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Steamboat Magazine

The Glass House

03/23/2017 11:53AM ● By Dan Greeson

A 120 square-foot lift and slide door enables the indoor living space to connect seamlessly with the landscape. Photo by David Patterson.

By Suzi Mitchell

Walking into “The Glass House” is like stepping inside a secluded retreat where you’d expect to find James Bond sitting on a bar stool with a martini. 

The sleek linear structure blends into the surrounding rocky treescape so effortlessly, it is hard to believe the terrain beneath the 90-foot by 30-foot building had to be blown apart, literally, for construction to begin. 

“The lot had almost no dirt, just gigantic rocks the size of Suburbans that we initially hoped to incorporate into the foundation. In the end, we used explosives to break down the boulders and integrate them aesthetically,” says Chris Rhodes, owner of Soda Mountain Construction. 

The spec home, which was completed in July, was the first design, build, furnish and maintain project for Soda Mountain Construction to be done in-house. The house was purchased in December 2015 during the building phase by a couple from Texas that was visiting Steamboat Springs for Christmas. 

“The composition of the design was driven by desirable view corridors and site lines that needed buffering,” says architect Travis Mathey. “Big mountain views are always pleasing, but connecting with the intimacy and character of the site was not overlooked.”

The roofline mimics the slope of the hillside, which drains any moisture away from the building. A contemporary blend of board-formed concrete, hot-rolled steel with a patina finish and vertical cedar seal the house. 

Over 2,000 square feet of glass connects the interior to its surrounding landscape on both floors. “We wanted this 4,500-square-foot home to live like it’s 6,000 square feet,” Rhodes says. And it does. 

The atmosphere is “luxury boutique hotel meets tree house,” with all the mod cons of a Lutron lighting system, in-floor heating and electric window shades. “We kept to a monochromatic color theme and blended contemporary styles with rustic touches to reflect the site’s landscape,” interior designer Kathleen Rosencrantz says. “The owners wanted it to be very livable.”

Sumptuous furnishings fill two ground-floor bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms and an entryway lounge. Oversize glass doors open into a pine forest where a patio with hot tub boasts views of Emerald Mountain. 

A glass balustrade flanks the stairway to the second floor, and a bridge connecting the living and sleeping quarters. A lack of structural divisions and an abundance of glass continue the unrestricted flow between rooms and the outdoors. 

A three-sided peninsular fireplace, finished in hot-rolled steel and a C-Channel mantle, anchors the living space. A subtle palette of gray and cream hues unites the open-plan professional kitchen, dining, sitting and games space. The owners opted to house a billiards table where Rhodes and Mathey envisioned a dining table. Instead, the duo created a curvaceous spot with views of Mount Werner for mealtimes.

Functionality and seamless design merge in a downdraft hood that is stowed into the elongated island by the kitchen range. A walnut valence in the living and dining area disguises the placeholder for electronic shades and shadow-effect LED strip lighting. The arduous task of carrying groceries from the garage up two flights of stairs is relegated to a dumb waiter, which is hidden behind a walnut door. 

Across the bridge a guest suite on one side looks out to the Flat Tops, and the master suite incorporates the secluded forest. A floor-to-ceiling glass door opens onto a 12-foot-long cantilevered deck, elevating the master’s outdoor space almost to the top of 40-foot pine trees. An en-suite bathroom exudes spa-like luxuries with a double floating vanity, a steam shower built for two and a soaking tub. 

“We wanted to build a sophisticated, contemporary home that maximized the views while maintaining complete privacy,” Rhodes says. The end result is a sleek mountain retreat that celebrates the Steamboat outdoors, even from behind glass. Martini anyone?