Two Connected Cabins Make Up This Spectacular Retreat in Colorado

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By Michele Koh Morollo
A clever, grated metal deck serves as a "snow strainer" at this eco-conscious mountain home.

Designed to capture the character of traditional wooden cabins within a contemporary framework, this family residence in Fairplay, Colorado, is comprised of two cabins linked by an outdoor deck. The project—aptly named Big Cabin, Little Cabin—perches on the edge of a 10,000-foot-high cliff overlooking panoramic views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Collegiate Peaks, and the South Platte River. Thick bristlecone and ponderosa pine forests hug the northern side of this 2,100-square-foot dwelling, lending a high level of privacy. 

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"To maintain the natural topography of the site, the house is built on isolated pier foundations. This raised pier construction allows spring run-off to flow freely beneath the structure," says the architect Renée del Gaudio

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The two cabins are connected by an open grate steel deck, which rests on these pier foundations. The decked areas serve as wind-protected outdoor terraces that frame stunning views. When snow falls on the property, this slip-resistant, wind-protected deck allows the snow to drain through it, and safely melt away below the foundations of the cabins. 

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Guided by the local vernacular of homes with steep, gabled, metal roofs, the cabins are clad with dark, stained cedar sidings that blend in with their surrounding forests. Large panels of glass create a strong visual connection to the outdoors. 

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For the interiors, del Gaudio used simple rectangular floor plans to encourage passive solar gain and cross breezes from all sides. 

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Raw plywood interior walls provided a simple, modern-rustic canvas for Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chairs, Eames plastic molded chairs, a Rais Scandinavian-style wood-burning stove, and Bolivian frazada textiles from LaViva Homes. 

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Insulated windows with low-E glass and massive sliding barn door shutters were installed for sun and wind protection.

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The cabins are equipped with photovoltaic panels that supply 100 percent of the property’s electricity, and in winter, heat is generated by a 96-percent efficiency boiler, radiant floor tubing set in a concrete slab, and the Rais wood-burning stove. 

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Project Credits: 

 Architecture, lighting and interior design: Renee del Gaudio Architecture 

Builder: Peoples Construction 

Structural engineering: Anthem engineering 

Cabinetry: Natural Interiors

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