Mountain Art: A Post and Beam Home

High in the Rockies' San Juan Range, a post and beam home proves to be just as gorgeous as the art gracing its walls.
By Holly Smith | Photos by James Ray Spahn

Post and beam home in the mountains

Double-layered stucco and manufactured stone help this post and beam home blend into the Colorado countryside.

Lots of people choose artwork to complement their post and beam homes, but few choose a home to complement their artwork. So consider Mike Budai and Virginia Bellows to be among the few.

“We had originally set out to build a log home, and we looked at about 20 different log houses,” recalls Virginia, who comes from a family of artists. “I said to Mike, ‘This isn’t going to work for us. There’s not enough wall space for artwork. How about a post and beam timber frame home?’”

In 2000, after years of dreaming, the Ridgway, Colorado, couple finally opened the door to their dramatic 4,700-square-foot, three-bedroom, three-bath post and beam home. And when all was said and done, they’d achieved more than a place for their artwork—they’d created a true work of art.

“We lived in a lot of houses through the years,” says Mike, “and what we did was take the best of everything and put it together in this post and beam house plan.” Using home-design software—but no input from an architect—he and Virginia spent months conjuring their ideal home. The real trick, though, was finding the right builder to bring it to life.

Post and beam great room with stone fireplace and wood mantel

A striking manufactured-stone fireplace mingles with the white pine post and beam timbers in the great room. Mike says. “It’s like being inside a cathedral.”

Richard Krouse, owner of Maine-based Timber Frames by R. A. Krouse, was the right man for the job.

“All these big timber framers knew him, and no one had anything bad to say about him,” recalls Mike. After making their own sales pitches, “they always ended in, ‘Oh, yeah, Richard Krouse. He’s a real craftsman.’”

And his craftsmanship is apparent throughout Mike and Virginia’s Eastern white pine and red oak post and beam home. From the soaring 32-foot-high ceiling in the great room to the intricate timberwork, Richard’s wizardry shines. Still, like his clients, he was mindful of the fact that he was framing a real house for real people—so nowhere are the spaces gratuitous or overly showy. “I didn’t want big for the sake of big,” says Virginia. “Even in those big spaces, I wanted it to feel intimate. I wanted to feel the warmth of the wood.”

She and Mike, avid hikers both, also wanted their post and beam home to meld with the dazzling scenery—compliments of the Rocky Mountains’ San Juan Range—surrounding their 5 1/2-acre property. So when it came time to choose an interior palette, they looked no further than outside.

“What I tried to do was choose colors that we see out the windows,” says Virginia of the gray walls and green carpets. “We use our deck quite a bit, and we wanted everything to complement the natural surroundings.” And, as with pretty much everything else on their wish list, they got it. Whether it was gallery-worthy expanses for displaying their masterpieces or stunning-yet-snug nooks for hosting friends and family, Mike and Virginia realized their timber-home dream.

“When we have guests who’ve never been here and we take them on the tour, at the end of it, Mike and I say to each other, ’We just love this house!’ It’s an incredible place Rich built us,” says Virginia.

“It feels like we live in a beautiful piece of artwork.”



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