on whether to purchase a fractional ownership, we hope you’ll consider the above benefits. This type of ownership isn’t for everyone, but we think it’s a great option for a family that is just starting out and looking to put some roots down in a fabulous mountain town.

Summit County passes new short-term rental licensing regulations on 1st reading

The Summit County commissioners meet Sept. 14, placing a moratorium on new short-term rental license applications. On Tuesday, Nov. 23, the commissioners voted on first reading to pass new regulations on short-term rentals.
Joel Wexler/For the Summit Daily News

The Summit Board of County Commissioners unanimously passed new short-term rental regulations on first reading at its Tuesday, Nov. 23, meeting and plans to make adjustments based on concerns expressed by the public.

The commissioners voted to hold a public hearing on the ordinance and code changes Dec. 16, when they’ll vote on second reading.

The new regulations separate unincorporated Summit County into two zones: resort and neighborhood. Short-term rentals in resort zones — which include Copper Mountain, Keystone, Peaks 7 and 8, and Tiger Run — will continue operating the way they currently do, but licenses will now become resort licenses.

Neighborhood zones include the rest of unincorporated county land and will use a tiered system for licensing, which is where most of the new regulations apply.

Neighborhood zones will have three types of licenses depending on the type and use of the home:

Type I: This license is for those who rent out their primary residence. The Type 1 license has unlimited annual nightly rentals of a bedroom in the home when the homeowner is present and a maximum of 60 nights per year to rent the entire unit.

Type II: This license is targeted to second-home owners — though owners can apply for this license for their primary residence, too — and is limited to 135 nights per year.

Type III: For second-home owners who want an exemption on the nightly limit, this license requires a conditional-use permit and has different terms for single-family homes and multifamily complexes.

More about Type III licenses

Single-family license, no nightly limit

• Homes must have a 100-foot setback between residential improvements or a compliant accessory dwelling unit.

• If the lot is in excess of 40,000 square feet, the application goes through a Class 2 conditional-use permitting process, which is reviewed by county planning staff. Folks can request additional occupancy over two people per bedroom plus two if the lot is in excess of 40,000 square feet, but it will be moved to a Class 4 review, which is more stringent.

• If the lot is less than 40,000 square feet, the application goes through a Class 4 conditional-use permitting process, which is reviewed by the county planning commission.

Multifamily license, no nightly limit

• Homes must be part of a homeowners association with a minimum of 100 units. The complex must have either direct shuttles to ski areas or be within 100 feet of a transit stop, and must include significant on-site recreational amenities, including three of the following: pool, hot tub, sauna, tennis/pickleball courts, racketball, gym, game room or other.

• The HOA must verify amenities and provide a letter denoting whether short-term rentals are a harmonious, compatible use. These units are reviewed as Class 4 unless the HOA is able to provide the suggested letter. Occupancy is two per bedroom plus two with no ability to deviate.

Before second reading, commissioners said they would dive deeper into the nuances of the Type III licenses as this was one of the biggest points of confusion for meeting attendees.

During the morning work session Tuesday, the commissioners agreed to move the maximum number of nights for a Type II license for second-home owners from 120 to 135, but a majority of those who spoke during public comment asked for closer to 180 nights. Commissioners also agreed to add Peak 7 into the resort overlay zone, something those who own on Peak 7 were happy to hear.

Senior Planner Jessica Potter has spearheaded the county’s new regulations and explained the details to the commissioners, noting that the county sent out a survey and has done outreach with stakeholders, such as property managers and second-home owners. The county also emailed all of its short-term rental licensees to let them know about the meeting.

Potter explained that compared to the first half of 2020, home sales in the first half of 2021 that resulted in short-term rental license applications increased 21%. She also emphasized that while only 35% of the county’s short-term rentals are in neighborhood areas, this is where 86% of all short-term rental complaints come from.

Commissioner Tamara Pogue explained the process the county has gone through to get public feedback on its plans for regulating short-term rentals, including hosting one virtual and two in-person town halls and seven work sessions as well as responding to an estimated 700 to 800 emails from the public about the issue.

“We have received robust feedback from the community but chose to take more public comment today because we certainly do appreciate that this is a difficult issue,” Pogue said. “… As the (Board of County Commissioners), we have attempted to try to find a balance between the needs of the industry and the needs of our workforce and our community.”

During public comment, Jenny Lieb said she had lived in the home she owns for three years and starting renting it out because she and her family had to move but wanted to keep the property. She said she hires about 10 locals to help manage the home while it’s rented out year-round.

