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Hop on Surround Architecture’s website and you’ll notice that each of the homes in the firm’s portfolio has been given a clever name that captures its aesthetic, spirit, or locale. (Think: Shadow Box, Black Bear, or Trailhead.) So, when the owners of this North Boulder house attended their first meeting with Anna Slowey, director at Surround and the lead architect and designer for their renovation, they already had a name in mind: Koselig. Loosely translated, the Norwegian word (pronounced koosh-lee) means coziness. It’s a close relative to the ubiquitous Danish hygge, but the difference is that koselig describes a connection to nature, to place, and to the people you love.
Set on a triple-wide lot in the Newlands neighborhood, the couple’s home already provided a strong connection to nature and to place. (Newlands is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts—it’s common to spot a bobcat, buck, or bear passing through, and the neighborhood’s quiet Fourth Street is unofficially known as Lycra Highway for its steady stream of cyclists, runners, and hikers.) But the house also had deep ties to the 1990s, when a renovation created a choppy layout that wasn’t functional for this young family of five. “Our vision was to have a space where you could find a quiet spot alone but also connect as a family,” the homeowner says.
Following Boulder’s strict building codes, the Surround team worked within the home’s 4,000-square-foot envelope. Slowey’s first order of business was to replace a series of oddly configured outdoor decks with a 400-square-foot addition. The boxy, cantilevered form houses a main-level great room, which the family calls the “gathering room.” This new hub of the house encompasses a handsome, hardworking kitchen, ample seating for dining, and a fireplace-equipped hangout area.
“Opening up the main living space allows the laughter, homework, cooking, and eating to happen in the same space,” Slowey explains. This design move also invites nature inside, the homeowner adds: “The large windows and patio doors allow us to watch sunrises; the whole space turns orange and pink. We watch lightning storms in the summer, and in the winter, when the snow is falling, it feels like we’re living inside the coziest snow globe.”
Inspired by those natural wonders, Slowey and the homeowners created an organic materials palette comprising a mix of leather, wool, walnut, oak, ceramic, and linen, all in nature-inspired colors. “The interior materials were chosen to lend a down-to-earth, welcoming, and cozy sensibility,” Slowey says. “I never thought I’d have a pair of blue sofas,” the homeowner says of the gathering room’s clean-lined seating, “but the space is so inviting, and I can’t imagine it without them.” The family’s collection of women-made art also highlights natural motifs, from modern botanicals to wispy clouds.
When it came to the exterior renovation, the design team celebrated the same organic sensibility, choosing charcoal-stained lap siding in varying depths and light gray limestone for contrast. “We were working with a shaded lot, due to the proximity to the foothills and to mature trees,” Slowey says. “How the home visually nestled into the setting was important. We loved the idea of a dark, bold object within this rich, green landscape.”
Slowey collaborated with Boulder’s Marpa Landscape Architecture & Construction to reinvent the spacious lot for outdoor living and kid-approved fun. “The rear garden was conceived as a lush and magical place to gather with friends or family in a very protected environment,” Slowey says. “Little paths meander through the flowering ground-cover perennials, and many moments are devoted to kids and adults alike.” A trampoline is nestled into an aspen grove, and a play shed—which was designed by Slowey and named “the cabin” by the family—is tucked behind an old apple tree. “The kids spend time in the cabin listening to music and playing chess,” the homeowner says. In the summer, it’s sometimes used for family “glamping.”
“We wanted the house to be where we loved spending time together,” the homeowner notes. “This goal was tested during the pandemic [the house was completed in 2019], and we often told one another back then: ‘This is the best spot to be told to stay.’” Three years later, it remains their favorite place to gather, taking in the nature—and koselig—that surrounds them.