Rock the House

A Colorado cou­ple be­gin their life to­gether by build­ing a hill­top re­treat as awe-in­spir­ing as the views that come with it.

Log Home Living - - HOME OF THE MONTH - story by Suzanna Lo­gan | pho­tog­ra­phy by James Spahn

On a quiet stretch of road in cen­tral Colorado, a smat­ter­ing of pri­vate homes, old barns and tin-roofed sheds dot the brush-cov­ered land­scape. Through this oth­er­wise or­di­nary cor­ri­dor, enor­mous ex­panses of red rock rise up, mak­ing the build­ings ap­pear smaller and more hum­ble by con­trast. But there is one struc­ture that holds its own along­side na­ture’s mag­nif­i­cent for­ma­tions. It's the home of Bill and Pamela Fraser. It rises like a mono­lith along­side the sand­stone sculp­tures, but it does so less as a chal­lenge to its en­vi­ron­ment than a tes­ta­ment to what can be ac­com­plished when man and Mother Na­ture work to­gether. You see, this house isn't just built next to a rock. It's built into it, which re­ally comes as no sur­prise when you con­sider how the whole project be­gan. A few years hack, when they wcrc newly en­gaged, Bill and Pamela agreed their fresh start re­quired a fresh house. So, they each sold their re­spec­tive res­i­dences and be­gan search­ing for a site for their new home. Pamela re­calls, "One day, af­ter look­ing at prop­er­ties for hours and not find­ing any­thing, we drove past this lot. We had al­ready gone by it once, but some­thing in­side of me — call it a God thing — told me to stop. I jumped out of the car and ran right down to where the house is now built. Stand­ing there, look­ing out at the views and the rocks, this feel­ing came over me like, 'This is where I want to be. I am home.' Our eyes were opened to the po­ten­tial." That for­tu­itous mo­ment set the tone for the rest of the project—one that would grow from a plan for a home built for two to a jaw-drop­ping re­treat that would eventu-ally wel­come hun­dreds of guests through

“You can travel any­where in the world, but com­ing home is al­ways the best,” says home­owner Pamela Fraser.

its elab­o­rately carved doors. Through­out the de­sign process, when the Frasers felt the same in­stinc­tive nudge that first drew them to the site, they went all in, even when it sounded crazy, like when they de­cided to turn their 5,000-square-foot fam­ily home into a 10,000-square-foot re­treat, com­plete with a ball­room and band­stand, cater­ing kitchen, wine grotto, li­brary and an el­e­va­tor. And, yes, like the time they de­cided to build the house into a rock.

“One af­ter­noon, we were stand­ing on site and said, ‘We ought to con­nect the house to this big rock for­ma­tion, then things just evolved and got big­ger and big­ger from there,” ex­plains the home’s builder Clark John­son, owner of Apex Moun­tain Homes and project me­di­a­tor be­tween man and earth.

The three-level, cus­tom beauty, de­signed by Marc Hogan from BHH Part­ners, in­cludes four bed­rooms, a pair of his-and-hers stud­ies with wood-burn­ing fire­places, and a glassen­cased pool house — the spot where the home is in­te­grated into the stone. It’s noth­ing short of a show­place, which is fit­ting con­sid­er­ing it reg­u­larly hosts a hun­dred vis­i­tors at once for fundrais­ers, par­ties and ed­u­ca­tional events for the cou­ple’s non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion, Fit for Life.

“We didn’t want to build this house just for us,” says Bill. “It was im­por­tant for us to do it for our fam­ily — to­gether, we have six kids — and for our non-profit. It’s a place where ev­ery­one can come to­gether.” On any given day, you may find the cou­ple help­ing ed­u­cate peo­ple on nu­tri­tion in their green­house or fit­ness in their ex­er­cise room. By night, the sounds of Bill play­ing jazz pi­ano min­gle with lively chat­ter, the clink­ing of wine glasses and the click of heels on the wooden dance floor, then spill out into the night air. What­ever the ac­tiv­ity, you can be sure ev­ery­one is hav­ing a good time. “This house is built for fun,” says architect Marc Hogan. “How many houses have a band­stand and a ball­room?”

Two-legged vis­i­tors aren’t the only ones that en­joy the re­sort-like get­away, aptly dubbed Deer Creek Re­treat. “Even while con­struc­tion was go­ing on, the deer would come lay the in the pas­ture and watch,” Pamela says. “They are very com­fort­able with us be­ing here.”

Maybe the cou­ple’s de­ci­sion to in­vite na­ture in rather than in­fringe upon it has some­thing to do with keep­ing the wildlife at ease. Their com­mit­ment is ev­i­dent in­side and out, where nat­u­ral el­e­ments har­mo­nize with the build­ing ma­te­ri­als, fin­ishes and fur­nish­ings. An art­ful mix of struc­tural and dec­o­ra­tive hand­peeled Dou­glas fir and pine logs, in­clud­ing trusses, ridge beams and posts, set the stage for the home’s or­ganic ap­proach. Re­claimed barn­wood floor­ing, live-edge gran­ite, lo­cal flag­stone, iron light­ing and cop­per plumb­ing fix­tures re­in­force the earthy vibe, and walls of glass unify the struc­ture with the out­doors.

The Frasers spared no ex­pense in the kitchen — a pop­u­lar gath­er­ing spot for per­sonal get-to­geth­ers as well as events ben­e­fit­ting their non-profit, Fit for Life. A few of the spe­cial of­fer­ings: A 30-foot-long is­land topped with liveedge gran­ite from Brazil; a cus­tom cop­per sink and range hood; and a wood-fired pizza oven.

“We have 360-de­gree views all around the house, so ev­ery room has a dif­fer­ent an­gle, a dif­fer­ent look,” says Pamela.

And, of all the views in the world — and the cou­ple has seen a lot of them as a re­sult of their per­sonal and pro­fes­sional pur­suits — they agree there are none bet­ter than the ones in­side and out at Deer Creek Re­treat. “You can travel any­where in the world, but com­ing home is al­ways the best,” says Pamela. Bill echoes her awe: “Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would get to live here.” BE­LOW: Much at­ten­tion was given to the land­scap­ing of the five-acre prop­erty. The cou­ple pre­served se­lect trees dur­ing con­struc­tion, then added new plant­ings, wa­ter fea­tures and ac­cent light­ing. The gor­geous grounds have played host to count­less par­ties, a wed­ding and even the cou­ple’s own re­cep­tion be­fore the house was built.

The home was thought­fully in­te­grated into the sur­round­ing land­scape down to the finest de­tail. “On the ex­te­rior, we com­bined the log struc­ture with nat­u­ral stone that emu­lated the col­ors of the rocks on the prop­erty,” ex­plains architect Marc Hogan.

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