Exterior water features, thoughtful landscaping and boulders that merge effortlessly with the home's stonework beautifully link the outdoors with the cozy interiors of this Durango, Colorado, home.

European Heritage Meets Western America

DURANGO, COLORADO, IS DIVIDED BY CONTRASTING LANDSCAPES: An arid high desert graduates to rugged slopes that entice world travelers and outdoor enthusiasts. But somehow, these opposing climates merge in agreement with an understated complexity. The same could be said about the home belonging to Rick and Andrea Carlton in Glacier Club, a picturesque golf community 20 miles north of Durango’s Main Avenue.

The 5,300-square-foot retreat melds the family’s European heritage, particularly Scotland and its golf heritage, with Western American art and culture, as if these vastly different regions naturally coexist.

“Elements blend together peacefully and at the same time are complex and layered with pure primary colors. The vibrant reds in the Native American rugs complement the Scottish tartans, which are a hallmark of the house,” explains designer Carol Madeen, who had a weighty share in the home’s originality. 

The Carltons’ vision for their high-elevation living focused on comfort, custom artistry and authenticity in materials. From storytime window seats, a billiards room and playful game tables on both levels, the details revolve around the family and how they spend time together. “We wanted a warm home [that] everyone loved coming to.” Andrea Carlton is certain that she hit the mark by forfeiting her formal dining area for ping-pong matches.

The home’s cozy components include Eastern, wide-plank pine floors balanced with European corbels; together, they give the impression of an American national park lodge with alpinist influences. Colorado imagery found in the hand-cast light fixtures and fireplace screens, designed by Madeen and crafted by Peter Fillerup, flatter the genuine Parisian textiles and Scottish sporrans that creatively tie back the curtains.

The home’s bold location at the edge of a cliff outcropping inspired architect Hans Berglund to create a robust mountain home, rooted in the vernacular traditions of Western architecture with subtle modern infusions. “[The home] needed a strong structural expression to ground it in its powerful setting,” says Berglund. “The rustic materials in traditional forms, such as the heavy reclaimed timbers and exposed beams, are accompanied by a modern approach in craft and precision.” 

At first glance, the Carltons’ home is unassuming. A rich natural palette gives it a timeless quality and organic feel that easily adheres to the outdoor grandeur. But upon closer look, complexities appear frequently and unexpectedly — the most notable feat being the cantilevered corner that grandstands to offer indoor-outdoor living.

Architecturally conceived by Berglund, the seemingly floating doors sweep open with a tolerance of an eighth of an inch to expose the walkout patio and craggy cliffside. “It looks as though there’s no structural supports because they’re cleverly hidden,” says builder Troy Dyer. “It gives the perception of being perched on a ledge.” 

In addition to the lookout, the well-conceived floorplan also offers imposing vistas of art pieces staged as vignettes. “It happens naturally and unpretentiously,” says Madeen. “Yet, nothing was done casually. Each aspect was carefully crafted,” she explains.

The Carltons’ art collection epitomizes the Western culture and local animal imagery in which much of the design aesthetic is based. Sculptures, including Dan Ostermiller’s bear suspended lazily in a tree, Oblivious, and a palliative American landscape oil painting by Michael Workman add to the home’s ingrained serenity. A water feature shaped as a small creek around most of the exterior brings further solace. “We sleep with the windows open to hear the water flowing,” says Rick Carlton, who felt it imperative to honor the dramatic landscape by harvesting native rocks for building and staying authentic with overall materials. “We wanted to make sure that whatever we did blended with the Glacier Club community.”

Equally important to Rick and Andrea was contracting with local tradespeople. The artisans’ virtuosity offers an exploratory journey in impressive details. From the beautifully handcarved front door composed by Catherine Bestland to the forged wrought-iron railings by Rod Pickett to original tiles that map out Scotland’s legendary golf courses, everyone agrees that the Carlton residence is one of the great, inimitable homes of the Rocky Mountains. “It’s hard to categorize it,” says Dyer. “It’s grand and modest all in the same breath.”

Rick Carlton, an avid traveler, reveals that his home in Glacier Club is a world favorite for the whole family. “I’m a firm believer that you can build a good home, but it’s the community that makes it great,” says Carlton, referring to the premier mountain golf club. “It doesn’t get much better than having skiing and golfing right out your back door.”

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