Photos by: David Patterson Photography
In the current landscape, we are asking more of our homes than ever before. We are all spending more time in our living rooms, cooking more meals in our kitchens and exploring our own backyards as new means for adventure.
For nearly two decades the Boatwrights had felt content in their home. In 2002, Tawnya and Michael Boatwright moved to Steamboat Springs from Texas. “We were seeking a smaller community and the opportunity to raise our two children in a ski town,” Tawyna recalls. Now with grown children and aging parents, they knew it was time to better accommodate their multigenerational family. Tawyna explains that her father uses a wheelchair, “so we really needed a single level, ADA accessible entry and amenities for when he visits.” Having room to expand the footprint of their home, the Boatwrights imagined a space beyond the walls of their now empty nest.
They decided to move forward in the summer of 2018 and hired Chancie Keenan, owner of local architecture firm, Mountain Architecture to draft a freestanding addition that would complement the shape and materials used on their current house. “We started with a very traditional design to replicate the existing architecture that Michael loved,” Keenan explains. “The design we ended up with is a little more modern in form, but does not block the sight lines to the creek from the primary residence.” Keenan carried over strong design elements to tie the two structures together like the metal knee braces and matching stone. The structure evolved to include a planted roof which is a favorite feature of the project for Keenan, housing indigenous plants that require minimal maintenance.
With exterior plans well under way, the Boatwrights started to consider their options for the interior. Although the 800 square-foot addition was a small project in size, they wanted to create a big impact for their parents and future guests. They consulted with Sierra Fallon, an interior designer with local design firm Rumor Designs to help with their vision. Fallon guided them through the design process from plumbing to patio furniture and as the structure took shape, they dubbed the project “the cabin”.
“The cabin became more of a retreat for the whole family,” Fallon reveals. “They wanted to capitalize on the use of their new addition for entertaining as well, so instead of traditional appliances, we designed a more practical gathering area with compact amenities like a SubZero 24″ wine fridge. Below that, two discrete yet spacious refrigerator drawers minimize the standard stainless steel finish and instead, showcase the gorgeous blue cabinetry. We tucked an icemaker within the island to create even more space, making the kitchen feel fresh and minimalist as guests filter through the area.”
Built just across from their main house on Butcherknife Creek, the structure was designed with one comfortable master suite, one master bath and a large outdoor patio to enjoy sounds of the trickling creek and a bustling downtown neighborhood. Tawnya explains her wishlist included “the blue cabinetry, a beautiful fireplace which turned out incredible, and a large patio area for outdoor dinner parties. Michael really wanted the look and feel to be mountain modern.” After a couple of architectural revisions to exclude a proposed loft and switching out some original tile selections, the final result was everything they had hoped for and more. “We are more inspired to entertain here,” Tawnya gushes. “We can put up friends for the night when they need it and our kids are already asking to use the cabin this winter when they’re home to ski.”
Just as the Boatwrights checked off the last of the punchlist with the builders and were getting ready to reveal the custom addition to their parents, COVID-19 swept across the globe restricting travel and enforcing safer-at-home orders for everyone across the country. “My parents have yet to see the cabin and are still unable to visit,” Tawnya says regretfully. Despite the unexpected events that followed the completion of their cabin, the Boatwrights felt grateful for the additional space throughout the summer months when we were all advised to stay close to home. “Luckily for our clients, the cabin is incredibly comfortable. Looking through the large three pane sliding patio door makes you feel like you’re in the middle of the woods rather than right in downtown Steamboat. It would be a great place to be stuck for a quarantine!” Fallon remarks.
“The living room practically doubles in size when the patio doors are open and everyone has enough room to feel comfortable with plenty of fresh air coming through,” Tawnya describes. The function and flow of the addition was not by accident. Prior to the current restrictions on gathering, Fallon had prioritized a spacious area for guests as well as ADA compliant spacing and amenities for Tawnya’s father. Fallon explains further that “the accessibility guidelines put a lot of extra work into such a small space. We had to ensure there was sufficient room to maneuver through the kitchen and to have streamlined paths from the interior to the exterior, as well as space in the master bath for wheelchair accessibility. I designed the bathroom to have a zero entry shower, meaning there is no curb, rather the bathroom tile continues seamlessly into the shower which doubles as a modern design detail while being wheelchair accessible.”
Styled with custom upholstered patio furniture and a large outdoor dining table, guests are kept comfortable for after dinner drinks and lawn games. Heated patio lamps allow everyone to enjoy the outdoors long into the evenings from spring to fall. Tawnya admits that although her ideal vision for entertaining has changed due to the pandemic, “we’ve already spent a lot of time on the patio this year, with a limited group of friends we see often. We are just so happy to have the extra space right now.”
Just like the Boatwrights, many of us have spent our summers enjoying the outdoors, but as the long winter months set in and we’re spending more time inside, the value of our homes will be appreciated. Our office, classrooms and makeshift gyms will absorb any extra space, and yet the roof over our head will remain the same, for now. If space limitations in your own home had you longing to move all together, the option to build on, up or out could bring you the additional space you crave.
With the start of a new ski season, all residents within the Yampa Valley are reminded why we choose to live here and what the true value of our home means to us.
Cassie enjoys sharing stories through her writing, in addition to the many outdoor activities that keep her happy to call the Yampa Valley home.