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Evergreen, Colo. Mountain Home Shines
Home design sought to capitalize on the natural beauty of the setting

Landscape Architecture by Designscapes Colorado


At the front of the Evergreen, Colo., home, eight 'Probe' MR16 20-watt fixtures highlight the reclaimed lumber beams.

This Evergreen, Colorado mountain inspired residential design sought to capitalize on the natural beauty of the setting, provide access to the adjacent creek, create multiple distinct "outdoor living areas" for entertaining and blend harmoniously with the property's surroundings. Native plantings, local materials and the re-engineering of Upper Bear Creek were central in achieving these goals. The project is an excellent example of the professional inclusion of outdoor lighting to fulfill the clients' desires, while respecting and upholding the surrounding natural landscape. A collection of over 276 Unique brand lighting fixtures dramatically ignite the night sky.

Evergreen is 28 miles southwest of Denver, sitting at 7,200 feet elevation in the Rock Mountain foothills. (Note from editor Steve Kelly: I spend my childhood in Evergreen. Great place to grow up!) Evergreen embodies the spirit of the mountains, and this spirit was the foundation for the design, which provided many challenges and opportunities in design and construction. The design for the residence highlights the role of the landscape architect in blending nature with the built environment.


Walkway lighting is provided by 14 Centaurus T3 20-watt path lights with frosted cylindrical lens to minimize glare. These path lights also extend to the stairway of 'Colorado Buff' flagstone slabs leading to the lawn.

The ruggedness and texture of the mountains are reflected in the materials and feel of this landscape. Nature's subtleties inspired the lighting design. At the front of the house, the strategic incorporation of 8 'Probe' MR16 20-watt fixtures highlight the reclaimed lumber beams without lighting the interior. Sixty 'Big Bang' fixtures (PAR36 30-watt halogens), and one 'Lunar' fixture (MR16 20-watt halogen) accent the hundreds of evergreens and aspens on the property. Sixty-six 'Apollo Star' PAR36 lamps accent the thousands of perennials and bulbs.

The plant and hardscape palate was taken directly from what is found there naturally. Colorado sandstone was used for paving and river boulders were recycled on site to accentuate the topography of the site down to the creek. Spruces, cottonwoods, lupines and columbines are all Colorado natives and found throughout the design. Native plants were chosen for their adaptation to high elevation, and some were even chosen for their resistance to deer. On one corner of the home, vegetables and greens are grown year round in the onsite greenhouse. Outside, a bee garden was established. It is filled with perennials to attract several different species of honeybees to promote the pollination of the plants. Special care was taken to preserve the site trees, shrubs and root structures on the property during construction.


The combination of Kentucky bluegrass turf, smooth river boulders and sand were used to open the entry for children to enjoy the water. MR16 20-watt 'Nova Star' halogen fixtures were buried in the grass.

The use of these local materials is not only environmentally sustainable, but it is economically sustainable as well. Obtaining materials from local suppliers saved on transportation costs. From a maintenance point of view, using climate appropriate materials also will save money and resources for the clients over time.

All of the major program elements respond to the creek in one way or another. Multiple outdoor rooms of varying size were needed for entertaining, all of which take advantage of the ambience of the river. The indoor/outdoor kitchen/living room and spa area are in a prominent yet private perch above the river. The river influenced most of the landscape; accessibility to that river was key. The combination of Kentucky bluegrass, smooth river boulders and sand were used to open the entry for children to enjoy the water. Seventeen 'Nova Star' fixtures (MR16 20-watt halogens) were buried in the grass. Sixty-six 'Apollo Star' fixtures (PAR36 30-watt halogen) uplight the trees to extend enjoyment along the river.



The hundreds of aspens and evergreens on the 6-acre property are illuminated by 60 'Big Bang' directional up lights, along with 66 'Apollo Star' heavy-duty brass grated in-ground well lights. Both fixtures are PAR36 and 30-watts. There is also one 'Lunar' MR16 20-watt bullet light with a 360° rotational ball and joint swivel mounted to a tree.

