Mountain House & Home: The Steamboat Look, Reimagined
October 17, 2007
The Steamboat Barn, otherwise known as the historic More Barn, on Pine Grove Road, has become an iconic symbol of Steamboat Springs. The dark brown wood and falling-in roof brings back memories of the Old West and the mining and ranching heritage the town was founded on. In the background, Mt. Werner ski mountain rises above, an indication of the contemporary world that sees more and more families settling in the area. As in many mountain towns, theres a struggle to preserve Steamboats heritage while embracing the new. This is the story of two Steamboat Springs homes that exemplify this struggle, bridging the gap between the old and the new in creative ways that take full advantage of the views and culture of Steamboat.
Brent and Samantha Pearsons house, situated Downtown near the high school off Old Fish Creek Falls Road, was designed to use Western elements alongside glass and steel. Their home is the second collaboration between Brent and Brandt Vanderbosch of Vertical Arts Architecture and Design on Lincoln Avenue. They wanted an opening up of glass while having a tie to context and regionalism, Vanderbosch says. They used the history and story of place with contemporary ideas. The result is a structure that fits in with its environment. By using Cor-ten steel, designed to decay over time, browns and reds will enhance the metal, allowing the house to further blend in with the surroundings. Closer to the mountain, another new home attempts to blend old with new. Halfway between Ski Time Square and Downtown, at the end of a cul-de-sac off Hilltop Drive, sits Dan and Chris Elliots house. The design for their home was inspired by an old mining photo featured in a calendar. Mining and ranching were the two industries that helped put Steamboat Springs on the map. The Elliots house was built with an easy-living feel to accommodate the active lifestyles of Dan, Chris and their two sons. Despite the differences in the look and feel of the two homes, they do have one common element in their design: reclaimed wood. According to New West Builders Mark Arnold, reclaimed wood is becoming more and more common on high-end construction projects, but its important to know how to use it. Wood from the East Coast, which holds a lot of moisture, has a tendency to dry up and shrink in the arid West.Theres a fluency with what barnwood can do, a lot of nuances of working with it, Arnold says. God knows weve had some problems.These days, its simple to find resellers of reclaimed wood online. Arnold suggests finding a regional resource for the wood, both to avoid larger shipping costs and because of his philosophy of reorganizing our past, respecting our future.Part of the Pearsons goal was to incorporate elements of sustainability into the design. One of the ways they did this was to use the reclaimed barn wood on the exterior, as well as on the floors of the house. Even where they have used reclaimed wood, they still have modern elements such as the detailing of the beams, which uses rustic timbers engaged with structural iron rods that hold up the loft. Steel was chosen not only for its ability to weather into the setting, but also because southern exposures under the harsh mountain sun can wreak havoc on wood. The Elliots house is a good deal more rustic in feel than the Pearsons. Arnold used reclaimed wood throughout most of the house. In addition to ponderosa pine from North Routt County, the shell was made from dead standing wood, or wood that suffered from fire or lodgepole pine beetle infestations.One of the more unique features is the red window trim, which came from using the painted side of the barn wood. To keep the interior feel of the house consistent with the exterior, Arnold chose kitchen cupboards made from reclaimed Douglas fir designed by a cabinetmaker in Utah. It took a bit of sanding to get them to a point where they werent too rough to handle, but they bring in the mining cabin feel. All the railing systems were built with reclaimed wood with hot roll steel bars.
The environment played a pivotal role in creating the design of the Pearsons house, which Brent sketched after he found the property. Located on a hill, with 280-degree views, the house doesnt hide away. The use of glass invites the environment in. With views of Mt. Werner, Howelsen Hill and the Steamboat Valley, the goal was to use materials to fit the context of Steamboat while incorporating a more modern feel. While the materials glass and steel may seem cold, the design creates a soft space. At night, the house exudes a warm glow. Carrying over the notion of breaking down interior and exterior boundaries, two commercial-style glass garage doors lead out from the great room. Opened or closed, they bring in views of the habitat around them. In social situations, this allows a nice, organic flow from outside to inside. Vanderbosch says he uses the same criteria for both his commercial and residential places.The biggest principle is the environment its about taking advantage of this beautiful place we all live in, Vanderbosch says, adding that more Steamboat homes are moving away from the cowboy feel and bringing in more updated aspects such as bamboo floors, tile, glass, metal and wire to their designs.Landscaping on a hill has been a bit of a challenge, but the Pearsons are working to bring in shrubs and trees that are local to the environment, including aspens, cottonwoods, evergreens and juniper bushes. Plants that occur naturally in an ecosystem are adapted to the local temperature and rainfall patterns, so they generally require less maintenance, said Sandy Wilson, an assistant professor of environmental horticulture with UFs Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Theyve also adapted to soil conditions and generally have fewer pest problems.
