Mountain MasteryAuthor:California Home And Design
Kerry Joyce creates a sense of quiet elegance and environmental harmony at an Aspen home
“When I design, I take everything into consideration, and hopefully it’s building into a what I call a ‘feeling,’” Los Angeles interior designer Kerry Joyce explains. “The feeling hits you here first,” he says, gesturing toward his heart. With a varied and distinguished career spanning over two decades, Joyce keenly understands how to use his expertise to shape experiences that are beyond words.
In the case of an Aspen vacation home, achieving the ineffable meant honoring the setting while making a statement that also serves his clients’ needs. Working with a family with whom Joyce has developed a longtime relationship over the course of multiple projects, each one in a different style, meant the team began with a core basis of shared trust and respect. In addition to their stylistic flexibility, the owners’ dedication to the arts and their collection has continued to deepen. So Joyce created the Aspen house “to be a backdrop” for beautiful objects within a structure that exists in harmony with the property’s approximately 80 stunning acres. “I didn’t want the architecture always competing for attention,” he observes.
Starting with an undistinguished 1960s structure in Aspen’s Owl Creek community that was taken down to its foundation, Joyce designed around the constraints of the original footprint. “But from there, I was free to redo the interior plan and exterior facade as I chose,” the designer says. Eschewing any obvious, heavy-handed mountain-themed references that might amount to “a pastiche,” instead Joyce tapped into “a very quiet Japanese influence.” He cites Charles and Henry Greene’s landmark 1908 Gamble House in Pasadena, which itself was deeply informed by Japanese aesthetics and traditions, as inspiration for the wood shingles used on the exterior facade. A certain earthiness establishes a sense of place, too.
The result is a home with a unique point of view that’s compatible with its surroundings and facilitates quality family time during all seasons. “My aim was to be simple and reduced, but still appropriate.” With the six-bedroom nestled into the landscape, the visual splendor of the Rocky Mountains is accessible in every direction. (Two ponds sit on the property, which offer both summer and winter recreational opportunities, and the family’s sons are avid skiers.) Joyce sought to establish a dialogue between the outdoors through the architecture and interior design. Window openings are maximized and paired with mesh roller shades that shield against sunlight as needed. The dining room features three large sliding pocket doors to physically connect the communal space to the outdoors, complete with a screen that’s cleverly stashed away in the ceiling.
To comfortably integrate the owners’ extensive art collection with the furnishings, “many of which were chosen for their sculptural and art-like qualities,” the Silver Lake-based designer opted for horizontal paneled interior poplar wood walls. (A majority of the furniture was custom designed and fabricated in Los Angeles.) Plus, he sees little distinction between mediums vis-a-vis creative value. “To me, everything is art.” The lighter-hued poplar wall treatments contrast with other dark wood elements in the living room and open staircase, an element that further speaks to Joyce’s admiration of Japanese design.
The mountains and foliage provided ample direction for curating color palettes. “I was especially interested in exploring the seasonal color of leaves,” Joyce notes. “I’m always drawn to the slightly grayed colors of autumn, but the living room wanted something more vibrant—the vivid color of new spring green.” The expansive space, with 30-foot-high ceilings and a split-face Mountain Ash granite-clad fireplace wall, contains two 10-foot sofas upholstered in cotton velvet. These pieces are juxtaposed against the room’s leather furnishings, as well as the Cardiff sheer wool drapes from the Kerry Joyce Textiles collection.
The floor-to-ceiling botanical wall installation that extends from the upper seating area to the dining room is the most literal example of how Joyce brings nature indoors. This exercise proved to be a unique challenge and an unprecedented move for the designer. “It’s loosely based on the Victorian pressed flowers I’d seen in the past, but with a modern twist of being austerely framed,” he says of the piece. He commissioned artist Maria Cruz to mount the locally collected foliage and flora inside clip frames made for each dried specimen. The overall effect is “this cool dimensional wallpaper,” Joyce muses.
The dark leather wall in the sitting room complements other richer details, like the bronze coffee table and natural mohair rug, while the dining room’s walnut sideboard, Last Night Branche chandelier by Damien Langlois-Meurinne, leather-framed antique glass mirror and chartreuse leather wall add a touch of mid-century modern playfulness. Open shelving in the kitchen stacked with Heath Ceramics for easy access is refined yet casual, thanks to Joyce’s cerused oak cabinets fitted with cast bronze knobs. Pops of color come from the bright green added to the frames of Jean Prouvé’s classic Standard Chair design from 1930 at the live-edge kitchen table.
“It’s quite spectacular. It’s really magical,” Joyce says of the high-altitude Colorado environment. Thankfully, he understands how to make a home that stands in careful balance with its special context. – Jessica Ritz