With the new regulations, Lieb said she will have to cut the amount of folks she hires because her home is not in a designated resort zone. She agreed with many of the points folks who spoke before her made related to increasing the number of maximum nights and grandfathering in current license-holders.

“We heard many very good and thoughtful questions today … many of which we agree with and share their concerns as homeowners who depend heavily on renting short-term,” Lieb said.

Many folks in attendance also asked the commissioners to consider grandfathering properties, and the commission asked county staff to look into this possibility since it was such a large concern.

The way the regulations are currently worded, licensees will not be required to be in compliance until September 2026, even though short-term rental licenses must be renewed every year.

A chart lays out the details of Summit County's new short-term rental licensing regulations.
Summit County/Courtesy chart

Simple steps toward reducing waste this holiday season

This image provided by Better Homes & Gardens shows fabric-wrapped gifts.
Jacob Fox/Better Homes & Gardens via AP

With concern about climate change growing, this holiday season is a chance to try celebrating in more planet-friendly ways. Simple changes to the way we gift wrap, send cards, decorate and entertain can cut out a lot of waste. (And often save money in the process.)

“This is the year to approach the holidays with sustainability foremost in mind. It’s a great way to feel good as you enter the giving season,” says Liz Vaccariello, editor in chief of Real Simple.

Think carefully about what you’re buying, says Melissa Ozawa, features and garden editor of Martha Stewart Living, “and focus on things that are meaningful and last.”

That often means natural and recyclable materials.

“Now more than ever, it’s good to ask yourself, ‘Do I really want this? Will I use it? What’s the impact on the planet?” Ozawa says.

Some activities to look at:

Gift wrap

Unease over paper waste has many people turning to reusable bags and other options. Some companies that make wrapping paper have launched recyclable lines, or removed glitter, which is not recyclable, from their products.

Vaccariello recommends stocking up on gift bags and ribbons that come your way and reusing them.

This image provided by Ten Thousand Villages shows gift wrap made from saris that are recycled by artisans in Bangladesh. The company says sales have been growing steadily since the wraps were introduced in 2013.
Ten Thousand Villages via AP

Or consider things like old maps, pages from magazines, and decorated Kraft paper as recyclable gift wrap, and embellishing them with fragrant sprigs of rosemary or evergreen, says Amy Panos, home editor at Better Homes & Gardens.

Both she and Ozawa like the Japanese tradition of furoshiki, in which gifts are elegantly wrapped in cloth. The pretty and sturdy wrapping cloths can be found in shops or online.

Or use colorful tea towels or scarves, making the wrapping cloth part of the gift itself. Better Homes features a guide to wrapping in cloth on its website.

Holiday cards

“The tide has really turned, and it’s fine to give and receive electronic cards. There are so many digital options now, and people get just as much joy out of it,” says Vaccariello.

Those who stick with traditional cards might opt for ones printed on recyclable paper, and skip those featuring glitter or foil.

Cards from California-based PaperCulture.com, for example, are printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper. To offsets its carbon footprint, the company says, it works both locally and with the Arbor Day Foundation and Trees for the Future, pledging to plant a tree for every order.

“There’s room, and demand, for saving the planet while having things that are inspirational in the way they’re designed,” says CEO Christopher Wu.


Again, think of reusing and recycling, says Vaccariello. Greenery left over from trimming a tree or clipped from the outdoors can be used in wreaths or garlands, for example.

Last year’s holiday cards can be cut out and hung as decorations, says Panos.

A bell ornament made out of an upcycled yogurt container.
Carson Downing/Better Homes & Gardens via AP

If your holidays lights are old, switch them out for energy-saving LED ones, says Ozawa, at Martha Stewart Living. They use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs according to Energy Star, and will last years longer, she says.

Diorama ornaments made out of upcycled Mason jar lids.
Carson Downing/Better Homes & Gardens via AP)

The tree

Artificial or real? “The greener choice would be buying a real Christmas tree from a local farm,” says Ozawa.

“The trees are grown for the purpose of being cut, and new ones are typically replanted every year, so the cycle continues,” she says.

“Buying local means that it didn’t use tons of fossil fuels to get to you. Plus many municipalities pick up trees after the holidays and chip them to use as mulch, so you’re not adding to the landfill. And you can’t beat the smell of a fresh-cut tree.”

If you do buy an artificial tree, she says, plan to use it for many years.

