After a fire had destroyed architect of RDG Architecture Renee del Gaudio’s family home in Sunshine Canyon, they rebuilt their new home from the ground up.
The inspiration for architect Renee del Gaudio’s family home began with a fire. A massive fire in 2010 spanned four miles in the Sunshine Canyon area and burned 179 homes in that area. One of the homes destroyed was a property owned by del Gaudio’s family. Though a tragic event, del Gaudio discovered a new perspective on a familiar landscape.
With all of the trees gone, there were new views of the reservoir and flat irons available. Del Gaudio felt this landscape resembled Boulder 100 years ago when trees dotted the landscape instead of filling it. She then researched some agricultural and mining buildings that were in the area about 100 years ago so she could design something contextual in this post-fire landscape.
Since she was designing her own home, she had the unique opportunity to be her own client.
“[I was able to incorporate] all of the things I really believe in personally, like simplicity, low maintenance and [solar power].” del Gaudio says. “I could develop all the ideas I feel strongly about. When you work for someone else, you have to balance what you feel strongly about with what the client feels strongly about. This was one in the same and a special opportunity.”
Creating a space that reflects the family she is designing for is a priority in her work. She likes to develop an intimate relationship with the family so she can better understand how they live. She feels she has done her job if the house is personal to that family and an expression of their values.
For del Gaudio’s family, they value spending time together in shared spaces versus everyone having their own, individual larger spaces. To accommodate this, she created a wide, open floor plan for the living room, kitchen and dining room so they can spend a majority of their time together in these areas of the house. The bedrooms she kept modest, explaining they’re really just for sleeping and not a central part of the design.
Another favorite aspect of her home’s design is the book wall located in the main living space. It spans floor to ceiling and is filled with books for the entire family to utilize.
“We’re an analog family,” del Gaudio explains. “We don’t like a lot of technology in the house. I think of books as art, but they are also heavily used.”
In designing her home and for her work in general, it is important to del Gaudio to create a space that feels like a seamless piece of their surroundings.
“I try to approach every project without thinking about what it will look like, and I think about what it will mean,” del Gaudio explains. “By tying [the project] to a place, the climate, culture or the landscape it will feel inevitable that this piece of architecture was here. It feels connected and has a soul. It should feel like it belongs.”