Bold Decisions Bring Great Happiness


Why We Came

By: Ash Kempton

In my first few months here, I received two bits of great advice that have stuck with me.

1) Get outside for one hour everyday during the winter months.
2) Be patient. Give this town two years and you’ll stay for a very long time.

These two bits of advice have held true to my happiness of living in Steamboat.

My husband, kids and I moved to Steamboat Springs on a whim in 2019. We needed a big change after living in the Denver area for about a decade. We had no real familiarity with this gorgeous place but we figured that we couldn’t go wrong. So we sold our home, packed up and headed West over the Divide.

I was very much one foot in, one foot out. I didn’t know if I would love this town; I actually thought we would move back to a large city after a year here. We had only visited Steamboat for a total of one day before we moved here. I had never even lived in a small town before so it was a big adjustment – especially when the pandemic hit just nine months after we moved. It made it difficult for us to establish strong friendships, not to mention careers.

But luckily, I am a personal trainer and can take my career anywhere while my husband Matt brought 10-plus years of roofing experience to town and established Steamboat Roofing Company LLC. With patience, we have created connections and over time, I have made friends with some of the kindest, present, and most thoughtful women that I’ve met in my adulthood.

Steamboat is a “ride or die” kind of town. Good or bad, this town shows up for its community.

Sick? Someone brings you a meal. Kid having a meltdown while skiing at the mountain? A Steamboat friend doesn’t judge; they simply intervene and take over. Another ten degree day in January? Go over to Blackmere for some physical activity and you’ll be met with so many others on the same mission despite the cold.

Two and a half years later, I am so thankful that we moved here. I don’t love winter. I don’t love the overcrowded grocery stores. But with every decision we make, there are pros and cons. Fortunately, my pros very much outweigh any con that I can conjure. The overall attitude, open mindedness, and natural beauty of Steamboat Springs makes me so happy to be raising my family here.

Why We Stay

By: Laura Soard

Steamboat Springs is an incredible place to live. It’s not an easy place to live, but maybe that’s why I like it so much. To live in Steamboat, and enjoy doing it, I’ve learned to embrace what makes the area unique and enjoy it for what it is, not dwell on what it isn’t.

I moved to Steamboat in 2002, lured by the beautiful scenery and recreation opportunities. Throughout the years, I have lived the Steamboat lifestyle through the vantage point of different life and economic stages. First, I was the twenty-something sharing a house with the maximum number of roommates allowed by law, then in debt over my head as a newlywed in a “garden-level” condo, a young parent making the most of the free events at the library and a professional doing my part to give back to this amazing community.

Yes, Steamboat is changing. Yes, Steamboat is growing. Is the pace of change greater than it has been in the past? I don’t know. But what I do know is that even with the pace of change we’re seeing I still wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

Something that has sustained me over the years when I see friends in other areas moving into new, beautiful homes for the cost of a local timeshare is the incredible, passionate community in the Yampa Valley. I am blessed with friends I met when I first moved here 20 years ago that still get together. I love seeing kids grow up in this community and soar to incredible heights. Seeing friends (or a moose) on the trail during a lunch ride, supporting neighbors’ businesses at the Farmer’s Market and witnessing complete strangers support each other in times of need all reflect the power of our local community character.

I believe it’s important to embrace change but invest in what you value. What I value about this community helps me decide where to volunteer my time. If you value housing, get involved in the Brown Ranch discussions. If you value trails, get involved with Routt County Riders or Friends of the Wilderness.

There are so many passionate people in this community and countless ways to invest in either the change or the preservation you want to see.

If you have a new neighbor (don’t we all?), show them our brand of western hospitality. Show them how we take care of our trails and help each other dig out the driveway berm left by our diligent snowplow drivers.

Living in Steamboat isn’t easy. It’s expensive. It’s remote. We make choices and sacrifices we wouldn’t have to make if we lived another place. We have seen friends and co-workers move away to find a more affordable lifestyle. And we have met new people that have moved here to take advantage of all the amazing things we love about this area. We can learn from both groups, reflecting on what we are losing and seeing the place we love through new, enthusiastic eyes.

Like the mountains and rivers, plants and animals around us, our area is a living, breathing place where growth and change are inevitable. What matters is how we choose to respond to it. If there comes a time when we find our lifestyle doesn’t fit or we come to resent the pace of change of the Yampa Valley, we’ll reconsider our options. But for now, my family will continue to live in the place we love and stay in Steamboat Springs.

By: Shannon Crow

Why We Came

My husband and I were newly married and excited to start our lives together in a place that would embody our collective adventurous spirit. We loved the idea of leaving the big city, having more access to nature and welcoming the change of pace that a small town brings. I had the opportunity to leave corporate America and partner with my mentors in opening a yoga studio, Out Here Yoga, to bring our brand of power yoga to the mountains. My husband Dos had recently launched his outdoor clothing brand, Karamojo, and was excited to bring his brand to a more adventurous and fitting home base. Needless to say, we jumped at the chance. We were married on April 29th, 2017 and made our move to Steamboat less than a month later.

What We Learned

Our time in the mountains as newlyweds and new business owners was humbling, inspiring and perhaps our greatest learning experience. We learned what it took to start and grow a successful business, and through the trials and errors that ensued, just how resilient and capable we were. We learned to embrace and respect nature and the environment more fully. We grew in our faith and belief in God’s infinite wisdom, grace and peace. We learned the power of belonging to a community – both by contributing to it and depending on it. The experiences and support we received from the communities of Out Here Yoga, Holy Name Catholic Church and The Rotary Club of Steamboat molded us into better people who were more willing to serve and see the greater whole. On March 21, 2019 we welcomed our son Dean into the world and awkwardly and lovingly discovered our way into parenthood. From our collective experience, we learned how much we value our family unit and our desire to preserve time for one another amidst the constant balancing act of work and life.

Why We Left

We had moved to Steamboat with the intention to make it our “forever home.” But in the spring of 2021, Dos received an opportunity to expand his company’s footprint to a new market area in San Antonio, Texas. Initially refusing the offer, we ultimately realized the potential to grow. With the offer, came the opportunity to build our family’s prosperity and security. While there was plenty to love about living in this amazing mountain town, our ability to thrive was hampered by constant financial stress.

Even with both of our businesses doing well, the rising costs of living in Steamboat paired with record inflation meant that we were perpetually breaking even and never truly getting ahead.

We struggled to save for Dean’s education and for our future.

We also found ourselves left with little time to spend together, between running two businesses coupled with our responsibilities as parents. But the San Antonio offer would allow us to work together as husband and wife once again. And so, after much thought, it became an offer we couldn’t refuse. The move to Texas brought us closer to extended family and has given us the opportunity to buy our first home, the flexibility to create our own schedules, and the ability to work together as a family and business.

Dos and I like to say we came to the mountains as kids and left as parents and adults, knowing more fully who we were, what we were capable of and what we valued. Steamboat Springs will always be part of us and above all, a place we feel connected to and at home. We will carry the magic of the mountains in our hearts wherever we go. Dos and I are forever grateful to the people of Steamboat and the collective experiences that helped us to grow, learn and prosper.

Shannon Crow still maintains her ownership in Out Here Yoga. Dos manages the San Antonio division of Initech Appraisals and continues to grow and develop Karamojo. Dean keeps the entire household on their toes 24/7. We look forward to returning to Steamboat often.






Water in the West


By: Sophie Dingle

“In the West, when you touch water, you touch everything,” US Representative Wayne Aspinall once said.

The famous remark of the politician who hailed from Colorado couldn’t be more true, both then and now.

Deep in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, the Yampa River originates in the Flat Tops Wilderness area, southwest of Steamboat Springs. It flows 250 miles West until it eventually meets up with the Green River, just five miles away from the Colorado Utah border.

In Steamboat, the Yampa River is the heart and soul of the community, its livelihood and its lifeblood.

As Lindsey Marlow, executive director of the local organization Friends of the Yampa, pointed out, “water is why communities are created in the West. Without it there is no population or ability to support one, so in short, water is community.”

Yampa River Kayaking
The multi-use river is perfect for kayaking, tubing, fishing and more. Image: Kent Vertrees

And we must protect our community. Currently, the biggest challenge facing the Yampa River is both simple and complex at the same time: lack of water.

“Water availability affects everything that is challenging to the river,” explained aquatics biologist Bill Atkinson. “When you have very low water, it impacts the fish – native fish and sport fish throughout the upper and middle basin, it affects the temperature which is directly related to flow and low flow means elevated temperature. It affects vegetation issues – whether environmental or agriculture – and it affects river closures. It all circles back to water availability.”

It also affects tourism and recreation for Steamboat locals and visitors alike. Between tubing, rafting, fishing, and swimming, the Yampa has been a constant source of recreation for this mountain town. And this year, the river has already been designated as over appropriated which means that there isn’t enough water in the system to meet existing demands.

The overarching issue of climate change often feels intangible and leaves us feeling hopeless as we pray for more snow each winter. As Nicole Seltzer, of the organization River Network, points out, “there’s probably not too much that the 20,000 people who live in Routt County can do to combat climate change so it’s more about how we adapt to it.”

Yampa River Scorecard Project
The new Yampa River Scorecard Project aims to identify problems and solutions in different areas of the river as well as educate the larger community on river issues in a fun, understandable way. Image: Kent Vertrees

With drought years increasing and the climate becoming warmer, the amount of available water in the community is changing and adaptation is necessary.

How do we work together? How do we have a mindset of giving a little and not taking? These are the questions that Marlow ponders each day in her work with Friends of the Yampa. The group was formed in 1981 with the bold mission to help protect and enhance the environmental and recreational integrity of the river. In addition to organizing river clean ups, educating on the river’s attributes, building river habitats and fundraising, the nonprofit is in the process of launching their new Yampa River Scorecard Project.

The innovative project seeks to include the community in river-related issues and management, teach river science – in a fun and friendly way – and ensure that the Yampa remains conserved and natural. It’s a necessary and bold idea to make sure that the community can use and enjoy the river for decades to come.

The Yampa River
The Yampa River is often called the heart and soul of Steamboat Springs and the lifeblood of the community. Image: Friends of the Yampa

“We cannot assure the future unless we track where we are and where we are going,” said Marlow.


The scorecard has three main goals: to serve as a source of long-term monitoring of the river’s conditions and track changes over time; to present data in a visually appealing and easily digestible way to foster engagement with the larger community and to provide a resource that helps inform future river management projects and decisions.

The first round of field work will take place this summer, focusing on the middle part of the river which flows from Hayden to Craig, and the report will be released at the beginning of next year.

“The community is becoming more aware and that is our goal,” said Marlow. “When more people are aware of the problem and prioritize addressing the problem, that knowledge and care is spread to others. We know that efforts and studies need to be communicated to the local and greater communities and they need to be conveyed with hope and respect.”

After all, Marlow points out, water brings so much more than being the keystone to the establishment of a community. A river provides health benefits – both physical and mental – as well as a gathering point or a place to slip away to for a quiet moment of reflection.

“Everything comes back to water – more water,” said Atkinson. “The river is the life blood of the community.”






Steamboat’s Bold Vision


By: Sophie Dingle

Imagine a town with everything you ever dreamed of.

It might have a thriving downtown scene with bustling restaurants, carefully curated art galleries and small boutiques with a local flair. It might lend to an active lifestyle with a winding trail system and a river flowing through for rafting, kayaking, and fishing. You might be looking for a house or a new job at any stage in life from newlywed to new family to newly retired. Or you might come for the skiing; after all, the ability to ski one of North America’s largest ski resorts would be right at the tips of your fingers.

Imagine all of this and then imagine Steamboat Springs; because this is the Steamboat of the future.

Downtown Steamboat Springs At Night
Change is inevitable and Steamboat has a bold vision for the future. Photo Credit: Noah Wetzel

This valley is one that is rich with history; in the late 1800s, James Crawford came to Steamboat and settled here. Over the next few decades, more settlers came and in 1900, the town was incorporated. The following century would bring bold growth in the form of new businesses, the railroad, the development of two ski mountains and a thriving community.

It was a bold endeavor to create a new community, and the spirit of those original pioneers has not been lost in the Yampa Valley. As Steamboat has slowly developed, changed and grown over the past century, community visionaries have contributed innovative and daring ideas that have shaped our community into what it is today – and what it will become in the future.

For a town that is known as “Ski Town USA,” it is impossible to overlook the role that Steamboat Resort plays in the Yampa Valley.

The original groundbreaking took place in 1958 and the first major expansion occurred just several years later in 1965 when Thunderhead Peak was developed. Throughout the years, the resort saw slow and steady growth as more trails were cleared and the area became known for its famous champagne powder.

Steamboat Resort Rendering
A re-imagined base area at Steamboat Resort will feature shops, bars and restaurants, and even an ice skating rink. Image: Steamboat Resort

More recently, momentum for the resort began to build in 2017 when Alterra Mountain Company came on as a parent company, said Loryn Duke who is the resort’s director of communications. Currently, the resort is undergoing a major, nearly $200 million renovation which includes changing ‘Gondola Square’ to ‘Steamboat Square’ – and transforming the space into an apres-ski plaza with shops, restaurants and even an ice rink – adding 650 acres of new terrain, incorporating a dedicated area for new skiers and the new ‘Wild Blue Gondola’ which is slated to be the longest gondola in North America and the fastest 10-person gondola in the country, whisking skiers the 3 miles from bottom to top in 13 minutes. When the renovations are finished, Steamboat Ski Resort will be the second largest in North America.

The main goal though, said Duke, is to not only improve the resort for all – locals and visitors alike – but to foster the relationship with the community.

Downtown Steamboat Springs
The long term goal for downtown Steamboat is to make sure that it stays vibrant, entertaining and welcoming for businesses, locals and visitors alike. Image: Steamboat Springs Chamber Staff

“Steamboat is a really unique resort,” she said. “The relationship with the community is very special. As we look to the future of what the resort can and should be, we always look to the community.”

The community and the resort are integrally tied together, and as the resort grows, Steamboat has seen steady growth as well. In the past decade, Steamboat’s population has increased by a little more than 10%. It’s a number that can feel large in a small, rural community. As more people move to Routt County – families who want to raise their children here, retirees who want a second home here, an influx of seasonal workers each winter – one of the most pressing issues is livability.

“Our market has definitely pivoted over the last two years as a result of the “Covid-bump” –  more location-neutral job opportunities – and an increased awareness of what an amazing place Steamboat Springs is to live,” said local agent Jim Walter of RE/MAX Partners. “Looking at 2021 over 2020, there was an increase in the average price for a single family home of 27% for downtown and 35% mountain-area properties, with an average of 25% county-wide. Over the last two years for residential property, compound appreciation has been about 49% for Routt County and approximately 63% for Steamboat Springs. This of course is tough for folks just entering or trying to enter the market.”

Downtown Steamboat Springs
With growth comes opportunity and making sure that locals can capitalize on that opportunity is an ongoing goal. Image: Steamboat Springs Chamber Staff

Last year, the town collectively exhaled when the Yampa Valley Housing Authority acquired the Brown Ranch, a 536-acre property that will eventually house multiple neighborhoods and a wide variety of housing options for locals.

“If you work in Steamboat, you should have an opportunity to live in Steamboat and that’s rapidly slipping away,” said Jason Peasley, executive director of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority. “Our vision is to work with partners to develop a significant supply of housing, especially for locals – people that work here – so that we can maintain that character of Steamboat that real people actually live here; you don’t have to come here with a trust fund to make it work.”

With the Brown Ranch property, as well as other properties that the Housing Authority owns, the goal in the near future is to provide a constant supply of housing for the local workforce and their families. But to make this vision a reality, says Peasley, it will take a lot of collaboration – in fact, it takes a whole community.

“We need to work together with everyone who has a stake in this – the city, the county, the school district – to make this a reality,” said Peasley. “It’s up to us to work with the community to figure out exactly what the vision looks like in their eyes so that we can go out and execute it to the best of our ability. It takes an entire community to make it happen.”

Community collaboration is one thing that most prominent organizations in Steamboat agree on. Along with the Housing Authority, the Steamboat Springs City Council and the Steamboat Springs Chamber are also focused on livability.

“For us, housing means figuring out what we can do with the land that the city already owns,” explained City Council President Robin Crossan. That land includes a piece of property in Barn Village, as well as land off 13th Street. Council members are exploring building dorm-style housing at the latter location that would be for seasonal workers – bus drivers in the winter, for example, and parks and rec staff in the summer. Without available and affordable housing, the city will struggle to find seasonal workers – workers who are more than a necessity in a resort town.

With the issue of livability comes the issue of transportation. Crossan, who also works at the airport in Hayden, spent one drive counting the number of cars driving from Steamboat to Hayden during one commute home and was surprised by the high volume. As Routt County continues to expand housing options into Oak Creek, Stagecoach, Yampa, Hayden and even a few miles west of downtown, a transportation master plan will be created and enacted in the next few years.

A hope, said Crossan, is a transportation system that connects all communities between Oak Creek and Craig together with a core trail, a possible light rail or a bus system to take cars off the road.

The ultimate goal, said Kara Stoller who is the executive director of the Steamboat Springs Chamber, is to see Routt County continue to be a place where a diverse business base can thrive and where people at all levels of employment can continue to live.

“If businesses are thriving, then they can provide meaningful employment to Steamboat residents,” she said. “We want to make sure that Steamboat is here for many generations to come, for everyone to enjoy.”

With that goal in mind, the Chamber has created a ‘Destination Masterplan’ which will be implemented over the course of the next few years and focuses – among many things – on messaging, shifting the timeframe for visitors and ensuring that visitor impact positively outweighs any negative impact. As is the case with any resort town, one challenge is maintaining the fine balance of life between tourists and locals.

When not on the mountain, most visitors can be found enjoying downtown Steamboat and taking advantage of all that it has to offer. Main Street Steamboat is the organization that works tirelessly to create a welcoming, Western atmosphere throughout the historic downtown area. And while these changes and upgrades often go unnoticed, they are prime examples of the bold vision the valley projects. Barrels filled with fresh flowers in the summer; trees lit with glittering lights all winter long; refurbished chairlifts provide unique seating along the Yampa River; bus stops designed to look like a mine shaft echo the town’s mining heritage – this is what Lisa Popovich, executive director of Main Street Steamboat, calls “the icing on the cake” –  small things that make a big difference to the ambiance and appeal of downtown Steamboat.

Ensuring that the downtown area stays vibrant, appealing and welcoming is the top priority for the organization, but they also have big plans for the future. On the agenda? Turning Yampa Street into an entertainment district, more street entertainment and cleaning up the alleys to better utilize the space they provide.

“I’d like to see our sense of community grow downtown,” said Popovich. “It’s where we demonstrate the heart of who we are.”

The heart of who we are though, it seems in speaking to different leaders in the community, is a welcoming town with a sense of pride around their history and a sense of hope for their future.