“I would also consider the material of the artificial tree. When making your decision, ask: Is it made with recycled materials? Or can it be recycled?” Ozawa suggests.


When hosting a gathering, avoid single-use plastics and go with more eco-friendly options, like regular plates and cups. If single-use seem unavoidable, choose compostable versions made from things like bamboo or sugar cane, says Vaccariello.

Give a food gift, like a batch of cookies or candy, tucked inside the bowl and let the bowl be part of the gift.
Better Homes & Gardens Walmart Collection via AP

“Just be sure to put out clearly labeled bins for compostables and recyclables,” reminds Panos. “Otherwise it’ll still end up in the trash.”

Instead of offering guests a plastic goodie bag or doggie bag on their way out, save takeout containers and reuse them, she suggests.

“And at the end of the party, consider donating unopened bags or cans of food to a food pantry,” Panos adds.

Slifer Smith & Frampton adds longtime local

Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate has added broker Sasha Windisch to the team at The Slifer House in Avon. Windisch will work out of the shared workspace, which the firm opened last year. Her focus will be residential real estate throughout the Vail Valley.

Sasha Windisch

Windisch joins the Slifer Smith & Frampton team with deep roots in the Vail Valley. Her father, the late Erich Windisch, was a member of the German Olympic National Ski Team in ski jumping and Nordic combined. His friend, Peter Seibert invited him to help survey what eventually became the Vail ski area.

A graduate of the University of Denver, Windisch studied International Studies and Business, and spent a year studying abroad in Rome, Italy. After graduating, she worked at The Sonnenalp Hotel in group sales, acquiring experience in the hospitality industry.

Windisch worked for two years as Office Marketing Coordinator at Slifer Smith & Frampton offices throughout the Vail Valley.

Windisch is proud to bring her multi-lingual global perspective to the company, as well as her unique view of the Vail Valley. “It’s been very interesting to see the changes over the years,” she said. “You could say I’ve grown with Vail.”

For more information about The Slifer House, go to TheSliferhouse.com. For more information on Slifer Smith & Frampton, go to Vailrealestate.com.

Vail Board of Realtors names Slevin as group’s new ‘Realtor of the Year’

Michael Slevin accepts his Realtor of the Year honor at the Sebastian Vail.
Courtesy photo

The Vail Board of Realtors recently honored Michael Slevin, president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties, as its Realtor of the Year.

The award is given to a minimum five-year member of the group and who has played a significant role in the Vail Board of Realtors and its Board of Directors, as well as exhibiting a high degree of professionalism, cooperation with other Realtors, community involvement and high ethical standards.

“It is truly an honor to be selected as Realtor of the Year from among the 800-plus members, all of whom are dedicated real estate professionals,” Slevin said. “The past two years have presented many opportunities and challenges for all of us. This award is one that goes to the entire Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties team, all of whom embody the mission and spirit of the company from the first meet and greet to closing and beyond. I am extremely proud of the work they do.”

Selected by a committee of past award recipients, Slevin joins 13 other Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties’ broker associates who have also received this award, including Dave Cole, Bob Finlay, Sue Rychel, Doug Ketchum, John Slevin, Larry Agneberg, Mac Hodge, Frank McKibben (twice), Karen Wilhelm, Judy Evans, Terry Nolan, Mike Budd and Kyle Denton.

In addition to Realtor of the Year honors, several Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties’ associate brokers also received their Vail Pro designation this year: Tiffany McCracken, Meg Sierant, and Elizabeth Sullivan. Past Vail Pro designees include Mike Budd, Kevin Denton and Kyle Denton.

For more information, go to BHHSVail.com.


Ask a Realtor: What should we know before selling our home?

Located at 2754 S. Frontage Rd. West in Vail, this three bedroom, two bath, 2,268-square-foot original and recently renovated Vail log cabin home sits directly on Gore Creek. Features include an open-air gourmet kitchen and dining room, sunroom, 1,100-square-foot deck, and private hot tub. Listed by Larry Agneberg, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties, the property sold for $1.66 million in April 2021.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties/Courtesy photo

Dear Larry and Laurie: My husband and I are considering selling our home and wondering if you can provide some tips to understand what we should do to get our house ready, understand market nuances and help us pick the right broker. — Curious Seller

Dear Curious Seller: We applaud you for taking the initiative to understand how you can make listing and selling your home a positive and productive experience. Understanding where the market stands and how to leverage it to your advantage are important steps.

