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.
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.