“In the next decade,” Crossan said, “it’s important to make sure that we don’t lose the fundamentals of who we are. We have good support systems and we come together to help others. It’s so good to see people in this community so involved and I think that’s unique to mountain towns; we have a hometown feel. We’re friendly and we make eye contact and say hello. That’s what puts a smile on your face every day. I’m very optimistic and hopeful about the future of the community.”

If bold is beautiful then Steamboat Springs has both: natural beauty paired with a bold vision for the future to create, maintain and foster positive changes for years to come.






Designer Tips: 8 Ways to Add Bold


By: Robin Campbell Designs . . Owner . Interior Designer . Design Consulting


Using large scale bold patterns in fabrics can be an easy and affordable way to add a striking look to your space. This can be incorporated in either pillows, an accent chair, or a couple ottomans. My favorite: take an old upholstered piece of furniture, perhaps handed down from a family member and add a bold modern pattern or color. Mixing old and new will add a feeling of fun and intrigue that no one else has.


Wallpaper has come a long way! It has the potential to add a bold impact and transform your room from just a room to a piece of art. With so many to choose from nowadays, I like to go with something that is unique and has a great pattern or mix of colors to make a statement. This is not to be used for every room, just the rooms that you really want to make an impression.


Experiment with textures and unusual materials. Stepping out of the box of common interior materials is bold no matter how you look at it. For example, barnwood walls became a huge accent item in mountain interiors, but we can go even further with this and use materials like metal, tile, stone, or even wire mesh to add interest and creativity. Utilizing uncommon materials like corrugated metal for your staircase wall has adventure written all over it. Getting creative with uncommon materials is bold and often becomes beautiful in a new way.


Add some color. It’s easy to do with paint which comes in every color imaginable. This can make an instant statement – just be careful not to go overboard. Sometimes, just a touch of color to accent a focal point is all you need. I recommend places like powder rooms, bedroom headboard walls, or accenting a niche. It’s the perfect way to go about being bold in a subtle way.


Use art. If painting walls is not your thing and you still want to keep it simple, but need an element of bold, art will be the winning ticket for you. In recent mountain modern design, we tend to focus on natural textures and calming white walls to highlight the finishes, but one bold piece of art or pottery, whether it is brightly colored or black and white can bring impact to your room instantly and quickly.


Try contrasting colors. Using opposite colors on the color wheel is where bold began. Contrasting colors is a fundamental element in design that has been used for centuries to create striking interiors. Contrasting colors like orange and blue, red and green, or yellow and purple can make an immediate statement, but be careful…you don’t want to make your home look like Santa’s closet! Carefully using different contrasting hues, like poinsettia red pillows on an evergreen sofa makes for a fearless designer combination.


Lighting is 70% of your interior design, and people notice your light fixtures almost as much as your furniture or wall color. This is an easy way to transform any space. Add a bold light fixture  such as a pendant in your foyer or a chandelier over your dining table.  Or try a few new pendants in your kitchen. Even one small item makes a world of difference. An oversized architectural standing lamp in the corner will make that corner go from drab to fab!


Unique, one-of-a-kind furniture pieces can make a bold impression when highlighted in the right place. Entryways, powder rooms, living rooms and bedrooms are all areas that often deserve a unique piece to make a big impact. Items like console tables, coffee tables, headboards, dining tables, and hall chests will be your best bet. Find a place where that stunning piece of furniture can stand alone and it will make anyone stop and think, WOW!



Creating beautiful interior spaces in a beautiful place, designing new builds, remodeled homes, condos, and commercial spaces in beautiful Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I’ve seen interior design change and develop throughout 17 years of study, practice and observation of best practices, professional standards, and what’s hot and what’s not. I create innovative interiors with a focus on timeless design and functionality. Interior design is my passion, and I am always looking to challenge myself to create the next best interior space.




Beautiful, Spa-Like Retreat Nestled on the Steamboat Prairie


Steamboat Springs attracts visitors from across the world who fall in love with the area and decide to make it home. This was the case for the homeowners of Flat Top Residence, a 7,300-square-foot modern masterpiece. Upon visiting Steamboat and throughout several other travels, the homeowners decided they wanted to build their own dream vacation in the mountains – one that would feel like a spa-like mountain retreat with sophisticated, high-level design at every turn.

By: Sarah Tiedeken O’Brien

Beautiful Retreat Living Room
The elemental materials and warm furnishings make the modern design feel homey

When they embarked on their construction project, what was outside the walls of their modern second home was just as important as its interior. They wanted to stretch the house out toward the view and really connect with the land. Situating the spa-like retreat in a grassy meadow with 360-degree views, the homeowners wanted their builder and architect team to invite the beauty of the valley below, Steamboat Ski Resort, Emerald Mountain, and Rabbit Ears Pass.

To begin, they enlisted the help of Vertical Arts Architecture and Shively Construction. Throughout the process, they worked closely together, eventually finding a site amidst a prairie field on historic ranchlands to ensure they could capitalize on the expansive views of several notable landmarks. In addition to the views, seclusion was of utmost importance and open prairie land provided the perfect opportunity for the ultimate private getaway.

Beautiful Retreat Exterior
The cantilever roof is used to create multiple outdoor living spaces to enjoy the views

Flat Top Residence’s strategic site orientation melds the home into the mountainous backdrop, providing privacy and creating an inimitable exterior silhouette. The retreat offers panoramic sweeping mountain vistas, bold stone walls, juxtaposing floor-to-ceiling windows, a Weiland door that opens up to the back patio that is almost 30’ x 10’, and beautiful outdoor living spaces that rival the interiors.

Extensive use of steel and glass, coupled with the flat roof, large rooms, and high ceilings that mix with a lot of rock and glass are, according to the Shively Construction team, the elements that really bring the homeowners’ vision, and uniqueness of the home, to life.

By working closely with the homeowners through the land selection process, the Vertical Arts and Shively Construction team were together able to ensure the home sat upon property that would give them every view from every direction. From there, they went to work on all the pieces that needed to happen to ensure no view was left obstructed.

The team carefully crafted the entryway to allow for an eye-catching Bocci light fixture to encompass both levels of the home

The layout of the home was crafted to be almost entirely on one level – a bold concept in a mountain home – with a split-level floor plan that accommodates a private living space for the owners’ daughter upstairs. Stone wall portals serve as thoughtful transitions between quarters while expansive windows and flush patios offer a seamless transition to outdoor living spaces.

To achieve the desired resort-like feel, Vertical Arts’ interiors team layered cool, elemental materials like Kansas Limestone, floor-to-ceiling glass, blackened steel, stained wood siding and hickory floors with abundant natural light, sleek finishes, textured wall coverings and streamlined furnishings to bring warmth to the space.

The main gathering spots are located in the center of the home. The great room offers numerous openings to the outdoors and strikes a balance between beauty and comfort. A lobby-inspired, three-sided Minotti sofa anchors the home’s focal living space with perfectly placed windows and open site lines that frame the valley view.

“It’s the extensive use of steel and large glass to capture the spectacular 360 degree views that makes this home bold,” says John Shively, owner of Shively Construction.

Floor to ceiling windows make any view even more spectacular, especially with the privacy of an open prairie surrounding.

“This project was unique in that it had windows that were flush with the ceiling and gave the appearance of glass all the way from the floor up to the ceiling,” says Brad Wright of Alan-Bradley Windows and Doors, who called the project ‘bold & beautiful’.

This great room is oriented to both the views and the kitchen, making it easy to converse with people preparing meals. The home also offers a lighting scheme – the owners of this home referred to lighting as the ‘jewelry’ of the home –  that strategically illuminates all areas of the home with minimal aesthetic impact alongside prominent, decorative pieces to brighten up the space.

Much of the primary furniture pieces are done in neutral tones, which establish an elegant, resort-like feel. The team also layered in fun touches like the blue sofa in the recreation room and the colorful pillows throughout to bring life to the space.

The glass-lined dwelling capitalizes on Colorado’s abundant natural light while featuring sleek, eye-catching fixtures that bring warmth, such as the framing of the entryway hanging light fixture so that it can cascade right down the middle of the stairwell.

Inspired by their world travels, the couple wanted their home to be a place where they could host family gatherings and make guests feel as though they were at an oasis in the mountains. Each of the four guest suites were designed with hospitality in mind and feature individual color palettes, luxurious, yet minimal furnishings, a coffee bar area, elegant baths and integrated lighting.


Unique touches include a historic photo from Tread of the Pioneers museum which hangs in the powder room; it  showcases the original family “binding grain” on the property circa 1915. he use of the color red is a fun accent in the bunk room, as the homeowners are from Nebraska.


Fireplaces tend to be the focal point of any room and this home has many of them, with the living room fireplace representing a bold undertaking. Shively Construction fabricated the fire box to make sure the clearances from combustibles were observed at all times, that venting was completed properly, and that the fireplace opening and all the stonework above were properly supported.

Steamboat-based Hot Stuff Hearth and Home worked with Shively Construction on all the fireplaces. “The main living room fireplace unit is probably the boldest fireplace we have worked on, definitely the most difficult to install and make operational,” say Jeff Harper, owner of Hot Stuff Hearth and Home.

On the exterior, the house complements its surroundings: the flat, cantilevered-roofed structure is strategically placed to provide privacy; the clean silhouette is elegant and awe-inspiring; inside, glass meets stone and wood-paneled walls throughout; priceless views draw the attention in every room, highlighting the rustic exterior, while glamorous and thoughtful interior details make this home entirely modern.

This pristine, timeless home on the prairie of Steamboat Springs is the result of smart design and years of hard work by a fully integrated team. With the house positioning on-site, driveway design, architectural character, landscape design, interior fixed finishes and furnishings all designed by one integrated Vertical Arts team, and an exceptional builder team to realize the vision, the results provided a cohesive, beautifully designed end-product. Though it may seem like a somewhat minimalist design, there is a lot of work that goes into creating that contemporary look. The result is so compelling that the homeowners make the long drive to their Colorado dream house frequently throughout the year.

Photography: David Patterson Photography



Architect & Design: Vertical Arts
Landscape Design: Vertical Arts
Builder: Shively Construction
Windows and Doors: Alan-Bradley Windows and Doors
Spa: Aqua Vita Spas
Decorative Light Fixtures: Vertical Arts / Stel House + Home
Insulation: Accurate Insulation


Fearless Design


By: Deirdre Pepin
Photography: David Patterson

Steamboat Springs has always been known for its alpine weather and outdoor recreation, its cowboys and ranches, and its simplicity and ease. Somehow, the town has managed to evolve over time without losing its authentic charm or identity. This is also the case with home design. We’re more than A-frame log homes with stained finish, chinking, and elk head trophy mounts—we’re sleek exteriors and modern finishes with pops of personality and practical touches making each home unique and functional.

Rumor Design Entryway
The front entrance is a statement and greets you on your next journey.

Four years ago, Lindsey Jamison and her family moved into their home just above downtown. Having lived the Marine Corps lifestyle comprised of 11 moves in 17 years, they were repeating a familiar and practiced pattern. For Lindsey, this transience became a personal comfort and professional power, and each home became a blank slate. She cultivated her own design aesthetic, one that’s bold and playful, tasteful and inviting.

The Jamisons loved their location and proximity to the schools, creeks, trails, and restaurants, and the 3,200 square foot floor plan with a full basement was perfect. But they needed an addition in front with a full-service mudroom to accommodate the family’s three active teens and two energetic dogs. They chose Mountain Architecture Design Group and Timberline Contracting to do the exterior remodel, including the new front porch, walkway, mudroom, and entryway.

Rumor Design Dining Room Table
Wallpapered ceiling and ping pong table dining remind us that there are no hard and fast rules for function and design.

From Mountain Architecture Design Group, Chancie Keenan, AIA, Principal Architect, LEED A.P., helped address drainage concerns and provided protection at the entry while adding elements of interest to the otherwise predictable front facade. “Using a flat roof allowed us to maintain a clerestory window above,” Chancie said, “which brings additional light into the interior of the home. The addition of board-formed concrete landscape walls helped define the entrance and give it the custom touch it was lacking.” On the walkway, they swapped out old stone for modern, hand-made concrete tile. They updated the exterior siding in a dramatic black shou sugi ban siding (charred wood) for a fresh look and installed a glass garage door for a contemporary quality.

Prior to the renovation, the utilitarian design of the Jamisons’ home was reminiscent of its era. Especially with Lindsey’s affinity for thinking outside the box, Chancie was able to achieve a more stylish curb appeal. While the construction project was undoubtedly functional, the design was purely for fun. When you enter the home, you walk into a story. It unfolds immediately, but it doesn’t rush you. Your eyes cover everything they see. The further you explore, the more you feel and experience. The home implores your senses and piques your curiosity.

Rumor Design Bedroom
When done right, bold colors, patterns, and shapes bring energy and comfort.

The bright orange front door opens to forest green cubbies and hooks for the kids’ gear on one side. Gray beehive hex tiles thread from the entryway floor and climb up a portion of the wall. A sliding glass barn door can readily tuck haphazard messes away. On the other side, the wall is covered with a large paper and grass cloth mural. It’s natural, adds a layer of texture, and makes a swift statement.

The entrance brings you straight into the open living area, where the hexagonal tiles end and the black stained hardwood begins. Pops of bright colors—a sunny yellow chair and abstract fuchsia wall art—stand out from the white walls and contrast the opposing black and white concrete tiles of the fireplace. The colors and shapes in this room are varied and distinct. But they’re not distracting, they’re cohesive.

Lindsey’s language is a combination of the abstract, the realistic, and the playful.

Flowing off to the side is the dining room which used to be walled off and formal. Now, it’s casual and defined by a Nuevo Living ping pong table flanked by a combination of pink chairs and black chairs. This table makes dining sleek, industrial, and unconventional.

The kitchen peels off from the dining room and keeps the fun, playful atmosphere. There’s no escaping the bright red 60s Big Chill fridge—it’s not your everyday kitchen appliance. “Everyone notices and likes it,” Lindsey says. “It’s a conversation starter and keeps things interesting.”

Rumor Designs Pool Table
With a VW Bus, pool table, and cow patterned carpet, the downstairs rec room is fun for all ages.

The lower kitchen cabinets are painted Benjamin Moore Polo Blue and the higher cabinets were torn out and replaced with open shelves. The Victorian Big Chill oven gives off a classic 40s look while the walnut island adds a 50s feel. The white quartz countertop extends all the way up to the ceiling and frames the hood. The kitchen perfectly illustrates Lindsey’s style: retro with an eclectic vibe.

“I’m not afraid to mix styles,” she says. “I love a modern chandelier, an antique table, and a vintage rug.”

Moving downstairs to the basement rec room, you confirm your suspicion that this family is free-spirited. One wall has a black and white mural of a Volkswagen Bus reminiscent of an earlier Steamboat. There’s an entertainment center, a basketball hoop, and a pool table. The Flor Square carpet is a black and white Mod Cow pattern. The oversized fluffy white sectional couch can be moved around in multiple configurations. It’s cool, functional, and dreamy cozy. This is where all teens want to be.

Rumor Design Bedroom
Steamboat dreams are made of vintage skis and cabin living.

The kids’ bedrooms all show similar signs of spunky, confident design. Henry’s room has a cabin feel to it, with wood on one wall and a deep naval blue paint on the others. The door is a neon lime green, and there are old skis on the ceiling telling stories of local lore. Betsy’s room is covered in bright floral wallpaper; it’s bold to match her personality. Gwyn has watercolor buffalo check wallpaper; it’s mountainous, traditional, and grounding. All three kids have antique wood desks that they went searching for and found together with Lindsey.

Throughout the home, Lindsey’s appreciation of art is apparent. Every piece makes you think and feel. Art can be an abstract accent for color or the thematic centerpiece. Some pieces are telltale signs of good living—a print of a woman smoking a cigar, invoking rich Afro-Cuban culture, and a Slim Aarons’ vintage print of old-school, upper-class skiing. The Johnny Cash Middle Finger photo from Folsom Prison covers an entire wall in the office. The prints in this home are pieces of a collective history.

Rumor Designs Kitchen
This eclectic kitchen highlights stylistic differences and brings together the synergy of decades past.

The Jamisons lived in their home throughout the entire remodel and redesign process, just as they have always done. That ability to live in long-term states of renovation for so many years shows just how bold Lindsey is. “You don’t ever have to be afraid,” she explains, “because you can always change things.” Her fearless and eclectic approach helps Lindsey stay happy (and busy) in Steamboat.

“Living in the mountains, it’s important to bring in colors and textiles. With all the leather and fur, you need to add elements that speak to the landscape.”

The upstairs bathroom is both simple with clean lines and modern with hypnotizing contrast.

As Partner and Lead Designer at Rumor Designs, Lindsey constantly creates and she also follows trends. She has inspiration pages and pins on Pinterest, but she’s careful with them. She puts her own spin on popular trends so she can stay relevant longer and avoid becoming cliched. Lindsey has a lot of learned and valuable knowledge about artful ideas, resources, and how-to’s, but she also has a lot of self-awareness. Very simply, she picks pieces and goes with ideas that make her happy. She’s not afraid of breaking the rules and she’s not afraid of forever. “Design is a representation of who you are, so the project is never really over.”

Deirdre Pepin is a freelance writer who has lived in Steamboat Springs for more than two decades and appreciates the personal and cultural aspects related to design and architecture.



Design: Rumor Designs
Entry + Exterior: Timberline Construction
Spacial Design: Mountain Architecture

Bold in The Yampa Valley


Styles and trends evolve over time and nowhere is this more apparent than with home design and decor. Here in the Yampa Valley, we’ve seen the concept of “bold” come into play in recent years as homeowners look to add bold accents, features and additions to their homes.

Going bold in the mountains is different than going bold in the city.

While mountain home design used to be that cabin feel with perfectly symmetrical angled roof lines, nature-inspired prints and maybe an antler chandelier or two, today, mountain town bold has become much different. From straight lines, flat roof tops, asymmetrical appeal, bright colors, floor to ceiling windows, subtle stone detail and daring accents, going bold in a mountain town has truly become much bolder.

See how local builders and designers have made a bold splash in the Yampa Valley.

Builder: Soda Mountain Construction
Design: Soda Mountain Construction
Photography: David Patterson Photography

Soda Mountain Indoor Pool
Photograph by: @davidpatterson (IG) ; Design & Construction by: #sodamountainconstruction

What is more bold than this scene inside your home? An above ground custom-built pool/spa with floor to ceiling glass with views of the ski area creates an obvious connection to the outdoors and takes this magnificent home to the next level.

Soda Mountain Staircase
Photograph by: @davidpatterson (IG) ; Design & Construction by: #sodamountainconstruction

Bold accents of natural light, an awe-inspiring hanging light fixture, and an artistic large custom front door create a grand foyer that displays a pure sense of entry.

