Picture a Ralph Lauren advertisement tastefully juxtaposing the rustic with the refined and you’ve grasped the vibe of this enviable log cabin in the Vail Valley.
“The residences at the Minturn Racquet and Trout Club have an iconic Colorado look and feel,” says Betsy Edwards, a real estate broker with Slifer, Smith & Frampton.
“The location is dreamy, situated on Main Street in Minturn, at the confluence of Cross Creek and the Eagle River, the gateway to the Holy Cross Wilderness. Even if you don’t know this charming development by name, you’d notice it driving by on Highway 24,” Edwards says.
Though the milled log structures appear quintessentially Coloradan, the timbers were sourced in Europe.
“The 14 private cabins, condos and the clubhouse were designed by Honka, the world’s largest wooden home builder, and built with polar pine logs harvested near the Arctic Circle in Finland,” Edwards says.
A cabin, by the American Heritage Dictionary definition, is “a small, roughly built house or shelter.” This sophisticated mountain retreat is not small. Four bedrooms, three bathrooms and 3,800 square feet provide plenty of space for a Denver-based family that enjoys skiing, hiking and other alpine adventures, as well as entertaining. The structure’s craftsmanship is evident in the rough-hewn, honey-colored timbers and the decorative miters of ample window frames that let in natural light.
Yet the interior of this particular cabin hadn’t been spruced up for nearly 15 years. The arrangement of outdated, oversized furnishings cramped the style of the traditional cabin.
When Ramey Caulkins of Griffin Design Source received free rein to rethink the property’s interior, she took into consideration the wear and tear inevitably caused by clunky ski equipment and muddy hiking boots, as well as the family’s lifestyle with an emphasis on entertaining. She kept in mind a few concept guideposts—robustness, comfort and unique materials—and created the look and feel of a ski chalet.
“I had not ever worked on a log cabin before,” says Caulkins, who immediately took to the structure’s architecture. “I loved the open ceilings and sunlit rooms. One might expect a log cabin to be dark and I was surprised by how much light flowed throughout the home.”
What didn’t flow was the floor plan.
“I realized that I was going to have to delineate my own rooms,” Caulkins says. “Most of the first floor was an open floor plan. The client wished for plenty of seating room in the family room area. The dining area would need to accommodate all those people for dinner. I came up with banquette against the wall and end chairs. The long bench with the red cushion can be easily pushed under the table and kept out of the way when not in use.”
Without adding square footage, Caulkins reconfigured furnishings to create a more spacious layout conducive to entertaining. She enhanced the living room with swivel chairs that allow views of both the fireplace and—out the windows—the majestic peaks and buttes, Ponderosa pines and aspen trees. For après ski libations and cocktail parties, she added an antique bar cart and butler’s tray.
Caulkins’ design leveled up the cabin’s coziness.
“A cabin can feel quite cold. While visually warm in color, the logs are indeed dense and full of texture. The sheer quantity of wood was a bit daunting,” she says. “To me, it was important to layer textures in warm neutrals and to use materials that were practical for a large family for a home that was used recreationally.”
Caulkins warmed up the unpainted log and knotty pine paneled rooms with animal hides and colorful Persian rugs. She added window treatments made from vintage cotton toweling and, in one bathroom, a Native American weaving.
“The wonderful fringe on the end of the Indian blanket became the valance,” Caulkins says. “I love taking unexpected materials and re-imagining them.”
The designer accented the space with vintage ottomans, salvaged benches and antique accessories for an eclectic effect that invites relaxation and withstands wear and tear. Caulkins selected sturdy custom upholstery in a variety of textures including cherry-red leather, worsted wool, a Peter Dunham paisley indoor/outdoor fabric for chairs and velvet-linen for a modern sofa.
“I love a strie linen velvet. It wears like iron. In a home where there was a decent chance that a guest might plop down on the sofa in ski boots, I needed a fabric that was going to withstand the elements and still look great.”
Caulkins says the biggest challenge was moving furniture up and down the stairs.
“The staircases were narrower than one would expect, and making tight turns with huge log walls was quite a moment,” she says. “Window treatments were also a bit tricky. Each one measures just slightly different. The logs do not dictate perfection in measurement.”
To finish the project, Caulkins installed the family’s collection of paintings, drawings and photography. She says, “I simply hung the artwork throughout the house so that it made sense in the spaces.”
The result is a more functional cabin interior, fresh as the ever-present evergreen-scented breezes.
Griffin Design Source
147 S. Lafayette St.
Denver, CO 80209
Colleen Smith, an award-winning writer, is the author of Laid-Back Skier and Glass Halo, as well as the contest-winning screenplay Thin Places. A longtime contributor to Colorado Expression, she has published hundreds of articles in magazines, newspapers and online.
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