Sunnyside great room

Not every mountain home has to be sizable. In fact, you can build a perfectly suitable cozy cabin instead of a castle.

Just outside of Telluride, Colorado, noted for its ostentatious mountain homes, is a smaller home built from the surrounding earth and stone. The 1,600-square-foot Sunnyside, designed by architect Ron Bercovitz of Bercovitz Design Architects, was modeled after the Western lodge-style work of a noted architect.

“I had done some historic research on another project and came across the works of Mary Coulter,” Bercovitz says. “She was the architect for many buildings found in the Grand Canyon National Park, including the Lookout Studio, which caught my eye.”

Sunnyside’s exterior is built with local rock and resembles the crumbling walls and towers that Coulter was fond of designing, Bercovitz says. Her love of Southwest archaeology inspired her to design buildings with similar techniques used by the Pueblo people.

Other Pueblo touches were added to Sunnyside, including ponderosa pine logs for the framing and resawn cedar shake roofing, which blend into the landscape. Inside, a kiva fireplace in the living room continues the theme. “The rounded corner fireplace was a challenge to build,” Bercovitz says. “Normally, kivas are built with adobe, but we chose to continue with the random flagstone that the home was made of.”

Bercovitz labels the home as an example of smart planning. “You don’t have to build a large vacation home to get all the elements of a fabulous retreat,” he says. Sunnyside includes a master bedroom suite, a second bedroom with attached bathroom, a spacious open living room, and a kitchen that looks out through large floor-to-ceiling windows at the San Juan Mountains.

“I even built a tower similar to the Coulter structures that can be used as an office or for meditation and yoga,” Bercovitz says. “There are a couple of small simple windows that provide light and a breathtaking view of Mount Wilson.”

Bercovitz and his team worked to integrate green building techniques in the project, including solar-oriented siting, reclaimed materials, and the use of products that are less environmentally demanding. “We strive to make our projects structurally and thermally efficient, as well as eco-friendly,” he says.

This article originally appeared in Country’s Best Cabins’ Cozy Cabins 2008 issue.