Soda Mountain Fireplace
Photograph by: @davidpatterson (IG) ; Design & Construction by: #sodamountainconstruction

Acting as an anchor, this linear fireplace that creates division from the living room and dining room. The 40-foot-long curtain wall of lift and slide glass panels opens to an outdoor terrace creating indoor/outdoor living space. Going bold with the detail of a walnut ceiling, breathtaking views, and a modern fire feature creates an iconic vaulted space. Horizontal and vertical volume perfected.

Architect: KSA Architects
Builder: Shively Construction
Photography: Dan Tullos (Mountain Home Photography)

Home Exterior
Photograph by: @mtmhomephoto (IG) ; Design by: @kellyandstonearch (IG) ; Construction by: @shivelyconstructioninc

With the sounds of fish creek running alongside, accompanying views of the ski area, and with little distinction between the indoors and outdoors when the home is open, this home exemplifies how boldness and tranquility can unite.

Dueling outdoor fire features, a spiral staircase, variated roof lines, large windows and doors to the exterior, and massive boulders to create a natural landscape, and put this home in a class of its own in Barn Village.

Shively Construction Interior
Photograph by: @mtmhomephoto (IG) ; Design by: @kellyandstonearch (IG) ; Construction by: @shivelyconstructioninc

Where kitchen, dining, and living space unite.

A pocketed window wall system in the great room and the Bi-Part door in the dining room connect the exterior space to the interior space.  The keyed beam in the kitchen supporting two timber trusses in the great room  — (2)8×14 Douglas fir timbers that are stacked and keyed together with oak shear blocks allows the beams to work together and creates a beautiful decorative and structural beam in lieu of steel. Accents of waxed blackened hot rolled steel makes for a bold interior feature.


Builder: JSM Builders
Architect: Vertical Arts
Photography: David Patterson Photography

JSM interior windows
Photograph by: @davidpatterson (IG) ; Design by: @verticalartsarchitecture (IG); Construction by: @jsmbuilders (IG)

A vaulted open living space with floor to ceiling glass captures ski area views. Adding large wood beam accents with big game décor the space makes a statement.  All of these elements work together to create both openness and structure – creating a cozy, pristine living area.

JSM Interior Bathroom
Photograph by: @davidpatterson (IG) ; Design by: @verticalartsarchitecture (IG); Construction by: @jsmbuilders (IG)

Modern bathroom design highlighting full stone and tile walls make the perfect space to enjoy a soak in the freestanding bathtub.

Architect: Steamboat Architectural Associates
Interior Design: Rumor Designs
Photography: David Patterson Photography

Spa Interior
Photograph by: @davidpatterson (IG) ;Interior Design by: @rumordesigns (IG); Architecture by: @SteamboatArchitecturalAssociates (FB)

This serene space was a small nook carved out of an expansive home to create a thoughtful spot to relax and regroup.  It was created with a Japanese influence inspired by natural elements.  The bamboo flooring is complemented by the grasscloth wallpaper on the ceiling and the grassy filled panels on the back wall.  The striking acrylic panels by 3Form are stationary and the addition of back lighting gives a sense that the shoji-like doors can open and the room will keep going.  The shoji door look on the wall treatment mimics the shoji screen barn doors at the entrance which were made locally with real rice paper panels.  The barrel ceiling and soft up  lighting pus natural materials removes hard edges and allows positive vibrations to activate.  We love the detail and care given to this eye-catching, intimate space.

SAA Bathroom
Photograph by: @davidpatterson (IG) ; Interior Design by: @rumordesigns (IG); Architecture by: @SteamboatArchitecturalAssociates (FB)

This primary bath is a classic retreat.  The best way to design a modern home with traditional appeal is often through contemporary lighting and soft transitional shapes.  The freestanding slipper tub is complimented by the subtle twisted shape of the Brizo tub filler.  The curbless shower entry allows the soft travertine floors to flow uninterrupted into the bath area creating a more open feel.  The coffered ceiling is an outstanding feature and defines the area in front of the vanities with a soft uplit glow.  The crystal chandelier reflects and sparkles with timeless elegance while crystal sconces on the mirrors compliment the chandelier.

Window/Folding Walls: Zola Windows
Builder: JSM Builders
Architect: Vertical Arts
Photo: David Patterson Photography

BreezePanel™ Folding Walls in All Aluminum
BreezePanel™ Folding Walls in All Aluminum. Photograph by: @davidpatterson (IG) ; Design by: @verticalartsarchitecture (IG); Construction by: @jsmbuilders (IG) ; Window/Folding Walls by: @zolawindows (IG)

Farmhouse aesthetics meet sleek all Aluminum doors and windows with stunning and practical results. The All Aluminum BreezePanel can open fully to seamlessly integrate the outdoor deck with the indoor living area.  Whether viewing Winter Carnival fireworks behind cozy glass in the Winter or experiencing the Fourth of July show through the room-width opening in the Summer, this home is a bold and beautiful example of design that provides both form and function.

Windows/Doors: Zola Windows
Photo: Tim Murphy

Photograph by: Tim Murphy; Windows/Folding Walls by: @zolawindows (IG)

Placing a bathtub next to a massive floor-to-ceiling window in Steamboat certainly seems bold.  Especially if you plan to take a bath during the Winter’s double-digit negative temperatures. However, the large ZNC™ windows’ triple glazing and extra insulation have potential bathers covered.  Overall window performance results in R-10, making Passive House performance possible for the generously-glazed home. In fact, the energy of just 2 or 3 hair dryers can heat the 4,500 square foot home, even on a frigid, minus 30 degree night. This physical warmth of the home is accentuated by the visual warmth of the windows’ interior wood frames, showing how Zola’s clad wood windows can help make modern design cozy.



Soda Mountain Construction + Design
KSA Architects
Shively Construction
Steamboat Architectural Associates
Rumor Designs
JSM Builders
Zola Windows
Vertical Arts Architecture


Mountain Modern is Calling


The mountains were calling and the Wintermans answered. Their custom mountain modern home was built as a reflection of the bold and beautiful surroundings in one of Steamboat’s most idyllic neighborhoods.
By: Cassie Crooke

Winterman Exterior
Family and friends enjoy multiple gathering areas, all with the picturesque views from Mount Werner to downtown Steamboat Springs

Those seeking a place to call home in the Fish Creek Falls neighborhood are drawn to the area for a common reason: built-in bold and beautiful views. Centrally located between Mount Werner and downtown Steamboat Springs, residents of the Fish Creek Falls neighborhood enjoy views from every direction. Another neighborhood perk is the short drive to its namesake: Fish Creek Falls, an iconic, year-round attraction for visitors and residents from across the Yampa Valley.

The eclectic style of homes that make up this mature neighborhood vary from 20 to 30 years of building and development. The architectural styles range from single-family cottage-style builds to condos, townhomes, and luxury homes hidden on larger lots. In this well-established, family-friendly neighborhood, a few undeveloped lots can still be found for the opportunity to build in any style of architecture while adding to the character and charm of the neighborhood.

Paul and Pam Winterman secured one of these rare gems, a single vacant corner lot, where they built their forever home. After planning year-round trips to Steamboat Springs over the past 25 years and raising their kids to enjoy seasonal activities, their retirement plan came to life as the “Yampa Valley Curse” set in.

“We spent three summers looking at homes and lots. We considered other locations, but kept coming back to Steamboat,” Pam explains.

“Pam loves the feeling of coming over Rabbit Ears and descending into our beautiful valley,” adds Paul.

Winterman Interior Livingroom
The team set forth designing a rustic home with floor-to-ceiling windows in all the main living spaces, marrying the rugged scenery with the home’s warm and welcoming interior.

Confidently Bold

The couple actively sought a mountain modern design, which was a vast departure from the traditional 1950’s ranch they left behind in Kansas City. The Wintermans drove around several Steamboat neighborhoods to identify this style of home and chatted with local homeowners about recommendations for an architectural firm. The legwork they put in led them to meet with Erik Lobeck, Principal Owner and Architect at WorkshopL, an established and progressive architectural firm in Steamboat Springs. Lobeck reviewed the Winterman’s homesite and recalled feeling good about how the corner lot would contribute to a greater presence of the structure while still fitting in with the sloped landscape.

Mountain modern architecture has grown in popularity because it is an energy efficient solution to building structures that function effectively in seasonal climates like ours. When Steamboat’s first residents settled in the valley, they constructed log cabin-style homes that were cave-like retreats for our long winters with short periods of daylight. However, even as this building style evolved, its heavy, dark, and inefficient features proved less desirable for the contemporary home dweller. Mountain modern design blends the rustic and natural elements of the surrounding landscape with modern efficiencies in a clean, simple aesthetic. With big windows, neutral finishes, organic textures, and soft, bright colors, the mountain modern home is considered a healthy environment that contributes to a homeowner’s overall wellbeing.

Winterman Kitchen Interior
The couple selected the blue kitchen island pendants and used the accent as a color scheme for other small touches.

“The most cost effective approach for this lot was the single pitch structure,” Lobeck explains. “This was the starting point for our design.”

With the bold, yet simple, angular exterior approved by the Wintermans, Lobeck worked with Alpenglow Engineering Solutions to create the interior of the home. After brainstorming an alternative approach, the final drawings incorporated inverted trusses that became a unique feature of the interior.

“Typical roof trusses are triangular with v-shaped peaks. When inverted, they provide a different effect,” Lobeck explains.

The various ceiling slopes were further emphasized with accent lighting and added warmth through a wood panel design that extends from the interior to the exterior soffits. With additional wood left over from the ceiling application, a complimentary accent wall was installed opposite the front door, defining a warm, welcoming sense of entry.

Winterman Interior Windows
High-quality, triple pane windows optimize efficiency and allow for unobstructed views in every direction

In classic modern home design where bold color is used sparingly, the Wintermans confidently added pops of color where they could. Stemming from inspiration found in a lighting catalog, the Wintermans selected the blue kitchen island pendants and used the accent as a color scheme for other small touches. The vibrant blue kitchen backsplash, blue cabinetry in the primary bath, and a stylized blue marbled wallpaper in the powder room add personality and interest around every corner.

“For us, it was a bold choice to go with all white painted walls, especially since we have pets,” Pam notes. The couple has implemented additional color through artwork and rugs sourced locally and from their home in Kansas City and they have plans to layer in additional pieces as they come across them.

Winterman Bathroom
Blue cabinetry in the primary bath pops with personality against the white walls and tile.

Built-in Beauty

Modern home design is hallmarked by brightness and openness, making the expansive windows and glass doors a critical design element of this Steamboat home. For that reason, the entire structure was built as efficiently as possible. New Mountain Builders of Steamboat Springs installed a high-quality, triple pane window package, air-tight wall and roof insulation, and other sustainable features that optimize the lifetime of the structure. The home also utilizes energy recovery ventilators, a system that uses less energy to transfer heat and moisture between incoming and outgoing airstreams and significantly reduces heating and cooling costs.

“There is much more under the surface of this home than meets the eye,” Scott Kemp, owner of New Mountain Builders points out. “Clean, simple looking modern design actually takes more effort to execute than conventional architectural types.”

Clean lines and an open floor plan define the single level living off the main entrance. The functional rooms in this space include; the kitchen, dining area, great room, owner’s suite, laundry room, and garage. The stairs leading down to the lower level include additional bedrooms, a recreation room, and a spacious storage room. The storage area provides plenty of room for all of the gear a Steamboat lifestyle requires: skis, snowboards, hiking packs, fishing rods, and other seasonal outdoor equipment.

Winterman Exterior
Local moose enjoy columnar aspens and other shrubs as an afternoon snack on an average Steamboat day

“We love to ski, hike and fly fish. There is nothing better than loading up our labrador retrievers and heading out for a great hike combined with some fishing,” Paul says.

The Wintermans also added a secondary, smaller living unit as a long-term tenant suite for local renters. “This is a true Steamboat house, with primary living on the main level, and plenty of space to accommodate guests and kids and nothing over-the-top,” Lobeck adds.

Winterman Hallway
A complimentary accent wall was installed opposite the front door, defining a warm, welcoming sense of entry

Coming Home

Despite considerable challenges, including a shortage in construction labor and building supplies during the height of the global pandemic, all parties involved reflect on the success in completing the Winterman’s new mountain modern home. “This project brought together ideals of architecture, skills of construction, needs and desires of the homeowners, and the realities of budgets in a way that is rare in the valley,” Kemp states.

During the day, this one-of-a-kind structure will catch your eye with its luxurious simplicity. Gazing past the home into the valley, a natural stillness sets in. The local moose have already adjusted around the new structure, enjoying the columnar aspens and other shrubs as an afternoon snack on an average Steamboat day. At night the subtle exterior lighting softly highlights the architectural features without emitting light pollution or drawing additional attention. Outside of the home, family and friends enjoy multiple gathering areas, all with the picturesque views that were built-in from the start. The Wintermans answered a calling to the mountains of Steamboat Springs, and they are so grateful to be living out the next chapter of their story in their bold and beautiful, mountain modern home.

Winterman Exterior Night
Big windows, neutral finishes, organic textures, and soft, bright colors, define mountain modern home design.

Photography: Tim Murphy



Architect: WorkshopL
Engineer: Alpenglow Engineering Solutions
Builder: New Mountain Builders
Landscaper: Flora Distinctive Landscapes
Cabinetry: Alpine Design Kitchens
Stone & Stucco: RAMS Masonry
Roofers: High Point Roofing
Electric: Steamboat Electric
Insulation: Accurate Insulation
Concrete: Pour Boys Concrete
Plumbers: Downhill Plumbing
HVAC: FinsTin

Designing for Larger Spaces: Proportion is Key


In a recent project at Marabou Ranch, the Rumor team took a design-driven approach to space planning, creating an experience within each furniture arrangement. Lead designer and partner at Rumor Design + reDesign, Valerie Stafford, shares four design tips that might surprise you.  

Design Tip #1:

Use an appropriate sized area rug, positioned partially underneath the furniture to create a defined space that isn’t anchored by the rug alone.

Design Tip #2:

Instead of the expected coffee table, try an ottoman with a sofa tray table for a cozier feel with function.

Design Tip #3:

Select statement lighting using larger fixtures to bring the ceilings and focal point to the center of the room, which detracts from a cavernous feel.

Design Tip #4:

A chair-and-a-half with a modern silhouette, color and textured upholstery will fill the space without feeling bulky and too traditional. A singular accent lumbar pillow compliments these furniture pieces by keeping the overall look and feel minimalist, even in a grand setting.

Photography by David Patterson | Rumor Design Project: Marabou Ranch

Ad for Rumor + Design

Windows to the World

photo of bedroom
One of Florian’s goals was to give the illusion of being outside even during cold winter months.

It is only natural that Florian Speier, founder of Zola Windows, would design a house for his family with one side made up nearly entirely of windows. In 2015, when he found the perfect plot of land on Amethyst Drive that had stunning views and a close proximity to downtown Steamboat, that’s exactly what he did.

Florian, a Swiss-trained German architect, designed the house himself; although he doesn’t do much design work anymore since he founded Zola Windows in 2010 when he couldn’t find American windows that met the performance needs of his projects. Specializing in custom-made windows and doors for high-performance and luxury homes, Zola’s windows and doors are custom-crafted in Europe and shipped to the United States.

photo of deck
Floor to ceiling windows in many of the rooms offer sweeping valley views.

For his own creation, he envisioned a house with floor to ceiling windows, essentially creating a wall of glass.

All of the windows are from the Zola No Compromise system. They are handcrafted from African Sapele wood and have a one and a quarter inch structural foam layer sandwiched between the wood frame and the aluminum rainscreen cladding. The glass is triple glazed with an altitude compensated gas fill and is tempered and laminated, giving full UV protection.

In this particular house, most of these windows are south and southwest facing which provides warmth in the winter; they also face in the correct direction for both views and privacy on this lot.

The home is built to passive house standards, actually exceeding the current standards by 20%. The walls are close to 14 inches thick, 12 of which are wood fiber insulation. Insulation made from recycled foam helps keep the heat in during the cold winter months.

“Windows like this are really only possible if you use high performing windows that are triple glazed,” said Florian. “With these, you can stand right in front of the glass on a -30 degree day and not feel the cold.”

And while any house can be designed as a passive house, with Steamboat’s harsh climate, houses do need to take solar gains from windows. Bigger windows tend to be more efficient with this, as illustrated in Florian’s own home.

photo of deck
While the outdoor views on the house are stunning, the large windows allow for the interior and exterior to seamlessly blend together.

The windows each have an automated shade that can be drawn for added privacy or to keep cool air inside during the hot summer months, while still allowing light to filter through.

The house was designed to integrate the outdoors and indoors together, blurring the lines between interior and exterior.

It was designed with a 45-degree bend in the middle to give the illusion of more space and to make better use of the space on the lot. It also served to create a better flow for the main living space.

“I highly appreciate when you see another part of the building from the inside,” he explained. “Seeing both the inside and outside of the house when living in it feels very grounding to me. It really gives you a sense of place and space.”

The design began around the kitchen, which Florian describes as “the hub of the home.”

The open concept room features a large island and flows seamlessly into the living and dining room. A 48-foot sliding door system opens out onto the deck, again blending the inside out. The door wraps, post-less, around the 45-degree bend in the house – a key part of the design idea as the eye takes in the deck on the outside and the body feels the room and deck together as one large, rectangular space.

Wall to wall windows in the bedrooms give the illusion of being outside, and each room was designed with a deck bridging the space between interior and exterior.

photo of bedroom
One of Florian’s goals was to give the illusion of being outside even during cold winter months.

“The deck becomes a natural part of the form of the room,” says Florian. “In the months when it’s too cold to open everything, the decks visually become a continuation of the room and make it feel much bigger.”

Teak ceilings are the same material as the overhang of the roof – all designed to give the impression that the room extends to the outdoors. 

The two-story master wing looks out over Butcherknife Creek, giving a rural feeling of privacy even though the house is central to downtown.

And while clean lines and sleek fixtures lend to the modern image of the home – one of the more modern homes in Routt County – warm materials, such as European oak floors, give the interior a cozy feel. The walls are painted white with a German matte paint to show off a play of light and shadow, adding to the complexity and layers of the home.

photo of deck
The windows, which are all from the Zola No Compromise system, feature glass that is triple glazed with an altitude compensated gas fill and is tempered and laminated, giving full UV protection.

Because of Florian’s belief that windows can be an artistic work of beautiful craftmanship, they add to the feeling of warmth in the home.

While his clients often specify that they want their windows to disappear into the house and just “be glass,” he chooses to embrace the windows instead. Forgoing typical materials like metal and aluminum, he chose wood for his own frames to contribute to the feeling of coziness throughout the house.

