Contemporary Kitchen Sits At Center Of Award-Winning Home


The organic shape of this new-build home, located here, captures beautiful views of the Rocky Mountains.

The shape of the home, which is made from natural, sustainable materials, is also what captured the attention of the 2004 Gold Nugget Award judges'so much so they gave it an Award of Merit in the category of "Best Custom Home Over 6,500 sq. ft."

Charles Cunniffe, AIA, who designed this home for a single mom and her two older children, also believes the home's unique fusion of client and environment needs is what attracted the judges.

The combination of the desires of the client and the constraints of the lot, and the natural progression of responses to the site's constraints, make the home unique, as do the very soft and natural forms. "The odd shape of the site lent itself to an unusual solution," reports Cunniffe, principal of his own architectural firm, Charles Cunniffe Architects, located here.

Cunniffe worked with project architect Geoff Lester to breathe life into his design, which was chosen from a field of entries culled from the U.S. and the Pacific Rim.

Held annually, the Gold Nugget Awards "are picked by people within the industry. It's international, and there are a number of different categories, from developer houses to custom homes. We've been involved in these awards for many years," offers Cunniffe, who attributes his firm's success and numerous Gold Nugget awards over the years to building good client relationships.

That philosophy obviously resulted in yet another award-winning design collaboration between Cunniffe and one of his clients. In this case, "to take maximum advantage of the extraordinary views, the primary living spaces were elevated to the upper level. Each of these primary spaces, in addition to the garage and the two-story entry foyer, were individually expressed by intersecting roof forms," explains Cunniffe, whose barrel-vaulted roof forms allow for a more gracious'and spacious'feel inside while still conforming to the city's height limits.

"The resulting contemporary sculpture nicely articulates each living component, while it softens the overall architecture to fit within the more traditional neighborhood," he adds.

Natural stone veneer, patina-finished copper panels and integral-colored synthetic stucco adorn the 7,262-sq.-ft. building. Topping it off are curved roofs, clad in copper standing, seam-rolled panels.

Dictated by the lot's odd shape that was punctuated with several, very tall evergreens, the home's organic form stands out in this rediscovered section of a dense, eclectic Aspen neighborhood.

Yet, the natural, sustainable exterior materials ground it to its surroundings. Inside, the home unfolds into different "pods," or rooms, held together by the kitchen, which serves as the juncture point between two barrel-vaulted living areas.


The warm, contemporary feeling featuring natural materials that Cunniffe created for the exterior extends to the interior design.

"The interior design is contemporary, yet still rich and inviting because of the use of natural materials, such as slate and wood floors, as well as naturally finished wood cabinetry, shelving, doors and trim detailing," he notes.

In particular, the kitchen exemplifies Cunniffe's design concept while also anchoring it. "The client was looking for something very functional and contemporary, yet light and airy. The overall design answers her needs, especially here in the kitchen," he remarks.

"The kitchen is the hinge point between two barrel-vaulted rooms. It has a lowered ceiling that forms a 'floating' visual bridge between them that's highlighted by uplighting," he continues.

Open to the dining and family rooms, the kitchen is truly the "centerpoint" of this home, says Cunniffe.

Custom, natural Anigre cabinets built by Modern Kitchen Center in Glenwood Springs, CO fill the kitchen with warmth and function, as do all custom, Pine Green granite countertops, which feature a raised glass shelf cum breakfast bar in one portion of the island. Butternut wood floors and integral-colored plaster walls anchor the space to the adjacent living areas.

For function Cunniffe installed a Sub-Zero refrigerator, Miele cooktop and hood, two Thermador ovens, a Thermador microwave and two Thermador dishwashers. In addition, he installed a GE Monogram beverage center.

Two Kohler Co. sinks positioned in a double-sink configuration in one corner, along with another Kohler prep sink in the island, complete the function. Each sink features Kohler faucetry and an In-Sink-Erator disposal.

"The kitchen is designed to entertain easily. It's definitely set up for a true gourmet experience," notes Cunniffe.

A deck featuring a stainless steel guardrail system positioned at the back of the home brings the kitchen outdoors. Windows over the double sink accomplish the same thing, framing spectacular mountain views.

Indirect lighting and warm tones and textures soften the overall contemporary look of the kitchen seen in the sleek lines and stainless steel finish of the appliances and sinks.

The only real challenge in designing this home, and this kitchen, was the unusual geometry. However, that's exactly what enabled Cunniffe to pull this home together. In fact, the unusual shape and geometry of the home allowed Cunniffe to create a very ergonomic kitchen design. "Unlike a square or rectangle, the flow and curve of the countertops that separate the living room and kitchen and the curve of the kitchen island lends itself to an efficient workflow," concludes Cunniffe.