Rocky Mountain Holiday

Greg and Jane Hills and their two children, Austin and Whitney, celebrate Christmas as countless Americans do–at home, exchanging gifts and sharing traditional holiday meals. Here, their friends and neighbors also happily mingle and enjoy the festive music and cheerful repartee.

What makes the Hills family holidays unique is the location they call home–Aspen, the glittering town high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, where every view merits a Christmas card. The family occupies a chic downtown loft built as part of an ambitious project (Greg and Jane are commercial developers) to preserve the better part of a historic neighborhood. “The city granted us permission to develop the parcel with the stipulation that we would restore three 19th-century cabins on the property to their original conditions,” Jane explains. “They also insisted that the cabins continue to be used for commercial purposes, so we chose one of them as the office for our business.”

Mountains freshly capped with snow and ever-so-apropos evergreens provide extra seasonal background to their built-new-to-look-old structure, with interiors fashioned by Los Angeles-based design talent Kevin Corn.

Inside the Hillses’ loft, a stylish tension of architectural components marries warmth and comfort with features that could date back to a 19th-century industrial facility. Large, arched factory windows, recycled flooring, and exposed metal-and-wood structural ceiling beams make the space feel as though it has been in place for decades.

With sensitivity to the neighborhood restoration efforts, Corn incorporated decorative treatments within the second-floor loft that illustrate both the family’s modern lives and the nearby area’s landmark past.

The holiday spirit greets visitors in the ground-floor entry, fitted with a glass elevator that lifts to the loft and to the third-floor master bedroom. Seasonal arrangements of blooming paperwhites, miniature trees, a basket brimming with pinecones and pomegranates, and a penny candy-filled jar huddle on a round mahogany table.

The spacious second floor provides clearly defined areas, including a place for formal dining, a kitchen, a den, and the living room, where the Christmas tree occupies a niche. Bedecked in unmatched ornaments collected by the family, the tree dazzles with a pleasing bit of decorative disorder in a room that otherwise bears a clean, sophisticated appearance. “I like neutral, not flashy,” Jane notes. “You can always add color accents if you want change.”

Corn selected creamy white fabrics for the living room, paying close attention to texture. Two different weights and weaves of white wool hang behind a wood valance at the tall arched windows; an inner sheer diffuses the light, while an outer layer of gabardine offers nighttime warmth. “At an elevation of 10,000 feet, the light can be blinding,” Corn explains. “And with windows this big, the fabric needs to have considerable heft.” The sofa and two upholstered chairs sit in front of the fireplace with its handsome steel surround. Twin glass-top coffee tables are nestled together, elegantly signaling the season with a stately arrangement of white amaryllis arranged in a large glass bowl.

The generously sized walnut dining room table speaks to Greg and Jane’s convivial entertainments–even when it’s not Christmas. Precise, tickinglike vertical stripes cover the chairs, a contrast to the rough organic rust and gray of the brick walls. At Christmas, the table display features an array of greenery and blossoms tucked into hollowed-out logs with silver leaf embellishment, a wonderful variation on holiday decorating. A black iron chandelier with white glass shades hangs above the table and reinforces the metal theme throughout the room. “I didn’t want it to catch the eye but rather blend into the background,” Corn explains.

The kitchen marks a noteworthy juxtaposition of urban and country. Stainless-steel appliances complement streamlined oak cabinets stained ebony. A zinc-top table with a pine trestle base exemplifies cottage charm, especially with old wicker chairs pulled up to it.

Which season qualifies as most beautiful in this breathtaking Zip code with its year-round outdoor attractions is debatable, but there’s no doubt that the winter holidays are especially meaningful for the Hillses.

“Aspen is our real home,” says Jane, “not a place where we occasionally visit to ski or vacation. Our children grew up and went to school here, and we are active in local community affairs. This is where we live and create family memories.”

Interior designer: Kevin Corn, Kevin Corn Design, 6161/2 N. Doheny Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90069; 310/270-4695,
Kitchen design: Cooper-Pacific Kitchens, Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Ave., Suite G-299, West Hollywood, CA 90069; 310/659-6147, 800/743-6284,

Photography: Emily Minton Redfield
Produced by Estelle Bond Guralnick 

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