Nestled into a craggy embankment in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, this combination art studio and guesthouse looks like something straight out of The Hobbit. Rugged stone walls seem to emerge out of the landscape, framing deep-set windows and a fairy tale door fitted with a functioning porthole window. Stout pine trusses and a stacked-stone fireplace wrap the 500-square-foot interior in a rustic embrace.
While the place looks like it’s been around for ages, the structure is actually new — a collaboration between Peter Boes of TKP Architects in Golden, Colorado, and the couple who owns the primary home on the property. “We wanted to match the look of the main house, which feels like an old turn-of-the-century cottage,” says one of the owners.
TKP Architects pc
The owners had originally planned to build a much larger structure to replace the shoddy old shack that sat behind their home. But the authorities intervened, ruling that the new structure had to conform to the footprint and size of the old structure.
To get the steep roof that the owners wanted, Boes gingerly excavated 8 feet into the surrounding rock, so that the top of the new building wasn’t any higher than the old one. “It was very important to keep the rock outcrop looking like it was,” says the architect, who resorted to hand excavation — rather than blasting — to preserve the setting.
Door: Konnen Glashaus
The house is just a short walk from the main residence, an 1890s cabin built during the region’s copper, gold and silver boom. Although the main house was dramatically remodeled in 2001, it still retains its historic flavor.
In building the new cottage, the owners were eager to do justice to both the property and the original building. By sinking the new structure into the hillside, they both diminished the cottage’s presence on the site and preserved views from the main house above.
The exterior walls were originally supposed to be vertical. But on a bicycle trip through the Black Hills of South Dakota during construction, the couple passed the Peter Norbeck Visitor Center, an old Civilian Conservation Corps building from the 1930s, and were instantly smitten with the battered stone walls.
“It was a real ‘ah-ha’ moment,” recalls the client, who told Boes about it when she got home. Cherry Masonry obligingly altered its plans, massing large boulders around the stone base and shrinking the size of the rocks as they progress upward. “It almost looks like the whole structure is growing out of the stone,” she says.
Discover a Hobbit House Fit for Bilbo Baggins