Modern Mountain Homes: Aspen Interior Design Insights
What does lodge living mean to you? Musty bear skin rugs and dusty trophies all over the wall? Say goodbye to fussy old-fashioned log cabins and hello to modern mountain homes, where beautiful contemporary themes embrace traditional lodge comforts. As many readers will already know, we completed a gut remodel of our Mountain Lane Show House earlier this year. We transformed an impractical, outdated space from the 1990s into a modern mountain retreat with gorgeous views of Aspen-Snowmass. Today, Mountain Lane is a stunning sanctuary for Laura and her family. With an open floor plan, vaulted ceilings, a moody color palette and a touch of glamour, MLSH is the epitome of modern mountain design. From MLSH to many other projects in the Rockies, our Aspen interior design firm knows quite a bit about modern mountain home design. Modern mountain home design is all about an elevated organic aesthetic that marries rustic and high-design elements. Its contemporary architecture embraces the landscape while its cozy interior welcomes guests all year round. Learn all about modern mountain homes with tips straight from our Aspen interior design team!
Hallmarks of Aspen Interior Design and Residential Building Design
Contemporary Architecture That Honors the Landscape
Modern mountain architecture is unmistakably organic. Expertly designed modern mountain homes create synergy — announcing themselves without interrupting the scenery. Instead, Aspen interior design and residential building design complements a home’s surroundings. The exterior will reflect the landscape through natural building materials like rustic timber and local stone.
Elegant Yet Personal Interiors
Mountain modern homes are elegant, interesting, and eminently livable. They’re refined — not stuffy — and replace the clutter of a cramped hunting lodge with glass walls, aged beams, and thoughtful space.
Rich oak boards, colored glass panels, weathered slate, and textured concrete are a few of the elements we incorporate to create character. We collaborate closely with our clients — adding personality to each room with select statement pieces.
Functional Yet Beautiful Spaces That Make Year-Round Living Delightful
Mountain homes — particularly those in Aspen-Snowmass — need transitional spaces that keep the weather out while letting views of the landscape in. Rain, dirt, mud and snow are no match for a well-designed mudroom with durable flooring and oodles of storage. Aspen interiors are functional yet beautiful spaces that make year-round living delightful.
Laura U’s Top Tips for Designing in the Mountains
#1 Take Every Season into Account
Even if your mountain home serves as a vacation property instead of your primary residence, it’s important to take every season into account. Designing for all four seasons ensures you can enjoy the property in the Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. It also means your home will stand up to both snowstorms and intense summer sun. This was a major consideration for the LUDC design team when remodeling our Mountain Lane Show House.
Aspen-Snowmass is a destination all year-round. This Colorado mountain town is often described as the gold standard of ski spots. It also boasts world-class art and culture attractions like the Aspen Arts Museum and Anderson Ranch Arts Center.
In the Summer, Aspen offers everything from mountain biking and paddleboarding to garden tours and music festivals. No matter the season, local restaurants and bars attract locals and travelers alike.
Of course, Laura and Gina designed Mountain Lane Show House as a family home. But even before finding Mountain Lane, Laura and her family had visited Aspen in both the Summer and Winter. As Laura and Gina discussed renovations, they knew designing for all four seasons would be vital.
Designing a Modern Mountain Home for All Four Seasons
When designing a modern mountain home for all four seasons, one must consider both the interior and exterior. Creating transitional spaces allows us to appreciate each and every feature of the home no matter the weather. Below are a few additional ways you can update a property to improve its functionality and aesthetic appeal all year round.
In the winter, large windows let the light in and frame the snow-covered vista outside. Sumptuous fabrics like velvet, sheepskin, and full grain leather make living spaces warm and welcoming.
In summer, sliding patio doors create indoor-outdoor spaces, so you can enjoy more of your property. Indigenous plants help create a sustainable landscape, which takes care of itself when the owners are out of town. In Aspen, native grasses, ferns and shrubs are perfect for a low-maintenance garden. This resource from Lifescape Colorado recommends Long Ear Holly ferns and Western Sword ferns because they are drought-tolerant and do well in cold environments.
Water features provide sparkling interest, and winding paths lead to hidden seating areas. Just be sure that any water features you choose look equally beautiful when the taps are turned off during the winter.
Storage is another must-have when designing a modern mountain home that works for your family all year round. You will need storage for off-season gear and outdoor furniture.
#2 Embrace an Open Concept with Cozy Corners and Alcoves
Large modern mountain homes in Colorado benefit from elevated interior design — and not just because they’re well above sea level. In contrast to the transitional log cabins and hunting lodges, a mountain modern approach uses open concept design to create a feeling of space.
Vaulted ceilings are standard in mountain modern homes. Enjoy a crackling fire in your main living space, or light the wood stove in your den and curl up with a book. Open-plan lounges flow into large, luxurious kitchens equipped with all the mod cons you need to entertain guests.
