Dave recalls his first visit to the property where his family would eventually build their log home. “I made a few casts into the river, caught two rainbow trout and one brown,” he says. “I was hooked.”
Dave’s love of fishing and his family’s devotion to outdoor sports put them on the quest for a second home in the Rocky Mountain West. The family spent time visualizing a place where they could ride horseback across open pastures and drop a line in the water at their back door. At first, they set their sights on Jackson, Wyoming, where fishing on the Snake River is renowned, and the Western way of life is alive and well. But the right place had just not come along.
Then a friend called Dave and described an opportunity he had to purchase a large ranch in Colorado with the Eagle River running through it. The friend was inviting a few families to join in the venture. “Only a few days later, Michele and I flew out there to see for ourselves what the property had to offer,” Dave says.
The couple climbed on the backs of the ranch’s horses to explore the 10,000 acres of meadows, hills and riverfront. They discovered the place was everything they had hoped for.
Once the ranch was purchased, Dave and the partners set to work cleaning up the pastures, erecting horse fences, and building bridges, roads and a 48-stall riding arena. Each of the partners owns a minimum of 35 acres, but they have only a 5-acre envelope on which to build, thus allowing for open-space easements. Dave and Michele’s vision of being able to gallop freely across the countryside was becoming a reality.
So was the angling. “I have been fishing my whole life,” says Dave, “So the setting on the riverbank was a big draw for me.” There is so much life and activity along the river. The sound of wildlife—all types of animals come to its banks to drink, and the birds and ducks and squirrels chatter away—is ever present.
Conscientious of how their house would fit in with such surroundings, Dave and Michele decided on a log home. They contacted Alpine Log Homes of Victor, Montana, and Trends West Inc., the team that had constructed another home on the ranch. The couple preferred the Old West look and chose rustic-peeled logs. “Rustic peeling is a process whereby the rough outer bark is removed from the logs leaving much of the smooth inner bark intact,” Alpine’s Chris Bishop explains. “Logs with this aged look are becoming more and more popular with our customers.”
The family brought to the Alpine designers a list of criteria for their cabin. They wanted rooms to take in the red cliff and mountain vistas, the river flowing past the house and sunlight. Inside, they wanted a great kitchen, room to entertain and single-level living. “The design of the house was begun at Alpine,” says Dave. “With the basic floor plan and design finished, we turned to Jeff Terrell at RMT Architects for his input. It was Jeff’s idea, for example, to add the large columns and hefty stonework.”
While Dave conferred with Alpine, Trends West and Jeff Terrell on the construction aspects, Michele met with Mary Miller, the interior-design consultant for RMT. “Mary gave the cabin that comfortable, warm feeling we sought,” Michele points out.
The cabin’s 2,400 square feet are made to feel larger with the strategic use of windows and by opening the rooms to views in every direction. Another feature that makes the house seem more spacious is that there is almost as much square footage under roof on the outside as there is on the inside. Decks, a dining patio and walkways are not only under cover, but also have stone floors for a more finished look. Comfortable furnishings and dramatic chandeliers ensure that the outdoor spaces are truly rooms without walls.
The living room is the core of the house and open to the kitchen and dining nook. The moss-rock fireplace was purposefully placed in the corner of the living room so as not to obstruct the outdoor views. “On quiet evenings around the fireplace, we find things we haven’t talked about all year,” Michele says.
A dramatic copper-and-steel range hood is an eye-catcher in the U-shaped kitchen. The cabinets have a simple design, and a raised counter creates a highly functional workspace for the family that cooks together and enjoys entertaining. The ambience of the dining area is casual, yet the level of detail is captivating—the log pillars and windows form a graceful alcove. Daylight floods from two sides of the room and creates the effect of indoor-outdoor living.
More about this home ran in the magazine.