When Mary and Greg Hegemann first set about building their mountain retreat in a quiet, wooded neighborhood off Breckenridge’s Ski Hill Road, they weren’t as concerned about the fine details as they were the big picture. 

Doing the math, the couple—Nebraska natives who moved to the Denver area in the ’90s; Mary works as an actuary and Greg is a bona fide rocket scientist—decided that in order for it to pencil out, their investment would have to do double duty as a rental capable of accommodating skiers by the vanload.

The kitchen’s cozy breakfast nook provides a refuge for intimate conversation in a communal room made for entertaining.

Supersized by necessity, they also didn’t want their vacation home to feel like another impersonal VRBO listing; in addition to capturing revenue, they wanted it to be a warm and welcoming place where they could host visiting family from Nebraska (a brood that often swells to nearly 20) and friends itching to take a trip out west. So, being professionals who knew their way around a spreadsheet, they made a list.

“We didn’t have the normal wish list ideas, like this room needs a double vanity, or anything that specific,” says Mary. “It was more bullet points—we wanted it to sleep a certain amount of people, we wanted to maximize the square footage and the open communal areas, and we wanted people to walk in and have a ‘wow’ moment that wasn’t about us or the house but the nature surrounding where we are.”

Edison-style lights, tractor seat stools, and custom cabinetry add a touch of country to a contemporary kitchen.

Fast-forward to today. From the front door of the almost 5,000-square-foot Hegemann residence on Meadows Lane, nested in an aspen grove abutting wetlands, you can just make out mountain bikers whizzing by on Breck’s Four O’Clock trail, visible through the pines at the end of their street. A dozen oversize windows on the peaked, barnwood façade afford panoramic vistas of Bald Mountain to the southeast—a view that’s uninterrupted thanks to an empty lot just across the street, an open meadow bordered by evergreens. Not that they had a choice; a pair of homes dating from the 1990s bookend their property to the north and south, so making the most of that view was paramount.

Wood salvaged from the family’s Nebraska barn adds a rustic touch to the stairwell

Another priority item on their design agenda—incorporating a piece of Mary’s family farm into the build. Around the time they broke ground on their Breck house in 2015, the Hegemanns had driven back to Nebraska to help deconstruct a barn that had stood on the property for more than a century, and returned with a truckload of weathered, rust-hued planks they hoped would somehow blend in with the mountain- contemporary showpiece they envisioned.

For that daunting task, and everything else that went into the build, they turned to Breck-based architecture firm BHH Partners and Pinnacle Mountain Homes. Given the limitations of the lot, and their wish for as many as 20 bunks and beds, the decision was made to build up as opposed to out, three stories serviced by an open steel-and-wood staircase and elevator. On the first floor, a garage and mudroom (complete with a lock-off for skis and snowboards, and a wall-spanning bench and stacked cubbies for storing gloves and goggles) would share space with a game room. Upstairs, two levels of communal living space (and private apartments: a total of six bedrooms and seven bathrooms) would be soaked in natural light from east- and west-facing floor-to-ceiling windows; given neighbors to the north and south, those sides were left out of the design, almost like a New York City rowhouse.

A table from the old barn was repurposed as a loveseat

As for interior décor, Pinnacle Design Studio adopted a minimalist approach, sticking to functional pieces like an oversize, L-shaped leather couch centered around a fireplace in the lower-level game room (which also houses foosball and pool tables). Upstairs, Pinnacle’s designers offset the grandeur of the great room and the kitchen area’s vaulted ceilings and arched beams with more intimate seating areas—like a breakfast nook in the kitchen and a warren of cream-colored couches arranged around a large stone hearth in the living area—while also providing space for large gatherings, including counter seating along a 15-foot-long island in the middle of the kitchen, and an equally-as-long dining room table for 10, where guests could ogle moose ambling their way through the aspens outside. In other words, exactly the kind of separate-yet-togetherness, oriented around nature, the couple had envisioned.

“We hear from our own family and others who’ve stayed here that having multiple levels created this ability to have the teenagers in the game room, and people drinking around the bar, and then another group up in the kitchen,” explains Mary. “Everyone can do their own thing, but they’re all together and it still feels communal.” 

Mission accomplished. As was their intention to have their investment help pay for itself. Being empty nesters as of this year—the couple’s youngest is a freshman at the University of Colorado Boulder, and their oldest is currently enrolled in medical school—the two spent more time on the Front Range and filled all those beds and bunks with renters. Yet foremost, this is still their family home, a celebratory place for ski vacations and reunions.

With a narrow footprint, the home was built up to maximize square footage and take advantage of mountain views

“People love having this house here,” says Mary. “We want to continue to get together with family and have a place where we can all be together, and this allows us to do that.”

As for the artifacts salvaged from Mary’s family farm....

A clawfoot tub melds prairie life with mountain living

Cabinet doors with original hardware rescued from the old barn—along with a table where Mary’s parents (now in their eighties) once made soap during the farm’s early years—were repurposed as a bench in an upstairs alcove. Then there’s the barnwood. Inside and out, long, wide, crimson-hued planks scoured by a century of wind, rain, sun, and snow (a look that’s all the rage on television design shows; witness the DIY Network’s Barnwood Builders) add rustic pops of color to almost every vertical space, from exterior garage doors and gables to paneling found in stairwells, powder rooms, and the bar area of the game room.

“When the barn came down, the wood needed to go somewhere,” says Greg. “I think the family was excited to see it, and really appreciated that it was used again.”

Never more so than when the Hegemanns christened their Breck retreat by having relatives from Nebraska over for Thanksgiving to witness the finished product. Gathered around that long table in the great room, they toasted, shared memories, looked around, and marveled how, here in this brand-new house on the slopes of a Colorado ski resort, even the walls whispered about the place they called home.

One of the best seats in the house

Resource Guide

 
Appliances

Ferguson Enterprises, Avon; 303-739-8000, ferguson.com

Architect

BHH Partners, Breckenridge; 970-453-6880, bhhpartners.com

 Contractor

Pinnacle Mountain Homes, Breckenridge; 970-453-0727, pinnaclemtnhomes.com

Doors

Castlewood Doors, Denver; 303-476-4343, castlewooddoors.com

Electrical

American Electric Service; 970-485-1999, aes.joe@comcast.net 

Hardwood Flooring

Vantia Hardwoods, Frisco; 970-468-2684, vantiahardwoods.com

Interior Design

Pinnacle Design Studio, Frisco; 970-485-6064, pinnacledesignstudio.com

Kitchen Design/Cabinetry

Cutting Edge Woodworking, Leadville; 719-486-2346, cuttingedge-woodworking.com

Lighting and Tile

Inside Source, Frisco; 970-468-0573, inside-source.com

Masonry

JP Masonry, Breckenridge; 970-485-5920, jpmasonry@live.com

Structural Steel

Knipp’s Welding and Fabrication, Dillon; 970-406-8149, jknippwelding@gmail.com

Windows

Sierra Pacific Windows, Edwards; 970-453-1531, sierrapacificwindows.com

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