A more rustic and intimate interaction with the river can be felt down at the bank fire pit and patio. Across the river, over a dramatic suspended walking bridge made of wood and steel, a massive 18' wood burning stone fireplace anchors the central entertaining patio. Uplighting the bridge is three 'Atlantis 16' underwater fixtures (MR16 20-watt halogens). Against the cozy fireplace, two 'North Star' fixtures (MR11 20-watt halogens) light the façade of the hearth. As the fire crackles through the night, five 'Vanguard' fixtures (T3 20-watt halogens) underneath the benches highlight the Colorado buff flagstone.

While the patio area can accommodate large numbers of guests, it also has intimate areas where the family can congregate. The scale of the round, smaller fire pit at the edge of the patio feels cozy with its surrounding lounge chairs. The large fireplace has facing rustic couches, which are positioned for conversation and capture the views of the timber tie house and native manicured landscape. This mountain fireplace is reminiscent of a log cabin chimney relic that has been on the property for years. This "timelessness" quality was extremely important to capture for the overall feel of the design and to be accentuated with the lighting fixture selection and placement. Fourteen 'Centaurus' path lights (T3 20-watt halogen) align the stairways of the large slabs of 'Colorado Buff' flagstone as guest wander away from the fire. Clump (multi-stem) aspens lit by the 60 'Big Bang' fixtures (PAR36 30-watt halogens) and the 66 'Apollo Star' fixtures (PAR36 30-watt halogens) further guide guests safely from the hillside to the river at night.


Colorado sandstone was used for paving and river boulders were recycled on site to accentuate the topography of the site down to the creek.

Both the landscape architect and the clients share respect for the Colorado mountain environment. Through the guidance and education from the architect, the client was able take a hands-on approach. This understanding and relationship made the design and construction of the project a smooth and rewarding experience. The outdoor lighting highlighted every exceptional aspect of this artistic landscape.


A dramatic suspended walking bridge of wood and steel over the river connects to the central entertaining patio. The waters directly under the bridge are illuminated by 3 'Atlantis 16' MR16 20-watt underwater brass fixtures. These underwater lights can be used in depths of up to 3 feet, and have a swivel bracket that allows 180° rotation.

PAR, MR & T3: Lamp Nomenclature

The lighting for this home's landscape required 276 fixtures. All the lighting fixtures for the residence are from Unique Lighting Systems. All the lamps are halogens and powered by 8 1,120-watt, 24-volt weathered brass Unique transformers.

"PAR" stands for "parabolic aluminized reflector." The "36" in PAR36 refers to the maximum diameter of the face of the bulb (or lamp) in eighths of an inch. Thus, the largest diameter of a PAR36 is 36 eighths of an inch, or 4.5". PAR bulbs are usually halogen bulbs by design.

MR stands for "multifaceted reflector." As with PAR lamps, the number associated with MR lamps also refers to the maximum diameter of the lamp in eights of an inch. The most common MR lamp, the MR16, is 2" in diameter at its largest circumference. An MR11 is 1-3/8" in diameter. The light source of MR lamps is a single-ended quartz halogen filament capsule.

The "T" in T3 stands for "tubular," i.e., the shape of the bulb. The "3" means it is 3/8" in diameter at its largest circumference.


The main patio features a massive 18' wood burning stone fireplace. Two 'North Star' MR11 20-watt small cast brass fixtures light the façade of the hearth (placed atop the wood cross beam). This fixture has a ball and joint swivel mount to allow 360° rotation. Five 'Vanguard' T3 20-watt fixtures are recessed underneath the stone benches to highlight the Colorado buff flagstone.


'Starburst' MR16 20-watt wall washers (and Stellar T3 20-watt mini wall washers) illuminate the retaining walls and boulders with a soft glow. Hanging from 3' chains from the beams in the outdoor kitchen are MR16 20-watt brass "Observer' fixtures.

As seen in LASN magazine, April 2018.

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November 13, 2019, 8:08 pm PDT

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