Mountain House & Home: Chasing a view
It was 35 years ago that Bob Vanderwalker fell in love with a view. Vanderwalker was hunting in the area now known as the Cordillera Valley when nothing occupied the land but an old, rustic ranch. One glance at the view onto the valley across the highway where Lake Creek weaves through green hills and disappears into purple peaks was love at first sight. And lasting love. Vanderwalker became determined to wake up to this view every day for the rest of his life. But the dream didnt come true until last year … and its still evolving.After leaping considerable hurdles, including losing the opportunity to buy a home next door and missing out by an hour on the winning bid for an available lot down the street, two lots became simultaneously available on Legacy Trail two years ago. The Vanderwalkers Bob and his wife, Vickie bought them both.It was one of those things I couldnt quite secure, Bob said of his dream. It took me a while to get to where things were available. That view of that valley … it isnt accessible from a lot of places.Enormous windows in the living room of the Vanderwalkers 6,100-square-foot home at 235 Legacy Trail nearly reach the 26-foot-tall vaulted ceiling. The Vanderwalkers independently agree that the living area is the hands-down favorite element of the home. Bob and his family never miss a second of that view. Its forever changing, Vickie said. Every day we look out there, its something different. This morning, we woke up and there was a great big yellow balloon sitting out there, right in the middle of the field. With that background … my god. Bob came back in the house and said, Youve got to see this.
Bob loves to watch the high water crash down Lake Creek in the spring and the field in the foreground turn yellow with dandelions in the fall. But the view, as spectacular as it is, didnt enrapture Vickie quite so instantaneously. This was his dream, she said, nodding toward her husband. I didnt appreciate views. But listen to this … We used to have a TV in our bedroom. We dont anymore. When we go to bed and wake up, this is what we look at. Its changed our whole attitude about what this really is giving us. Now I cant imagine not waking up to this every day.The ceiling is not so high in the master bedroom, but the south-facing wall largely consists of a bright, rectangular window adjacent to the foot of the bed. Vickie voted against vaulted ceilings here because she felt the view was something she wanted to awaken from a cozy, more closed environment. That will all change in their next home, right across the street, where the Vanderwalkers and architect Jack Snow plan to fill a large portion of the home’s 7,500 square feet with two enormous master bedrooms one for Bob and Vickie and the other for 19-year-old Mason. But that house isnt more than a rough draft on paper.We really love this house, Bob said of 235 Legacy Trail, where he and his family had planned to live for two years before building the end-point home across the street. To be here would be incredible. But this was kind of a stepping stone to get to our final destination.The Vanderwalkers refer to their homes 235 Legacy Trail and its future neighbor as sisters.What youll be able to see is the family resemblance of the roof lines, Bob said. Some of the characteristics of the design of the house will be real evident. Youll be able to see that theyre family, but yeah, theyre not identical twins.
The most telltale sign of the houses shared bloodline comes from their father, Jack Snow, whose approach to architecture is, as he himself says, art. Snows work, hell tell you with a laugh, is weird. Its not often that homeowners entrust their architect with nearly every aspect of their six-bedroom future home, much less with a second one across the way. But as Vickie puts it: Sometimes you just dont know things until you know them. Clearly, to win projects of these proportions with this much love and history behind them, the mastermind must not be too weird.Hes one of those kinds of guys thats like a crazy, eccentric artist, Vickie said. But he really understood what we wanted. There are a lot of mountain-contemporary houses that look like a pimple on top of a hill. We wanted it to blend but to still stand out as something special.Visitors to the Vanderwalker home constantly remark at its majesty and unassuming distinctiveness. The roof is made partially of copper plate that casts off oranges and reds and partially of wooden shingles. The ceilings are rounded in a fashion called barrel vault, and tarnished steel railings link the landings inside and the balconies outside. The living rooms blackened water stone of the towering fireplace complements the railings. Outside, the railings are complemented by the enormous boulders, with which Bob and his excavation company (Vanderwalker Construction) took charge of by doing the landscaping.Jacks ability as an architect is something you just dont see anymore, Bob said. A lot of architects in this valley have their people do their work for them. They look at it as a job. Jack wants to create something. He sits you down and you are HIS clients.The Vanderwalkers had just a few priorities for their first Cordillera home. Snow took note, took them to heart and his paintbrushes began to fly.Planning is hard. It requires a sense of 3D visualization, Snow said. They came to me with sort of a layout. Of course, missing the view is not an option. It was the view and the process of getting to the view.The family and any visitors packed around the rectangular island in the kitchen an inevitable gathering area, Vickie says can look beyond the vast, open living room onto the view. She wanted a large walk-in pantry in the kitchen where all the food would be visible and easily accessed and not mixed with pots and pans, which she prefers to keep in the cabinets. Every cabinet and drawer in the house is self-closing and marked with an elegant, thin steel handle that join aesthetic forces with the steel faucets, which are ultra-contemporary in their smooth, narrow-curved simplicity.
As for the entry, which is located down a flight of stairs from the living area, the front doors are half made of glass another opportunity to capitalize on the Lake Creek view. Also, Vickie had a solid vision of what she wanted with this space.I like to do the meet-and-greet, she said. People can come in if I want to bring them into my home. If not, we can complete our business and be done. I love that. The glass is, of course, great for the view. I also wanted to see people who come to the door.Vickie also wanted the powder room tucked away from the living area, complete with an elegant glass basin and its own narrow window. A long, thin hallway leading to the guestrooms is lit by snaking track lights and three small, beautiful, color-speckled, dangling lamps that cast a rainbow of dim stars on the surrounding walls.The color theme continues in the guestrooms, which Vickie has dubbed the green room, the yellow room and the red room, all with a very subtle paint hue of their respective color. The green room was completed with hemp carpet, and each room is brimming with refined individuality.We wanted each one to feel special and unique, Vickie said. We didnt want a hodgepodge. It is the perfect middle ground.Other specifics of the design plan included Vickie’s office, which she wanted in its own high corner. The original plan for access to it was a spiral staircase, but Vickie didn’t like that idea. So Snow arranged for a unique, L-shaped staircase leading to an open landing.The Vanderwalkers went out of their way to find nearly all the materials for their home from tile to carpet to lights from local businesses. Preserving all the trees on the property and creating a structure that blended with the cherished landscape were of utmost priority.
Snow was on board with the guidelines. The house has met the Vanderwalkers aim to blend into the landscape. Plus, Snow adhered to the restrictions posed by the Cordillera Valley Club Design Review Board but pushed the limits just enough to make the board modify its rules and to make the average passerby do a double take. The home is, in Snows words, tastefully weird.We tried to walk that line between distinctive and not being a pimple on a mountain, he said. There are places for the pimple. This wasnt one of them. It was relatively tame for us.While the Vanderwalkers view their future home across the street as an evolution of what Snow has done with 235 Legacy Trail the blueprints include entire walls of glass and a glass-block corner in one wing Snow views each and every one of his projects as a creative link from one to the next.I think my work as a whole is evolving, he said. Some elements repeat, some elements get refined and reinterpreted. Artists dont do the same painting over and over … but Picasso had a blue period.