Taking a Moment
By Dan Greeson
Structural loads are redirected from the corner of the house to create the effect of a floating box. Photo by David Patterson.
They call it a “moment window,” and the minute you walk into Phil and Anne Lauinger’s living room, you will understand why. The panoramic view of Mount Werner seen through the facing floor-to-ceiling glass wall serves as a constant reminder that you are in the mountains. The couple, who recently relocated from Houston, Texas, relishes the outdoors and wanted to incorporate the landscape into the home’s design.
Based on the orientation of the south-facing lot in the upper portion of the Sanctuary neighborhood, maximizing dramatic views of Mount Werner, the Flat Tops and Emerald Mountain was a priority.
“The main structure of the house is very linear going along the center of the site, but we were able to take advantage of view opportunities with the help of technology,” says Jeff Gerber.
A scale device was set up on site and a GPS camera was used to take 360-degree photos. The design team created a computer model, placing scaled images simulating actual views on a topographic computer mesh. They performed a sun study at exactly the right latitude and combined all the data to make decisions on orientation and window placement.
“We align windows so that in winter, when the sun is lower in the sky, there is passive solar gain. In summer, when the sun is higher, the overhangs reduce the amount of light and heat on the windows. The view corridor is in line with solar access,” Gerber says.
The windows in the living space and master suite on the second floor take advantage of the vistas. The working kitchen with oversized pantry backs up to the hillside and aspen grove behind the house. A side door opens up to a steep hillside perennial garden and an elevated fire pit built by one of the couple’s three sons. The meandering pathway connects with an abundance of hiking trails into Routt National Forest.
The best seat in the house can be found in Phil’s home office, which is separated from the dining/living room by glass doors. “I love how the space is connected and I can still close the door when I need to without feeling isolated from the family. I have a prime spot to watch the local elk each morning,” he says.
Anne gravitates to the “moment window,” where swivel chairs sourced by Olivia’s Home Furnishings take center stage. The interiors were designed in harmony with the couple’s lifestyle and desire to utilize vistas as virtual art.
Reclaimed oak for the upper level and sealed concrete floors for the lower level offer durability. Leathered antique granite countertops in the kitchen were mitered to avoid visible joints and give a seamless look. Gerber Berend provided mock-ups of interior and exterior materials before anything was installed, which suited the hands-on clients.
The entire lower floor is dedicated to the Lauingers’s sons and their revolving roster of visitors. “We wanted everyone to be able to spread out and to be comfortable when they are here,” Anne says.
Living space sprawls outdoors onto an oversize deck upstairs and leveled garden downstairs. Gecko Landscape and Design advised keeping the topsoil during excavation because it was unusually good for the area. As a result, Anne has a workable yard that she plans to transform into a garden once the snow melts. Inevitably it will become another feature for the family to enjoy from their elevated moment window.