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Getting the Best of Both Worlds

This Colorado getaway has mastered the yin-and-yang of superior design, with spaces that are equal parts relaxed and refined.

Written by Suzanna Logan
Photography by James Ray Spahn


Mary Blake knows it’s been a good weekend when she finds herself, vacuum in hand, ready to tackle the mounds of sand that have accumulated in her guest bathrooms. “I never thought I’d vacuum a shower, but the sand gets all over the place and once it dries, it’s the easiest way to do it,” she says, laughing. 

The culprit: seven grandkids and the beach built along the creek that runs a stone’s throw from her home’s back door. It’s the perfect spot for the young (and young at heart) to splash to their hearts’ content and try their luck at reeling in the abundance of trout practically begging to be caught. “It’s messy, but the kids love to play there,” says Mary.

This easy-going approach permeates the Colorado retreat that she shares with her husband, Jack, and the stream of family and friends that fill it on the constant. “This whole thing started with my husband going up to a summer camp above Crested Butte as a young boy,” shares Mary. “He did that for years, so he wanted to build something in the mountains and re-create that experience.”   

While maintaining a full-time residence in West Texas where they manage an oil and gas company, the Blakes searched for a spot to call their own in the Colorado Rockies. They eventually found a parcel on a 5,000-acre working ranch situated on crystal clear Ohio Creek with stunning views to the Anthracite Mountain Range. They teamed up with a trio of local talent: architect Daniel Murphy, brother-builders Steve and Paul Pike and designer Carolina Alling of Interni Design Studio

“I researched for quite some time. When I came to Dan, I  knew I wanted it to be as rustic as possible to fit into the surroundings and kind of disappear into the background,” shares Mary. Other musts included open spaces to comfortably gather and windows in abundance to deliver mountain vistas from the front of the house and creek views to the rear. 

With these parameters in mind, Daniel began to create a structure that looks as though it evolved naturally over time. “It’s additive architecture, so from the exterior, it looks like there was an original cabin that was added onto again and again,” he says. The house includes all the living areas you would expect, with the addition of special spaces, like a screened-in porch, boys’ and girls’ bunk rooms, a library and home office and a secret, kids-only “Narnia” room tucked behind a bedroom closet.

In keeping with its Old West aesthetic, the timber hybrid is constructed with late-19th-century, hand-hewn beams sourced from a tobacco mill out east, according to Steve. The hand-scribed beams with mortise-and-tenon joinery act as both structural components and accent details. The framing is standard 2-by-6 construction, but the distressed timbers take center stage throughout the home, from the scissor trusses in the great room and primary suite to the coffered ceilings in the guest bedroom. “The roof and all of the heavy timbers and truss work are 100 percent structural,” shares Steve.

Outside, the exterior features a veneered chink-and-plank siding, along with hand-hewn timbers with exterior dovetail corners that give off the appearance of a full timber-framed structure. The rustic materials reinforce the home’s sense of place, as does the layout. 

On the north side of the home, the primary suite is set away from the main living areas and is connected by what’s designed to look like a breezeway, emphasizing the expanded-over-time effect. “We started our design with the master suite, and the idea was that it was to be like the original cabin,” Daniel explains. “She wanted that area to be a destination.”

Designer Carolina echoes the sentiment: “On an architectural level, it’s a trip to get to that end of the house, so it feels like its own little oasis.” The space is layered with romantic touches from the stone fireplace to the crystal chandelier. A mohair headboard and delicate drapery fabrics soften the look. “The use of textiles was really key here,” she explains. “The whole vibe of the house reflects this elevated yet relaxed feel.” 

Throughout the interiors, “elevated” was Mary’s watchword, but finishes and furnishings had to be able to stand up to a bustling household, too. “Durable and beautiful were the criteria,” Mary says. The home’s prized chestnut floors, with some planks ringing in at 19 inches, set the stage for it all. “They stand up to kids and dogs,” she adds. “The more they’re used, the better they look.” 

On every wall not highlighted with wood, a hand-troweled American clay finish creates a subtle sense of texture that brings life to the walls, and, most importantly, blurs the scuffs. In the kitchen, the countertops’ surfaces are a mixture of leathered granite and butcher block, along with tumbled stone accents, lending a subtle, organic feel. “Because it’s not that shiny finish, it hides fingerprints,” says Mary. 

In the adjacent dining nook — a favorite spot for games and puzzles, as well as casual meals — wipeable faux-leather graces the banquette cushion, while the back rest is covered with a forgiving, Southwest-inspired Kravet fabric from the “Museum of New Mexico Collection.” Other notable pieces include a Fauld English Country-style dining set and artwork from artist Donna Howell-Sickels. 

Even with plenty of impressive pieces through the home that reinforce the refined style Mary was after, the house still gives off a casual, comfortable ambiance from the moment you step onto the front porch. For Mary, that’s mission accomplished. “We wanted everyone who comes here to relax and enjoy being here,” she says. “And that’s exactly what happens.”


Home Details

Square Footage: 6,600

Bedrooms: 6

Baths: 6 Full, 2 Half 

Builder: Pike Builders

Architect: Daniel J. Murphy, Architect PC

Designer: Interni Design Studio


See Also: A Hybrid Masterpiece From Meadow to Mountain

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