As you likely know, we are in a seller’s market and inventory continues to remain at historic lows. With the current absorption rate, there is a little over a one-month’s supply of condominium and townhouse listing inventory and a little over two-months’ supply of single-family home inventory throughout Eagle County. Coupled with historically low interest rates, there really is no better time to sell your home.

This doesn’t mean sellers can ask any price for any property. Buyers are being cautious about buying at the top of the market. When looking for a broker, we advise you work with a broker who is a seller’s agent or listing specialist. This type of broker understands the needs of sellers and how to appropriately price, stage and get your home ready for market, negotiate multiple offers and make sure closings go smoothly.

A few specific tips:

Set a realistic price

Setting the right asking price is key. Work with your broker to run a comparative market analysis to help you determine a fair price. Note that buyers and their agent will do this for your home too, so as a seller you should be one step ahead of them.

Offering spectacular mountain and meadow views, this 1,652-square-foot, three bedroom, three bath furnished Mountain Meadow Condo No. 18 at 4852 Meadow Drive is located in one of East Vail's most private and well-maintained communities. This two-story residence includes vaulted ceilings, large one-car attached garage and access to the Vail Racquet Club. The property was listed by Larry Agneberg of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties for $1.695 million and sold for $1.75M in October 2020.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties/Courtesy photo

Pay attention to other comparable homes nearby and listing and selling prices. An overpriced home will sit on the market longer and you may need to reduce your price, which sometimes may make buyers wonder if there is something wrong. In today’s market, homes are selling quickly. The sooner you are under contract, the less you will need to get your property ready for showings.

Prepare your home

Prepare your home for showings before it goes on the market. Remove personal items and family photos, reduce clutter, paint the inside and outside if needed, and get any necessary repairs done. Ask your broker for their input and/or staging recommendations to make sure you are doing what’s needed but not overdoing it. Buyers notice a clean, well-maintained home and when done correctly, your home will stand out from the competition.

Create curb appeal

As the saying goes, you only have one chance to make a first impression. Make sure you have a well-groomed yard and landscaping, shoveled walks, and welcoming front door/entryway.

This renovated, 2,861-square-foot, four bedroom, three bath home at 118 Red Hill Drive in Gypsum sits on an elevated, private lot with mountain views. Vaulted ceilings with log accents give a sense of spacious living and tall windows bring in the beauty of the outdoors. The lower level offers a one-bedroom apartment with a private entrance and outdoor patio. The property is listed by Laurie Slaughter of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties for $799,000.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties/Courtesy photo

Qualify buyers

When looking at and comparing offers, make sure the buyer has met with a lender and has a written pre-qualification or approval letter, if it’s not a cash deal. Local banks or mortgage brokers are always preferred as they know the area and market nuances vs. an out-of-town lender.

Tone down the emotion

Selling a home can come with a lot of stress. Choose a broker who specializes in listings and one you trust to help you negotiate an offer and help you through the process. Finally, seller’s agents are familiar with all the paperwork and pitfalls involved in real estate transactions and can help make sure the process goes smoothly.

Be prepared for inspections

Always disclose any defects with your home. You can expect that when the buyer hires a company to inspect your home, there will always be some issues that arise in the inspector’s report. Be open minded and think seriously about correcting any safety issues.

Good luck with your listing.

Vail to be featured on new TV show ‘American Dream Home’

Host Cheryl Casone works with local realtors to help people find dream homes across the country.
FOX/Courtesy Photo

The towns of Vail and Dillon are being featured on an episode of the FOX Business Network’s new show “American Dream Home,“ which will be broadcast this Tuesday at 6 p.m. locally.

The series, which launched in September, follows people from across the country as they hunt for their perfect house while sharing their emotional journeys to their forever home. The show airs every Tuesday evening with two back-to-back 30-minute episodes that focus on a different couple, family or individual as they search for their dream house.

Those of us who live in the valley will have no trouble understanding why Vail is being featured on a show about dream home destinations. In this week’s episode, a couple from Denver is leaving the city behind and pursuing their lifelong dream of living in Vail. The show is hosted by Cheryl Casone, who works with local real estate agents to help meet the aspirations and budget of each homebuyer in the series.

In this week's episode of ‘American Dream Home,’ a couple from Denver is leaving the city behind and pursuing their lifelong dream of living in Vail.
FOX/Courtesy photo

“This episode is iconic Vail,” Casone wrote in an email to the Vail Daily. “Vail offers a year-round sense of peace and beauty for its residents. You really have every outdoor sport at your doorstep all year long.”

