Understandably, the task of restoring it to pristine condition seemed daunting to the new owners, Larry Winkler and his wife, Toni, as well as to the numerous contractors, systems designers, and professional consultants they turned to. Based on its architectural importance, an obligation to maintain the building’s integrity and original intent preceded any changes, yet improvements had to be made. As stewards of a piece of history, the Winklers were determined to save their new home, but make it habitable.
The original construction of the home began in 1963. It acquired fame and recognition when used for the 1973 sci-fi comedy movie, “Sleeper” by Woody Allen. The architect, Colorado-based Charles F. Deaton, built the house for himself, but circumstances prohibited the builder from finishing the project. Nonetheless, with its brilliant use of materials, bold sweeping form, and panoramic vistas, it was a groundbreaking vision, and in many ways, still is. Said Deaton in a much earlier interview, "On Genesee Mountain, I found a high point of land where I could stand and feel the great reaches of the earth. I wanted the shape of it to sing an unencumbered song.”
"The elegant building sat empty for over three decades, suffering critical neglect until former Denver Director of Economic Development, John Huggins, purchased it in 1999. He added 5000 square feet at the pedestal level, based on plans designed by Deaton before his death. The interior appointments at the time were handled by Deaton’s daughter who installed bold Mid-century Modern and custom-made pieces. In 2006, a local entrepreneur purchased the house from Huggins, but by late 2010, was unable to fulfill his commitments of ownership and the property was assumed by the Jefferson County public trustee, who scheduled a foreclosure auction in November 2010. The Winklers were the only ones to make an offer. “I was looking for a fixer-upper,” said Larry, with a grin. A hands-on, do-it yourself kind of guy, Winkler is also a successful Colorado businessman specializing in lighting technology. He has a great eye for design, a penchant for things that look good and work well, and a zest for living. He could hardly wait to repair and restore the house to its former glory, but invest it with 21st century conveniences.
“As a homeowner,” he added, “the biggest challenge of taking this project on was matching the existing design criteria and managing year -round temperature control, and comfort.” Toni imagined a fun, weekend getaway for themselves, their two dogs, and occasionally, children and grandchildren—a grand place to relax and be together. For a change, the “Sleeper House” would finally become a year-round home. With that agenda in mind, Toni selected new carpeting—a practical, warm, honey-based brown. Her preference for earth tones came straight out of the existing landscape. Almost instinctively, they chose a contemporary seating group found at International Design /Roche Bobois. Reflecting nature’s palette, the asymmetrical sofa in shades of taupe-grey, tobacco brown, cream, and amber seemed at home in the oval living room. A coordinating area rug, oversize chromed-steel and glass coffee table, and complementary chairs, all referenced the lines of the house itself.
Read the full story in the August/September issue of Colorado Expression Magazine...
Bio: In addition to writing, author and freelancer Corinne Joy Brown has devoted most of her adult life to the practice of interior design. Helping the new owners of the famed Charles Deaton house pull things together was a great privilege, as was writing about it for A&D of the West.
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