The Elliots home was also purchased for the views, which include Mt. Werner, Fish Creek Falls National Scenic area, the Flat Tops Wilderness, Emerald Mountain and the Steamboat Valley. Views of the Flat Tops and the Yampa Valley invite Southern exposure which can literally bake a house. The solution was a covered deck with four exposures where you can always find some sunshine or shade. Another way to combat summertime heat and winter chill was by choosing a high-performance polyurethane insulation system. Arnold used R26 in the walls and R49 in the roof, making the house virtually airtight. The Elliots say theyve been surprised by how cool the house has stayed through the 90-degree days Steamboat experienced this past summer. The Elliots house also faced challenges because of the slope of the hill they are on. They would have preferred to have a garage on the same level as the first floor of the house, but because of the difficulties in leveling moraine-filled hills, the garage sits lower than the main floor. Ultimately, they say, the arrangement has worked out well. Mt. Werner slides in through the front window and becomes part of the home.Looking back, Dan would have selected larger windows on the mountain side to allow a broader appreciation of Steamboats charm.
In nature, there are no closed doors, only connections from one surrounding to the next. The same is true for the Pearsons house. The first level of the house functions in a circular manner, Brent says. Everything is within visual contact of each other. The openness translates into functionality with two young boys. Samantha says she can keep an eye on their sons Brody and Cale no matter what room shes in and still have contact with guests who are at the bar or in the living room. In the kitchen, the round concrete breakfast island has become a gathering point for the family as well as being one of Samanthas favorite places. The fireplace also has an antique yet contemporary feel with the use of weathered steel. The truss work contrasts perfectly with the clean lines of the windows. We wanted to use an old and new organic feel, to make it mountain modern, Brent says. On the upper deck sits a hot tub with 180-degree views that follow the suns rise near Mt. Werner to the sunset over Emerald Mountain. All in all, theres nothing we would change about the house, Brent says. Its exactly what we wanted.The Elliot home contains a plethora of small details, and coming across them is like uncovering hidden treasures. The cooking surface hood is surrounded with rusted metal piping suspended from the ceiling. The metal column that vents the oven was designed to mimic a mining chute. Hidden in the pantry is a cut-out relief of a wheelhouse, jigsawed in the panels of pantry shelving. The kitchen has views of the Flat Tops Wilderness,.The Elliots purposely went against current traditions and separated the great room from the kitchen. They previously had a connected kitchen and great room, but found the noise from kitchen clean-up took away from the ambiance of a quiet dinner with friends or family. One of the focal points of the house is the fireplace with16 feet of slatted wood, which mimics a mining shaft that can be backlit. More Steamboat-inspired touches abound. Hidden in the back of the master bedroom closet, a corner piece has a pick axe and hammer carved out of it. The kids bedroom has a sliding barn door for the closet. The beds were handmade by Arnold with reclaimed wood and galvanized metal insert panels.A lot of Steamboat locals have been concerned with losing the feel of the community their families have lived in for generations, yet with architects who care about the environment and families who were drawn to the quiet toughness of Steamboat, they have proven that you can re-build history without losing it.
Pearson Home:ArchitecturalVertical ArtsBrandt Vanderbosch929 Lincoln Ave.Steamboat Springs, CO 80477www.vertical-arts.com(970) 871-0056ConstructionHomquist-Lorenz Construction CompanyJim LorenzPO Box 775638Steamboat Springs, CO firstname.lastname@example.org(970) 879-6831ElectricCentral Electric LLC2618 Copper Ridge Circle, Unit 101Steamboat Springs, CO 80477(970) 871-9611MechanicalPeak Mechanical Services Inc1420 13th StreetSteamboat Springs, CO 80477(970) 879-7753RoofingWilson Construction Inc 39920 County Road 33Steamboat Springs, CO(970) 846-9663FlooringKrey Inc 38760 MainSteamboat Springs, CO(970) 870-9011IronworkRollingstone Art Studio Inc 1480 Pine Grove RoadSteamboat Springs, CO 80477(970) 879-0737Elliots HomeDesign and ConstructionMark ArnoldNew West BuildersPO Box 775896Steamboat Springs, CO 80477(970) 879-1220www.newweststeamboat.comArchitectural DrawingsRL Custom DesignDarby, Montana(406) 821-3475ElectricCoon Custom Electric IncPO Box 882379Steamboat Springs, CO(970) 879-0974EngineeringBitterroot Engineering – Design1180 Eastside HwyCorvallis, MT 59828(406) 961.5634 ExcavationBuds Backhoe Service17550 W. US Hwy 40Hayden, CO(970) 276-3527Reclaimed WoodSinging Saw WoodworksBoulder, CO(303) 588-0349Shelving/FireplaceJ. Bonn Wood Products Inc.PO Box 882236Steamboat Springs, CO(970) 870-1466Log CrafterVictor MontanaMontana Idaho Log and Timber(800) 600-8604www.mtialog.comReclaimed Kitchen CabinetsKitchen Perfection Inc2620 S Copper Frontage Unit 6Steamboat Springs, CO(970) 879-3970