“The house combines everything that we believe in about construction in terms of design, energy efficiency, sustainability and great living,” said Florian. “In the winter, being indoors needs to be fun and joyful. We want to feel like we’re outside even when we can’t go outside.”

zola windows ad

Photos: Tim Murphy


Windows: Zola Windows
Builder: Garcia Construction
Carpentry: Superior Carpentry
Electric: Ryan Murphy Electric


Taking in the Views at Twenty Mile Ranch

photo of exterior of home
The rustic-style home fits into the surrounding rugged landscape.

Steamboat Springs boasts some of Colorado’s most awe-inspiring views, but reaching the most striking among them sometimes requires a bit of a hike. That’s exactly how Michael and Lori Kimble reached the hilltop view that inspired their dream home. The vision began with a simple hike on their recently purchased land. Then another. Then, the Kimbles set up a bench and firepit to take in the sweeping vistas and stunning sunsets over the valley and nearby Emerald Mountain and began envisioning their new home. 

“We wanted our home to feel solid yet cozy and be made up of materials that are synonymous with nature, like stone and wood,” Michael Kimble said.

To bring their vision to life – a craftsman home that hugged the hillside – they hired contractor JSM Builders and Vertical Arts Architecture. Planning to spend as much time outside the home as inside, the couple expressed their desire to make their outdoor living areas just as comfortable and useful as the interior space.

photo of front door
Stonework seamlessly blends indoor and outdoor spaces as seen here in the welcoming entryway.

The team set forth designing a rustic home with floor-to-ceiling windows in all the main living spaces, marrying the rugged scenery with the home’s warm and welcoming interior. 

“We were able to pinpoint the precise views they wanted to see when entering the home and enjoying their outdoor spaces,” said architect and interior designer Sarah Teideken O’Brien. “From there, we strategically oriented the home on the site to make it happen.”

It was no easy feat. The first step was installing a 900-foot-long driveway that gains 80 feet of elevation as it reaches the top of the ridge. This allowed the home’s placement on the edge of the knoll with a gentle arch shape opening to unimpeded 360-degree views.

“Our home’s deliberate placement allows us to enjoy the great outdoors with phenomenal panoramic views of the Flat Top mountains, Hahn’s Peak and more,” Lori Kimble said.

photo of home and fall colors
The home’s gentle arch shape wraps around the knoll it’s perched upon.

As for outdoor access, Vertical Arts created multiple spaces to capitalize on the stunning scenery. The primary patio off of the dining room houses a covered outdoor dining area and a grill with spectacular views, while a private deck off of the office provides a bird’s eye view of the surrounding peaks and landscape below. A smaller patio located off of the kitchen on the home leeward’s side offers a sheltered oasis to enjoy the sun and fresh air, even on windy days. 

photo of bathroom
The warm and smooth colors and materials in the main bathroom create an airy feeling, which opens up to a private patio and hot tub.

“We spend nearly every evening outside watching the sky change colors, spotting wildlife and listening to the sounds of nature,” Michael said.

Located right off of the main bathroom and connected bedroom, Aqua Vita Spas installed an outdoor spa that is situated perfectly for stargazing.

“The tranquil setting and views from the spa really encapsulate the Yampa Valley lifestyle,” said Aqua Vita Spas general manager Victor Puleo.

Inside the home, the couple desired just as many inviting spaces to access year-round views of their natural surroundings.

From the front door, the functional design allows a clear sight line through the entire home, with views to the west. The large windows in the main living space prominently feature a sweeping view of the valley while the fireplace anchors the room and bold ceiling truss work draws the eye upward. 

The interior design team integrated roller shades into window frames to provide the perks of curtains and blinds without bulky hardware  blocking the views.

Intentionally omitting upper cabinets in the kitchen created a simple and elegant flow through the main gathering areas while the nearby dining room’s specialty floor-to-ceiling glass doors open up to the patio, providing the sensation of being outside. To round out the home, according to JSM Builders, one of its most unique features are the three-sided windows in the office space which offers an unrivaled vantage point of the sprawling views.  

“We open the windows and doors throughout the home both to let the fresh air in and to help regulate temperature. It’s like being in nature when you’re inside the home,” Lori said.

The couple loves the blend of natural materials and believes the Vertical Arts team perfectly balanced the use of stone, wood, glass and steel.

They were especially impressed with JSM Builders’ high-quality craftsmanship and stonework throughout the home. The gorgeous natural stone seamlessly flows from outside to inside the home and the abundance of natural light paired with its warm color palette instills a distinctive feeling of coziness. 

“The use of stone makes the home feel sturdy. It’s like the stone was already there and the glass, wood and steel was built around it,” Mike said.

The interior design captures the abundant natural light, pairing a clean, streamlined layout with more rustic features, such as wooden beams and iron and bronze light fixtures. Modern, flat-paneled cabinetry in the kitchen made from reclaimed wood serves as an appliance wall for a cohesive look.

photo of 2 chair by windows
Floor-to-ceiling windows allow the homeowners to enjoy views of Emerald Mountain and the valley below.

The private main bedroom and bathroom suite, located across a small bridge, also ranks among the home’s most standout features.

Attached to the rest of the house with a lovely foyer that serves as a waypoint with its own television, library, and double-sided fireplace, the main bedroom is a sanctuary of peace and privacy. The main bathroom’s private patio is perched on the edge of the hill and includes a hot tub. Both the tiramisu travertine pattern on the bathroom’s shower walls and the milky cream cabinets in the bathroom offset the home’s rustic style with a refreshing airiness.

photo of bed
Natural elements like timber beans and iron fixtures are juxtaposed against a smooth, tiramisu travertine pattern on the main bedroom walls to create a warm and cozy space.

Beginning with an unforgettable hike, the couple described the finished product of their vision as “exactly what we wanted.” 

Their dream home on the hilltop delivers ultimate comfort and a true sense of oneness with the surrounding landscape. 

“In our home, we feel connected to nature and connected to each other,” Lori said.

Photos: David Patterson

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  • Architect & Design: Vertical Arts
  • Builder: JSM Builders
  • Spa: AquaVita Spas
  • A/V & Smart Home Technology: Imagine Technology Services/Nexus Home Automation
  • Decorative Light Fixtures: Tricia Hauan with The Light Center
  • Insulation: Accurate Insulation
  • Flooring: Advanced Hardwood Flooring
  • Lumber: Alpine Lumber
  • Well Pump: B&J Pump
  • Garage Doors: Carriage House Doors
  • Gypcrete: ColoradoCrete
  • Plumbing & Heating: Cross Mountain Plumbing & Heating
  • Appliances: Ferguson Enterprises, Inc.
  • Tile: Forefront Interiors
  • Cabinets: Genesis Hospitality Corporation
  • Countertops: Granitech
  • Interior Doors, Cabinets: H2D Enterprises
  • Electrical System: JCH Electric, Inc.
  • Shower Glass: Johnson Glass, Inc.
  • Fireplaces: Mountain Home Stove & Fireplace
  • Master Closet: Mountain Sky Closets
  • Excavation: Nordic Excavating
  • Carpet & Tile: Paramount Designs
  • Exterior & Interior Stone: Rumos Masonry
  • Gutters, Snow Bar: Sweet Peaks Seamless Gutter

Bringing The Outdoors In

photo of open french doors
French doors offer easy access to the patio and direct views into Walton Creek Canyon.

An exterior renovation inspired by the surrounding natural landscape transformed this log cabin in the woods.

Dana and Jay Rosenstein bought their log home in Storm Mountain Ranch in 2013. “It was our cabin in the woods,” Dana says. The couple lives in Texas and they meet up for retreats with their three adult children in Steamboat. Dana has two horses and loves to trail ride, and the entire family hikes, snowshoes and skis. The home and surrounding property are a real getaway for the family. It’s also where Dana and Jay live part-time and hope to retire.

As the family expanded to include partners and grandchildren, they needed more bedrooms and bathrooms.

Remodeling the inside took about two years, and then Dana began the outside renovation project. With longtime friend Rhonda from Rhonda Vaughan Interior Design in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Dana wanted to open up the yard to the expanse of Walton Creek Canyon that sits in their backyard. “In the evening,” Dana says, “the sun sets on the rock faces and trees of the canyon. The sun shines down the tall cliffs and creates different shades of light. It’s so beautiful and serene.” The concept of opening the yard up to the surrounding environment was the vision for the exterior renovation and resulted in a bolder, more modern look and feel. Bringing the 20-year-old house up to date took six years’ time, but it also took the home to another level. Their log cabin in the woods became something else entirely.

Dana knew she wanted outside patio space that flowed seamlessly around the home.

Because the property is not on the river that flows through the ranch, they added a water feature. Rhonda and Dana chose Colorado Buff, a hard sandstone, as the stone for the patios. Specific dimensions were cut by a quarry and shipped to Steamboat for mason Dan Kuzminsky to piece together. The result is stonework unlike anything else in the area. The simple beauty is expansive and luxurious and it hides the complexity of the exterior renovation altogether. 

The house was originally built by Fair & Square Construction, and Bill Badaracca was brought back in for the interior and exterior remodel. A fair amount of excavation, drainage, insulation, and mechanical infrastructure went into making the exterior vision a reality. The challenges focused on functionality, and drainage was a key issue especially considering snow melt. There is an extensive subterranean drainage system to mitigate groundwater and the perimeter storm water drain daylights out into the yard and woods. Underneath the patios are heating, electric, piping, outdoor lighting, and gas. The 12-person inground hot tub as well as the underground storage vault dug into the hill on the side of the house are comprised of Colorado Buff, cut or chiseled in different ways, as is the water feature in the back. “From the ground up,” Bill confirmed, “we did everything we could think of for functionality, durability, and aesthetics.”

While Rhonda and Dana collaborated in their vision for the patios’ hardscape, Julia Wallace designed and landscaped the areas outside the patios. The natural environment of the property was emphasized as she mixed new with existing elements. With large onsite boulders, Julia created a dry creek bed that runs along the canyon side of the house and made sure the spectacular view remained open and unobstructed. Julia reshaped the front driveway and used boulders and river rock to mimic a river in the circular driveway’s new island. The softscape is a mixture of native species along with cultivars to add extra texture and color. Julia’s design theme was to enhance the existing beauty while ensuring it looked as though it could have always been there. As with the stonework, seamless functionality and authentic beauty were priorities.

The tapestry of ground coverage is complemented by vibrant pops of color in a multitude of planters around the home.

The flowers bloom at different times throughout the summer, and they are chosen for their ability to attract bees and hummingbirds as much as for their ability to elicit pure joy. The traditional dovetail cornered log house featuring hand hewn wood with a dark finish of steel wool dissolved in vinegar kept its character even as it morphed into a sharp, elegant, and more daring home. 

“There’s nothing better than happy hour in the Adirondack chairs as the sun sets across the meadow and onto the canyon,” Dana asserts. She loves their family dinners at the 10-person table. The built-in grilling area, two gas fire pits, and array of seating areas make every evening and day ideal.

Photos: Tim Murphy



  • Landscaping: Timber Ridge Landscaping
  • Builder: Fair & Square Construction
  • Designer: Rhonda Vaughan Interior Design
  • Masonry: Bender Kuzminsky Masonry

Keep Your Outdoor Space Glowing Through the Winter

photo of holiday lights
The warm glow of holiday lights brings warmth to the winter.

During the summer, we have 18 hours a day to admire and enjoy our outdoor spaces, but as winter rolls in, we’re met with shorter days. As the nights come too quickly, looking out our windows can bring less joy as our yards hibernate under mounds of endless snow.  

Now, imagine looking out your kitchen window to see white lights twinkling and reflecting off the white cashmere snow. That subtle addition to your landscape will make your property cozier and more vibrant through the darkest days of the year.

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The Power of Natural Art: A look at the Biophilia Theory

photo of art over fireplace
This artwork creates a bold centerpiece over the fireplace.

Biophilia: “our sense of connection to nature and other forms of life.” ~ E.O. Wilson

The Biophilia Theory is supported by decades of research. Robert Ulrich, a Texas A&M researcher, has shown that people who watch images of natural landscapes after a stressful experience calm markedly in only five minutes; their muscle tension, pulse and skin conductance plummets.

Similarly, Gordon Orians, professor emeritus of zoology at the University of Washington, says scientific evidence proves that our visual environment profoundly affects our physical and mental health. He says modern humans need to understand what he calls “ghosts,” the evolutionary remnants of past experience hard-wired into the nervous system. Ulrich, Orians, and other researchers have found that people respond strongly and positively to open, grassy landscapes, scattered strands of trees, water, winding trails, brightly lit clearings and elevated views. We are drawn to gentle, natural curves in the land.

The trouble with our modern urban landscape is that it is rapidly being stripped of these elements.

We are continually alert, with little rest, chased by an unending, roaring stampede of 2,000 automobiles. Even inside our homes, the assault continues, charging through the television cable into our living rooms and bedrooms.

photo of art above couch
This moose is a bold statement in a modern space.

Yet these influences can be countered. In the April issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Howard Frumkin, chairman of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at Emory University’s School of Public Health, writes about an overlooked form of therapy. He points to a 10-year study of gallbladder surgery patients, comparing those who recovered in rooms facing a grove of trees with those who recovered in rooms with a view of a brick wall; the patients who looked at trees went home sooner. Another study found that Michigan prison inmates whose cells faced a prison courtyard had 24 percent more illnesses than those whose cells had a view of farmland. Other reports link pet ownership (dogs more than cats) to lower blood pressure and improved survival after heart attacks.

Frumkin’s research has made him a believer in biophilia.

He now suggests that public health experts expand their definition of environmental health, normally associated with the negative, to encompass how the environment can heal. He recommends that environmental health research be done in collaboration with architects, urban planners, park designers, landscape architects and veterinarians. Health professionals can learn a lot from them, he says.

“Some researchers believe that humans have a fundamental, genetically rooted need to affiliate with nature and other life forms. They call this “biophilia. Just looking at photographs of serene natural scenes has some tonic effect, replenishing our cognitive reserves, according to studies. That’s why we put pictures of mountain scenes on our office walls, or use a tropical beach shot as a screensaver.”  ~ from Newsweek February 2009


photo of dining room with art
This bold piece of art ties together several rooms in this home.

First defined and described by Harvard biologist Prof. Edward O.Wilson in 1984, biophilia is the study of the human response to the natural environment and the relationship between humans and natural systems, which is, in its simplest form, a sense of place.
Source: Corey Griffin, Portland State University, “An Introduction to Biophilia and the Built Environment”, Spring 2014 



When Professor Semir Zeki, a neurobiologist at the University College London, scanned the brains of study subjects, he found that viewing art could trigger a surge of the chemical dopamine into the orbito-frontal cortex of the brain.  Known as the “feel-good neurotransmitter,” dopamine has been linked to everything from falling in love to warding off depression and even protecting our brains from aging. His series of brain-mapping experiments looked at the increased stimulation and blood flow occurring when participants viewed various photos of art.
Source: Laura Jackson, Mountain Express Magazine, 2016 

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Your Checklist for Choosing the Right Window Coverings

photo of measuring window
Window professionals can ensure proper measuring.

Your windows really are your view to the great outdoors and your window treatments are the frame. 

photo of measuring window
Window professionals can ensure proper measuring.

Here is a checklist to consider when searching for the perfect window covering: 

  • Determine the Function: Privacy, energy conservation, UV protection, light filtering control and glare control are all functions of blinds that you should consider before installing them.  
  • Consider the Design: Window coverings can blend in or make a statement, stand alone or layer with other coverings (blinds, curtains, draperies or valances).  Your room decor will influence the texture and weight of the fabric. 
  • Environmental Requirements: Fire rated or anti-microbial
  • Shade Control: Cords, cordless or motorization…child safety is crucial for this consideration: placement of cords can be a hazard for small children.
  • Shade Mount: Ensure functionality around levers and cranks. 
  • Warranties: expiration dates and reparations/replacements costs
  • Swatches: Order samples first – your fabric/color choice might look very different in your room than it does in a catalog.

Do-It-Yourself or Have-It-Done-For-You: Buying online or in-store will likely exclude installation or measuring. Professional dealers include measuring, ordering, and installation with your purchase. To find the right professional, check online ratings, get recommendations from friends and browse websites.

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Why TREE REMOVAL is Crucial For Fire Prevention

image of fire line

If our goal is to protect the beauty and longevity of our natural landscape, then how can tree removal be a solution? Don’t we want to protect our trees; not remove them?  

The short answer is yes…to both questions. Select tree removal is a necessary form of fire prevention and here’s why: 

Tree removal creates a defensible space for fire mitigation purposes.

It’s a protection strategy to minimize the spread of a potential fire. Tree removal of two kinds is necessary:

  1. Dead Trees: removing standing dead trees can prevent ground fuel from building up & also prevent canopy fire by minimizing the presence of combustible material that falls off trees (leaves, needles, fallen branches).  
  2. Select live trees: strategic removal of live trees can protect the larger tree area by breaking up fire continuity in the canopy spacing. Without any spacing in the canopy, a fire has no barrier to stop.  

While we’re all acutely aware of the danger of forest fires, we also need to be wise to the risks in our residential areas.

In fact, most insurance contracts and HOAs have requirements for defensible space around your house.  Tree care (including necessary removals) should be a standard component to your home maintenance. 

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Window Professionals: Why You Shouldn’t Build Without One

photo of house exterior
The windows offer a grand welcome to this home.

If you’re building a home, you know that you already have a lot of contractors, so why would you bring in another just for your windows?  It’s quite simple: your windows will be your view to the outdoors that you love, and they just might be the best part of your home.  If you haven’t included this as part of your building process, here’s a little info to consider.  

What role does a window professional play in the process of building a home?

A well-trained window professional is much like your architect, your builder, or your interior designer – often involved from the very beginning all the way through to the very end of the project and beyond. They will often help refine the window and door package, bringing ideas to the table, offering solutions to problems, and making the process more enjoyable. There are a lot of diverse window and door product options available today, and your window professional can help you sift through all the performance, design and sustainability options.

photo of house exterior
The windows offer a grand welcome to this home.

How does a window professional interact with my design team?  

A window professional should participate with the architect to help refine the design of the window package and offer details, advice and assistance in choosing the right window and door manufacturer(s). 

photo of home side
Windows make a statement from every angle.

How can a window professional help me maximize my indoor-outdoor space?

Maximizing your indoor-outdoor space is largely due to pre-planning and working through the details of what’s available, then incorporating those ideas into your plans. A window professional can help you understand your options, pick the right manufacturer(s), and design an opening wall system to meet your needs. These types of systems are often the ones you will touch and feel the most, so they should work flawlessly and be installed by a skilled and trained technician.

photo of home with windows
This home boasts windows on every side for incredible views.

What does it cost to involve a window professional?

Often their services are free of charge. They’re compensated through the purchase of the product, so they can be a very good value overall.

