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—Photograph by David Lauer

The Reimagined High-Country Home

Two award-winning Denver architects designed their own Summit County mountain retreat—and the result is as stunning and serene as you'd imagine.

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Sarah Semple Brown and Rusty Brown aren’t exactly antler-decor-in-the-log-cabin people. The co-founders of Semple Brown Design—the acclaimed Denver architecture firm whose work includes the Ellie Caulkins Opera House renovation and the two new buildings that flank Union Station—have a more modern approach to architecture. So when it came to building their 2,500-square-foot mountain residence, Cataract Ranch, located on 35 acres in the remote hills of northern Summit County, they devised “a modern take on a classic cabin,” Rusty says. The home draws inspiration from its surroundings: The interior is Douglas fir, a warm counterpoint to an exterior of fire-resistant corrugated metal; large windows let in sunlight to passively heat the house; and an elevated boardwalk takes visitors over the native grasses to the front door. Inside, the architects did employ one familiar mountain house motif—the gathering place. The majority of the residence is the great room, which comprises the kitchen, dining room, and living room and boasts almost 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape. Six bedrooms (the couple has three daughters) are small and stacked in the three-story tower, which faces an aspen grove. Says Sarah: “It’s our cozy retreat that gives you a great dimensional appreciation of Colorado.”

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