Although clients can’t always articulate to design professionals how they want their home to look, they can often express how they want it to feel. That turned out to be the case for a couple who, after seeing their work in The New York Times, approached husband-and-wife designers Susan Collins Weir and Chris Weir about renovating a house they had purchased in Carbondale. The wife explained they were looking for a design that felt durable and understated. In response to that description, Collins Weir, a co-owner with Weir in the duo’s Sausalito, California-based firm, suggested the house should “be like a pair of Levi’s: comfortable and classic at the same time—something effortlessly stylish,” she says. “That idea really resonated with her.”

The house itself was a commanding modern structure that had been designed by architect Glenn Rappaport of Black Shack Architects with a distinctive angular roofline, an open floor plan, walls of retractable windows and protected outdoor living areas. “The exterior angles mimic the surrounding mountains and break up the scale of the house,” Weir says. “This knits the building into the site in a very convincing way.” Inside, however, the designers aimed to update the spaces to reflect their clients’ lifestyle while still honoring the original architecture. “Our goal was to quiet it down and to reinforce the exterior connection from every single room,” Weir says.

House Details

  • Style: Modern
  • Photography: Nick Johnson
  • Interior Design: Susan Collins Weir and Chris Weir, Studio Collins Weir
  • Home Builder: Craig Barnes, C. Barnes Construction LLC

Situated beneath a sloping roof that soars to 18 feet at its highest point, a multipurpose great room contains the main living areas of the home. At its core, an existing hefty blackened-steel-and-cast-stone replace dividing the living and family rooms provided a focal point and an opportunity for an update. “We worked to lighten it up with a more detailed split-face limestone,” explains Weir, who handled the interior architectural changes. “We also introduced a cast-in-place concrete hearth and added adjoining Douglas-fir cabinets.” In realizing the redesigned fireplace, builder Craig Barnes, who oversaw the project on-site, created a system of new concrete pads to hold the steel columns supporting the hearth. “The fireplace was the most intricate part of the project,” he says. “It took a lot of coordination of details.”

Significant updates were also carried out in the kitchen, which extends off the great room and opens onto an outdoor gathering and barbecue area with wide-open mountain views. The room’s cabinetry was refreshed with new Douglas-fir door and drawer fronts as well as open shelves to replace upper cabinets. “The existing cabinetry was different in every room,” Weir says. “One of our primary goals was to unite the interiors with a common palette.” To round out the room, the glass backsplash came down and new Heath Ceramics tile went up in its place.

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Complementing the new warm-finish palette, the furnishings—overseen by Collins Weir—offer another thoughtful layer. Over original wood floors, which were sanded and refinished, the designer placed handwoven and vintage rugs in key living spaces. She then worked with a combination of contemporary pieces—such as a Flexform sofa and quilted Moroso armchairs in the living room—vintage items and custom designs, including walnut dining tables the duo had fabricated in California. Creating one-of-a-kind furnishings is “something we do in all of our projects,” says Weir, who handles the custom pieces. “These items are very special in that they’re crafted to fit the specific place and time in a client’s life. The designs represent something completely unique to their experience.”