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Peaking In

One Colorado couple welcomes the majesty of Aspen into their home

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The day real estate developer Daryl Snadon drove his wife, Dallas, to a parcel of land located on a plateau above Aspen known as McLain Flats, five miles from downtown, she refused to get out of the car. 

“He looks at land all the time,” Dallas says. “What I saw was an old ski chalet in the middle of nowhere. But he saw something different.”

In time, she came to see it, too—and more. The new home that the couple eventually built on the plateau, set among the majestic Elk Mountains, is an eight-bedroom showstopper that Dallas, an interior designer, decorated personally. “I could never build something just average,” says Dallas.

The Snadons anointed one of the best views in the entire region. Local historian Tony Vagneur has said the McLain Flats and nearby Woody Creek were striking, serene and sparsely occupied, known mostly for ranching and farming, until well into the 1970s. That’s when John Denver of “Rocky Mountain High” fame moved in. Woody Creek celebrity residents have ranged from Hunter S. Thompson and Don Henley to Nancy Pelosi.

Yet even now, with its grand homes and gentleman’s ranches, McLain Flats is full of unspoiled, wide open spaces. “The view just goes on and on, from Mount Daly in Snowmass to Capitol Peak,” Vagneur says. “It’s incredible.”

 Anyone would be drawn to such mountains, but Dallas Snadon says it was the water, a narrow stream that wove its way through the grasslands, that won her heart.

Nonetheless, for a time the couple’s priority was elsewhere in town. They were working on a 21,000-square-foot luxury home on Red Mountain’s exclusive Willoughby Way, one that overlooked downtown Aspen, and they had no intentions of leaving. 

That all changed in 2009, when the Snadons were approached with a $43 million cash offer for the Willoughby residence—one of four Aspen properties they owned at the time—and accepted, setting a sales record for that year, all the more remarkable for the lingering recession in real estate. 

The Snadons then turned their attention to their seven-acre lot on McLain Flats. The new residence carries the name “The House of Glass,” owing to the floor-to-ceiling panes on both levels. Thanks to the design ethic of “glass everywhere,” the ponds, meadows and wildflowers that explode throughout summer form the center of attention on the main floor. Inside the living space, a work called Contemplation, by the artist Orbedonne, hangs and mid-20th-century lighting by Sputnik illuminates the vaulted ceiling. 

“The floor plan started with the way we like to live—on the main level,” says Dallas. The master bedroom sits farthest to the west, the space decorated in deep hues. The room is dominated by a custom bed made of black crocodile skin and a 16-arm Murano chandelier, circa 1940. 

“I wanted it to have a warm feeling,” Dallas says. “It’s a place where we could have breakfast in bed and watch movies with our 7-year-old daughter. You could spend the day there but still feel like you are outside. With the glass there is no barrier between in and out.” 

The main level also plays host to the kitchen, media room and breakfast room. In the kitchen, stainless-steel shelves and a custom-designed tree-branch chandelier made by Allan Knight bestow charm. In the summer, the doors can be opened, connecting to the patio. Naturally these are the places where their extended family—including Daryl’s adult children and triplet grandchildren—congregates on visits. 

The dining room, adjacent to the kitchen, is furnished with a large round table and high-back chairs lined in neutral Loro Piana cashmere. The other bedrooms and guest rooms—all designed by Dallas—occupy the lower level of the home, each with distinct features, like bathtubs dipped in chrome or a grouping of Lucite furniture.

The house fills every need for guests, says Dallas. “Here, everyone lounges in the morning,” she notes. “On winter days we go skiing and have a late lunch, or in the summer we’ll hike and then hang out by the pool. And at night, we used to always go out in town, but living here, everyone wants to be home. That’s what I love about this location, it brings us together.” 

The couple lives in Aspen for about three months of the year; the rest of their time is spent primarily in Texas. Daryl Snadon owns Beltway Development Company and Beltway Commercial Real Estate and some manufacturing interests. The McLain Flats home is the place where the Snadons can truly relax and take a deep breath. 

“The day we moved in, my daughter ran to the fishing ponds in the front of the house and looked back at me, as if to say, ‘Do we really get to live here?’ ” Dallas recalls. “I am so happy that I could say, ‘Yes.’ There is nothing in that house that was missed. This one turned out perfectly.”