Redefining Mountain Modern

After more than a decade of the emergence of the sleek stone, steel, and glass modern homes that have come to define “mountain modern,” we’re seeing a shift toward more traditional design when it comes to new construction and remodels in the Mountain West. Does this mean the classic, timber frame home will once again claim their place at the top? Not exactly. If there was a singular emerging trend in 2020, it was the confluence of mountain modern with traditional aspects, creating efficient, beautiful homes that aspired to blend modern aesthetics with the comfort and coziness of a rustic log cabin.

“We’ve been seeing the trend of incorporating more natural elements, like stone and timber, into modern designs and getting back to some of the traditional elements that made classic mountain homes popular to begin with,” said Sarah Tiedeken O’Brien, Partner at Vertical Arts. “There are still modern lines and materials throughout, but traditional elements can really soften the sleek modern feel.”

Our recent project nestled among the trees in the Fairways at Pole Creek golfing community near Winter Park, Colorado, exemplifies this blended contemporary style. The new modern mountain home holds grandiose views of Winter Park ski area and the Continental Divide mountain range beyond. The owners wanted a design that showcased the home’s strengths and reflected their modern, eclectic aesthetic without sacrificing the warmth of the mountain retreat.


The Fairways at Pole Creek home embodies the new, trendy mix between traditional and modern mountain homes. Photo by Kimberly Gavin.

The Craftsman-style architecture has a mountain twist, resulting in a series of traditional gables and flat, low-sloped roofs, many with exposed rafters and bracketing. The grand dwelling’s simple Douglas fir siding accents the rustic Oklahoma stone walls, which actually flow into the interior, enhancing the connection between inside and out. The ceiling trusses have a gentle arc shape, and many of the light fixtures have a swoop detail that softens the more modern, angular architecture. 

Just beyond the solid walnut front door, large dramatic windows look out onto a stunning mountainscape. The windows also allow significant natural light to flood the home’s interior. Unlike darker, traditional timber-frame homes, this element illuminates the modern design touches in a warm, inviting way.

A sleek and modern floor-to-ceiling raw steel fireplace anchors the living room, its three-sided hearth allowing the flames to be seen from every point in the open great room. Initially skeptical of installing industrial raw steel, the homeowner quickly embraced the piece as a functional, beautiful work of art.

The raw steel fireplace holds its own against the stunning views.

The smooth raw steel complements the textured exposed stone wall, oak floors and beetle kill pine ceiling—a rustic and contemporary mix found throughout the interior. For example, the walnut cabinetry in the open kitchen is accented by a raw steel range hood and jet-cut glass tile backsplash. And geode-like glass globes illuminate both the Cristallo quartzite waterfall island and the open dining area for a modern touch. 

Throughout the home there are similar juxtapositions between the two styles, from the glam German silver-leafed bed flanked by matching side tables in the master bedroom, to the spa-like handmade ceramic shower tile in the adjacent master bathroom. A cozy fur floor throw in the bedroom and metal branch-like chandelier in the bathroom add a touch of nature.

The modern-yet-cozy vibe permeates the home, including the lower level guest suite.

The additional bedrooms are conveniently located on the lower level, which also features a large family room decked out with a wet bar, built-in bunks and a pool table. At night, this home shines, thanks to its many indirect light sources, including cove lighting in the basement ceiling and concealed lighting underneath the edge of the kitchen island and beneath the lower lip of the fireplace. 

Just outside, a flight of steps leads to the covered deck off of the dining room, where a double-sided stone fireplace separates the outdoor living and dining spaces from the hot tub. Our team was able to retain as much natural beauty of the lot as possible. Tall pines, decorative boulders, and native wildflowers surround the deck, creating the sense of being in the wild despite the nearby neighbors. 

What trends have you noticed in mountain modern architecture? For more photos of the home, check out the project feature on our website. Be sure to follow all Vertical Arts updates on our website, Houzz, Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram. To learn more about how we can help you design your dream mountain home, contact us.