“I’ve been looking for land since I was in my mid-20s,” says two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank. “I find that nature is my happiest place, and animals are my other happiest place. And being with both of them is all me.”
Completing her new home in the wilderness of the southwestern Colorado mountains was a dream come true for the ABC star alaska daily newspaper, who is currently expecting twins with husband Philip Schneider. “We found this 168 hectare piece of land that was just magical. It just called to us and we couldn’t stop thinking about it. Great that we were in the middle of nature. We can’t see our neighbors, nobody around – we just had it [it all] exactly there.”
Swank’s desire was to build a dream home that is sustainable and blends in with nature. She wanted large windows that frame expansive mountain views and a place to grow their own food. She also made sure her rescued animals had space to roam freely.
“The dogs are allowed back inside after being outside in the mud and snow, to my great dismay,” says designer Mark Zeff, who has worked with Swank on four of their homes. (Their first New York brownstone was their initial collaboration, followed by a New York apartment, a house in LA, and now this Colorado retreat.) “The house is very honest and unpretentious,” Zeff continues. “There are a few frills, like a movie theater, but the way they live and the way the house is designed is very conducive to the connection they have with these dogs.”
Swank and Schneider found the land in 2016 and broke ground in July 2018. Flash forward almost two years later and the outbreak of Covid delayed the completion of the project. Finally, in August 2020, the couple moved into the finished home.
Ultimately, the home is a modern and beautiful example of sustainability, reclaimed materials, and eco-friendly upcycling—literally camouflaged in Colorado terrain. “We felt it was very important to use the country’s materials and be as sustainable as possible,” explains Swank. “[We got into] the floor, and [found] all this rock I mean, people pay thousands of dollars for this stone. And we were like, hey, let’s use this.”
Swank’s architects, Jodie and Bruce Wright of One Architects, Inc., found local stonework to construct the home’s stone walls. “They took each stone and put it on a stump and they [chiseled] it fits the next brick and the next brick and the next brick,” Swank recalls of the craftsman family. “Having your energy in that rock as the foundation of the house is a really beautiful feeling.”
This thoughtful intent informed the rest of the house. “One of the things I didn’t want to see was cars in the carport,” says Swank. “When you drive up and you look out the window and you see cars, it just pulls you out [the experience].” In order to maintain the emphasis on nature and to draw a continuous line into the house, the entrance area was designed with a rock wall. “It’s unexpected,” notes Swank. Zeff agrees: “We took a big step by using stone and incorporating that stone into the house concept…. So it’s almost like that stone wall has always been there and we built this new house around it.”