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Should I Buy or Sell? The Question on Any Homeowner’s Mind

photo of living room with big windows
Routt County median home price has risen from $380,000 to $598,000.

With COVID came a massive shift in the way people work and live, and real estate has become a hot topic. Some folks believe the market is overpriced while others see opportunity.  As a realtor, I always look at both the upside and downside in the market. I constantly remind my clients they have to run their own race and not compare their situation to their neighbors, friends and co-workers. There will be times when it is more opportune to buy or sell for you personally. Life events often make it a necessity for some to buy and for others to sell.  Here’s a look at the pros and cons of each right now.

Currently, it is a seller’s market.

There are significantly more people looking to buy houses than there are houses currently available. REColorado, the provider of the local MLS system, notes that Routt County’s current inventory of homes is the lowest it has ever been since they started tracking. In 2016 there were 792 active listings at this time. Today, there are 241.

Sellers can demand higher prices and still average closing at 99% of the ask price.  Buyers are also making concessions on contract stipulations since more often than not there are multiple offers on homes. This gives sellers confidence that the deal will close.  

Of course, it’s not the right time for everybody to sell.

If your only real estate holding is a primary residence, it could be daunting if you have nowhere else to move. In this fluid market, that transition can be intimidating and it may be easier to hold onto your home and renovate to your current needs. Trying to sell high and rent until prices correct could be tricky as well, because it is difficult to time the market. The pandemic has been tough, and some may not have the desire to give up their home and the security it affords.

Buyers are hoping to buy now because they see plenty of growth still to come.

Routt County has become more appealing to many over the last decade with countless infrastructure improvements and the addition of Steamboat Resort to the Ikon pass. The recession in 2008/09 hit housing hard and caused new construction to slow considerably. Supply now doesn’t come close to matching the increased demand.  Steve Goldman, the CEO of Colorado Group Realty notes that, “It’s simple economics.  When there is a supply deficit to demand, prices escalate.  In a desirable place to live like Routt County where there is low inventory, we don’t expect prices to fall any time soon.” Since 2016, REColorado notes the median home price has risen from $380,000 to $598,000.   

The $400M in improvements over the next few years at Steamboat Resort provide yet another reason buyers may want to jump into the market right now.  Within the next three years, Steamboat will have a new base area, loads of added terrain and additional up-hill capacity.  The improved resort means more potential for tourism and more sustained growth. Just like valuations get baked into growth stocks, some believe now could be a great time to take advantage of potential growth the resort may create.

Remember, the economy constantly changes. 

The real estate market is cyclical, and a future downturn could create other opportunities that buyers and sellers had not before considered. As a current or potential owner of real estate, it behooves you to always stay on top of the rapidly changing market conditions.

In the end, it is important to remember the decision to buy or sell will be dependent on your individual situation. 

While there are a lot of global factors the pundits like to discuss, there are also local and personal elements that influence decisions.  It could be useful to consult a financial advisor or a realtor that can help you determine if now is the right time for you to buy or sell.


Photos: Charlie Dresen

Elements Make the Design

photo of house at sunset
The rock wall was successfully incorporated into the design without making the house feel cavelike.

The elements of nature and music are the foundation of this admirable Sanctuary home, which is an example of how thoughtful building a home in Steamboat can be. 

The critical elements of home design are open to interpretation; some base it on ancient studies of feng shui and ayurveda, others focus on modern day research of ergonomics and the four cardinal directions. Ultimately, the roots of home design are personal and meaningful, and there’s no ‘one way’ to approach it. In Steamboat Springs, husband and wife team Steve and Lorraine Morrison (owners of Morrison Custom Builders) used their 26 years of home building experience to collaborate on a unique project that prioritizes their take on the fundamental elements of nature and music.

photo of house at sunset
The rock wall was successfully incorporated into the design without making the house feel cavelike.

A lifelong student of music, Lorraine Morrison has developed a love of the arts and architecture. She studied music theory and composition as well as classical piano, and met Steve Morrison in 1995. Steve was an established builder who approached his projects from an architectural perspective, using programs like CAD software to further illustrate his vision with clients. 

Steve and I believe that structures are like interactive works of art that influence the people who live and work inside of them,” Lorraine explains.

Working together in the real estate and building industry, the Morrisons have now completed several builds throughout Colorado that reflect their artistic approach to design.

In the fall of 2017, a close friend approached the couple to build a one-of-a-kind home on a unique lot in the Sanctuary neighborhood. The location was stunning, but the mountainside terrain provided a design challenge. The Morrisons were excited by the opportunity and agreed to take on the project, offering to design the home from the ground up. With tremendous support from Alpenglow Engineering Solutions, the team decided to use the surrounding elements of the building site to their advantage.

photo of great room
The great room was positioned to take in views of Fish Creek Canyon.

The first obstacle was excavating a boulder retaining wall that was a prominent side of the .58 acre building site. The team knew there were ways to incorporate the rock wall without making the house feel cavelike when built into the side of the mountain. The time spent planning the structure and assessing options for creative solutions was a critical step in the process. 

“We calculated the distance between the house and the retaining wall and then calculated the angle of the sun during the warm season,” Lorraine explains. 

The structure was designed to mask the rise in elevation by splitting the levels multiple times; from the garage, to the mudroom and up to the main living area. This design approach contributed an open floor plan and optimal flow throughout the house. 

photo of living room
The custom, three-sided fireplace is seen from almost every room in the home.

The team wanted to protect the sightlines of the homeowners from Steamboat Boulevard, a popular road where the private driveway would connect. The positioning of the house had to be calculated in a way that is set back, yet built to a height where the road was not seen from the main living area. The great room was then positioned so the main view would face Fish Creek Canyon rather than the hillside on the other side of the narrow canyon. With each unique characteristic of the building site considered, the project was on track to become a sanctuary of its own.

Music Composition and Design

When studying music in college, Lorraine learned how to write and arrange music for orchestra groups as well as small ensembles. “Writing and arranging music for each instrument to have purpose within a composition was all about blending textures and tones in time,” Lorraine explains. 

Her favorite definition of music is ‘sound arranged in time.’ 

“I find that in design, you access the very same part of the brain; the process is very similar: create a theme, layer the sounds, repeat the theme, adjust for interest and repeat again.” 

In the home design process, Lorraine consulted her library of music and replayed a familiar song that helped draw inspiration for the materials that would bring the structure to life. “If I could turn music into a structure, what would it look like, how would it feel, and what effect would it have on the people inside?” Lorraine had asked herself. From incorporating the surrounding elements of nature and drawing inspiration from the process of composing music, the vision for the home started coming to life.

Incorporating Elements of Nature

From source to structure, each component and piece of material selected had a unique meaning and purpose. The Morrisons sourced tile curated from Turkey and Italy and wood harvested from an artisan logging company in New Mexico. Every touchpoint in the finished home has a story. Beyond the stories, the touchpoints are composed of natural elements, which the Morrisons believe affect the well-being of the home and its homeowner. 


The entire house is made of natural stone and vertically grained wood, giving the home an earthy, grounded aesthetic that compliments the mountain contemporary appeal of the surrounding neighborhood structures. The custom kitchen cabinetry was built with rift-sawn cherry oak and the use of limestone throughout the house displays traces of fossils and other living organisms from where the limestone was excavated. The powder bath showcases sage-green stacked stone quartzite. This popular stone is formed in the earth through a natural process of heat, chemicals, and pressure recrystallizing sand grains and silica, creating a hard, dense stone. A combination of India Black Granite quarried in India and a quartzite slab on the island make up the kitchen counter surfaces. 


photo of modern faucet
Contemporary luxury is highlighted with his and hers sinks in the master bath.

Parallel to Fish Creek with an accessible trailhead up the road, the element of water was a bonus feature to the building site. The outdoor living areas feature two hot tub locations and inside, the owner’s suite is complete with a steam shower and generous soaking tub with a view to the manicured exterior and rock wall. 

photo of wine cellar
Three focal points were strategically placed to be seen upon entry; the outdoors, the fireplace and the wine cellar.


The custom, three-sided fireplace is seen from almost every room in the home; the kitchen, dining room, living room, master bedroom, the library, and the gallery at the top of the stairs. When assessing the importance of fire as an element that connects the design of the home, Lorraine’s declaration says it all: “If the fire is the heart of the house, then the wine is the life.” The three focal points that were strategically placed to be seen upon entry were the outdoors, the fireplace, and the wine cellar.

“We wanted the soul of this house to be welcoming, nurturing, and full of life,” Lorraine explains.

Construction of the home was completed in 2019. It took two years to realize their vision from start to finish. The couple took the time needed to layer textures and tones, to blend the theme, and then compose this stunning structure. The home has come to life with the thoughtful selections that stemmed from elements of nature and inspiration from music. From a fundamental approach, the Morrisons have created an example of how a challenging building site can be transformed into an artful, livable structure, and foundation for a beautiful life in the Yampa Valley.

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Photos: Michael Robinson Photography



The Air We Breathe: Why It’s Important to Have Proper Ventilation in Your Home

photo of living room with plants
Plants add texture and beauty to this living room

During the pandemic, many of us felt like we were trapped inside. But in actuality spending the vast majority of our time inside isn’t unusual: the average American spends about 90% of their time indoors. About two-thirds of our life is spent at home, with the rest of the time divided between places such as work, school, the gym, church and the grocery store. It also includes the time we spend getting to and from those places.

photo of living room with plants
Plants add texture and beauty to this living room

So this year was different not because of how much time we spent indoors, but where that balance shifted.

Instead of schools and office buildings, many people spent more time at home. A lot more. We also spent a lot more time thinking about the air we breathe and what might be in it.

While the focus over the last year has been on avoiding airborne infectious viruses, indoor air quality hazards fall into three general categories: airborne particles, microorganisms, and gases or chemicals. The effects of these hazards can be amplified by longer periods of exposure, higher temperatures and humidity. The effects are often worse when exposed to multiple hazards at the same time. 

Airborne particles can include ash from wood burning fires, including forest fires, asbestos fibers, or dust from lead-based paints. Microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, and mold spores can become airborne and cause allergies, asthma or other illnesses if they come into contact with the eyes, nose or mouth. Gases or chemicals can be present in the natural environment (think radon) or released from household items like furniture, carpets, and other consumer products. 

photo of plants on a windowsill
Plants on a window ledge make any room feel more vibrant.

It can be overwhelming to think about clearing your home from toxins.

It doesn’t have to be complicated, or require spending a bunch of money. Ventilation is key for controlling all three. Many homes are built or remodeled more tightly in an effort to improve energy efficiency with the unexpected consequence of reducing airflow. Talk with your architect or contractor about basic house ventilation systems. A simple duct for your heating systems with a damper to control intake, remove stale air, and maintain proper pressure can positively improve ventilation. 

While whole-home ventilation systems may not be as glamorous as a stylish kitchen or bathroom upgrade, it can go a lot further to ensure the long-term comfort and health of the home’s occupants. 

Indoor air quality can affect people’s comfort, health, and work performance. A broad range of health effects may result from indoor air pollutant exposure. Some pollutants increase the risk of cancers or other serious health effects. There is still considerable uncertainty about what concentrations or periods of exposure are necessary to produce specific health problems. People also react very differently to exposure to indoor air pollutants. If you think you or a loved one has symptoms that may be related to your home environment, discuss them with a medical professional to see if they could be caused by indoor air pollution. 

WILD & FREE: The Value of Conservation Communities

photo of horseback riders
The Stranahans invite like-minded folk to join their community - no one’s a stranger and neighbors feel like family.

City-folk have been escaping to the mountains for decades. Fresh air, picturesque landscape, and regular wildlife sightings just can’t be bottled and sold in metros or suburbia. So, people come seeking relief and refuge from fast-paced life. They come to see what smaller communities and simpler living has to offer. And more recently, they’ve come to stay.

Now, with remote work as a more permanent option, Steamboat has become one of the hottest growing real estate commodities. But finding the perfect blend of community and spaciousness while protecting and enriching this valley’s agricultural and landscape attractions can be a challenge. 

In the early 1990’s a few of Steamboat’s most known conservation developments such as Sidney Peak, Catamount Ranch and Club, and Storm Mountain Ranch took the initiative to task. Each was established through voluntary legal agreements known as conservation easements. These covenants permanently limit the use of large lots of land in order to protect conservation values for future generations. At a lower cost to land trusts and public agencies, binding contracts like this ensure the landowner retains many private property rights and tax benefits while at the same time providing economic benefits to the area.

Since the first few conservation developments were completed however, the Yampa community discovered there were alternative ways to protect land while population growth and expansion was inevitable in the valley. Newer communities in Routt County such as Marabou Ranch on the River and a portion of the Murphy Larsen Ranch are examples of this method called Planned Unit Developments (PUDs). Both communities have built subdivision groups with varied compatible land uses such as housing, recreation, commercial centers, and industrial parks all within one contained development instead of zoning plots of land for single purposes.  

While Steamboat is always learning and applying more efficient and effective ways to protect its beautiful landscape, these luxury ranch developments are growing in popularity and look and feel just like the old west with recreation and views only the Yampa can provide. 


The “Live Lightly on the Land” philosophy of the Murphy Larsen Ranch community is simple and consistent, and shared by like-minded neighbors who desire to continue the commitment to the preservation of the integrity of the Elk River Valley, one of the most beautiful and unspoiled alpine ranching valleys still existing in America. Just 20 miles north of Steamboat Springs, with a full Continental Divide view, the five remaining lots enjoy rolling aspens, meadows, and trails to 1500 acres leading to many recreational opportunities as well as the Routt National Forest, owner’s cabin, riding arena, and private water system.

Photo: Murphy Larsen Ranch

Marabou Ranch on the River

Five miles west of downtown Steamboat, this spectacular 1,717-acre ranch is nestled right in the Elk River Valley. Marabou was created in Routt County as a unique rural planning tool. Land Preservation Subdivision’s (LPS), allow homesites to be clustered on 5+/- acre parcels reducing infrastructure costs while allowing one extra home site for every 100 acres of open space. In Marabou’s case, this resulted in over 1,300 acres of open space for all owners to use and appreciate. With homesteads averaging between 5-7 acres, this luxury ranch and mountain cabin community offers views of many famous local landmarks such as Sleeping Giant, the Flattops, Hahn’s Peak, and Mt. Werner. Boasting highlights of a small luxury western town, this neighborhood not only protects the environment through architecture, landscape, and aesthetic standards, but also offers its residents an impressive list of amenities: private fly fishing on over two miles of the Elk River, with another 10 acres of interconnected ponds and a healthy population of hungry trout; 20-miles of trails for horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, and Nordic skiing; an exquisite equestrian barn and arena for riding, roping, and round-ups; access to The Owner’s Cabins allowing owners and their guests luxury accommodations for a minimum of 4-weeks per year; a community gathering hall; private spa, pool and fitness center; casting room theater, saloon, master guides, and if that’s not enough, a private Mountain Camp located at the base of Mount Werner next to Steamboat’s main gondola offering ski lockers with boot dryers, a fully stocked bar, a fireplace, and two big-screen TVs when you need a break from a hard day’s work on the mountain.


With a limited number of 5-acre authentic luxury homesites, buyers are getting more than just access to ski-in/ski-out private social club memberships. Residents building in this wildlife preserve get wide-open spaces with unlimited views and frequent animal sightings. Bordered by Steamboat Resort and connected by cart path to Catamount golf club, Alpine Mountain Ranch is the perfect place to build for those desperate to keep the tourist bustle out of range, but Mt. Werner in their peripheral.

Photo: Alpine Mountain Ranch

Creek Ranch

Routt County’s most environmentally sensitive and low-density ranch is definitely a place to consider building your home. With the largest private creek habitat enhancement program, three lakes, cross-country skiing, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, and in designated areas hunting and riding snow machines, spacious homesteads range from 7.5-17 acres while dwellings currently are only per 43 acres. This 2,800-acre historic Colorado ranch takes care of its residents. Whether neighbors gather at the headquarters Ranch House, Lake Shelter or dock, or board their horses at the garrison style barn while waiting for their own barn to be built, additional amenities such as an arena, pastures, paddocks, round pens, and so much more make this community a perfect place for families to live out their American Cowboy dreams.

Photo: Meoli Digital Group-Colorado

Photo of Creek Ranch lake
Life at Creek Ranch often turns city-slickers into ranchers, talkers into star-gazers, and cowboys into painters,

Catamount Ranch and Club 

This world-class ranch and club is located just south east of Steamboat on 4,000 acres of recreational preserve. With a backdrop of 1.5 million acres of National Forest and 12,000-foot-high-mountains, members keep busy whether it be teeing-off at the Tom Weiskopf championship golf course, boating, fishing, or swimming at the 530-acre private lake, or taking advantage of the multitude of activities available year-round at The Outfitter’s Center, this is the place to call home if you want all the outdoor recreation and convenient adventures right outside your backdoor. 

Photo: Noah Wetzel

Photo of Catamount Lake
Being part of Catamount’s community and camaraderie automatically makes you part of something bigger and more beautiful.

Sidney Peak

One of the few gated communities in Routt County, this ranch is located 7-miles south of the Steamboat Ski Area and has unobstructed views on the over 1,500 acres of available lots. With it’s own private water system, paved roads, and professional ranch management, owners can feel like the entire valley is theirs. Whether it be enjoying the amenities of the community Bunkhouse, casting a line in the stocked fishing pond, or visiting the private 32-stall barn Equestrian Center, this is one of the best places to build a custom luxury home.

Photo: Rod Hanna

Photo of Sidney Peak Ranch
The good thing about living in Sidney Peak, is that the landscape hasn’t changed much since it was settled 125-years ago.

Storm Mountain Ranch

With limited home sites in this private 70-acre property, frequent wildlife sightings and exclusive land features allow residents to feel one with nature – without having to share space with tourists. Just three short miles from Steamboat and bordered by Routt National Forest’s groves of aspens, pines, ferns and wildflowers, new owners of this once-in-a-lifetime treasure will fall in love with the spacious 10,000 square foot home, additional Hideout Cabin, towering rock cliffs, private delights of June Falls, and nearly every other dream-feature and amenity included.

Photo of Storm Mountain Ranch
At Storm Mountain Ranch residents don’t just lead a legacy, they live and breathe it.

These stunning pockets are just a few of Steamboat’s most treasured neighborhoods. Offering wide arrays of amenities, varying prices, lot sizes, and views, each development has it’s own story – much like its residents. Wild and free from too close for comfort neighbors or smoggy air, these picturesque luxury ranch communities will leave readers awestruck for days, visitors envious for weeks, and buyers in heaven for years to come.

Trees: Why We Should Love & Protect Them

photo of trees

Every spring, we in the Yampa Valley, experience a beautifully visual phenomenon that has tremendous non-visual benefits. After a long winter of dormancy, our aspens, scrub oak, cottonwoods and many other tree species put on a vibrantly green display in what is known as the great leaf out. There is a freshness in the air that can be attributed to the increased supply of oxygen in the atmosphere produced by trees and other plants. 

