When my husband Jack and I first walked onto the farm, I had an overwhelming feeling of warmth and a profound sense of home. I looked at Jack and whispered, “this is it”. We had been house hunting for two years in Steamboat and after ten years in a condo on the ski hill, we were ready to expand. I knew that I did not want the mountain trophy house, I knew that I needed to be able to blast tunes without neighbor complaints and I knew that I needed wide open space. I wanted a place that my boys thought was cool, a place where we they could bring their buddies and eventually their families, a legacy property, if you will. I yearned to become part of the community that I had grown to love. As our older boys began their college life in Boulder, we were ready to put down some roots. What an opportunity we had found and it all began in 1915, when Oliver C. Bartholomew filed a homestead on this property, known as Cloverdale Farm.
When you enter the property the views are breathtaking. I have found that people in Steamboat have their favorite view: to some it’s the grand Flat Tops, to others it’s the skiers on Mt. Werner. Some enjoy seeing the picturesque cattle on the farmland, some the twinkling lights of the city on a clear night. At the farm, we have all of that and 360 degrees of the best views in Colorado. From turquoise sunsets in the West to warm alpenglow in the East, the heart of the south valley is where we call home.
When we purchased the 11-acre farm in 2015, the property had a newly remodeled turn of the century farmhouse, an old 1970’s bunkhouse, two large unkept outbuildings and a neglected barn. With my pioneer sense of adventure, I spent the next three years pouring my heart and soul into renovating Cloverdale farm back to its glory.
The farmhouse, with its authentic charm, triggers an innate need to nurture my family. The cobblestone entryway sets the tone of a time since past. Large hooks running across the shiplapped walls and a vintage bench welcome the guests. The kitschy sign that reads “Farm Fresh” sits above the farm sink in the simple, but high-end kitchen. The communal farm table with picnic benches is one of my beloved pieces. I furnished most of our home from Into the West, a local favorite. The living room is where all the history is. Three large, 100-year old windows grace this cozy space with the original fire stack centered perfectly in the middle of the room. From hours of talking to binging on episodes of South Park, the living room is the epicenter of the property. The master suite sits privately on the first floor. With white shiplap walls, a vintage wooden bed with white luxury linens and a white eye-catching eclectic chandelier hanging from the vaulted ceiling, the master bedroom is heavenly. The second floor is complete with two large bedrooms and a full-size bathroom. There are two fantastic barn wood queen beds with a large matching dresser in one room and a vintage iron bed in the other. All of the beds have hand woven wool blankets to keep my boys toasty at night in the winter. With Italian tile in all of the bathrooms, two Sub Zero refrigerators, oversized artwork, furnishings by Into the West, and the state-of-the-art sound system, the “farmhouse” is quite modern and luxurious. At this point, I felt my Colorado dream was complete.
But we discovered that the barn was very unsafe. At that time, we had a tenant who was leasing the barn and not only were the animals at risk, the farmer was too. Suddenly, I was faced with the challenge of restoring a beloved old barn in a town known for its iconic barns. Looking back, we were so concerned about how the community would receive our new barn and the overhaul to the property as a whole. I desperately wanted to keep with the landscape of the south valley and felt a great responsibility to the passersby and nearby residents. I am very symmetrical when I design and the original barn, in my opinion, was perfect. As I pondered the idea of a new barn on this historic property, it hit me: the solution was staring right at me.
Enter Vertical Arts. I met Brandt Vanderbosh of Vertical Arts a few years ago, loved his firm’s work and I knew they were right for the job. They listened very carefully to me and helped interpret my vision. It was extremely important to me to salvage as much as possible from the old barn. Half of the interior is clad with the old barn wood. The staircase to the loft is modern, made with steel and cable. Most importantly, I wanted the exterior to be “weathered” and Chris Fletcher from Vertical Arts introduced me to a product called Ghost Wood. I wanted the barn to be a balance of old and new, functional and hip, safe and cool. With my husband’s cherished 1970’s beer can collection proudly displayed in the rafters, we have a touch of our history in the barn too.
Enter JSM Builders. Who better to build this barn, than Jeremy MacGray and his crew. Jeremy and his wife Krysta rehabbed the farmhouse and I am grateful for their initial vision of the property. With the barn housing animals and a farming operation, function was most important. We have three heated stalls, a pass through for farming equipment, plumbing, a state-of-the-art wash basin and an awesome sound system wired by Imagine Technology Services. Most importantly, we have a party loft to host friends and family, listen to the Grateful Dead and drink tequila. With exterior sliding barn doors, the loft is the best spot in the South valley for après ski and sunsets.
As we finished the barn, sadly, we lost our tenant. With that, my attention turned to my next project: a dilapidated structure, or the “bunk house”. As a hobby designer, I was thrilled to get my hands on this. The structure prominently rests between the charming farmhouse and the new barn. Again, I decided to keep the footprint of the structure. When you do this, you get creative and unexpected detail arises. I turned the shack into an art studio, complete with lots of gallery wall space and an overall hip haute style. To create a cohesiveness between the structures, I used the style Ghost Wood siding and the same black metal standing seem roof as the main residence. At this point, Mike Kimmes and Brian Heit of JSM Builders were ready to go. With lots of Face Time meetings and onsite visits, the project was well underway. Luckily, I was able to capture a large space for a spa-like bathroom, with double shower heads in a gunmetal finish, a three-faucet trough sink and locally sourced tile throughout. It is the perfect retreat from the five men in my life, including our Berger Blanc Suisse Shepard, appropriately named Ghost.
When I proudly hung a tattered old American flag on the farmhouse, rescued from the original barn, I knew deep in my heart that the spirit of the American West is present in our home. To search, restore, rebuild, and pass down to the next generation is a true Steamboat blessing.