2023 RDAA | Custom on the Boards | Cemetery Residence | Tomecek Studio

When Residential Design first covered this work in progress four years ago, it was all systems go. Some costs for the building had come in a little high, which had the team working on value engineering a few key choices in the design. The vision for the project was compelling—to the clients, the firm, and this magazine: a rustic, spiritually connected off-the-grid home just a stone’s throw from an old cemetery in Salida, Colorado. Imagine thinking deeply about past lives and traditions, our current lives and how we might add meaning to them, and the next life that may await us—all in one project. 

The location, on a raised plateau in the valley with 360-degree mountain views, is incomparable and imbued with its own spiritual overtones. And the neighbors—well, they are quiet, if somewhat disquieting. The most recent burial, says architect Brad Tomecek, was likely in the 1990s, judging by the headstones, and there are still visitors to the site every now and then. Other burial markers, many of them splintered and worn wooden memorials, date back to the 1800s. The passage of time and the cycle of life are palpable there. 

These were among the elements that Brad and his team sought to synthesize into a home—one that would serve as a weekend getaway in the near term and eventually a retirement home. They hoped to channel the beauty of the natural surroundings and evoke a sense of what might await us in the next realm. The latter prompted deep research into burial traditions through the millennia.

As planned, the journey begins on the “terrestrial” main level, containing the kitchen, living, and dining areas, plus three bedrooms, then moves upward toward the “celestial” level, a loft with a creative studio and observation deck that takes in those 360-degree views—of the cemetery, the mountains, and the heavens.

Our jury called the house “very poetic,” yet also very appropriate to its place. “The architects thought a lot about the neighbors and the context. It really belongs in Salida. And, from the perspective of would you want to see the project get built, this gets our vote.” 

Conceived in 2019, the project went on hold during the pandemic, but Brad has not given up. “We were tracking to go into construction the summer of COVID. And it destroyed everything about clarity of scheduling, moving forward, the supply chain. And we’re still in limbo,” he says. “But there’s energy there and we’re hopeful. We’d really like to see it get built.”

Honor Award

Custom On The Boards

Tomecek Studio
Cemetery Residence
Salida, Colorado

Project Credits

Architect: Brad Tomecek, Tomecek Studio, Denver

Builder: Fish Builders, Salida, Colorado

Interior Designer: Tomecek Studio

Project Size: 1,657 square feet

Site Size: 10.8 acres

Renderings/photography: Tomecek Studio

Key Products

Cladding: Reclaimed local barnwood, Telluride Stone Co.

Countertops: Caesarstone

Decking: Cumaru

Door Hardware: Emtek

Kitchen Appliances: Fisher & Paykel

Lighting: WAC

Roofing: Bridger Steel Metal Standing Seam

Roof windows: VELUX

Spa: Diamond Spa

Thermal/Moisture Barrier: Zip System

Washer/Dryer: GE

Windows: Alpen