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A Modern Timber Home Among the Colorado Mountains

This home achieves high marks as an engineering marvel while still honoring the simplicity of its roots.

Written by Suzanna Logan
Photography by James Ray Spahn

It’s been more than a century since the mountains of Colorado rang out with the jubilant cry: “There’s gold in them ‘thar hills!” But when retirees John and Anita Bauer set out to find a place to put down roots a few years ago, they could all but hear the echoes when they came across a particular mountaintop lot that had once served as a former mining site.

“There were fabulous views, and where many properties had sharp drop offs, this one had a nice, open, buildable area,” explains John. As an added bonus, the site featured a 1950’s-era home that the couple could rent out until they were ready to build. For the next few years, John and Anita dreamed and planned. Then, a fire swept up the canyon, putting the Bauers’ rental in the crosshairs. “There was nothing left but a pile of smoky rubble,” says John.

Rather than lament the loss, the couple took it as their sign to kickstart the building process, and amid the ruins, found a silver lining: In a state known for its stringent building codes, the Bauers breezed through the process. “The county was eager to help homeowners get their homes finished, so we were able to skip the site plan review,” explains John.

Because the structure was classified as a rebuild on the original footprint, creativity was a must. The core showcases a shared great room and kitchen, with an intimate dining area tucked behind a fireplace wall. An elevated wing features a master suite, while a secondary guest bedroom doubles as John’s office. The lower level, which includes another bedroom, a living area with a crafting space and a wet bar, walks out to a covered patio. Anita says the flexibility of the floor plan and high-pitched ceilings make the space live larger than its 3,200 square feet, while still remaining ideal for two: “We’ve had parties of a hundred people with ease, but even with just us here, it never feels too big.”

However it was the look — rather than the layout — that was the driving force behind the home’s design. “We had always been big log cabin people, but as we got to know the area’s history, we wanted something more appropriate for a mountain mining town,” says Anita. “We fell in love with the look of a big, solid timber frame and the concept of having a mine-inspired feel.”

They enlisted the help of Colorado Timberframe’s sister company, Cornerstone Homes, and Tabberson Architects to create their new family abode. “Our primary goal was to recall the mining structures that were part of the Colorado landscape a hundred years ago,” explains architect Bill Tabberson. The team began by designing a towering entrance of glass panels and steel rods reminiscent of a mineshaft. (Fittingly, the home’s foyer now sits just a few yards from the original goldmine’s tunnel.)

Next, they spanned the core of the home with mortise-and-tenon scissor trusses accentuated with decorative black-iron plates. “Our passion was to combine the raw metal and natural woods,” says Anita. Situated between the scissor bents, an oversized range hood and metal piping from a secondary fireplace in the dining room  — both finished to mimic iron — extend through the roofline to give off what John calls a “furnace-feel,” chosen to mesh with the mining aesthetic. “With every decision, we just kept moving toward our vision and held our breath that it would come together nicely,” says Anita.

But the structure’s wins go far beyond its good looks. An engineering work of art, it can withstand wind gusts above 100 miles per hour. “The timber frame locks this house to the ground and into the side of the mountain,” says Anita. “We get hurricane-force winds, and our house doesn’t move.” 

Keenan Tompkins, owner of Colorado Timberframe and Cornerstone Homes, says that structural integrity was the key focus from start to finish. “The challenge in this project was getting the wings of the house to be integrated with the main gable running through the center of the house,” he explains. “Tying the pieces of the different rooflines into the structural timber frame was tricky. It took lots and lots of design and engineering meetings to get that off the ground.”

Despite its architectural intricacies, the home stays true to its surrounding’s humble roots. “Aspects of the home are complex, but as a whole, it’s a simple, linear house,” explains Bill of his design. “I think that simplicity goes hand in hand with John and Anita’s desire to create something that feels like it was part of the land and pays homage to the area’s history.”


Home Details

Square Footage: 3,200   

Bedrooms: 3  

Baths: 3

Timber Provider: Colorado Timberframe

Architect: Tabberson Architects

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