Pearl magnate Nick Paspaley and his family find a fresh in-town refuge at the hands of rowland+broughton.
A s scion to the Paspaley pearl dynasty—Australia’s largest pearler and perhaps the world’s most prestigious producer of its jewelry—Nick Paspaley knows luxury when he sees it.
For his homes, that means three big must-haves: space, fine materials and quality workmanship. Thanks to award-winning architectural and urban design firm rowland+broughton, his family’s new home in Aspen delivers on all three.
Like his Aussie brethren who routinely flock here for the Colorado sunshine and world-class skiing, Paspaley is smitten with Aspen. Since 1981, he’s returned every winter, save two. And over the years, he’s collected a covetable real estate cache: four condominiums at the Aspen Alps and a rustic retreat on the far side of Aspen Mountain. And, yet, this Christmas, he had even greater cause to celebrate: spending the holiday in a new, downtown Aspen refuge with his wife, Mylissa, and their teenage son and daughter.
These baby boomers got lucky with their 4,300-square-foot Original Street retreat: A single-family home at the base of Aspen Mountain is a categorical rarity. Built in 1958 for the builder of the Aspen Alps, the residence had remained largely untouched for decades.
“My wife had been looking at this house for nearly 20 years, and every time we’d walk past it, she’d say, ‘If that house ever comes on the market, you better buy it for me,’” Paspaley fondly recalls. “We thought the owner would never sell—you can’t repeat this position in Aspen.” But as luck would have it, on one of their walks, the couple spied a for-sale sign, and Paspaley bought it outright. Still, it needed some serious
Enter Sarah Broughton of the firm rowland+broughton, who came recommended by Paspaley’s nephew, for whom she’d already designed a home. In fact, she’d also previously worked on Paspaley’s Aspen Alps apartment. For this home, a modern lodge look was in order. “For us, it was an opportunity to crack open our classical textbooks, revisit classic detailing and profiles, and do them in our own unique way,” the architect explains. The team worked throughout 2011 so as to complete the project in the summer of 2012, with a full five months dedicated to wood craftsmanship by two workrooms—Rocky Mountain Woodworking and Peach Valley Woodworks. Just take a peek at the master bedroom paneling or the living room’s coffered ceiling, and you’ll understand the extra effort.
Modernizations included environmentally friendly LED lighting and energy-efficient windows throughout, plus structural changes that made the tree-cloaked building feel more open and airy. Even a trellis was installed over the dining table to ground the room’s lofty dimensions and give the effect of eating in an outdoor courtyard, with pendants glittering from above.
Working with one of the firm’s interior designers, Becky Garrett, Broughton made cohesive decorating decisions that ensured design harmony between rooms, enhanced by subtle differences. You’ll notice them in the custom headboards, featuring handcrafted buffalo leather, book-matched stone floors, luxe Frette bed linens, lustrous wall coverings and contemporary carpets. Touches of crimson, forest green and rift-sawn oak are found at every turn. Hardware—such as the custom cabinet pulls in the bathrooms—features intricate profiles that enhance the details already present in the surrounding wood. And color is injected by a haul of personal artwork by friends, including a painting by Australian artist Geoff Todd, signed by Brit-pop legend Leo Sayer.
The crystal lighting fixtures are all Schonbek—the same kind ensconced in Buckingham Palace and the White House—but their glitter is tempered by industrial pendants from Restoration Hardware; weathered steamer trucks; and comfortable, Colorado-made leather furnishings by The Buffalo Collection at Scenic Mesa Ranch. The media room, for that matter, is a mingling of contemporary pillows and stacks of books; a ladder even leads to a music loft where the teens practice guitar. “That rug [in the living room] was lucky,” Paspaley recounts. “It’s an old Turkish rug that will soon be 100 years old. It was too big for the room, so we had it cut down [by the locally based Isberian Rug Company] at great cost. Now, it’s absolutely perfect.”
“Nick really keyed into the details,” Broughton remembers. “His attention to his homes resonates with what he does for a living. He made a lot of the aesthetic decisions, which is unusual.” Take the brilliant green stone used for the kitchen countertops, reminiscent of a Colorado forest. “When we started the project, we wanted to use something like a simple Calacatta gold in the kitchen, but Nick kept pushing, pushing, saying he wanted something more distinct,” explains Broughton. “He sent us photos of his home in Australia, which has really unique specimens of stone, and, finally, we got it.” Working with the local The Balentine Collection International, the team selected a number of extraordinary examples—sending each through Nick for approval—then carefully matched them to each room.
Ultimately, Paspaley was quite pleased with the results. “I recently walked around the house with Nick, and he was psyched,” Broughton says. “We each had a glass of wine from his vineyard in Australia [Bunnamagoo Estate Wines] and walked through every space, talking about what we loved.” Still, like so many in Aspen, for Paspaley, a home is just a platform for enjoying the larger world outside.
“Aspen is a magical place, a wonderful place where people make us feel at home, even though we’re not Americans,” he enthuses. “It’s fresh; it’s quiet; and you can walk to the restaurants and shops. I don’t know what more that you could want from a city like this one. It’s as good as it gets—for me, anyway.”