July 1, 2016 / Property Spotlight

Sunset Ridge: All the Right Angles in Colorado

Wherever in this architecturally impressive Telluride home you find yourself, the private mountain vistas of Colorado are sure to take your breath away


To describe the residence at 296 Gray Head Lane, Sunset Ridge, as incomparable falls dramatically short of defining this spectacular property. Perched cliffside on a peninsula, it is surrounded by the most picturesque mountain range in Colorado, while the proximity to Telluride and distance from its nearest neighbor make it both brilliantly accessible and perfectly secluded. The state-of-the-art interior, using natural materials, affords its owners a luxurious, modern, and “green” lifestyle. Add a litany of superlatives and still this house is more.

Dipping up and down, the profile of Sunset Ridge is, say the architects, a “natural expression” – a design influenced by the mountainous landscape of Telluride.The architect’s brief, in 2012, was clear if not quite so simple: build a signature home that doesn’t look like anything else – make it the kind of home never seen before.

“We wanted to build a home that was led by nature and its surroundings. From the start, we connected to the land, and responded to the drama and the landscape,” explain Mike Hamberg and Andy Wisnoski at Colorado-based Poss Architecture + Planning. Their team, including interiors specialist Melanie Grant, worked closely with the owners, completing the project in 2014.

Beyond the nine-foot-high glass doorway – the main entrance to Sunset Ridge – an awe-inspiring panorama unfolds.Taking the local landscape as a base, the house is linear and geometric – but notably with no right angles – dipping down and up and down again. “It’s a natural expression,” comments Hamberg. Soaring, sculptured roof shapes stand out against the natural panorama, topped by glass plates that open up the entire home to the landscape.

We wanted to build a home that was led by nature and its surroundings. We responded to the drama and the landscape.

“Sunset Ridge is an artfully designed residence that not only frames the view but seemingly integrates the mountains, making them integral to all the living spaces,” says TD Smith, president of Telluride Real Estate Corp., an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate.

“There’s no reference point in the house, but you’re comforted by a roof that floats above,” says Hamberg. “We used a folded-plate design that allows glass in its structure, meaning the entire house is flooded with light and you get views of Colorado’s beautiful skies 365 days of the year.”

Open-plan living areas feature exquisite finishes that echo the natural splendor of the setting, such as limestone floors and walls, and marble and stone tiles.It’s not just the roof though – floor-to-ceiling glass panels and windows ensure a visual feast. The main entrance, on the higher side of the home, is through a nine-foot-high glass doorway that drops down and away as you enter, first hiding the view but following immediately with a stop-you-in-your-tracks moment as the full story explodes, and peaks and valleys come into focus. “We wanted the owners and visitors to experience the peaks as they arrive, and no matter where they are in the house once inside,” adds Wisnoski.

Showstopping at every turn, Sunset Ridge’s many amenities include a sleek Bulthaup kitchen.The force of nature outside the house is echoed inside – an exquisite blend of natural limestone walls and floors, stone and marble tiles, Douglas Fir-planked ceilings, walnut cabinets, and floating staircases with walnut tread. The kitchen, like much of the interior decor, was sourced from Europe, designed by German manufacturer Bulthaup. It runs seamlessly into the open-plan living room, where nothing deters from the story of this house, no matter the season. Sheer solar drapes run floor to ceiling to reduce excess heat and glare, with zero disturbance to the diorama. In winter, it’s geothermally heated.

An emphasis on glass within its structure ensures living areas are flooded with light and encased in stunning Telluride vistas.A master wing is connected to the rest of the house by an internal glass bridge that spans a landscaped stream and waterfalls. The same effortless elegance runs throughout its stories: upstairs, the master suite with rest area, plus caretaker’s quarters, a bunk room for eight, and another guest room; below, exercise rooms and a spa, entertainment spaces including a game room, bar, and theater, plus guest rooms and en suites. The panorama goes without saying, shifting from lush green to yellow to orange with the seasons.

Sunset Ridge not only frames the view but seemingly integrates the mountains, making them integral to all the living spaces

Even the garage is on brand, locking into the earth, below the gradient of the house. “In each part of the house you get a different sense of where it engages with the land,” says Wisnoski. The landscaped exterior is a natural progression and equally showstopping. South-facing lawns surrounded and dotted with indigenous planting, and a pond reflecting the surrounding peaks, fed by a cascading stream. At its edge, a mountain bar, firepit, and barbecue.

A cozy den opens out to a terrace with a firepit, which overlooks a pond that reflects the surrounding peaks.And all this just a short hop from Telluride, rated the “most scenic” resort by Ski Magazine. “Sunset Ridge stands apart, having captured the entire Telluride landscape from its private perch above,” says Smith. It’s a vista unlikely to change. “Telluride is certainly not the norm. Blessed with rare physical beauty, it’s controlled by stiff regulations and limited regional zoning, which means virtually all private real estate is subject to a master plan with minimal density,” he continues. “It is a family-oriented community and resembles the resorts of the past, plus we probably have more CEOs per capita than any other.”

The master bedroom suite, with spectacular outdoor seating area, is supplemented on the upper floor with caretaker’s quarters and a bunk room for eight.These are sentiments echoed by Smith’s colleague Steve Catsman, who has lived here since the 1970s, built the first ski lifts, and, as a pivotal figure in the region’s development, enjoyed seeing the town grow. But among all the luxury homes here, what makes Sunset Ridge stand-out special?

“It’s the only spot in the entire region with a view overlooking Telluride,” says Catsman. “The architecture and materials used are way beyond anything else and the house is a solar explosion – on December 21, the shortest day, you still get sunlight here from eight in the morning through to five in the afternoon.”

And the ideal owner? “An art lover. Someone who appreciates architecture as much as they would a Picasso,” says Smith. “With the added blessing of a natural, mountain-peaked canvas.”

Photography: Roger Davies

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Stephanie Jones
is a regular contributor to Christie's International Real Estate magazine