While we are out enjoying the warmer weather, these trees are hard at work providing an array of ecosystem services. In urban areas (Steamboat Springs included), trees can be critical for removing particulate matter and other pollutants from the air, while also reducing higher temperatures caused by urban heat island effect, which lessens the need for energy intensive air conditioning.

Amazingly, the US Department of Agriculture estimates that the net cooling effect of a single, young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. Trees also help protect water quality by reducing erosion and capturing pollutants that can enter our rivers and streams.

Homeowners in the Yampa Valley areas can help clear the air and cool their homes and their neighborhoods by planting trees. Make sure to follow guidelines for the right kinds of trees to plant for your location. A good resource is the Arbor Day Foundation and their guide “The Right Tree in the Right Place.” 

Away from our homes, trees in natural forests are even more important for protecting water and air quality. The trees along the Yampa River are important riparian habitat and help to lower river temperatures with their shade. And, together, our trees are all sequestering tremendous amounts of carbon, which will continue to be an important strategy for addressing climate change. In our higher altitude forests, trees help slow down runoff from our snowpack.  The variety of forest types we have in the Yampa Valley – including Spruce-Fir, Lodgepole Pine, Aspen, and Oak Shrublands – create healthy wildlife habitat and help minimize some of the risk we face with wildfire.

However, wildfire in our forests is a growing concern, with warmer and drier summers increasing stress on trees and allowing fires to ignite and burn later in the season and higher in altitude. Wildfires are also an increasing source of air pollution in our mountain communities, and at some points in the summer our air can be unhealthy when winds bring smoke from fires in the area and even in other states. We all should support efforts to create healthy forest conditions through ecologically appropriate management actions. We should also be very cautious as we recreate in our forests. Pay attention to and follow local fire restrictions. When campfires are allowed, be sure to extinguish them completely before going to sleep or leaving your site. And, if you have a home in or near the forest, follow steps to minimize the risks to your home from wildfire by following guidelines from the Colorado State Forest Service on managing the Home Ignition Zone.

We are fortunate to live in a part of the world that has such vibrant forests that we can hike in and ski through and that provide us with so many benefits. So, the next time you see a tree, if you can’t hug it, at least say thank you for all that they do.

To show your love for our Yampa Valley trees, here are a few of our favorite organizations that could use your donations:

Photo: Chris Hylen

Build a Home for Low-Maintenance Living: Focus on the Exterior

photo of exterior

With the higher elevation sun and windy, stormy winter weather in the mountains, the exterior of homes in the Yampa Valley can take a beating. Re-roofing, re-siding, re-caulking, re-painting and repairing damage from issues such as weathering, woodpeckers or insects can be time-consuming, wasteful of resources, and expensive.

The sustainability of planning a long-lasting and environmentally conscious home means choosing durable, timeless materials that will not have to be repeatedly maintained or replaced, including on a home’s exterior.

When retiring to Steamboat Springs to be near their daughter and grandchildren, Scott and Leslie Alperin wanted to build a home that would be as maintenance free as possible. The single-family home they planned in the new subdivision of The Range at Wildhorse Meadows needed to have a durable, long-lasting exterior. 

photo of exterior

Scott Alperin said this retirement home was the fourth house the family had built in his lifetime, and he no longer wanted to spend so much time, effort and money on home maintenance he performed in the past with homes clad in wood siding.

In the family’s previous home with wood siding built in 1986, the couple left for a long trip and came back to find some 20 woodpecker holes in the siding. Alperin caulked the holes, only to find out later that bees had entered through the holes and were nesting inside the attic. It wasn’t long before the bees found their way into the home through unsealed recessed ceiling lights, and the family had to evacuate and call professional help.

For their new home in Colorado, the Alperins selected Soda Mountain Construction + Design in Steamboat to build their low-maintenance house with the experienced design/build team of contractor Chris Rhodes and designer Travis Mathey. Soda Mountain has built local custom homes since 2006 and works to incorporate sustainable construction and design elements when possible.

The Soda Mountain team and the clients worked to select home exterior products intended to last for many decades such as Colorado stone, American-made steel siding, metal roofing and synthetic mahogany siding. Even though the home was finished in spring 2019, during a visit two years later, the exterior looked as though it could have just been completed.

In the new neighborhood with many homes still under construction, Alperin said passersby planning to build a new home often stop, compliment the home’s aesthetics and ask about the exterior materials.

The home’s exterior captures a modern functionality that still feels beautifully classic. On the south and west facing sides, the home features a finish of real stone quarried in Telluride and applied in an artistic dry stack application with no mortar lines. The careful work was completed by Kings Masonry in Steamboat. Behind the stacked stones are weeping strips to wick out any moisture. The exterior walls feature durable steel for exterior window headers and fascia as well as beetle-kill pine wood on the soffits. 

Other sections of the exterior building envelope are finished with a Bridger Steel metal panel siding with a standing seam and hidden fasteners. Bridger Steel, headquartered in Billings, Montana, produces made-in-America metal siding with a baked enamel paint coating and a minimum 30-year finish warranty, according to a Bridger representative.

The durable roof materials include standing seam metal as well as asphalt shingles. The standing seam is prefinished, extruded aluminum metal roofing by Drexel Metals, headquartered in Kentucky, that was installed on the home by High Point Roofing in Steamboat. According to Drexel, the metal roofing contains significant recycled content, is touted to withstand decades of abuse from extreme weather and can last two to three times longer than an asphalt shingle roof. Homebuilder Rhodes noted the metal roof includes a snow guard that retains snow on the roof for added insulation properties.

“Our clientele desire sustainability, but it’s taking the extra steps to do the research and development on finding the right resources that have proven sustainable,” Rhodes said of the pre-construction planning.

For the wooden elements of the exterior, the team selected a synthetic mahogany product, a durable engineered composite wood product by Trespa. The Trespa installation system with hidden fasteners includes an air cavity behind the siding in front of the load-bearing wall, allowing for airflow that prevents heat or moisture accumulation.

The home’s porches utilize steel square-tubed support posts and structural I-beams, as well as rugged, engineered Trex Decking, also with hidden clip fasteners. Trex Decking is made from 95% recycled materials, including reclaimed wood, sawdust and recycled plastic from packaging overwrap and bags, according to Trex information.

Topping off the mountain contemporary exterior is a front door made by Fedewa Custom Works in Steamboat that incorporates a stained-glass work by a Colorado artist. The stained glass holds sentimental value for the Alperins as it formerly was installed by the front door of their previous home in Ohio.

Although the stacked stone and hidden fastener application techniques increased the original labor installation costs, “In the long run I’m convinced it’s going to save us money and look wonderful,” Alperin said, “through the UV and temperature extremes that are severe and can really play havoc.”

photo of side of home

Photos: David Patterson


  • Design + Build: Soda Mountain Construction
  • Siding: SMCD
  • Roofing: High Point Roofing
  • Front Door: Fedewa Custom Works
  • Stone Veneer: Kings Masonry
  • Steel: Nordic Steel
  • Landscaping: Nature’s Design
  • Windows: Alan Bradley Windows & Door

Ranching: A Way of Life that Protects What We Love About the Yampa Valley

photo of Knott ranch

Though I am a relative newcomer to Routt County, my children are the fifth generation to be shaped by this land and to grow up on our working cattle ranch at the foot of the Little Flat Tops.

My husband, Tyler, and I teach by example. We work sunup to sundown to provide for our family, produce food for our community, and steward a place for the fox to raise their kits and the elk to bugle, for the cutthroat trout to spawn, and the eagle to hunt. I am hopeful that when my kids come down the stairs on an early spring morning to find a calf warming by the woodstove, the lessons they learn nursing it through its first day of life will help them become kind and resilient people who make a difference in their community. And I hope the difference they make is colored through the lens of the place that shaped them.  

I recently told my daughter the legend of the Sleeping Giant on the way to school; how it pulls people to the Yampa Valley, never allowing them to leave and mixing their soul with the sense of place. She understood completely. Place is what makes Routt County so special. 

photo of Tyler on horse
Ranch life is an honorable life for the Knott family. Photo: Cat Wright Studios

Land is key to a healthy and secure future for our region. It provides pure drinking water, healthy food, clean air, habitat for wildlife, and places for people to work, recreate and reflect. Routt County is 1.5 million acres in size; 50% of this is public lands and 61% of the private land base is in agriculture.  The abundance of agricultural lands and natural areas in Routt County plays a substantial role in attracting tourists and thus supporting the local recreational economy. 

Steamboat has a lot of monikers: Ski Town USA, Bike Town USA, and before that, it was Cow Town USA. It’s a moniker we value and one that sets us apart from other ski areas in the state. There are close to 900 farms in Routt County, and 95% of these are family owned. 465,119 acres are still in ranching and farming in the county but this number has been dropping: 24% since 2012 and it’s plain to see that the post-COVID era has only increased the pace of conversion in our county. Every 30 seconds, the United States loses an acre – about the size of a football field – of natural lands to roads, houses and other development. At this pace, we are quickly losing the defining character and natural beauty of important places in Routt County, Colorado, and across the country.

Our community understands the provisions of the land and the value agriculture plays in shaping or sense of place. In 1996 Routt County voted to create the Routt County Purchase of Development Rights Program (PDR). With the help of the PDR Program, close to 20% of the private land base has been conserved. But the work is far from done. 

The threat to our sense of place is real and we all need to play an active role in shaping the future of this community.  As a community we must strengthen existing relationships and build new connections to protect the places we love and support the community that sustains us. Fighting to keep our sense of place means thoughtful and sustainable growth that fosters the creation of a resilient and supportive community. Seek opportunities to purchase locally produced agricultural products, support our local nonprofits, and engage in community planning. Let’s instill in our children a great sense of place, with the hope that they will passionately and tirelessly work to protect it too.

photo of Knott ranch
Nestled up next to national forest, this ranch serves and protects the Yampa Valley. Photo: Cat Wright Studios

Outdoor Living: A Complete Rebuild Gives One Home New Space

photo of exterior

At the base of Blackmere Trail on Emerald Mountain, Aleka and David Scott have turned their Fairview home into a sunny, bright and airy haven; but it wasn’t always this way. The original house, purchased by David in the 80s, had a steep, pitched roof which created the feeling of a smaller, darker living space. It wasn’t until 2019 that the couple would embark on what Aleka refers to as a “rebuild” rather than a remodel.

The goal of the rebuild was to create more livable space; so while the home didn’t gain much in square footage, it took on a completely new feel with a higher ceiling on the third floor, a lighter and brighter color scheme and the addition of livable outdoor space in the form of a large deck. The Scotts worked with Vertical Arts and Fair & Square Construction to execute their vision.

“It was a typical remodel in the fact that not a lot of structural changes really happened, other than the front deck,” explained Fair & Square construction manager Brian Arel. “But all aspects of the house were upgraded; the windows, we tore off the wall sheeting, the siding, the insulation…we raised the roof on the upstairs by lowering the angle of the pitch to make it more livable.”

One of the bigger changes to come out of the rebuild was the upgrade to the decks – there are three – which provide each room with incredible views and exterior space. Standing on each one, it seems as though there is no place in Steamboat that can’t be seen from the Scott house.

The east deck is off of the open concept living room which also includes the dining room and kitchen. Before the rebuild, a steeply pitched roof made much of the space in the living room unusable – including about six feet of the deck. 

photo of exterior
The west deck is used for watching the sunset with a drink in hand at the end of the day.

“The old deck was so small, you could barely fit a table out there,” recalls Aleka. “Everyone would come up on the 4th of July to watch the fireworks over Howelsen Hill and there was no room. We had to get on the roof instead, on blankets.”

With such magnificent views, David and Aleka realized that it seemed silly not to expand the deck. During the rebuild process, which took just under a year – conveniently, it was finished right at the start of the pandemic – the old deck got a facelift.

Now it includes almost 400 square feet of livable space with a table and chairs, a seating area with a plush couch and chairs around a firepit, a grill, Aleka’s collection of potted plants in the summer and even an outdoor shower.

Glass railings allow for a seamless transition from inside to outside and not one speck of the view gets lost. 

“We pretty much just live out there in the summer,” said Aleka.

The couple, often times with visiting friends or family, eats meals outside, lounges on the couch to read a book and even showers out there. Aleka – who says an outdoor shower is “the most lovely thing in the world” – requested plumbing with both hot and cold water outside during the initial stages of the rebuild. She rigged up a shower curtain using a clothing display rack as the frame with a shower curtain attached to it, which she sewed magnets in to in order to keep it closed.

“After mountain biking, it’s great to come home and rinse off in that shower,” she says. “You’re still outside.”

In the evening, the propane firepit – sourced locally from ACE – gets turned on as the couple sits down to relax while watching the town wind down from above.

Sunsets, however, are viewed from the west deck, on the other side of the house, just off of the office.

photo of exterior with Sleeping Giant
Nestled up against Emerald Mountain, this home has unobstructed views of Steamboat Resort.

“We switch from deck to deck throughout the day,” says David. “We have chairs on the west deck for watching the sunset and a side table for drinks and peanuts. If the party is on the east deck, we herd everyone over to the west deck for the sunset.”

Spectacular views of Sleeping Giant on that side of the house make for even more spectacular sunsets. 

Below the west deck is another deck, attached to their long-term tenant’s rental unit. These two decks feature wire railings, rather than glass, as the wind is often very strong, especially on this side of the house.

Hanging birdfeeders invite sparrows, goldfinch and pine siskin, and a hummingbird feeder outside the master bedroom provides morning entertainment for Aleka, lying in bed watching the fierce little birds vie for food.

Back on the east deck, a large umbrella provides shade as needed throughout the day. Aleka’s collection of potted plants and herbs line the glass and mountain bikers shoot down the trail past the house. A baseball game begins on the field below and shrieks echo up to the house.

“I feel incredibly lucky and fortunate to have such a fantastic spot to drink coffee, nap and share with friends,” said Aleka. “I feel very happy and peaceful. It’s like a dream come true.”

Photos: Burgesco Photo


Contributors (online):

August 2021 Original Story

The original structure utilized d-log construction which made renovations a challenge.

When the COVID-19 outbreak occurred and everybody was confined to their homes, many took the opportunity to improve the spaces they were spending so much time in. From DIY room transformations to complete home renovations, building supplies for home improvement projects were suddenly in high demand across the country and especially in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. 

Mike and Danielle Nelson were still in the design phase with Architect and Principal Owner, Chancie Keenan at Mountain Architecture when the construction industry and the rest of the world came to a screeching halt last March of 2020. “When the pandemic started, we probably should have held off on execution until after the long term impact was known.” Danielle recalls. With many unknowns ahead, but with the support of Keenan and their contractor, Brent Bessey with Steamboat Building Company, the Nelsons decided to press on with their home renovation.

“It became obvious that the pandemic was not going away, and soon the entire industry – contractors, suppliers, architects, owners – were scrambling to come up with creative solutions to keep our projects moving forward,” recalls Keenan. 

The first big blow they noticed were significantly higher excavation costs than anticipated, and they were just getting started.

“Then the pandemic was in full throttle and we started seeing price increases and supply shortages. Everything was sitting on ships off the coast of California.” Danielle explained.

Even for experienced homeowners and building professionals who know what to expect and how to prepare for the worst during a renovation project, no one could have foreseen the potential long term effects the pandemic had on the building industry. “My sister had gone through years of renovations, so I had asked her what to expect. She was very candid that it would take twice the amount of time and twice the estimated cost. Of course, no one could have predicted COVID-19,” Danielle shared. 

The Nelsons had purchased their current home five years ago and even in 2017 “you had to choose between location or move-in ready; you couldn’t do both. We chose location,” Mike admitted. Similar to the neighboring structures, all built in the 80’s, the Nelson’s house appeared as an idyllic, d-log cabin-style home from the exterior. However, the floor plan and interior aesthetic fell short in areas that were important to the owner’s contemporary preferences.

“The previous house was so ill planned with zero sense of entry,” Keenan describes. “We conceived an inviting entrance that draws you into the open living spaces and provides functional every-day areas. We’re most excited about the giant window openings we’ve created to capture breathtaking views of Spring Creek, Buffalo Pass and Emerald Mountain.” 

Despite the hurdles this project has faced due to the pandemic, there were other challenges that needed to be addressed, even in a normal building year. The log construction presented unique design challenges that would require additional expertise from the engineers at Steamboat Engineering & Design; Jake Mielke, Principal Owner and Project Engineer, Sam Samlowski. The team came up with structural solutions to increase window openings and raise interior beams which were paramount to capturing the incredible views across the valley and the open floor plan the Nelsons had wanted.

One year later, the Nelsons are crossing their fingers for a new projected move-in date of Christmas 2021, which is triple the amount of time from their original estimated completion date. The Nelsons have endured much more than the average renovation project, yet have remained hopeful that the investment in their dream home will pay off for future generations of their family to enjoy. 

“Our initial reaction was frustration, but eventually you need to only worry about what you can directly control. In this case there was no point in wasting emotion on it,” Danielle reasons. 

Currently the building industry is still experiencing a shortage of supplies, increased costs of materials and a shortage of labor, resulting in the delay of building materials as well. Keenan notes that a home that previously took 12 months to complete, now has a timeline of 6-8 additional months as a result of market and labor volatility. “It’s extremely frustrating for everyone involved, but at the same time we’re all experiencing the effects of the pandemic which has created a sense of solidarity throughout the industry as well as with our clients,” she says. 

Now, rolling with the punches and a long project punch list ahead, the Nelsons are still looking forward to the luxury of a covered garage through long Steamboat winters and hosting family and friends on their new deck in the summer of 2022. Mike and Danielle Nelson are not the only homeowners in Steamboat experiencing these hurdles, but their story is a positive perspective for anyone going through similar struggles with their home renovation during this unprecedented time. 

Thoughtful Choices In Business: PRIMROSE stands out in the Yampa Valley.

picture of interior of Primrose
local designers bring boldness

Businesses keep the Yampa Valley thriving and Collin Kelley, creator of Primrose, knows a lot about how to create local businesses that are successful and support our community. Here are four tips to make a big difference. 

Meaningful Employee Compensation: At Steamboat’s Primrose, the entire kitchen staff is offered a true living wage through a base salary.

Every person in the kitchen – from the dishwasher and fry cook to Chef de Cuisine – gets a salary that ensures they can afford to live in the valley.  “One of the things I am most proud of with this commitment is knowing that my team can pay their rent in mud season without having to worry about how many hours they worked in May or November…that their salary makes them eligible to get a car loan or pay their bills without having to get a second job to afford groceries, as is the case with many folks in the service industry in our community,” Collin shared. 

