Amy and Bill Richardson fell in love with Grand Lake, Colorado—and the dream of a mountain vacation home—at the same time they fell in love with one another.
The Grand Lake resort area was founded in the early 1900s. Boasting the deepest freshwater lake in Colorado, the area became a playground for Denver’s rich and famous. Today, the town has a population of 447 and beckons tourists from around the world.
Amy and Bill, who are entrepreneurs in Roswell, Georgia, returned to Grand Lake several times over their 13-year marriage. Once they discovered that the Grand Lake Lodge was selling 19 properties along the lake to drum up capital for lodge improvements, the couple snapped up three lots and began the five-year journey of planning and building their dream vacation home.
Designed by Ken Pieper, the 6,000-square-foot home had to stay within a traditional Adirondack aesthetic to satisfy Grand Lake’s design and review committee. The Richardsons decided on 14-inch-round, standing-dead Englemann spruce logs, sourced from British Columbia by Fraser River Log & Timber in Winter Park, Colorado. Native moss rock was used for all the masonry. Concrete pan decks and flagstone were used for the entryways and all the stone floors in the home.
“We wanted the home to fit the scenery of Grand Lake—updated rustic,” says interior designer Kristen Terjesen. Amy grew up summering in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she absorbed the southwestern design style and inherited her father’s passion for Native American art. Her passion for the southwest is demonstrated in the log home’s décor through hand-painted pottery, hand-woven rugs, and colorful paintings.
Built for entertaining, the house overlooks the lake. Ample covered and uncovered deck space offers a variety of settings for soaking up the great outdoors. A large outdoor kitchen is the perfect spot to grill up steaks or hamburgers, and a fire table keeps the family warm on cooler nights. “On July 4, we had a big group around the table roasting s’mores,” Amy says.
In the kitchen, hickory floors and alder cabinetry play beautifully with the sandstone and black walnut countertops. Since the couple loves to cook, this hard-working space was outfitted with high-end appliances, including a Wolfe range, double oven, and warming drawer and refrigerators by Sub Zero. But it’s the 5,000-pound Renato pizza oven that demands much of the attention. “The thing has to warm up for four hours and then it has to cool down for hours, so making pizza is quite an undertaking, but it is fun,” Bill says.
Quality construction is one of the hallmarks of this home. “We used spray foam insulation for the roof and all the lower-level walls,” says builder Mark Bjerken, owner of Chillcooth Construction. “Wherever we could, we used high-grade, super-efficient insulation that gave us an R-value of 50 and R-23 on the walls.” The couple opted for highly efficient Semko windows, which Bjerken says perform particularly well in high altitudes.
The home is heated with in-floor radiant heat, and a high-velocity HVAC system has the capability to run air conditioning in the summer. “People here thought we were crazy to install air conditioning, but let me tell you, we were so glad we had it when the temperatures reached the 80s,” Bill says. The home’s asphalt shingle roof meets new building code requirements that were set in place to protect homes from fire. “The asphalt shingle really performs better in fire than any other shingle on the market,” Bjerken says. “Although, right now, the fire danger is really low because this past winter we had one of the largest snowfalls we’ve seen in 15 years and the reservoirs are running at floor stages.”
Since the family spends only eight to 10 weeks a year at Grand Lake, they put systems in place that will help to protect their home while they are away. Bill hired Complete Home Electronics of Fraser, Colorado, to install a Crestron monitoring system. “This home is amazing from an electronics standpoint—it won an award as 2011 Electronic Home of the Year from Electronic House magazine.” Bjerken says. “When you’re doing electronics in a log home, you have to figure out how to run it in the chink lines and chink over it, which is a very time-consuming process.”
A lightning protection system intercepts strikes to protect the home from damage. Waterbug moisture detectors were installed on the lower levels and below the washing machine to sense flooding. An automatic water valve shut-off will also help minimize damage caused by a leaky pipe.
In addition to standard safety and security features, Amy and Bill rest easy thanks to a high-tech monitoring device that helps keep track of their two young sons. Complete Home Electronics installed a camera and microphone in the nursery, so a cry at a certain volume trips a relay in the housewide control system, which then broadcasts the commotion over the speakers in the master bedroom and brings up the video of their son on a touchpad. To set the system, the parents tap a button on a keypad as they exit the nursery. The electronics company also set up pathway lighting from the older son’s room down the hall to the parents’ room to trigger when he presses a mom-and-dad button on a keypad in his room. Nighttime visits to the bathroom are also easy for everyone. At midnight, the home monitoring system automatically activates and sets the fixtures to a 10 percent intensity level. The lights stay that way until 5 am, when they switch off completely.
The master suite features a 46-inch LED television and two speakers. The system is connected to an audio-visual distribution processor, which permits it access to an assortment of audio and video components located in a closet elsewhere in the house. Music can travel to the room, as well as to four more speakers located in the nearby bath and and on the patio. Selection and control over the A/V distribution system is handled by a touch panel. The same panel also allows the owners to operate the home’s in-floor radiant heating system and view video from an outdoor surveillance camera—either on the screen of the touchpanel or the TV. The parents also installed cameras aimed at the kids’ play area that can be shifted and zoomed in via the touchpanel. Another camera functions as a virtual peephole on the front door.
Amy and Bill said they hope that their boys will one day build their own dream homes on the lots adjacent to them.