All Together Now

By Modern In Denver Magazine and Charlie Keaton / Published by Modern In Denver Magazine
In the age of specialization, it's increasingly rare to see architects, designers, builders, and homeowners work together on all phases of an 11,000-square foot home. For BOSS Architecture, that brand of collaboration is the only way to design timeless contextual spaces.

It was 2010 when Ryan and Jill Ahrens began the hunt for a lot perfectly suited to the creation of their dream home. Whereas many Colorado residents prioritize mountain views or low-maintenance landscaping, the Ahrens’ were more concerned with finding a place that offered true connection with the natural environment; a site that would support a low-slung, modern home that hugged the land rather than overshadowing the surrounding beauty; somewhere to merge indoor and outdoor without sacrificing privacy. Eventually, they found it.s

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Resting on a three acre plot of land adjacent to a horse farm, the Cherry Hills Village location was convenient to their office and close to good schools for a son born while design was underway. Real estate in hand, they assembled a roster of architects, designers, and builders to form a single cohesive unit — a team they could trust implicitly, and with whom they could collaborate on details big and small. At the head of that list were Chris Davis and Kevin Stephenson, founders and principals of Boss Architecture.

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"They were incredibly thoughtful," Jill said of Boss. "That first meeting, they already had a site plan. They said, ‘Here are your views, here are your sight lines, here’s what we’re going to mitigate and here’s what we’re going to highlight, and how does that sound?’" Next came a discovery process that included a long list of issues to consider before a single drawing could be shared — everything from big-picture items like solar exposure to more granular specifics about how guests would park their cars. "We felt like Boss understood that we’re not just trying to drop something on land, or to build a house that doesn’t belong here," said Ryan. "We really wanted something that speaks to the property itself."

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Beyond the meticulous approach, Boss arrived with a design philosophy built around contextual, comprehensive architecture. They emphasized the importance of working with the land, rather than against it. They felt strongly about creating a house where every seat in every room worked in isolation, while also coming together as a single, cohesive composition. "I see this project as being crafted at every level," said Stephenson. "We’re always looking at materiality, interior, exterior, and furnishings as a whole, rather than just putting your blinders on and asking, ‘What do you want this room to look like?’ A person walking in might not necessarily be aware of it, but there’s a sense of comfort and unity that happens as you move through this house." As abstract wants and needs became concrete design choices, the size of the home expanded from approximately 7,500 square feet to more than 11,000.

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Growth of that magnitude required fine-tuning of layout, flow, and placement. A natural materials palette of limestone, steel, glass, concrete, and walnut lent the home an air of timelessness and connectedness. (Materials and finishes in the lower level bathroom, for instance, were paired subtly with those from other rooms in other parts of the house.) Sight lines also proved crucial. From bedrooms to living areas, each space features composed views from windows — but not at the expense of privacy. Every room is naturally oriented, or in some cases twisted slightly, so adjacent houses or street views never line up with interior windows.