Remodel renaissance in Steamboat’s Tree Haus neighborhood |

Remodel renaissance in Steamboat’s Tree Haus neighborhood

— Residents of the Tree Haus subdivision always take the best photographs of fireworks over Steamboat Ski Area, rainbows in front of Thunderhead and alpenglow on Storm Peak.

How could they miss? They enjoy unique views of the ski area's best profile from a 30-year-old subdivision that recently has launched into a quiet remodeling renaissance.

Tree Haus is situated just outside the Steamboat Springs city limits, where homes are built along roads that switchback up a hill above River Road. Although technically in the county, it's closer to downtown and shopping than some other neighborhoods in city limits.

Now the subdivision, where most of the homes were built in the late 1970s and 1980s, is seeing sales pick up. Gradually, homeowners are remodeling the 25- and 30-year-old homes with some of the choicest views in the valley to bring them up to 21st century design and comfort standards.

Among them is the home of Ben and Peggy Malloy. The Malloys own a large tile manufacturing, import and distribution business, Northstar Ceramics in Dallas, and bought their home in Tree Haus two years ago with the intention of upgrading. Their goals were to add a second garage bay, open up a small, dark kitchen and add a modest amount of living space to the original 2,245 square feet.

Several doors away, Jeff Gerber and Hans Berend, of Gerber Berend Design Build, are tackling another remodel of a modestly sized Tree Haus home. Gerber designed the garage addition that incorporates the extension of an existing roofline supported by a timber frame structure over a new deck. The deck area sits on top of a new garage to create an outdoor living space.

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Berend said his clients, also from Dallas, are remodeling the interior of a home of fewer than 3,000 square feet.

Listing and selling Realtor on the Malloy home — Darlinda Baldinger, of Steamboat Village Brokers — said the Malloys contacted her about the home after seeing an ad in the newspaper. And after an initial showing, they quickly were able to visualize how the dated house could be redesigned to accommodate their list of must-haves.

"Nothing had been done since the (late) Jim Marek moved in about 1978, but it was built by Bruce Jarchow, and it had really good bones," Baldinger said. "You can't get this close to the ski area with these views anywhere else."

Baldinger's colleague, Chloe Lawrence, passed on a reference from a friend to the Malloys, suggesting they consider Katie Kiefer, of West Elevation Architects.

She wound up as not only the architect, but also the interior and landscaping designer. The builder was Keith Wilson Carpentry.

Kiefer said her clients weren't intent on a grand addition, but they did want a more welcoming entry, a larger kitchen that took full advantage of the views and a master suite that was more practical and more elegant than what existed.

"This is a terrific home for my clients," Kiefer said. "It's very comfortable, makes very efficient use of space, and it's also very manageable. They didn't want the house to feel to precious," Kiefer said. "They wanted to be able leave and go back to work" in Dallas.

However, the house definitely needed an upgrade. It was a classic 1970s era ski town bachelor pad. Nothing quite sums that condition up like the wall of frosted glass etched with a mermaid that greeted visitors who climbed two flights of stairs to the home's third level.

Behind the mermaid was an 8-foot-wide octagonal bathtub. Got the picture?

There were no existing schematic drawings of the home, so the first thing Kiefer had to do was to take meticulous measurements and create new "as-built" drawings.

The home was stripped to the original stud framing and new plumbing and electrical wiring were installed. The old moss rock fireplace was removed, and the south wall of the home was extended 2 1/2 feet. That allowed a new, more contemporary fireplace to be relocated to that wall

where it is flanked by two short sets of wooden stairs leading to glass doors that open onto the main portion of the wraparound deck. Previously, there was no access to the deck from that end of the home.

The toughest decision for her client, Kiefer said, was agreeing to tear out an old glulam drop-down beam that disrupted any feeling of openness in the main living area. Ultimately, they gave the go-ahead to take out the structural wooden beam and replaced with a new steel I-beam concealed in the ceiling. The expense was well worth the transformation it allowed in the living area, Kiefer said.

The original windows in the home were too small to take the best advantage of the ski area views, and they did not open to allow cross ventilation. The new windows crank open and have an energy-efficient coating.

It's safe to say the mermaid is gone from the upstairs landing now, and the new owners have a sophisticated but not overly large master suite separated by two floors from the twin guest bedrooms on the first level. There now is a bright and spacious entryway that didn't previously exist, and it has enough room for a large easy chair that allows it to do double duty as a sitting room for guests.

The kitchen with a granite-topped bar and the dining room that opens up to ski area views are ideal for entertaining, a showy vanity of custom-welded steel by Vonn Wilson, of Steamboat Springs, for the raised sink basin. The wall-to-wall carpeting throughout the original home was replaced by dark hardwood on the main level. And of course, there are elegant tiles throughout the home: in the foyer, on the kitchen backsplash and in the master bath.

"My clients shipped me 27 boxes of samples to choose from," Kiefer said with a big smile.

The home always had a big wraparound deck, but now that deck is refurbished to include no-maintenance powder-coated deck railings and a fire pit to complement Steamboat's cool evenings.

Dollars and sense

Since 2010, a dozen homes have sold in the subdivision of 120 homes and lots. Of the dozen sales, six closed this year and two sold for less than $480,000. Only one of the 12 sales in the past three years was for more than $1 million.

But that window of opportunity may be closing. Of five homes listed for sale in Tree Haus, just one home, of about 2,000 square feet, is listed for less than a million at $635,000. There are two listed at $1.09 million and two others listed at $1.8. Days on the market range from 29 to 314. Only one of the five homes is greater than 3,800 feet, and it comes in at 5,964 square feet.

The most expensive on a per-square-foot basis is a four-bedroom home priced at $1.8 million, which translates to $486.45 per square foot.

Kiefer said thoughtful remodels of older homes on choice lots offer opportunities for a significant number of professionals in the building, design and real estate fields.

"Even during a down market, people are focused on making a good living and doing really good work," she said.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email