A Sleek, Monochromatic Home Strikes Harmony With Colorado’s Rugged Mountains

A Sleek, Monochromatic Home Strikes Harmony With Colorado’s Rugged Mountains

By Mandi Keighran
Designed for a young family, this home in Boulder, Colorado, draws inspiration from art galleries and the great outdoors.

When two high-end art consultants approached Studio B Architecture + Interiors to design a family home in Boulder, Colorado, they sought the simplicity of an art gallery and a strong connection to the outdoors. As they travel frequently, the home also needed to be low maintenance with multipurpose spaces that could be adapted for family life, work, relaxing, and entertaining.

The Blur House’s exterior is designed to blend—or blur—into the surrounding landscape.

The result is Blur House, an elegant home set against the rugged landscape of the Boulder mountains that draws inspiration from both modernism and the idea of a Colorado mountain house.

"The integrity of the plan and detailing reflect the modernist ideas of minimalism and functionality," says Mike Piche, principal of Studio B. "We wanted to achieve an architecture that was simple, functional and beautiful. It was less about referencing a Colorado vernacular, and more about a Colorado lifestyle connection to the outdoors and sunshine—both literally and passively."

The home has a strong connection with the outdoors. The pool is aligned with the office space on the upper floor, and the doors open to provide access. The master bedroom hovers over the edge of the concrete podium.

The home is located on 40 acres in the foothills above Boulder. It boasts views of distant hills and the Front Range, and it receives frequent visits from local wildlife—including wild turkeys, deer, mountain lions, and the occasional lynx. "We were excited about the opportunity to work with these aspects, but also with the challenges of a steep, remote site, numerous rock outcroppings, and access to sunlight," says Piche.

In addition to a pool, the south yard features a large, flat section of outdoor space, which the clients desired for their two young children and two dogs. The glazed front to the living space connects the interior to the exterior.

These challenges informed several key elements of the design. A long driveway, which is oriented toward the sun, follows the natural contours of the mountain while weaving its way toward the home through many existing trees. The residence itself is aligned to be parallel to a large rock outcropping across the valley.

The upper facade features simple flush, glossy metal panels that reflect light and the landscape. This refined material contrasts with the raw-formed concrete podium that houses the lower level.

The home’s concrete plinth was inspired by the many gray granite outcroppings on the site. The lower level is sunk into the hillside to reduce the visual mass of the home.

The lower level of the home is buried in the side of the hill, taking advantage of the steep site to avoid dominating the landscape. The concrete plinth the home rests upon was inspired by the many gray granite outcroppings found throughout the site. "The idea was to have a simple black bar float above the landscape from one of these abstracted rock formations," says Piche. "The raw gray concrete was inspired by these rock outcroppings."

"The floating stairs are a subtle nod to the legendary Mies van der Rohe," says the architect.

A slot window in the lower level hallway frames views of the tree-laden site. Pocket doors—which completely disappear into the walls—create an open flow of space.

The entry space doubles as a gallery, with concrete walls—which provide lateral bracing for the structure—and an open stair that filters light. The stair’s timber treads and smooth metal elements contrast with the rough concrete while hinting at the more materially refined upper level.

Simple interior finishes focus attention toward large expanses of glass, creating a visual connection to Boulder’s mountainous landscape.

Both the lower and upper levels have a "core" of functional spaces with circulation at the perimeter that opens up to views. The home’s restrained material palette places the focus on these views—which change drastically from season to season—or the art.

The living space provides views in both directions and easy access to the outside.

The kitchen, dining room, and living room form one open space with views through large glazed walls on both sides.

Circulation corridors run around the perimeter of the home, encasing a central core of functional spaces. This plan maximizes floor space and access to views.

The primary living spaces for the couple and their two children are on the upper floor, while more functional spaces—such as an exercise room, media room, guest room, and storage—are located on the lower level.

Several pocket doors—which completely disappear into the walls—allow both levels to essentially operate as if there are no doors. In their closed positions, however, they provide privacy and intimacy.

Slot windows in the children’s bedrooms are aligned with desks to frame views of the surrounding trees.

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The guest bedroom on the lower floor has views of the surrounding landscape.

The office and master bedroom float over the pool, and operable doors offer the possibility to dive directly from the house into the water below.

A raw-formed concrete wall in the master bedroom contrasts with the refined white walls and plush carpet.

The dark tiled walls of the bathroom strike contrast with the stark white vanity unit.

The bathroom is clad in dramatic stone finishes.

The glossy metal facade reflects the surrounding landscape while providing a host of benefits—it’s durable, fire resistant, and able to withstand the harsh mountain environment. These sleek metal panels, together with the raw-formed concrete and charred wood siding, help the building to blend into the environment. In contrast, the interior is soft and inviting with an uncomplicated palette of white and washed wood floors.

"Blur, by day, is a silhouette—a dark floating bar with a metallic cloak wrapped around a bright, light-filled home," says Piche. "The exterior is a durable skin protecting the soft interiors."

By night, Blur House is a series of warm golden bands projected onto the hillside.

"It was rewarding to work on a project that had a clear diagram and concept that was maintained throughout the process," says Piche. "The clients and builder were thoughtful and willing to take some risks to create a really great piece of architecture."

Blur House lower level floor plan

Blur House upper level floor plan

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