Toronto Star

Lie back, relax and soak in the grandeur

Luxurious spa-like bath is couple’s favourite retreat in tranquil Aspen home


Of all the rooms in a home where one could spend time, Jim and Betsy Fifield’s favourite might come as a surprise: the bathroom.

“They told us they spent most of their time in the bathroom in Aspen,” designer Stephen Sills told Architectu­ral Digest. And Jim confirmed it: “We really like living in our bathroom.”

With a pair of side-by-side marble tubs imported from Rome, Moroccan tilework and Dutch settee, the space is more comfy lounge than practical lavatory.

But it fits with the couple’s vision of a tranquil country retreat to recharge their batteries, according to Sills, part of a top-notch team of profession­als who crafted the modernday castle in the Rocky Mountains of Aspen, Colo.

Finished in 1995 after three years’ work, the mansion dubbed “Renaissanc­e Home,” sits on a hilltop encompassi­ng six hectares of forest — a setting chosen by the athletic Jim Fifield, former CEO of EMI Records.

Its creation by some of the best minds and hands in the business is an “incredible story,” says listing agent Erik Berg, a partner at luxury real estate agency Engel & Volkers.

Among them was Uruguayan architect Horacio Ravazzani — the residence was his only North American home — French artist and furniture designer André Dubreuil, and local builder Steve Hansen of Hansen Constructi­on.

“He said he felt like he was conducting an orchestra,” Berg says of Hansen’s role.

The house was built with 17-inch concrete walls complement­ed by stone, glass and seven shipping containers’ worth of African Iroko wood.

The manpower required is exem- plified by Dubreuil’s efforts: he lived on-site for months to create the seven-figure dining room, according to Berg.

With each wall representi­ng a season and an ornate metal art installati­on suspended from the ceiling, the room is a “work of art,” he says.

Centrally located, a 3,250-squarefoot glass pyramidal greenhouse separates the guest wing from the main living space and serves as a breakfast or reading room and even a banquet hall.

The lushly planted structure is bisected by a 75-metre “interior street” that is the mansion’s main corridor, connecting rooms on three levels and providing gallery space for art- work interspers­ed with seating areas.

Sills, who made multiple sourcing trips to Europe, chose furnishing­s from around the world — some large and chunky, some elegant — to give the chateau’s interior a 17th century esthetic.

He calls the results “sober splendour on a princely scale.”

Designed for big parties, the house has welcomed numerous recording artists and celebritie­s, says Berg, who won’t disclose any names. But Tina Turner revealed to Architectu­ral Digest that she spent a vacation at her friends’ Aspen home some years back.

The magnificen­ce of the manor continues outside where millions were spent on landscapin­g, Berg notes. Massive boulders were brought 8,000 feet up the mountain to build waterfalls and a recirculat­ing steam and countless stones form patios and pathways around the property.

 ?? DAVID O. MARLOW/ENGEL & VOLKERS ?? The outdoor kitchen and dining area has space nearby for a dance floor.
DAVID O. MARLOW/ENGEL & VOLKERS The outdoor kitchen and dining area has space nearby for a dance floor.

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