Above photo: The great room and kitchen open onto a bluestone patio that’s cozily sunken amid flora and custom artwork to create a serene outdoor dining area. Landscaping by K. Dakin Design includes native plants and meandering bluestone paths, which lead to features like the steel flower sculpture, crafted by a family friend, and a bubbling water feature. (photos by Ryan Lawrence Photography, RyanLawrencePhotography.com)
With a location they loved and a house they didn’t, these homeowners decided to start over from scratch.
Ryan Lawrence Photography, RyanLawrencePhotography.com
Paul and Kay Passmore always knew they’d end up in Colorado after retirement. The native Texans traveled here for numerous family ski trips over the years, and their son attended CU Boulder, so the town already felt like a second home.
When it came time for the big move, though, they weren’t sure exactly what they wanted. They spent a few house-hunting trips looking at existing homes to buy, but everything they saw was either too big, too small, too expensive or not quite modern enough. Then they considered remodeling the home they already owned in Boulder—a rental property they had purchased in 2005 as student housing for their son. But after consulting with an architect and crunching the numbers, they decided it wouldn’t work; the 1970s A-frame structure just couldn’t handle the major renovations it would need to be their retirement dream home.
“It was poorly designed,” Paul explains, “with the kitchen on the upper floor and a small deck overlooking the neighbor’s roof.”
Had that deck been just around the corner of the house facing west, it would have had stunning mountain views, so he doesn’t understand why it was on the south side in the first place.
The Passmores weren’t ready to give up, though. “We really loved the location and wanted to make it work,” Paul says. And, says Kay, “We liked the fact that we already had a lot of mature trees, and it’s so close to hiking trails.”
With help from the Arch 11 architectural team and general contractor Drew Lindsay of Hammerwell Inc., both based in Boulder, they devised their most ambitious plan yet—scrapping the A-frame entirely and starting from scratch on the lush corner lot.
Lindsay says the Passmores, who had also overseen the building of two other custom homes in Texas and the renovation of two others, were fully involved in the process from start to finish.
“Their goals for the project and their understanding of custom home building were well-established going in,” Lindsay says. “We really enjoyed collaborating with them and their architects on material selections, mechanical systems and detailing throughout.”
The couple’s goals were fairly simple, Kay says. “We wanted it to be very clean and modern. We’ve gone a little more modern with each house we’ve built, and we also knew this would be the smallest one.”
But the project did have its challenges, Lindsay says. “The overall design is fairly simple, but there were some issues to overcome regarding height restrictions, solar shadowing and drainage. The final design maxed out the size of the home that could be built on this particular lot, but in a very elegant way.”
A Crowd or a Cozy Twosome
Paul and Kay moved into their new home in July 2017. At 3,000 square feet, the house is large enough for entertaining and visits from their children and grandchildren, but it still feels cozy enough for two. The spacious 15-by-19-foot open-concept kitchen on the main level is a focal point, especially for a family with culinary skills. “Our whole family loves to cook,” Paul says, “so we designed the house around the kitchen. It seems to be the main place where people want to hang out during family gatherings anyway.”
The white oak flooring contrasts nicely with honed black granite countertops that mimic the look of soapstone. The space offers plenty of room for creating gourmet meals when company or family comes over. A large dining table offers seating for a crowd, although Paul and Kay prefer to dine outside whenever possible, on either the main-floor patio or the second-floor balcony, which offers impressive Flatirons views.
“We’ve always loved eating outside,” Kay says, “but the heat and mosquitoes in Texas were big deterrents. Here, we don’t have a lot of either.”
Up On the Roof
Upstairs, a sitting room with west-facing, floor-to-ceiling windows and a small loft-type office give way to the master suite, which has two special features Kay particularly loves. One is her sauna, for which she was willing to sacrifice a bit of closet space. The other is the expansive view of the “green roof” atop the home’s detached garage.
“Originally, it was just going to be a plain flat roof, which wouldn’t be too attractive when viewed from our bedroom,” says Kay, a master gardener. An outdoor passageway from the bedroom lets her access the roof to tend to the plants.
“I wanted to make sure there was something interesting to look at almost year round, so I planted flowers and bushes that bloom during different growing seasons,” Kay says, pointing out echinacea, blue flax, sedum, asters, penstemons and various ornamental grasses.
The Passmores are obviously thrilled with the final result of their latest building adventure. “We got the house we wanted,” Paul says.
“In a neighborhood we love,” adds Kay.
(photos by Ryan Lawrence Photography, RyanLawrencePhotography.com)
The mudroom is the Passmores’ main point of entry and doubles as a laundry room, with the washer and dryer conveniently tucked away behind pocket doors that hinge outward. The textured wall covering plays off the horizontal-grain cabinets, which tie in with the rest of the home’s cabinetry.
With two islands and expansive counter space, there’s no shortage of open surfaces in the Passmores’ kitchen, leaving lots of room for prepping meals and entertaining guests. The white oak, horizontal-grain cabinets offer abundant storage, and a light cove in the upper cabinets adds soft, indirect illumination to the clean and modern aesthetic.
A white oak entry door surrounded by bright windows and white walls contrasts nicely with the black-bordered rug and the staircase’s steel stringers. The lower flight of stairs features waterfall treads and risers, which cover a hidden storage space below. Open risers on the upper stairs allow natural light to filter in from the windows above.
4Fresh Air & Lush Views
A second-story balcony offers fresh air and lush views, and a half wall to the right of the stone chimney adds privacy. Concrete tiles and metal framework create a semi-industrial feel that juxtaposes with the space’s soft, natural touches like the planting boxes and stonework. Neutral couches and a gas fire pit complete the inviting outdoor space.
This greenery isn’t a section of yard, as it appears. Instead, these plants grow above the garage in a rooftop garden, which greatly enhances the view from the master bathroom. Soaking in the master tub is far more relaxing with lush foliage outside, and the garden helps insulate the garage/workshop space below it.
6A Clever Building Solution
Their lot strongly influenced the Passmores’ home design. They wanted to preserve the mature trees on the lot, and construct high ceilings without violating height and solar-shadowing restrictions. The clever building solution was to sink the house slightly, creating more vertical building room for ceilings and windows.