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Cherie Goff is not a fan of wasted space. So, when the founder of one-year-old architecture firm CGModern set out to design a new house outside Golden for herself and her husband—both of whom work from home—she focused on using space and energy efficiently. Here, she talks small spaces, fire-resistant design, and minimalist materials.
5280 Home: How does your home showcase your sustainable design philosophy?
Cherie Goff: I try to design homes that are sized right, that feel comfortable and connected to nature, and that provide different experiences in different rooms. In 1,800 square feet, our house has a shared office on the lower level and living space on the upper story. We have solar panels and shades, it’s all electric, and it’s in the mountains, so we don’t have air conditioning.
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Wildfire is a serious concern in the West. Did you design with that in mind?
It’s certainly at the forefront of our minds. The materials [we used] are all extremely fire resistant: the concrete base, the corrugated metal on the second story, and the composite deck. I would think about choosing fire-resistant materials for any home, particularly after the Marshall Fire [in 2021 in Boulder County]. We also cleared out the trees around the house.
What else influenced the materials palette?
To me, exposed concrete has the same kind of [visual] weight as stone or wood, but it was the more economical choice. It serves as a heavy base for the house that ties into the landscape; the deck wall extends into the grade, kind of anchoring the deck. The floor-to-ceiling windows break up the corrugated metal cladding on the second level. [As a result, the second floor] has a strong connection to the outdoors, even though the spaces aren’t big. [The first floor is meant] to be a cozier spot that’s more connected to the earth.
Did you do the interior design yourself?
Yes. I’m a bit of a minimalist at heart, so super-simple, clean lines were a big driver of the design. I used concrete floors throughout, plus black windows and a plywood ceiling. I often incorporate wood into projects to add warmth. It’s well-protected there versus on the floor, where it gets kind of beat up, or outside, where the sun can damage it.
In the kitchen, I don’t have tile; I have a window backsplash, which brings in light. In the bathrooms, I have fun splashes of colors: Downstairs there’s a chartreuse tile (by Heath Ceramics), and there’s a green tile (by Fireclay Tile) upstairs. They were a little pricey, but they’re some of the only decorative [elements in] the home.
What’s the story behind the spiral staircase?
It’s a space-saving mechanism. [A spiral staircase is] quite comfortable to walk up and down if it’s big enough: This one is 6 feet wide instead of the standard 5-foot width. I was trying to think of a creative way to make it as sculptural as possible, so I incorporated a folded tread and thicker column.
Do you have a favorite design element?
The cantilever. It’s the essence of the whole design. The idea of living in the mountains is one we want to fully embrace. The living room cantilevers over [the hillside], and when you’re standing there, you feel like you’re completely immersed in nature. I think of it as [being in] a bird’s nest, just looking out.
“There are ways to measure how energy efficient your home is. If your HERS [Home Energy Rating System] Index score is zero [out of 100], you produce as much energy as you use. That’s the gold standard. We’re not quite a zero. We’re more like a 29.” —Cherie Goff