The episode will feature a behind-the-scenes look at some custom-built homes in the area and the stories behind them, while also sharing a heartwarming and aspirational look at how people achieved their life goals.

60-minute upgrade: Mantel Makeover

A hearth with elaborate decorative carvings looks architectural rather than fussy with a single work of art.
Getty Images

Your fireplace deserves some attention. The major architectural feature in many living and family rooms, it is a visual focal point around which the rest of the space is organized. So it’s a shame that so many of us plonk a few objects on the mantel when we first move in and promptly forget about them. If that sounds familiar, it’s probably time for a change. With just an hour, you can give your mantelpiece a makeover that will transform the entire room. Clear everything off, give it a good dusting, and try one of these three basic plans.

Go big and bold

If you have a prized piece of art that measures half to two-thirds the length of the fire surround, center it on the mantel, stand back, and consider stopping right there. If your prized object is truly a prize, you don’t want to distract from its beauty with additional doodads. And certain types of fireplaces look best with just one large embellishment. A hearth with elaborate decorative carvings looks architectural rather than fussy with a single work of art. A bold, minimalist fireplace may demand only one graphic element to maintain its impact.

That element doesn’t have to be a traditional painting. A black and white photo, a beautiful mirror, a framed poster, even a large clock can work. For a casual mood, place the art directly on the mantel, leaning it against the wall (if it’s a heavy piece like a mirror, secure it in place with a wall anchor). If you want to create a more formal impression, hang the piece on the wall three to seven inches above the mantel.

Layer it on

On the other hand, if your mantel still looks a bit tepid with that one prized piece in place, try layering. You’ll still start with a focal point, but it will be part of a tableau. Place the focal point in the center of the mantel, or off to one side for a more informal look.

if your mantel still looks a bit tepid with that one prized piece in place, try layering. You’ll still start with a focal point, but it will be part of a tableau.
Getty Images

Choose objects with a variety of shapes and sizes to add sophistication and keep your eye intrigued and moving across the mantel. Candlesticks, a short stack of books, plants, ceramics, and framed art can all come into play here. Keep the arrangement asymmetrical, rather than lining objects up in a row, and place taller items in the back. Think about mimicking the ups and downs of a city skyline or a mountain range. Odd numbers often create the most appealing groupings, and larger items are usually better than small ones. If you want to use a smaller piece, stacking it on a few books or atop a decorative box will give it more presence.

It’s OK to partially overlap one object with another, just don’t hide anything entirely. And employ restraint — once you have more than five objects, your tableau can start to feel crowded. Feel free to experiment with a variety of pieces, but this shouldn’t be a random assortment. Objects should be related in some fashion (by color, theme, or material) and should complement the room’s decor.

Embrace symmetry

When done beautifully, there’s nothing quite so timelessly appealing as a balanced mantelpiece. Pairs of identical objects — candlesticks, obelisks, stick lamps, and vases are traditional — typically flank a central anchor. You can also create two mini-vignettes that mirror each other. Consider placing a framed black and white photo in front of a topiary on one side of the focal piece, and duplicating the set-up on the other side. Another classic option is to line up an orderly collection of treasures that are nearly identical in color and size, such as a row of jade bowls or Art Nouveau crystal goblets.

Pairs of identical objects — candlesticks, obelisks, stick lamps, and vases are traditional — typically flank a central anchor.
Getty Images

But you don’t have to be matchy-matchy to achieve a symmetrical look. The key is to concentrate on balance: Two or three slender items grouped on one side of the anchor will have the same visual heft as one sturdier piece on the other side. However you go about it, a successful symmetrical arrangement usually leaves enough empty space for all the pieces to breathe.


As record-setting real estate sales continue in Colorado resort towns, buyers are now looking way down valley

Newer homes in Rifle seen on Thursday, October 28, 2021.
Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun

The blistering pace of real estate sales is continuing in Colorado’s high country, with every resort community setting new records in each month this year.

“It’s been crazy,” Crested Butte broker Frank Konsella said, “way past everything in 2019 and 2020.”

Last year saw record numbers of home buyers paying highest-ever prices for properties in and around resort towns. In eight Western Slope counties anchored by resorts last year, $6.6 billion traded hands through August as buyers flocked to mountain communities during the pandemic.

Through August this year, Land Title Guarantee Co. has tracked $11.2 billion in sales volume in those counties, a 71% percent increase over 2020. With four months left in the year, sales volume in resort counties in 2021 has already surpassed the total sales of 2019 by more than $2 billion.