Local Sourcing: Use as many local sources of vegetables and proteins as possible.

One way to do this is by buying local beef, pork, and lamb through the Routt County 4-H program.  The proceeds will support our local ranching families and help shape the future of our youth.  “I grew up in Kansas; the annual 4-H auction was a big deal – It taught me the importance that the annual Livestock Auction can have on shaping these kids’ futures.  We aim to buy as many animals as we can to assist these kids in stashing some money away for college or their futures in Agriculture or becoming a tradesperson.”

Local Tradesmen: Use local contractors, artists, craftsmen, tradespeople for every single aspect. 

The ambience will stand out and you’ll be funding your local community.  Although it might be slightly more expensive, your guests will notice and the cost will pay off.   “When we were conceptualizing Primrose and doing the interior remodel, one of the things we committed to early on was using 100% local contractors, artists, craftsmen, tradespeople for every single aspect,” said Collin. “ We were proud to work with Coleman’s Haberdashery for our American bison upholstery, artist Brooke Mack for our custom commissioned artwork of Primrose flowers, Joey Kay for our custom drapery, PMG Construction for the woodwork and interior finish, Julie Anderson for our American Clay stucco, Midwest Electric for all of our lighting, Certified Welding and Fabrication for custom metalwork, Grasso Stone for our stonework, Affordable Floors & More for the beautiful custom title, Ben’s Blinds for window coverings – you name it – every aspect from top to bottom was created by a local who is the best at what they do. We couldn’t be happier with the outcome and the way the space feels when you walk in.  We put very little restriction on everyone – we just wanted their best work, to let them have fun with what they were doing – to challenge them to do something out of the ordinary.  The results speak for themselves.”  

Supporting Nonprofits: Create thoughtful partnerships with local charities and causes that make a measurable change or impact in Steamboat. 

Get creative and find programs that go beyond simple monetary donations.  Primrose offers donation of meals, space usage, and “chef-inspired “experiences” including wine dinners and bourbon-paired tasting menus. 

primrose ad



Photos: Jay Hirschfeld

Rolling With the Punch List

image of hew home rendering

As seen in the Fall 2021 edition, the aftermath of the pandemic caused severe supply and demand issues across the building industry, delaying the Nelson family from completing their home renovation for over a year.  Follow along as we learn about the roller coaster of changes that happens with every renovation, and how this family learned to roll with the punch list.

picture of start of renovation
August 2021


Key Contributors:


The Importance of Community

Girls Enjoy Dinner in Vintage Cafe. Friends Sitting in Restaurant Together and Talking. Happy Women Have Tea and Cake.

How to find connection when gathering is limited

Home. What a powerful word. When COVID hit our little community earlier this year, I remember thinking that home was the one place I could go and feel safe. Even in the middle of working from home, eating at home, and doing school at home, our family experienced something we had been missing for quite a while – each other. And as I look back on this year, with all of its disappointments, hurt and tragedy, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the extra time I’ve been able to spend with my children and family.

But I also remember seeing a good friend again after the shutdown; seeing her face and hearing her voice was incredible. Being around friends as things began to open up reminded me that we aren’t meant to be alone and we aren’t meant to do life alone.

Humans weren’t created for isolation; we were created for community and we thrive when we’re sharing our lives and experiences with others.

As Mr. Rogers beautifully said, “If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”

So that’s the question: in this time, when community and gathering is discouraged, what can we do to foster the connection we’re all missing? How can we fill that need inside of us to connect with another human soul in a meaningful way?

As so many families have done this year, our family is taking advantage of the current home market and we are in the middle of selling our home. And as we’re dreaming of our new home, what it may look like and how it will be different, we can’t wait to have friends over when it’s built. As we talk about it together, we envision having family come stay with us, planning slumber parties and game nights and hosting happy hour on the patio every Friday night.

Even though COVID doesn’t allow us to gather in large groups for a wedding or a concert, creating the moments that may matter the most are still possible. Because at the end of the day, making a real connection with another person is truly invaluable. Hearing someone’s story, sharing disappointments, and celebrating things we have in common has got to be one of life’s greatest interactions. When you know that you’re not the only one going through a problem or heartache, it’s freeing and comforting. COVID hasn’t stopped that kind of connection!

As for our family, we’ve committed to reaching out to at least one friend a week to have lunch or dinner with. It’s been so fun and interesting to hear people chat about all of the ideas and feelings they have that have been bottled up for months. Conversations last for hours as we’re able to finally interact and share what we’ve all been going through.

We’ve also tried to do the same with our children as they experience COVID in their own ways. Even though their online gaming and online connection has increased over this time (too much!), we still encourage them to hang out with one friend a week. Our oldest child is in high school now, and every once in a while, he will talk about not having enough friends – to which we remind him that in life you only need one or two really good friends, and that’s enough.

That’s such good advice for adults as well. Having one good friend that you can celebrate with, and go through tragedy with, is so vital. Who do you text when something great happens? Who do you call when something tragic happens? If you don’t have a person, there’s no better time to foster a relationship than now. As people are yearning for connection, you’ll find quickly that you’re not alone. Reach out to a friend, meet outside for coffee, (or my new favorite Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew from Starbucks!), and work on your friendship muscle. When I was younger, I used to believe that a person could only connect with another person if they had similar life values, or similar experiences or similar political views. But as I grow older, I’m fascinated by people that believe differently than me and by those who have had drastically different experiences than me. I’m captivated to learn from another person who sees the world in new ways.

COVID has definitely highlighted the idea that we need connection and community, but I’m not sure that our disconnectedness can be blamed completely on COVID as much as we’d like it to. Maybe the real challenge is that connecting with another person on a heart level is scary and intimidating. Being vulnerable with another person isn’t something you do every day. But as one of my favorite authors, Brene Brown, says, “Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” It takes vulnerability to find a soul connection. It takes courage to reach out to another person in hopes of finding a friend.

So who’s your person? If someone’s face doesn’t pop into your head immediately, think of someone who you would like to be your person. Take a courageous step and ask them to go have coffee or visit one of the new restaurants in town with you. Or invite them to your home. Host happy hour on your patio on a Friday night. You may spark the beginning of something that no pandemic could ever take away.

Julie Lewis is the Associate Pastor at Steamboat Christian Center, a wife and mother of two, and has lived in Steamboat Springs for the last 15 years.

Gathering Safely

By: Robin Schepper, Routt County Office of Community Engagement

While community is important, gathering safely is critical.  The state of our county’s health is in flux as we all continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, and adhering to health guidelines is not only wise, it’s mandatory. 

As of the date that we printed this story, Routt County COVID Regulations restrict personal gatherings to:

  • Less than 10 people
  • No more than 2 families

Get the most up-to-date information on public health orders here:


What To Do With Leftovers

Ecology compost supply - kitchen waste recycling in backyard composter. The man throws leftover vegetables from the cutting board. Environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Reducing food waste after gatherings

After your warm and cozy gathering, there’s the reality of clean up.  It’s inevitable and necessary.  And one of the not-so-fun steps is getting rid of that leftover food.  The question is: how?  Where do you start?  And how can you do it responsibly?

The United States is the global leader in food waste. While waste happens at every step in the food supply chain (the process of getting food from the field to your fridge), consumers are the worst offenders. Over 45% of the 277 billion pounds of food wasted in the United States is attributed to consumers. Most of this food ends up in landfills; food makes up 22% of all municipal solid waste. Food that goes into the landfill produces methane gas, a leading contributor to climate change. Food waste also has a staggering price tag, using limited resources like water and farmland and costing the United States approximately $218 billion per year.

“Reducing food waste is the single greatest solution to climate change,”

According to Project Drawdown

Food waste includes everything from the half-eaten slice of pizza left on a plate at a restaurant to carrot peels from preparing a meal at home to the sour milk a family pours down the drain. In the US, an average person wastes 238 pounds of food costing them $1,800 per year. Fresh fruits and vegetables account for the largest losses at the consumer level.

There are two main causes for food wastes: 1) Food spoilage. About two thirds of food waste at home is due to food not being used before it goes bad.  2) Over-preparing. The remaining third of household waste is the result of people cooking or serving too much food.

So what can you do to reduce food waste? First, keep in mind the food waste hierarchy.

The first step is waste reduction. Before you head to the store, plan your meals, make your shopping list and stick to it. Try to cook just enough food for each meal or remember to incorporate your leftovers into your next day’s menu. Some people don’t care to eat the same meal they just had, but we’ve got you covered: there are thousands of recipes that use leftovers to make a whole new meal.

Learn what the different date labels mean. Except for infant formulas, product dates are not expiration dates. They indicate when a product should be used for best quality.

  • Stores use “Sell By” dates to determine when to sell an item by. This is not a safety deadline but may indicate products that have been sitting on the shelf longer.
  • Even if a “Best By” date has passed on a food you have at home, it should be safe to consume if stored and handled properly. This is the recommended date for best flavor or quality.
  • When a product reaches its “Use By” date, it means it’s no longer at peak quality according to the manufacturer.

The next step in the pyramid is food donation. Food banks and soup kitchens can’t take post-consumer foods or foods past the expiration date, but if you are hosting a big event consider coordinating with your caterer to assure that any extra food is safely kept and can be donated after the fact. Contact the local food bank or soup kitchen and find out their policy for accepting food donations. This takes a little planning but is well worth the effort.

For food waste that cannot be eaten or any remaining meal scraps, you can compost.

A 2019 study found that Routt County residents toss about 50,000 pounds of food into the garbage each week (1).

Luckily, there are a few different options for composting in the Yampa Valley. One of the easiest options to recycle your food waste is to collect it and pay for a composting program to process it. Innovative Regeneration Colorado has a newly launched subscription program called Feed for Seed. For $25 a month or $275 a year, participants are given a container to collect their household food waste. Each week they drop off the container at the Rodeo Grounds, and the food waste is composted off site. In the first two months of operation, the program has diverted over a ton of food waste from the landfill.

If you are interested in processing your own food waste, you can build a worm bin or bokashi system (see below), which are both great for our area because they can be done inside and therefore avoid any issues with cold temperatures, bears and other wildlife.

In Bokashi composting, kitchen scraps of all kinds — including meat and dairy products — are mixed with inoculated bran, pressed into the Bokashi bucket, covered with another handful of bran and tightly covered. When the bucket is full, it is sealed shut and set aside for ten to twelve days. Every other day during that time, the leachate, a byproduct of anaerobic composting, needs to be drawn off.

If you have the space and are interested in diving into a larger scale and more involved method of composting, you can set up a backyard compost system. Because we live in bear country, if you choose this option you will need to take a few precautions like setting up an electric fence and avoid putting in food waste like fruit and vegetables that attract bears. An added benefit of composting is that the product at the end of the process can be applied to your garden to enhance the soil. When compost is applied to soil it has many benefits including enhanced water retention, increased microorganism activity and increased carbon sequestration.

And there you have it: minimal food waste, saving money and helping reduce your overall climate footprint. For more information on other tips, check Zero by Fifty to learn how to reduce, reuse, repair or recycle almost anything.

Building a Worm Bin:

  • Buy one pound (this is enough to compost the kitchen scraps of a family of four) of red wiggler worms, not the earthworms you find outdoors.
  • Find a plastic container with a loose fitting lid that will allow air in the bin.
  • Fill the bin with a bedding material of shredded newspapers.
  • Add a pint of peat moss or garden soil.
  • Moisten the bedding with water until damp but not wet. Worms need air, moisture, warmth, food and darkness.
  • Add the red wiggler worms.

Caring for Your Worms:

  • To feed your worms, add only raw fruit and vegetable scraps. Stay away from meats, oils and dairy products. The more vegetable matter the better. Avoid orange rinds and other acidic citrus fruits.
  • Drain accumulated water from the bin, if necessary, to keep worms from drowning.
  • Use water to fertilize plants.
  • Remove castings and change the bedding monthly by moving bedding to one side of the bin and putting new material in the other side of the bin. The worms will migrate to the new half leaving the remaining area clear for cleanup.

Libby Christensen is an Extension Agent with the CSU Routt County Extension Office. She is passionate about all things related to food and has written extensively about the greenhouse gas impact of different agricultural production systems.

Madison Muxworthy is the Waste Diversion Director for the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council. Her work involves creating, fostering and promoting waste reduction and increasing recycling, composting and reuse successes in the Yampa Valley.

The Gains and Losses of Short-Term Rental


An objective view of Steamboat’s booming rental market

For the past decade, there’s been a concentration of growth in big cities across the U.S. Country living simply hasn’t been able to compete with metros when it comes to job markets, educational opportunities, or diverse lifestyles. And where there are more people, there’s usually more money to spend on extras like traveling – especially to rural mountain communities like Steamboat Springs. And with a growing number of tourists comes a greater need for lodging.

Enter the golden age of VRBOs and Airbnbs…

Steamboat’s most recent housing boom has over 4,815 homes scattered around its beautiful valley. Of those, currently over 51% (2,498) are active short-term rentals.  Because of the increase in tourist demand, the nightly rate for a  short-term rental significantly overshadows the long-term rates, so homeowners are deploying this tactic in order to gross three to four times the amount they would otherwise incur in a long-term rental property.

“Many of these owners are just like the rest of the 13,214 year-round living and working residents in the ‘Boat,” Sotheby’s realtor Kiyah Roe says. “They’re trying to figure out creative ways to make a few extra dollars.”

And why wouldn’t they?  As tourism increases, cost of living increases with it.  So, many of the year-rounders are looking for ways to subsidize their income to afford living in Steamboat.

“Other owners are small families that love the ‘Boat too – almost as much as the locals – and can’t imagine spending their free time in any other place,” Roe confirms, so  they empty their pockets and buy that second home in Steamboat,  counting on its short-term rental revenue to make up the difference between visits.

But unfortunately, this lucrative income market has an unseen downstream impact on the Steamboat community. 

Rural gentrification is a phrase that’s being used more often to describe what’s happening in places like Steamboat. It’s a process where higher income investors displace lower income residents changing the essential character of a town in a single generation.

Steamboat used to be known for its homesteaders, ranchers, small business owners and year-round workers raising their children to then take up where their parents left off. For generations, that’s how Steamboat maintained its genuine warm and welcome small-town feel. Now, the town is battling the potential of becoming “the next Aspen.” 

In many ways, tourism has been the lifeblood of the Yampa Valley. It’s given Steamboat a new purpose as the final frontier of resorts that has held onto its unique identity. While its competitors quietly fell into line as kitschy chains of ski resorts and high-ticket rates, Steamboat didn’t budge. Not much anyway. It was its own laid-back, Western town and no one was going to shake its tight-knit community. Maybe that’s what the tourists loved most.

Maybe that’s why the short-term rental market spiked 175% in less than a decade.

But a community with decreasing long-term rental options coupled with an increase in employment demand for the lower-income segment (industry workers) has already created the inability to support the lives of those working to make this town run.  So, while homeowners contributing to the short-term rental boom are reaping profits that are enabling them to enjoy Steamboat, the indirect impact is that others are losing that opportunity because they can’t afford to live here.

Which is the true crux of so many of the decisions that we homeowners have to make: what might be best for ourselves and our homes, might not be what’s best for the community we love.  And while the short-term benefit is truly appealing, will the long-term effect be worth it?  Or will it change what originally brought us here?

And looking beyond ourselves, the question is: What does the community of Steamboat want for their town’s future?

If it wants to retain its image as the best small town and community-oriented resort, it’s going to have to start considering the long-term effect of this incredibly lucrative profit sector.  Currently, there are minimal restrictions for one to acquire a permit for a short-term rental property.

Zoning changes could also be considered.  According to Jason Peasley, Executive Director of Yampa Valley Housing Authority, “Steamboat has a limited supply in zoning options for long-term apartment rental complexes.” And even when YVHA reaches their target goal in the next decade to provide housing for 600 residents, that only scratches the surface for a quarter of the struggling families.

Looking at all sides of this topic, there’s so much that’s uncertain.  But there is one thing that’s crystal clear: the decisions we make on our homes inevitably have an impact on our communities and short-term rentals are no exception. 

Steamboat has always been a town built on the importance of its people and its community. And if we want it to stay that way, difficult choices will need to be made.  A balance needs to be found; a community that allows for all walks of life to live and enjoy this beautiful place we call home. 

Steamboat Cost of Living

Median Home Cost: $649,757(1)

Per-Capita Income: $42,792 (2)

Number of Households: 4,815 (3)

Active Short Term Rentals in Steamboat: 2,498 (4) 

  • (1)
  • (2); 2014-2018
  • (3); 2014-2018
  • (4)

Tera Johnson-Swartz is an avid freelancer in Colorado and keeps busy playing music, painting, writing, and whenever her three young children and pup aren’t nipping at her heels, she might be found stealing an occasional nap.

Stay Warm This Winter

Woman sitting by the window reading book drinking coffee. Winter snowing landscape outside

Creating an airtight home

During the cold, dark days of winter, we often want a warm spot where we can curl up and relax at home. A cozy couch where we can sit with a warm drink and dive into your favorite book, watch the ballgame, or catch up on the news or social media.

But after a few minutes, something’s not right. One side of your body feels cold. So you shift your position, but soon the back of your neck has goosebumps or your feet are frozen. You can’t escape the chill. Is it a draft? A cold spot? An uncovered window?  An uninsulated floor or wall?

In some homes, even those built recently, this can be a common experience. The cold finds a way in, often in mysterious ways. But how? And how can the cold be sealed out to make the home comfortable? As an energy assessor and building scientist, I’ve spent the better part of the last five years trying to answer these questions for hundreds of homeowners in the Yampa Valley.

It turns out the solutions to fixing drafty, leaky, cold homes are often simple. Some can easily be addressed as a DIY project: replace weatherstripping on doors, seal and insulate the attic hatch and by all means get out your caulk gun – because you’re going to need it! Other solutions are more complex and require tools to diagnose, and professionals to address.

The most common sources of drafts and air-leakage are from penetrations, gaps or cracks in what is known as the interior air-barrier, which is usually drywall or wood paneling. The air-barrier is supposed to be continuous, so any unsealed hole –  an electrical outlet or switch, a light can in the ceiling, windows, ducts, wiring, plumbing, or structural beams to name a few – can leak air into or out of the building. In our climate, this often results in discomfort, heat loss, increased energy bills, and if you’re unlucky – ice dams.

Air-sealing a home comprehensively is often a major part of solving these problems and can reduce heating energy use by 20-30% or more.

However, to do this, one must find the holes first. Some leaks can be easy to spot if you know where to look, but finding those that are less obvious or hidden can be tricky and requires the right tools – a blower door, an infrared camera and a smoke generator. These tools help to confirm leakage in areas we expect, but also to discover leaks in areas we don’t – and we always find something unexpected. Using these tools also ensures we are finding and sealing the biggest leaks first.

