The Sculptured House

The Colorado landmark finally appears picture-perfect

The Sculptured House was designed by Charles Deaton in 1963 and intended to serve as the architect’s own residence. When construction began, the home's shape proved immediately divisive, decried by some as ugly and hailed by others as innovative. Deaton, now deceased, defended his vision for the unusual form of the house, “People aren’t angular, so why should they live in rectangles?” While emblematic of a sub-movement within modernism termed Sculptural Expressionism, the home's stated aim was more aligned with that of ancient structures: uniting land and sky. "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 [the home] to sing an unencumbered song."

Sculptured House in Jefferson County, Colorado by Charles Deaton | Knoll Inspiration

Photograph by Richard Powers.

Deaton ran out of money before the project could be completed, and the residence fell into a prolonged state of unoccupancy. The home was saved from dereliction by Woody Allen, who used it as the setting for his 1973 comic science fiction film Sleeper; the “Orgasmatron” of the movie is the home’s cylindrical elevator. Sleeper helped cement the home’s peculiar importance for native Coloradans, who took to referring to the property as “The Sleeper House.”

Sculptured House in Jefferson County, Colorado by Charles Deaton | Knoll Inspiration

“People aren’t angular, so why should they live in rectangles?”

—Charles Deaton

Photograph by Richard Powers.

In spite of the residence’s five minutes of fame, afterwards, nothing was done with the property until 1999, when John Huggins, a Denver entrepreneur and developer, purchased the home for $1.3 million. “There was nobody living in it except for a fox,” Mr. Huggins was quoted as saying in The New York Times, “and the windows were all broken out.”

Huggins, however, was well aware of the home’s architectural importance and reached out to those close to the original project to participate in the renovation. Huggins built a large addition to the house, originally designed by Deaton, with the help of architect Nick Antonopolous which, once completed, was furnished by Deaton's daughter, Charlee, the Principal Interior Designer at Watermark Interiors.

Sculptured House in Jefferson County, Colorado by Charles Deaton | Knoll Inspiration

Photograph by Richard Powers.

Charles Deaton designed built-in furniture for the house, including the dining room's cone-shaped table, which presented his daughter with clues to his interior vision. "My love for my father, and my appreciation for this house as an art form, informed my approach," says Charlee Deaton of her work. 

Sculptured House in Jefferson County, Colorado by Charles Deaton | Knoll Inspiration

“Everything about the house, every detail, is custom, so the furniture got a very sculptural treatment.

—Charlee Deaton

Photograph by Richard Powers.

While the adjective most often associated with the home is "futuristic," her father thought of the home as "shell-shaped." "He worked with an elliptical geometry that was all in his head," states Charlee Deaton. The curves influenced Charlee Deaton's choice of furniture. "Everything about the house, every detail, is custom, so the furniture got a very sculptural treatment." Eero Saarinen’s Womb Chair was an obvious choice, given Saarinen's brief stint as a sculptor, helping to explain the outward similarities between Deaton's designs and Saarinen’s buildings.

In the sunken sitting room, Charlee Deaton devised a tight arrangement of mid-century furniture that fits within the home’s modernist envelope. Platner Arm Chairs and Platner Lounge Chairs are situated around a chessboard, while the nearby Platner Coffee Table is encircled by Arne Jacobsen’s Swan Chairs. The carpet was custom-made using squiggles drawn by Charles Deaton. Eero Saarinen’s Pedestal Collection—which includes the Tulip Armless Chairs, Saarinen Side Table and a Saarinen Dining Table—comprises the third set-up. 

Project Credits:

Interior Design: Charlee Deaton, Watermark Interiors
Photography: Richard Powers

 

Platner Arm Chair
Platner Lounge Chair
Platner Coffee Table - 42"
Tulip Armless Chair
Saarinen Side Table - 20” Round
Saarinen Dining Table - 47" Round