Read more via The Colorado Sun.

‘Bringing nature in:’ Japanese gardens speak to the moment

This photo provided by Portland Japanese Garden shows their Tea House as viewed from the Tea Garden after Rain.
Tyler Quinn/Portland Japanese Garden via AP

Japanese-style gardens first caught the public imagination in the U.S. at an 1893 world exposition in Chicago, became a sought-after feature in Gilded Age estates, and were later adapted to open-plan modernist homes.

Today they have evolved, and continue to inspire garden design at a time when many people are trying to forge a closer connection between indoor and outdoor spaces.

“One reason that gardens are so successful in Japan is that the house-garden relationship is set up to be so integrated. There are large views of the garden, and more unobstructed views. Gardens are enclosed and surround the house, so it’s as if your living space extends out much further,” says Asher Browne of Oakland, New Jersey, who trained in Kyoto, Japan, and now creates Japanese-inspired gardens for clients in the United States.

“That aesthetic is definitely catching on.”

Japanese garden design in this country has moved well beyond stereotypical features like lanterns and imported Japanese cherries and maples, says Sadafumi Uchiyama, chief curator of the Portland, Oregon, Japanese Garden and director of the International Japanese Garden Training Center there. Uchiyama is a third-generation Japanese gardener from southern Japan.

At first, he says, Japanese gardens in the U.S. “copied the stone lanterns, water basins and stepping stones. But gradually, they started to design more original and authentic gardens. We are now getting a much closer look at quality,” with more widely available books and expertise.

A garden around a single family home in St. Paul, Minnesota. The courtyard shows the entry courtyard, where the landscape suggests an alpine meadow with a meandering stream. The garden in this image was designed and constructed by David Slawson. It was later restored and expanded by John Powell, of Zoen, LLC.
(Robert C. Muschewske/Summit Images, LLC via AP

There are over 200 Japanese-style public gardens in the U.S., according to the North American Japanese Garden Association, which features a North American Japanese Garden Finder on its website. Leading ones include the Portland Japanese Garden; the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Philadelphia; the Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford, Illinois; and the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego.

Browne says that in the Japanese aesthetic, garden spaces are linked with interior spaces so that each view from a home is a perfectly composed, almost painterly, view of the garden around it.

“In Japan at least, it seems that there is one core idea that has come down over centuries, and that is the idea of bringing the beauty of nature into daily lives,” he says.

This photo provided by Portland Japanese Garden shows its Cultural Village and its entry garden.
James Florio/Portland Japanese Garden via AP

Other aesthetic concepts he says are widely appreciated now are asymmetrical balance, and the beauty and importance of rocks, stones and boulders as the “bones” of a composition, which can then be filled in in a supportive way with plantings.

John Powell, a garden builder and pruning specialist from Weatherford, Texas, who trained in Japan, says he was attracted to Japanese gardens by “the seamless connection between interior and exterior space, which is evocative of the larger natural world, sometimes in a very compressed space.”

“That is a big change from the U.S., where the landscaping was traditionally there to dress the exterior of the house, but was very disconnected from interior space. I think especially today, that idea of connecting the indoors and the outdoors is an aesthetic that a lot of people strive for,” he explains.

This photo provided by Portland Japanese Garden shows a view overlooking the Sand and Stone Garden in the morning.
Roman Johnston/Portland Japanese Garden via AP

The Japanese garden aesthetic “is very simple sounding, but it’s the most difficult thing I ever thought of in my life,” explains Powell.

As for sustainability, there’s been a major shift in thinking about Japanese-style gardens away from specimen gardens, which tend to feel a bit like a botanical garden, and toward greater use of plants adapted to local environments.

“It’s very possible to create a wonderful Japanese garden using all native plants,” says Browne.

Landscapers specializing in Japanese garden aesthetics say one persistent misconception is that these gardens are low-maintenance or even maintenance-free.

Nothing is maintenance-free, and sometimes Japanese-style gardens involve even more maintenance than other gardens, they agree.

“It’s not so much about massive cleaning and pruning projects, but about constant small actions. Every time I walk in the garden I pick up a few pine needles, a bit of trash or a few leaves,” says Uchiyama.

“In Japan, only about 20 percent of the land is habitable, so people learn to care for their environment. One way is to do incremental cleaning and maintenance. It’s about an approach, about caring, and how you see things.”