Existence Ecology

How a Highly Intentional Mountain Home Embodies the Passions of One Renaissance Boulder Couple

Imagine your dream home. What does it include that makes it your ideal living space? Is it a home theater? The latest in designer appliances? An impeccable landscape?

For local couple Michael and Nancy Linsley, their mountain home is a dream not for the things that populate it, but for the energy and environment it creates so that it is perfectly emblematic of all their passions and of their approach to living a full, enriched life.

“Our goal was to build a house of beauty,” says Michael. “People need beauty like plants need sunshine, and we wanted to live in a visually rich, aesthetically pleasing space that could also sustain us in all our activities.”

A collaborative project between the Linsleys and local firms Cottonwood Custom Builders and Barrett Studio Architects, the home is an achievement in design and build intention, purpose and sustainability.

“It’s a modern, yet eclectic, space that is very much suited to Michael and Nancy’s personal tastes and needs,” says Jeff Hindman, owner and president at Cottonwood Custom Builders. “The geometry of the home strikes me really as a sculpture in and of itself. It’s very unique from its overall design down to its mix of materials throughout.”

Every element of the home is meticulously crafted and executed to suit a specific purpose. Both professional ceramic artists specializing in architectural art (you can see their work at ArtDrenchedLife.com), Michael and Nancy made all of their own tiles for the entirety of the home. The house also includes a ceramic studio and workshop for the dynamic duo.

The home likewise embodies the Linsleys’ passion for sustainable living both in its technical elements and in the green living practices it facilitates. A nearly net-zero home, the home features geothermal heating and cooling and is the kind of high-performing, sustainable structure that is a specialty of Cottonwood. Michael, a gourmet chef, also enjoys the ability to grow a variety of herbs and vegetables in the home’s greenhouse, cold frames and right within the custom kitchen. This blend of the technical and the natural—further exemplified in the house’s combination of modern architecture and clear finish beetle kill ceilings—is a consistent theme throughout the home.

The home’s indoor spaces are rivaled only by the simultaneous peace and splendor of its surrounding outdoor areas. Perched on 37 private acres, the home includes a meditation garden that was purposefully designed by Michael, as Nancy is also a movement meditation teacher specializing in the Feldenkrais Method. Nancy hosts regular classes and retreats in the home’s spiral-themed meditative space focusing on mindful movement to improve both function and self-awareness.

Perhaps the feature most representative of the stunning blend of purpose and beauty exemplified in the home is the “River of Light” that serves as a striking, yet subtle welcome to the structure. Fed by a sculptural rain chain, the river is made up of blue glass pieces, steel and blue resin that is illuminated from below as it flows into the house.

“The river of light is part of a narrative arc that all guests traverse as they enter our home,” says Nancy. “It really represents the energy flow into the house that we were looking to achieve. It is both a symbol of this energy and a beautiful visual art element, inside and out, that enriches the visceral experience of the home.”

Tile Art

From the colorful bathrooms to the serene library, fireplace mantle and numerous areas in between, the home features artful tilework hand-crafted by the Linsleys themselves.

View from the Top

The circular, pedestal-lifted hot tub boasts views of the surrounding mountain forest and a panorama that stretches from Boulder to Golden, Denver and even DIA. It’s truly the best seat in the house.

Planter to Plate

With seven indoor planters as well as a greenhouse and cold frames served by a custom, app-driven irrigation system, the Linsleys grow fresh produce to fuel their culinary concoctions year-round.

“This home is a tangible example of how design can provide for, facilitate and celebrate lifestyles that encompass many different interests and needs,” says David Barrett, FAIA, founder and principal of Barrett Studio Architects.

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