A builder completes his hybrid-log masterpiece in the Colorado Rockies.
Celeste Hale became hooked on bicycling in the mountains while attending college in Denver. After graduating, she and her husband, Roger, returned to their native Virginia but always felt drawn to Colorado, where they spent vacations exploring the many bike trails weaving through the Rockies.
“We were living in a Colonial-style home in Virginia and felt it was time for us to build something different,” Celeste recalls. “We had two choices: Build a home in Virginia and vacation in Colorado or move to Colorado permanently. Since we didn’t have any obligations either place, it seemed logical to move where we could be on a near-perpetual vacation.”
The couple found a four-acre corner lot in the Paradise Valley subdivision, near Black Hawk. It sits on a hill and has incredible 360-degree views of the Fourteeners, those Colorado Rockies peaks that are over 14,000 feet in elevation. Guided by the site, Roger sketched floor plans. He and Celeste intended their new home to be as eco-friendly as possible, with large windows to take advantage of the passive solar in this area of abundant sunshine.
In addition to the large great room, they planned a main-level master bedroom suite with specific amenities, which included a master bath with two separate water closets to house their individual vanities and toilets. The remaining space shares a jetted tub and three-head shower. They didn’t limit the amenities to themselves.
“Our dogs are a very important to us,” Celeste says. “The second bedroom on the main floor has a treadmill and stationary bike for us and a custom-made window bed for the dogs. This way they are able to look out and enjoy the views also. We added a custom-built dog feeding station with bowls and storage for their food that can be neatly tucked away when not in use.”
Celeste’s business as a personal trainer allows her the freedom to work from their home. They designed a 1,000-square-foot gym in the lower level where she can guide her clients through their workouts in a more private setting than a public gym. Also on the lower level, an oversized three-car garage features a large workshop, with a workbench and lots of storage cabinets, that allows Roger to build to his heart’s content.
The upper level comprises three guest bedrooms, one with a large dormer sitting area for enjoying the view, a full bath and an 18-by-28-foot bonus room. A large wrap-around porch, built with composite decking, offers 2,000 square feet of four-season outdoor living. After Roger drew the plans, he contacted structural designer Mike Ikeler and designer Scott Skeen to complete the technical details.
He then sent the plans to four different log-home companies to obtain bids. He had decided to build the home as a hybrid with a conventional, insulated frame and half-log siding. He felt this choice was best for the home’s 9,060-feet elevation, as it would provide energy-efficient R-27 walls, well above the required code.
The ceiling is blown-in cellulose with a R-50 value. Roger bought the prefinished northern red cedar 2-by-6-inch half-logs for approximately the same price as other companies quoted for unfinished logs.
“Because I would be building the home primarily by myself, I didn’t want to have to worry about raw logs becoming damaged if we happened to get an early snow,” Roger explains.
This preparedness paid off when the area received 52 inches of snow in one weekend while he was building the home. He spent six months on the site, doing about 70 percent of the work while living in the 7-by-16-foot enclosed cargo trailer he had towed from Virginia. He says he learned his building skills from his tool-savvy father.
“Through the 25 years I have owned and operated my own construction company, I have developed a sense of being very detail oriented,” Roger explains. “As an example, I always over-paint nail heads to blend them with whatever construction material I am using and to prevent them from rusting. In our home, I pre-painted the joist hangers a rustic bronze. I have learned how to work with clients from the very beginning of their project when they are still in the initial planning stages, or I’m able to build their home from a set of plans. Either way, I take great care to make sure everything is as perfect as possible."
Celeste later joined Roger to help him finish the interior. The couple chose an interior look resembling an old ranch house that looked worn and lived in. They used rough wood and reclaimed products. As a reminder of the days when the region was teeming with gold miners, they added a wall sconce made from an original mining pan, pick and lantern in the hallway.
Whenever they couldn’t find just the right piece of furniture, Roger created it. He fashioned a 10-foot dining room table, for example, from 2-1/2-inch solid mahogany salvaged from the floor of an old railroad boxcar. He made the mantel in the master bedroom from a beetle-killed tree cut down on their lot during construction.
Because of the need for water conservation in this high-mountain locale, lawns are prohibited. Therefore, Roger and Celeste restored their property to its natural state, using rocks, evergreens and aspen trees. They spread 10 pounds of wildflower seeds this spring to add color to the native vegetation.
“This area is so healthy because there isn’t any pollution,” Celeste says. “Every time I look out the windows or sit on the front porch, I am overwhelmed by the incredible views and how quiet it is.”
Roger concurs. “It may sound like a pun, given the name of our subdivision,” he says, “but I truly feel as if we are living in Paradise.”