Modern treehouse suspended over a roaring river in Old Snowmass

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This rustic riverfront home was designed by David Johnston Architects, located next to a roaring river in the mountains of Woody Creek, Colorado. Situated on a steep, wooded bank (the lot slants up to 30 degrees) a mere 10 feet from the Roaring Fork River on Lower River Road in Old Snowmass, the three-level design is virtually suspended above the water among the branches, like a modern interpretation of a treehouse.

Throughout this 4,500 square foot home, one can hear the river, which is particularly true of the second level, where the kitchen, living room and dining room are located. Features like floor-to-ceiling window walls, tilted windows and a cantilevered third story loft bring the river into the elevated space.

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The 1960’s-era home was discovered by the Feldman’s in 2003, one of the few home sites lower than the highway, so noise was not an issue. They had their sights set on building a new home since the original one was very compact and not to their liking. But there was a catch, in 2006, the county began requiring that new homes be pushed back 50-100 feet from the river—unless they’re built on an existing foundation. So when they hired the architects, the challenge was to design a new home to fit the original foundation. The tight building envelope posed a dilemma, but it also resulted in a category-defying design.

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The architects used cantilevered masses throughout the second story to expand the size of the house without violating codes. The result was a kitchen that extends eight feet from the original footprint and a dramatic entryway bridge suspended in the trees.

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The design was widely dictated by the constraints the architects were faced with. Angled cantilevers were put where they are because it was literally the only place they could go beyond the foundation. This is also the reason the architects designed a bridge to the entry, instead of a retaining wall. The resulting design was unique, since it was created from the site rather than on it.

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What We Love: This spectacular treehouse-like home in Old Snowmass offers some unique features, including a dramatic entryway bridge suspended in the trees. Angled cantilevers and custom slanted windows helps to capture the magnificent riverfront views, while offering a seamless indoor-outdoor connection. An exterior facade of stone, wood and glass offers a modern aesthetic, yet does not clash with the natural surroundings.

Readers, what do you think of the design of this project, are there any details you would have done differently?

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Above: The countertops in the kitchen are Brazilian Palladio granite.

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Photos: Brands & Kribbs Architectural Photography

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Cindy Thompson
5 years ago

I’m ba-aaack!
Everyone’s a critic…
Wood ceilings like this are breathtakingly romantic yet so masculine!
And though if it were my kitchen I’d have ‘warm colors, yet the plum-berry cabinets are such a beautiful contrast to the green outside!
The Dining Area is so intimate yet perfect for a dinner party.
I could imagine a very cozy candlelit dinner for two.
I didn’t see the bedroom area though I’m quite sure it is stunning!
I wouldnt wash windows!

Cindy Thompson
5 years ago

Stunning architecture polished to timelessness… except a few decorating pauxs
The canvases are a real disconnect… a quality metal or mixed media wall sculpture above the fireplace, and smaller tighter groupings hung lower in place of the large canvases hung far too high, a vintage quilt, antique pieces that appeal would definitely improve the wall decor…
I noticed several other issues, but kept no notes.
This home is so beautiful, thank you for sharing it!

5 years ago

I love all of your posts!! always tons of photos unlike (architectural digest)… keep it going :)

6 years ago

wonderful posts of outstanding homes. Thanks!

Sabine Hehner
6 years ago

An awesome house. But the inside stairs are not very secure, nothing for older people. Also difficult for house animals.
The steal at the balconies and stairs have a lack of cozyness.