How to Design a Mountain Home That’s Modern, Not Kitschy

It's all in the details.

Brad Krefman's Aspen House
Tim Williams

Picture a home in the mountains, and you probably imagine wood, leather, and old-man armchairs reminiscent of something your dad would buy. And honestly, you wouldn’t be entirely wrong—especially given the penchant most designers have for shades of brown when it comes to homes in picturesque, nature-filled locales. However, BK Interior Design's Brad Krefman had an entirely different priority while working on a couple’s Aspen, Colorado abode: staying true to the vision that Backen & Gillam Architects had crafted.

“The architects wanted to dramatize the wide open spaces, and create an indoor-outdoor experience that could capture the view,” explains Krefman. “We wanted to stay true to the elements that we thought people consider when it comes to a mountain home, without defaulting to a kitschy rendition of it.”

Brad Krefman's Aspen House
Tim Williams

Krefman therefore calls the elements in the space “carefully curated”—each serves a purpose, be it adding a fun element to the home or working as a solution to a problem. For instance, a big challenge was the extremely high ceilings in the abode. The solution? Absolutely stunning light fixtures. In almost every room, a decorative light fixture hangs low, bringing the high ceilings in a little bit, as well as pulling the viewer’s eyes up.

“I think decorative lighting is really important, but you have to understand scale and what the light fixtures are doing,” says Krefman. “Is it meant to be purely decorative, for instance, or is it the sole source of light? And then, what kind of light is it: focused light, or ambient?” For each room, then, Krefman worked with the elements to find the perfect type of lighting—be it the simple pendants in the kitchen or the floral designs by the entryway—and even created mockups for each room so that he’d be able to see what kind of effects the light would have.

Brad Krefman's Aspen House
Tim Williams

Keeping the outdoors a focus was also a huge priority for Krefman, especially because the views are absolutely stunning. “The architects really made sure to let the outside in with the huge windows in the space, so it was up to us to let that shine,” says Krefman. In the great room, both sides are covered with windows, so Krefman made sure to not have any furniture line those glass walls, and in the living area, the dining table purposefully faces the view so that the room serves as the crux between indoor and outdoor. The furniture choices were also done with views in mind—think neutrals in the dining room to complement the mountains, and greens in the master to match the forest.

To give the home a truly modern spin, Krefman made sure to add as much color as possible in a way that wasn’t overwhelming to the eye. “We used a lot of fun, vintage furniture that we re-upholstered to give an original look,” he says. “Some of it had Scandinavian elements, while others were more in line with a mountain retreat.” Each room has elements of color (be it pops of red from the curtains or a massive blue sectional), but the rest stays somewhat neutral to really let those few-and-far-between details shine.

Materials were also a huge priority in the home—for instance, the game room is all shades of brown, but playing with different materials keeps things from looking one-note and boring. The leather on the chairs is juxtaposed with various types of wood on the coffee tables and legs, while the bookshelf and patterned carpeting add further elements of the shade. “Playing with texture was an interesting way to add to the mountain theme of the home,” elaborates Krefman.

The end result? A home that embraces the Great Outdoors without competing with it.

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