Ship to Shore
By Dan Greeson
A visit to the Falun Copper Mine in Sweden inspired the red and gold tones used on the home’s exterior. Photo by David Patterson.
By Suzi Mitchell
Pulling up to David and Wendy Schermerhorn’s distinctly painted, red and gold, wood-clad home gives the sensation of arriving at a summer home in Sweden, not a mountain dwelling in Steamboat Springs.
“It’s a fun story,” says Wendy Schermerhorn, standing in her open kitchen stirring a divinely aromatic pot of puttanesca sauce she’s making for an impending family gathering. “David’s younger brother hosted Ulrich, an exchange student from Sweden, while David was in college. The two met over a Christmas break, then Ulrich joined the family on a ski trip to Aspen. David and Ulrich have been friends ever since, and our two families visit each other frequently,” says Wendy. “They have a summer home by the water in Sweden called Skeppsholmen (ship’s harbor), so we decided one day we would build Skeppsholmen West.”
Wendy identifies with the simplicity of Scandinavia’s signature style. When the recent empty-nesters decided to leave Boulder in 2013 and move to Steamboat, where Wendy lived during the ‘80s, she had a vision. “When I design, it’s all in my head,” she says.
The couple found a lot in Old Town directly below Wendy’s brother and sister-in-law’s home. They engaged Gerber Berend to bring Skeppsholmen West to life.
The end result was a collaboration between both parties. The Schermerhorns had several stipulations. They wanted a combined laundry and mudroom, very few doors, durable flooring and an overall nautical feel. They also wanted to reuse thrifty finds and re-purpose items they’d amassed over the years from garage sales.
“The claw-foot tub in the master bathroom was found in a junkyard. Wendy brought it out of our Boulder home and drove it to Steamboat. It sat in Gerber Berend’s basement while the house was being built,” says David.
The couple picked up many of the light fixtures in sidewalk sales. They sourced unfinished kitchen and pantry shaker cupboards from a surplus materials warehouse in Denver. Wendy took an Annie Sloan chalk-painting class at the Little Black Chair in Centennial and painstakingly painted every cabinet, which David then waxed. “For a while, my sister-in-law would joke, if you stand still long enough, Wendy will paint you,” says David laughing.
The couple spent a great deal of time researching finish materials, settling on Rubio Monocoat, a hard wax oil for wooden floors and counters from Belgium, that is free of volatile organic components. The home’s notable exterior colors were inspired by a visit to the Falun Copper Mine in Sweden. The original Falun paint contains some copper, which is processed to produce shades of gold and red. At the mine, the Schermerhorns painted a little wooden horse, which was taken to a Benjamin Moore dealer to match. Jeff Gerber generated digital renderings of the home painted in both colors before settling on the final choice. The blue front door gives a nod to the sea and the Swedish national flag.
Gerber Berend amplified the nautical feel with a curved wooden ceiling in the living/dining room and wide-plank hickory wood flooring. Corridors have been transformed into usable space through strategically placed windows and recessed walls. A television nook separates the entryway from the living room, and an elevated day bed and built-in library flank the stairway to the lower floor.
David finds refuge climbing what he affectionately dubs the “stairway to nowhere,” a naturally lit tower with a landing that serves as a spot for meditation and yoga. It is also a prime lookout toward a lodge pole pine flagpole and a park bench that provides a rest stop for neighbors climbing the hilly street.
Downstairs, the Schermerhorn’s youngest son has a room to call his own during visits home from college. Guests have the luxury of separated space away from a television den, the couple’s own desks and a room dedicated to Wendy’s love of crafting.
A greenhouse attached to an exterior wall accessed from the family den was a last-minute addition. Herbs and vegetables grow year-round, giving Wendy plenty of fresh produce for the culinary concoctions she likes to whip up in her galley kitchen.
A nautical feel permeates the home, but the Schermerhorn’s have lowered their anchor and plan to make Steamboat their ship’s harbor.