Mountain Architecture Trends Across the West

Architectural styles can come and go by the decade, becoming especially apparent as mountain towns take turns becoming the new “it” destination for a plethora of snowsports and cozy winter retreats. So, with the start of the decade we asked architecture and design expert, Vertical Arts Partner Sarah Tiedeken O’Brien, to share her perspective on what’s trending in mountain towns across the American West.


A mountain town condo got a modern, minimalist makeover with dual-use spaces and a bright, clean palette.  

Credit: David Patterson


Colorado mountain towns come from a storied history of mining, ranching and even WWII military training. With time the towns have experienced tremendous growth and revitalization as they’ve transformed into modern, world class ski and snowboard destinations. But in many locales, a pioneering spirit reflective of the past still shines through in new architecture. Vail is arguably the most iconic ski resort in the country and was first built to mimic a Swiss alpine village. Decades later it has much more international influence and global appeal, making its style more of a swanky, multigenerational melting pot of cultures and design. With many prime locations already developed, Vail is seeing more renovations to the homes built in past decades rather than new construction. Additionally, the condo and townhome market is more lavish than in other mountain communities and has grown to accommodate residents and visitors alike.

Further south in Telluride, fun, historical renovation projects are taking place as strict planning and zoning regulations near town have been implemented. Colorful old Victorian homes line the downtown streets and many homeowners are seeking unique and creative ways to maintain the original facades of the buildings to stay true to the town’s charm. Then, they are able to add modernized interiors and additions to better accommodate their family size or lifestyle, such as an open living plan not typical of historical homes, enlarged windows and new skylights. As with any ski town you can still find large, slopeside mountain homes – some with celebrity residents!


Sleek, geometric lines and elemental materials combine in mountain modern architecture.

Credit: David Patterson


Exciting modern architecture is taking foothold in some of the West’s most sought after destinations. In Aspen, big risk takers make their mark with unique choices of material and edgy use of massing in the building’s architecture. Materials like board formed concrete and glass curtain walls turn heads paired next to custom stone cladding. Aspen is experiencing a surge of modern designs with elemental forms, sleek interiors and polished furnishings.

In Tahoe, mountain modern meets West Coast flair with natural elements like the mountain, beach and lake influencing everything from culture to architectural design and style. On the north side of Lake Tahoe the Martis Camp neighborhood, designers formed a distinctive blend of craftsman and modern touches with exposed timber and steel structures in every type of combination you can imagine. The homes have warm and inviting color palettes featuring honey-colored woods, raw steel and neutral stone.


Classic Western style gets infused with modern windows and materials.

Credit: James Ray Spahn


Some mountain towns are sticking to what they know best, and blending subtle western style with more modern touches. In Steamboat Springs, modern meets restrained, timeless palettes and structural expression to embody a casual western influence. Wide open ranch lands throughout the valley present special opportunities for personal estates that include equestrian facilities, historic renovated barns and more.

Of course, everything seems bigger in Montana, but similar to Steamboat Springs, classic western materials are meeting modern lines. Large, massy stone fireplaces and exposed timbers are featured alongside walls of glass windows with modern finishes. The alpine chalet style even seems to be making a small comeback as homes take a step back from traditional mountain modern designs over the past few years.

Not sure what style suits you for your mountain retreat? We’re here to ask questions, and listen, to ensure you fall in love with your project. We love watching architecture and design trends change over time and our team can bring any style for your dream home to life.

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