A home in the mountains is often used to entertain friends and family. However, we always add cozy alcoves and private spaces for work and relaxation. Sometimes all you need is a vestibule off your primary bedroom to create the perfect small-space home office or reading nook. We consider your family’s needs — both communal and individual — when designing modern mountain homes.
#3 Let Nature Influence Your Modern Mountain Home Design
As Simona Ganea writes in her article “Modern Mountain Homes Offer An Unbeatable Escape” for Homedit, “modern mountain home architecture is minimal.” A modern mountain home’s exterior should honor the surrounding landscape rather than interrupting it. When designing your mountain retreat, focus on “complementing the environment rather than creating distinction from it.”
You can achieve this by working with a residential building design firm with experience in your area. Their team will be able to direct you towards local suppliers who source wood, stone and other materials that best suit your site. They will also help you orient the home properly, so you can take advantage of natural light as well as passive heating and cooling. This is a must-have for homes in the mountains where temperatures fluctuate significantly throughout the day and between seasons.
As for the interior, consider a natural color palette, organic materials and expansive windows that capitalize on incredible views. Natural elements like wood and stone are a fabulous way to bring organic shapes and unique textures into a design. They add warmth, depth, and visual interest. Keep in mind that a natural color palette need not be strictly neutral or at all traditional. Feel free to decorate with dark gray, emerald green, antique gold and other bold tones.
#4 Use Durable Materials That Stand Up to Harsh Winters and Hot Summers
At high elevations, mountain homes are subject to dramatic changes in temperature, humidity and sun exposure. Depending on the exact site, modern mountain homes must resist damage from snowstorms, UV rays, high winds, heavy rain and more. They must also protect inhabitants from the heat of summer and the biting cold of winter.
When designing a modern mountain home, be sure to choose durable materials that protect the exterior and keep the interior temperate all year round. Opt for weather-resistant siding, double or triple-glazed windows and appropriate roofing materials. Consult with an expert to ensure you address every issue.
#5 Understand the Challenges of Modern Mountain Home Design
Gut remodels and multi-room renovations often extend from one season to the next. In mountain towns like Aspen, this means inclement weather can create delays in everything from demolition and construction to installation and inspections.
As we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath, supply chain issues, labor shortages and fluctuations in fuel costs can also cause delays. For Laura’s Snowmass renovation, the construction labor shortage and shipping logistics both caused delays. An avalanche also shut down a main highway, delaying delivery of key building materials!
Site access issues are fairly common, but not all are caused by natural disasters or bad weather. Some mountain roads are tight, one-lane paths with defined maximum loads. This can make it difficult to deliver equipment and other construction supplies. Clearly, being flexible and creative is key when designing a modern mountain home. Planning for bumps along the way and adding a bit of buffer to your timeline can help make the process a bit less stressful.
#6 Go All-In on Transitional Indoor-Outdoor Living
When gorgeous views, snow-covered slopes and hiking trails surround your property, designing outdoor living spaces is just as important as the interior. Add a covered porch, wrap-around balcony or walk-out basement to extend your home’s interior to the exterior.
We recommend investing in transitional spaces like a mudroom or foyer where you can shake off the outdoors before entering your home’s interior. Expansive windows and sliding doors can also soften the transition from the outdoors to the indoors and vice versa.
#7 Marry Rustic and High-Design Elements to Elevate Your Aspen Interior Design
The key to elevating a modern mountain home is to marry rustic and high-design elements. Mix bespoke, artisan elements with personal heritage pieces for a highly textural interior with lots of visual interest. Don’t over-decorate and don’t fall for the tropes of traditional mountain home design.
Avoid kitschy decor, but embrace a bit of nostalgia. Don’t opt for a stark contemporary look either, but incorporate edgy art pieces to update the space. Aspen interior design should be warm and welcoming, but it should also be fresh and fun!
#8 Create a Private Retreat for Work or Relaxation
Mountain modern design delivers in the bedroom, too. Opulent midnight blues, contrasting stone accents, and calming textures help you slip into slumber. Pad into your en-suite bathroom for a warming midnight shower after your late-night skiing trip. In the morning, sink your toes into a vintage rug at the edge of your bed.
At Laura U, we appreciate the importance of creative space. If you plan to work as well as play, you’ll need a dedicated room far from the madding crowd. Statement pieces by iconic designers like Arne Jacobson and Eero Saarinen work wonderfully in a modern mountain office.
Modern Mountain Home Design: The Laura U Difference
Beautifully designed mountain homes have real architectural presence and look stunning in context. We conceive sustainable, energy efficient dwellings that exude character, feel welcoming, and reflect our clients’ personalities.
Maybe you want to build your next home from scratch, or perhaps you have a smaller remodeling project simmering on the burner. In either case, the experienced multi-disciplinary team at Laura U Design Collective can help you bring your vision to life. Reach out to our Aspen interior design team to create the modern mountain home of your dreams.