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Designing a Mountain Home Retreat

Updated: Mar 10, 2021

"I like the mountains because they make me feel small. They help me sort out what's important

in life." — Mark Obmascik.

Tucked into the foothills of San Isabel National Forest in Buena Vista, Colorado stands a mountain home retreat that provides an escape route for a Kansas City family.  Starting with a vision inspired by the Scandinavian concept of Hygge and adopting a rustic modern aesthetic, I imbued the interior design of this home with modern amenities while embracing warmth and texture of a Colorado lifestyle. All the finishes were selected based on their harmony of hues that ultimately gave way to supporting the spectacular views.

This particular family was thinking ahead toward where they wanted to retire and had been embarking on a new home build with their architect and builder for a while when they brought me in to help enliven their interiors. After helping this family with their primary residence, I was elated and humbled to have this opportunity.

To inspire clients, a mood board of key imagery goes a long way to help captivate and help them imagine the possibilities.
Inspirational mood imagery will go far in captivating clients and help them imagine the possibilities.

HYGGE (pronounced HUE-Guh) is a Danish word used to acknowledge a special feeling or moment. It can be alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or even extraordinary but is always cozy, charming or special. Danes created Hygge as they were attempting to escape boredom, cold, dark and sameness in a land with long stretched of unchanging climate. The simple act of a candle glowing with a cup of coffee in the morning or a home cooked evening meal with friends can make a huge difference to one's spirit. Hygge only requires consciousness, a certain slowness, and the ability to not just be present – but recognize and enjoy the present. That's why the word distills down to more of a feeling. There's a reason the Danish culture is known as being amongst the happiest on our planet.


At the intersection of character and modern design resides the making of a Rustic Modern environment. The key to a rustic modern space is an open floor plan, modern furniture and preserved and exposed natural architectural elements.

A tactile corduroy cowboy hat adds a storytelling element.

The color palette is simple and is often inspired by the colors of the natural surroundings – a landscape or even a single rock or stone can inspire the color palette. There are large picture windows bringing the outdoors in. This style is casual, informal but in a comfortable and modern space. Adding touches of traditional elements such as an antique piece of furniture helps to create a collected and curated look that tells a story about the homeowner. Layering with texture for both hard and soft surfaces adds depth to a setting and completes the look

Determined not to create a themed mountain cabin replete with stag horns on every wall, I sought a balance between the rustic outdoorsy lifestyle with their modern aesthetic. This was achieved by avoiding mountain kitsch altogether in lieu of tactile and visual texture. Introducing Pendleton horse blankets with Native American motifs and hide textures for rugs provide the visual pattern interest while local quarried stone anchors the living room fireplace wall. The showstopper, hands down, is the quintessential apex window seen from the moment the front door swings open to reveal the mountains and forest landscapes beyond. This is the ultimate second home retreat for relaxation and communing with nature. 


Local rock quarried for the fireplace wall seamlessly bridges materials from the natural landscape.

The view from the front door leads the eye straight to the spectacular mountain views beyond.

Dining is meant to be casual at this mix of bench and chair seating arrangement.

The kitchen was open to the great room and dining area so all finishes were made to complement each other. As a nod to the rustic theme, modern versions of the mason jar and milk jug shapes were interpreted for the light fixtures.

Wooden flooring was laid in a chevron pattern along the front and sides of the island and echoed in the tiled backsplash. We repeated this in the entry way in slate – all to create visual continuity in the open plan space.

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