Living Lightly, With A View From The Top

Posted by RE/MAX of Boulder on Wednesday, April 24th, 2019 at 3:47pm.

By Tricia Fitzpatrick

Article published in the Daily Camera's At Home section on Friday, April 19, 2019

Photos by Buffalo River Studio

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Nestled just below the crest of Sugarloaf Mountain sits a home that will rock your soul.  

From the moment you enter, you feel serenity. Maybe it's the unmatched southeastern Flatirons view that dips gracefully down the canyon and into Boulder Valley. Or it could be the home's open lines and passive energy use that whisper "relax."

The home's design is the culmination of owner Kurt Smith's quest for a sustainable, energy efficient mountain dwelling in one of the most beautiful spots in Boulder County. And the home delivers all, without sacrificing style, creature comforts, or easy access to Boulder's energetic vibe and outdoor adventures.

You’d never guess it's made of shipping containers.

“I searched for a home that didn’t waste space or energy and a location for my outdoor lifestyle,” said Smith. “It became clear that I would need to build it myself."

Finally he spied a for sale sign on a gently sloping lot with the Sugarloaf peak at its back and surrounded by national forest. “I kept coming back, watching the wonder of it. It's expansive, open, and solar compatible with unblocked southern exposure,” Smith recalled.

With the ideal spot secured, he decided on reused shipping containers as a fundamental. Smith learned of a container home in nearby Nederland, created by nationally-recognized Denver architect Brad Tomecek and builder Mike Kalil of Audubon Builders. He reached out and the collaboration began.

The resulting 1,700 square foot home has three shipping containers artfully bookending east and west sides. The home’s center is constructed with structural insulated panels, or SIPs. Floor-to-ceiling glass frames entry to the south-facing deck where dwellers enjoy breezes over elk-trodden meadows and a steady stream of rainbows, chickadees, and humming birds.

Japanese-style bedrooms grace the west end with beautiful recycled barn wood doors, comfortable cork flooring and master bath featuring a wall-less shower and Japanese soak tub.

The fully equipped kitchen overlooks twinkling city lights and beckons to entertain. The center island faces the home's dining and great room. Contemporary, durable countertops are made of PaperStone – recycled paper in a non-petroleum resin.

Natural lighting flows from sunup to sunset through high clerestory windows. "You never have to turn on the lights during the day," said Smith. For passive heat gain, the roof line allows the winter sunlight to stream in and shields it in summer.

Additional heat comes from a massive yet stylish and highly efficient Finnish-style wood stove, called a Tulikivi. Drawing outside air for combustion, the stove radiates warmth into the room with few emissions, exceeding Boulder County standards.

Perhaps the best part of the Tulikivi is the built-in pizza oven's promise of wood-fired pizza and a movie.

The home's energy efficiency works beautifully – solar panels on the garage roof often produce more power than needed. And the home earned a low 18 on the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) index, which is 20 percent of the average home.  

"I really wanted to leave a legacy of environmental responsibility by creating a livable, sustainable home," said Smith.  

And that he did. Now, with Smith's vision a reality, he watches magic happen as natural beauty unfolds each day slowly revealing a most remarkable twilight.

For more details or a private tour, call RE/MAX of Boulder Realtor Kimberly Fels at (303) 888-5655.

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