Rising among a grove of pines, this Colorado home offers luxury and a resort-like lifestyle all within an unrivaled location. Situated on Aspen’s exclusive Ute Avenue, the property is a labor of love and ingenuity from owner Leathem Stearn, who was an integral member of the design team. As breathtaking in design as its natural surroundings, and just five blocks from downtown, four from Ajax Gondola, there is no other home like it. Truly one of a kind—as Coco Chanel once said: “In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.”
Different it is. But in an area populated with palatial mansions, how? “To begin, sheer size,” says Nick Lincoln, associate broker at Christie’s International Real Estate Aspen. “It is 20,000-plus square feet (1,858 sq m) within the city limits. That is unheard of. The property cannot be replicated.” Add to that the home’s coveted location, and that it is built into Aspen Mountain, known locally as Ajax. “You can actually ski down Ajax right into the house,” Lincoln says.
It has taken Stearn 10 years to realize this newly completed passion project in Colorado, and the result is a luxury home like no other. “He sees it as a culmination of his life’s experiences,” says Lincoln. “He has used his background in naval architecture and design, boat, and jet building, which shows in the unique approach to his work.”
You can actually ski down Ajax and right into the house—Nick Lincoln
All the wisdom and practices of Stearn’s nautical and aeronautical engineering have gone into the design of this four-level home. As with a yacht, for example, every cubic inch of this house is critical with close to zero wasted space. “I optimized the design of this downtown core property to complement Aspen, with a lifestyle home incorporating signature amenities and activities. The result is 30,000 sq ft (2,787 sq m) of functionality in a 20,000 sq ft (1,858 sq m) footprint,” he says.
Stearn handpicked a team of craftspeople and designers, working in tandem on a daily basis, always open to their specialist views to refine concepts and execution. He sourced the globe for materials, importing stone from Ukraine, walnut from Poland, porcelain tiles and custom-made windows from Europe. Closer to home, limestone was shipped from Wisconsin and Kansas.
The interior too encompasses all-natural finishes, wood-paneled walls, vaulted ceilings and pillars, tiled floors and marble. The concept of open-air living adds to the luxury in this home, with fully retractable walls of windows allowing in magnificent views of the Colorado countryside. Some of the seven bedrooms, including two principal suites, have floor-to-ceiling doors opening out onto a private patio. The fourth level has reflecting pools that double as skylights, which flood all levels of the home with natural light.
The home is the perfect blend of art, beauty, and provenance, exactly what Aspen clients are seeking in a legacy property—Jennifer Banner
A fully engineered, technically advanced property, the genius is the feeling of endless space alongside all the home has to offer. There are seven full and five half baths, and a grand living room and dining room. A professional-level kitchen and breakfast room have the added benefit of a rotating table. Elsewhere, a third-level gallery and glass-walled suspended office overlook the oversized indoor pool and leisure area below, where a two- story cascading water wall adds a sense of calm.
Under the guidance of designer Maria Isabel Matone, the same approach afforded to the building of the property was also given to the interior design. Custom-made furniture and soft furnishings in warm neutral tones are brought to life with accessories and art that give bursts of color. Ecru-hued linens and clean lines flow throughout, softened by circular nooks and sofas for an overall feeling of tranquility. There are standout features too, none more so than the multiple bespoke chandeliers. “Awe-inspiring,” Lincoln says. “Two of them are crystal, but the main one, in the living room, has 1,600 individual glass pieces.”
I optimized the design of this property to complement Aspen. The result is 30,000 sq ft (2,787 sq m) of functionality in a 20,000 sq ft (1,858 sq m) footprint—Leathem Stearn
Despite the serene demeanor of this property, this is a residence built with relaxation, fun, and activity firmly on the agenda, with resort-style amenities. There are multiple bars and game spaces throughout, plus a wine-tasting room. There is a theater on the third floor and a regulation one-lane bowling alley complete with shoes and bowling balls in a rainbow of colors. Keeping up fitness levels is a breeze with three clay tennis courts and a professional-standard gym. There is even a five-star spa and professional-style salon for post-workout rejuvenation.
The home’s natural outlook—it offers a 180-degree panorama of Smuggler Mountain, Red Mountain, and across the valley between—guided much of its shaping. “Stearn was totally conscious of the landscape,” Lincoln says. There is an outside lawn on the top level, but really the grounds of the house are the mountains and wilderness. Even looking out from inside the proximity to the surroundings is unprecedented.
The exalted status of a piece of fine art is in its rarity. This property demands similar standing. “The home is the perfect blend of art, beauty, and provenance, exactly what Aspen clients are seeking in a legacy property,” says co-listing broker Jennifer Banner. “We’re thrilled to bring it to the market during a remarkable time where your home is so important.”
Banner image: Steve Mundinger