Michael Stokes’ family home is situated in some of the most beautiful nature you will ever set your eyes on.  Step outside and you are dwarfed by a perfect snow-capped mountain (can’t miss photograph below) and a grove of old-growth pines swaying in the winter breeze.  Nature, it seems, has even permeated his walls and crept into every nook and designed cranny of the home.  From the bear-fur bedspread, to the weathered wood floors, to the stone and even steel, with the unmistakable patina of nature + time written all over them.

We had the opportunity to have a conversation with Michael and his hearth designer, Eric Walden recently.  You could call this entire home a collaboration of designers, a passion project, or simply, an act of nature.



What originally attracted you to your fireplaces?

Michael Stokes (Homeowner):  “I liked the clean modern look, the realistic fire and the high quality media (logs).  Most fireplaces look like the flames shoot straight up. Element4 fireplaces had very realistic looking burning flames, even in the linear format. I discovered them for their linear models but when it came time to build our Breckenridge house we wanted a more square shape while maintaining a nice tall flame and clean design. ”

So you did quite a bit of shopping around?

Michael Stokes:  “I was looking for the right fireplace for quite a while. I went to the Las Vegas home show and saw all those fireplaces and didn’t like any of them which led me on a further search online.  In the end Element4 just had the best looking fires.”



In the master bedroom, Michael and Eric decided on the perfectly proportioned Modore 75H modern gas fireplace by Element4.  Living in the mountains of Colorado it’s only natural that Michael’s design sense draws from nature.  You can see this influence in the natural fur bedspread, weathered wood floors, and hand-picked tiles used to surround the modern fireplace.



Michael picked out these surround tiles long before he knew how the room would come together.  Looking at them up close you can’t help but think of spindling river currents or the way tree roots meander around solid stones in the soil.



Nothing to distract: The Modore 75H features our nearly-invisible anti-reflective glass.
Warning: Please fight the urge to stick marshmallows into the fire… there is actually glass there.



As you walked through the Stokes’ home you get a strong sense that the architecture itself has been loved and lived in.  It was as if even the floorboards had a story to tell.



Moving onto the living room you are greeted by a larger-than-life stone hearth featuring a Modore 100H modern gas fireplace by Element4.

“I would say my design style is ‘transitional’ – I like warm and inviting but with modern touches”

-Michael Stokes

I have to admit I wasn’t expecting the rusted steel I-beam mantle for this rural, alpine home, however, it just seemed to work so seamlessly.  Designer, Eric Walden from Distinctive Mantel Design, Inc worked with Michael on the entire façade.  When I asked him about the mantle, he smiled and called it his ‘industrial mountain feel.”


Stokes - Breck Living Room - Option 2.2

How was your customer service experience with Distinctive Mantel Design?

Michael Stokes:  “Our experience was excellent. Eric invited us into the showroom and even sketched up what the fireplace would look like in our space, we could move it up and down and we felt good about the proportions and materials. There was no lack of service; he was very responsive and helpful”

3D Rendering courtesy of Eric Walden



Good design is nothing without a skilled hand to pull it off.  The craftsmanship of this installation was impeccable.



Mr. Stokes’ “Transitional style” permeates throughout the house.  Natural materials blend seamlessly with mid-century modern accents and strategically positioned pops of color.



The Modore 100H by Element4 – With a tall, unobstructed viewing area and robust flames the 100H can be dressed up to an ultra-modern chic or relax into a traditional stone hearth with ease.

What does your fireplace add to this space?

Michael Stokes: “The fireplace adds a lot of warmth.  It’s convenient to turn on anytime and for us, it really ‘finishes’ the space. When we are getting ready to watch TV or a movie, we just click on the fireplace and now you feel settled in and ready to unwind.”



Breckenridge Bliss: A stunning mountain view from the Stokes’ home.

Posted by: Cory John Ploessl
Cory is the Marketing Manager for European Home.  He has an MFA in Sculpture from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston.  He writes about fireplaces and modern design on the European Home Blog.



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