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Steamboat Magazine

Organically Reinventing The Spec Home

03/21/2015 08:38AM ● By Christina Freeman

Blackened steel panels conceal hidden blinds which can be closed for privacy. Photo by Kevin Deitrich.

By Suzi Mitchell

There was a time not so long ago that spec homes in Steamboat Springs were commonplace. An unforgiving economy changed much of the Yampa Valley’s construction industry, with the custom home market bearing the brunt of hard times.

Chris and Mara Rhodes, owners of Soda Mountain Construction, sensed the tide was turning in 2011.

They saw demand arising for high-end new builds that have a custom feel. Chris Rhodes also witnessed a shift in homeowner needs towards low property maintenance, useable outdoor living space and advanced technology capabilities.  Mara Rhodes aired on the side of caution when it came to building in a fragile economy until her husband found an opportunity too good to miss.

What began as a custom-designed outdoor swimming pool installation on Buffalo Pass resulted in a business partnership among a Denver-based investor, Soda Mountain Construction and Sotheby’s realtor Darrin Fryer. Their vision was to build properties that “feel like a high-end custom home built for that owner and not a spec,” Mara Rhodes explains. 

Keeping the flow of the outside in, doors from the kitchen lead onto an expansive deck. Photo by Kevin Deitrich.

 Their plan is working. They received an offer on the first home they built together within one week of going on the market.  It sold for just over $2 million; their second was purchased for $3.7 million by a couple who had been watching the building process while they were hiking. Ground was broken for a third last September on a site off Ridge Road. Each project employs a different architect, depending on the style of property.

Architect Joe Patrick Robbins designed the trio’s second property.  Secreted at the end of Heavenly View, overlooking the Sanctuary, the home nudges national forestland with Fish Creek running below it. The building envelope maximizes orientation and views while seamlessly connecting with the earth.  Guests cross over a trickling stream built by Nature’s Design on an Epay wood and stainless steel cable bridge. Flecks of red paint on reclaimed barn wood give a nod to its past life.

 Upon entry to the home there is an immediate sense of tranquility. Floor-to-ceiling windows incorporating a 16’ bi-fold door offer seamless transition from the outdoors. The upper level encapsulates the trend for today’s living style with a blended kitchen, dining and living space.  Exposed Permalac steel beams and integrated lighting enhance the soft hues of the oak wood flooring.  Dry stack Colorado buff stone clads several interior walls, complementing the hand-carved walnut trim door frames.

A private passage leads to the master suite. Built into an aspen grove, the bedroom and en suite bathroom are reminiscent of an elaborate tree house.  A fireside seating area and an outdoor hot tub make relaxation compulsory.

The main floor also houses an office and guest powder room, plus a well-appointed laundry and mudroom leading to a three car heated garage.

The trickling sound of a stream built to flow under the entryway bridge can be heard from the lower level. Photo by Kevin Deitrich.

 Descending a wood stairway with glass and steel bannister to the lower floor, the sound of trickling water can be heard from the outdoor stream. A transparent wine cellar butts against the stairwell, which opens into a smaller sitting area.  Mirroring the upper level, a guest suite offers extensive space to visitors, coupled with an additional en-suite bedroom, each including substantial built-in closets.

Behind closed doors, a mechanical room gives access to the high-efficiency boiler, Smart home technology and remotely programmable Lutron lighting system.

Although the home comprises 6,000 square feet of living space, it feels surprisingly compact. The overall layout is utterly functional with an aesthetically modern rustic feel. Above all else, it is a testament to fine craftsmanship, attention to detail and anticipating the needs of a buyer who seeks a one-of-a-kind Steamboat abode.

LED lighting and natural light create a soft ambience reflecting of the earthy tones in the flooring and walls. Photo by Kevin Deitrich.