Some leaks can be sealed from the interior with caulk and/or foam. Some require a more forceful approach, like the application of spray-foam insulation to entire assemblies, such as crawlspaces, rim joists or the underside of a floor or roof. Others, like tongue and groove ceilings without drywall behind them are nearly impossible to seal without a major remodel. When considering these and other costly improvements, it’s a good idea to get the help of professionals to prioritize which upgrades will maximize comfort and efficiency for the least cost.

Fortunately, as of 2019, new construction within Steamboat Springs has been required to meet a standard air-leakage rate. Most of Routt County is following suit in 2021. This has the benefit of decreasing drafts and air-leakage while improving energy efficiency, durability and occupant comfort. Some leading builders have prioritized building air-tight homes for years, and others are just catching on. It makes sense to ask about it when building or buying a home.

Indications that a home could benefit from air-sealing are high energy bills, persistent discomfort in winter and summer, a reliance on space heaters as temperatures drop and/or significant ice dams. If your home has these issues, do your best to address the common air-leaks listed above. If the issues persist, call in a pro to help diagnose and solve the problem, because winters here are too long to go without a cozy, comfortable spot to stay warm.

DIY air-sealing measures

Here’s a list of air-sealing measures that most homeowners can tackle.

  1. Seal the attic hatch with peel and stick weatherstripping. Also, insulate the attic hatch with rigid insulation to match the amount of insulation in the attic, R-50 = 10 inches of rigid insulation.
  2. Repair or replace weatherstrip on leaky doors.
  3. Install gaskets under the plate of any outlets and switches on the exterior wall.
  4. Caulk/seal baseboard trim to flooring, window and door trim and any gaps or cracks where drywall transitions to another material.
  5. Seal leaky light cans in ceilings with exterior penetrations (into an attic or cathedral ceiling) with integrated LED trim kits. Be sure to caulk the trim to the drywall when installing.

If the home is still drafty after these measures, it might be time to call in a professional.

Dan LeBlanc has been an energy efficiency and green building expert for more than 20 years on projects ranging from tiny homes to high-rise residential, and everything in between.

Ask Your Builder


Soda Mountain Construction is a local design-build firm known for their creativity and craftsmanship.  Travis Mathey, Design Principle, answers a few burning questions.

How do I make the space under my deck usable, preferably for four seasons?

 A couple of key elements can turn this space into a retreat.

 1) functional updates to the overhead deck

  2) creating usable spaces that fit your lifestyle

  3) tying the design into the house. 

In this photo, a mountain cabana concept brings life to this space.  A new waterproof deck above now prevents snow and rain from dripping down to the space below and three distinct functions create livable space:  inground spa, outdoor fireplace with seating and a ping pong table with hanging chair lift seats; and the concrete slab is now faced with an outdoor tile that integrates with the adjacent interior bar space.

We want to build a fairly large house, but how do we make it more intimate?

 When designing these large spaces, I recommend adding warmth to the room through colors, varying textures and natural materials.  Design features, such as dropped “architectural clouds” or timber trusses, begin to help change the vertical scale of a space and integrating lighting treatments with these architectural features brings to life the vertical layering of these spaces.  Tip: connect your interior and lighting designers early in the process.

What are some cost-saving tips to have the house of our dreams without breaking the bank?

I would encourage everyone to consider the benefits of the design/build process. A typical process brings the builder in after the design is finished, but a design/build process allows us to value-engineer during each phase and consult with our subcontractors earlier to discover ways to save money, improve efficiency and listen to their creative ideas.

Why do local builders cost more? Why wouldn’t I just go with a builder from the front range?

I would pare it down to two reasons: 1) Building a custom home is about the details, and these details come only from the experience of living and working in this mountain environment for many years.  2) Established subcontractor relationships are key to keeping your project on schedule and delivering quality craftsmanship.

Comfort and Cozy Go Hand-in-Hand

Mother and daughter sleep in bed, top view with copy-space. Concept of security, protection, comfort, family values, single-parent family

Crawling into a soft, warm bed at the end of a long day brings comfort, rest and a cozy night’s sleep.  Creating that nest of dreaminess is often overlooked but should be considered necessary for any home.  The bed could be the most personalized piece of furniture and decor you’ll ever own, because there are limitless choices for every detail – and only you can define ‘comfort’ for yourself.  And taking the time to get it right could be the difference between sweet dreams and restless nights. 

Here are a few tips for turning up the notch on comfort for your bed.

Foundation.  Possibly the most overlooked feature of your bed, and the one that can create the biggest difference.  Bases are no longer just ‘frames’ anymore; the latest bells and whistles can be game changers.  Automatic, spring-loaded, vibrations … you name it, it’s available. 

Mattress.  Oh, what a good mattress can do for your body!  Depending on your own situation – body needs, bed partners, temperature preferences – you can find a mattress that feels like a cloud (for everyone!).  Comfort zones, pillow top, firm, heated … what makes you drift off to sleep?

Pillows.  Giving your head the perfect landing place will keep you sleeping like a baby.  There are many considerations for the perfect pillow – sleeping position, temperature preferences, allergies – finding the perfect one could be the difference between a good night and a blissful night.

Sheets.  When you sleep, you’re surrounded by the feel of your sheets, so they should be exactly what your skin loves.  Thread count and material are key factors to consider, so learn more about both, and you can find a sheet set that makes your skin sing. 

Bedding.  The cherry on the top of your bed.  The focal point of your bedroom.  Tie your bedding into the overall room decor for a thoughtful ambience.  But don’t forget to make it comfortable too!

Create Your Outdoor Dream Space

Residential Backyard Garden Wooden Recreation Place Deck with Table Illuminated by LED Outdoor Lighting. Custom Made Wooden Element.

Being outdoors is why we all live in the Yampa Valley … the sunrises, sunsets, mountain views, lake views, fresh air, sunshine, fall colors, starry nights, snowy days … the list is endless of why we love being outside.  Creating an outdoor space that embraces mountain living, and provides you with your own sanctuary, makes your home even more valuable. 

If you’re dreaming of creating your own outdoor oasis, consider these 5 tips.

  1. Take Time to Define Your Objective.  What mood do you want to create?  Do you want a fun space for your kids to play, an area to entertain clients, or a quiet, intimate nook to reconnect with loved ones? 
  2. Determine the Location.  Search for that perfect place on your property.  Spend time there looking at the views, feeling how the weather affects it throughout the day, walking to/from to settle into the paths. Does it meet your objective?  Can you feel the vision come to life? 
  3. Envision the Backdrop.  What do you want to see from this new space?  And how does that tie into your mood/objective?  For example, staring into a dirt wall won’t help you feel relaxed at the end of a long day.  But if you rotate your space just a bit, you could watch the sunset over the Flat Tops.
  4. Make it Functional.  There are so many functional factors to consider to make your space work well – elevations, entrances, drainage, etc.  Without it functioning well, you won’t be able to enjoy the beauty.
  5. Work with Local Experts.  Mountain trees and plants are vastly different than other landscapes.  Using local plant material will not only make your space feel integrated into the area, but it will last far longer.

Soak it Up This Winter

Beautiful woman relaxing in hot tub.

Soaking in a hot spa on a cold, snowy winter night is the epitome of mountain living.  We all long for that warm relaxation, gazing up at the stars.  Most of us know that there are proven health benefits to spas, but now those benefits are even bigger. 

New Saltwater Spas make the hot tub magic even dreamier.  Here are 4 reasons why we’re falling in love with the new Saltwater Spas. 

More Natural – with this new technology, salt is converted to chlorine and other sanitizers. So, with fewer chemicals added, the water feels more natural – and you won’t have itchy eyes or dry skin. 

Less Chemical Scent – let’s be honest, the smell of chlorine isn’t exactly relaxing.  Now you can enjoy the fresh mountain air while you’re soaking those post-ski-day muscles.

Less Maintenance – the maintenance cycle for these spas is far less intensive, so you can spend more time enjoying your spa and less time cleaning it.

Earth Friendlier – with fewer chemical additives, you can reduce your spa drain and refills to once a year – conserving more water for Mother Earth.

Steamboat 2021 Real Estate Outlook


The impact of COVID-19 and a forecast for next year

The year 2020 will go down in recent history as a year of change and discovery. What a ride it turned out to be for the real estate market in Steamboat Springs. Leading into the year, we had a steady and healthy market. The first quarter started out strong with a 15% increase in residential sales volume year-over-year. But things quickly slowed down amidst the Coronavirus shutdown in the spring of 2020. In the second quarter, residential sales volume dropped a whopping 44% as compared to 2019. Values, however, did not slip during this slowdown and median price-per-square-foot was up 5%.

As people stayed at home, they became more aware of their surroundings and their dreams. Many also recognized significant changes to their needs within their homes. A theory began to emerge that with more people being given the freedom to work remotely, many would choose to live outside of urban areas. Mountain resort towns like Steamboat were a natural choice. Once the summer months hit, this theory quickly became reality. Restrictions were lifted and buyers began to flee their urban environments in search of greener pastures. For many, this was an opportunity for a full-time move to the mountains while for others, it was an opportunity to find a second home for extended stays.

The sales volume during the summer months ramped up quickly.

With already low inventory levels, this increase in buyer demand created a very strong seller’s market and put significant upward pressure on prices.

The market was also fueled by historically low interest rates, giving buyers a significant increase in their purchasing power. During the third quarter of 2020, the residential sales volume was up 100% compared to the third quarter of 2019, the median sales price was up 19% and the available residential inventory at the end of the third quarter was less than half of the prior year.

It’s no surprise that a large number of buyers focused on our area. With the high quality of life, excellent amenities, great schools, proximity to an airport, and the friendly, genuine community that Steamboat is known for, our town was an obvious choice. Buyers searching the mountain regions also realized what a great value Steamboat is. Being a little further off the beaten path of the Interstate-70 corridor, Steamboat has also remained a bit less discovered.

There are many questions about what the future looks like as we head into 2021. How long will our current market trend continue? How will any future Coronavirus shutdowns affect our market? While there are many uncertainties, the demand remains very high and there are no indications of that changing. Colorado, and especially the mountain resort areas of Colorado, remain very desirable places to live and to visit. The supply also remains very low with a limited number of sellers and with new housing construction not keeping pace. This imbalance will continue to maintain a strong market and solidify values. The low interest rates are also expected to continue for some time, giving buyers great opportunities to purchase with great terms.

With the buyer shift towards the less populated areas, the Steamboat real estate market is poised to continue its strong trend into 2021. Our community offers a safe environment and a high quality of life for our residents and visitors to enjoy. The high demand and limited inventory will likely continue to support a strong market this year. We look to 2021 with high hopes and great expectations, but if 2020 has taught us anything, it is that there are many unknowns.

Barkley Robinson is a real estate broker at Steamboat Sotheby’s, dad of 3, and living the dream in Steamboat Springs, CO.

A Foundation for Friendship


Interior Photos: Matt Eidt | Exterior Photos: David Patterson Photography

Nestled back in the Sanctuary, Scott and Karin Lee’s house is just that – their sanctuary. It’s cozy and inviting from the moment you step in; steep wooden steps lead up to the double front door and upon entry, the house opens up to a warm and inviting space. In the main room, the open floor plan hosts the kitchen, dining room and living room with high ceilings featuring wood beams and a floor to ceiling stone fireplace. The table is set for a meal, with napkins folded at the ready, and music echoes joyfully throughout the large room.

The dog gets put outside on the wraparound porch, and as we migrate to the living room, sinking into the plush couch, Scott and Karin begin telling their Steamboat story.

Living in Florida, they often took ski vacations with friends – they had been to many resorts across the country from the east coast to the west. Steamboat was a favorite mainly because, Scott says, it didn’t just feel like a ski resort, but rather a ranching town.

Strolling downtown one day, they wandered into realtor Lisa Olson’s office, and the rest was history.

“If you go back to the beginning of the story,” Scott says, “it really starts with Lisa. She’s been our person for almost every point of contact so far.”

Through Lisa, their connections in Steamboat grew deeper. She was the one who introduced them to Peter and Kim Kreissig, who they purchased a condo from in 2005. Stonewood at Eagleridge, located at the base of the mountain, had only dirt on the ground the first time that the Lees saw it. Relying on floor plans, builder specs and good faith, they purchased the first townhome in what would become a 23-unit complex. 

“It takes patience, trust and confidence to enter into a pre-construction contract, especially with a builder you’re meeting for the first time, and when you’re one of the first buyers in a new development,” says Kim Kreissig.

“It didn’t take long, however, before a mutual respect and friendship ensued. The Lees are entrepreneurs, just like us, which made it easy for us to connect on a personal level.”

Back in Kissimmee, Florida, Scott and Karin had a career in the miniature golf world where they located, designed, built, owned and operated several themed golf courses.  Together with two other families, the Lees continue to own these properties, but after several years of splitting their time between Kissimmee and Steamboat, the duo decided they needed a more permanent home – and they knew who to call. The Kreissigs had become close friends, and the two couples had socialized frequently together outside of work in the few years that they had known each other.

“When Scott and Karin came to Peter to build their custom home, it was a no-brainer for us to accept the opportunity,” Kim says.

Up until that point, Peter had not been interested in becoming a general contractor for anyone else but his own company, for which he built custom spec homes. But both he and Kim agreed that it would be wonderful to work with their close friends on a custom build.

“There was always the fear that things could go South and we might lose a friendship,” Kim explained. “But the opposite happened! The friendship and mutual respect only grew.”

After finding the property, Scott visited it one night at 3:00 am.

“The sky was dark,” he remembers, “and I could see every star. I said ‘yeah, this is the spot.’”

Peter introduced the Lees to Kevin and Wendy Lind of Axial Arts to help collaborate on architectural details, and together, the group designed and built the house from the ground up.

“Architecturally, the Lees wanted to embrace the mountain rustic characteristics of design, with a solid stone base to visually tie the home to the site, and heavy timber structural elements with variations in wood siding,” explains Kevin. “And we wanted to give them multiple opportunities to have access to the outdoors, providing transition spaces between indoor space and the on-grade outdoor places.”

Scott requested three things: an office, an art studio and a gallery space, all of which were incorporated into the home.

Building their dream home was an 18-month process filled with back and forth trips, contractors, interior design decisions and many learning experiences. But as the house was being built, Karin and Scott formed friendly relationships with each and every worker from plumbers to landscapers to carpenters.

“I would wander around the house and meet all the guys who were working,” he remembers. “I grew up working construction every summer and most of my career had to do with construction as well. I’ve swung a lot of hammers and pounded a lot of nails in my day, so I appreciate these guys and the hard work that they do to make everything come together.”

He touts the importance of looking at the big picture when building – not getting too caught up if things aren’t done on time and not haggling for the best price.

In the grand scheme of things, he points out, a few extra weeks doesn’t really matter. The relationships that you form with people are more important.

Kim Romick, owner of Into the West, helped find window treatments, carpets and furnishings, often emailing Karin photos for her opinion while she was back in Kissimmee.

“Kim really helped make the space feel cozy and like home, which is exactly what we wanted,” Karin says.

The house became their primary residence when the couple sold their place in Kissimmee to live in Steamboat full time. A few years after the house was finished, the Lees decided to remodel the outdoor living area to make it more functional, especially for year-round use. With their good friends Peter and Kim Kreissig swamped with other jobs, they turned to Vertical Arts to help them envision a new reality.

Sarah Tiedeken O’Brien, a partner at Vertical Arts, remembers the existing site being largely unused.

“They were seeking a tranquil and scenic spot to expand their indoor/outdoor living space,” she says.

They enlarged the patio footprint by moving further into the hill behind the house and redesigning the retaining boulder wall to open up the space and allow more access to the yard. A secondary pathway was created to the patio with slab flagstone steps, connecting the garage to the outdoor space. Additional patio space was added to ensure the couple can entertain guests, including a large grill.

Custom made steel panels, designed by Scott and laser cut by a company on the front range, Parasoleil, were installed to provide more privacy between the Lee’s house and their neighbor’s house. The hot tub sits hidden behind another screen, providing yet another layer of intimacy. An eye-catching sculpture designed by Scott sits on display in the middle of the space which aids the transition from indoor to out.

The landscaping was done by Mitch Clark, owner of Snow Country nursery, who became another close friend of the Lee family.

“Mitch moved all the boulders to recreate the retaining wall,” says Scott. “Anyone can stack up boulders but this guy really loves what he does. He’s an artist and takes a lot of pride in his work. He’ll take a rock and move it over a foot, and somehow, it will just be better.”

With the home and outdoor renovation complete, Scott and Karin settled in to host their friends who worked with them. It was pleasantly ironic that the outdoor space was used to gather with the very people who helped build it, including Mitch Clark and Sarah Tiedeken O’Brien, with their significant others. Scott recalls many meals outside at the table and cocktails around the fire.

“Many people would tell you not to socialize with the folks that you do business with, but actually, my experience is, great people make great times and these folks are the best,” says Scott.

Relationships are the most important thing to the couple, and it’s clear that they have formed many in this town.

“From the minute I met the Lees, I realized what an engaging couple they are,” says Sarah Tiedeken O’Brien.They are so kind and so easy to get along with. Not only that, but they appreciate design, as it can impact the usefulness and vitality of a space.  With Scott’s background designing miniature golf courses, he understands how the relationship and flow can create amazing spaces.”

Lisa Olson, the realtor who got them started in Steamboat, has remained close friends with the couple as well. “From sampling new restaurants together and catching up about life, they have been great friends, and I have learned so much about running a business from Scott,” she says.

At home in Steamboat, surrounded not only by colleagues but friends, the Lees are happy with their decision to live in Routt County full time. And Scott has a theory: “If you create an environment in your home and it’s a place that you can live really well in, you’ll live longer,” he says with a grin.

Sophie Dingle is a freelance writer in Steamboat Springs. When she’s not chasing after her husband, two boys and a crazy puppy, she enjoys long (quiet) hikes and many hours spent reading.


Right at Home

Photo by Burgesco Photo

Timing is everything. When Michael and Hilairy Guerriero found the perfect lot for their new family home, the spot was right, but the timing? Not so much. The family had been coming to Steamboat to ski for many years and had been looking for that perfect place to build their home base in the mountains. When they found their homesite in Sidney Peak Ranch, it seemed like everything was coming together. Except that with two young boys at critical phases in school, the timing wasn’t right to build their dream home over 1000 miles from their full-time home in Arkansas. Fast forward 11 years, and those two boys are now college-age and much more open to a second home in Colorado. That’s when the family enlisted the expertise of Steamboat Architectural Associates and JSM Builders to turn their family dream into reality. 


The Guerriero family has a long history with the Steamboat Springs area. Like many winter visitors, they came for the skiing, but fell in love with the area for the unique community and Western character. Sidney Peak Ranch checked all the boxes of wide-open spaces and spectacular views and even included easy access to an equestrian facility, a plus for Hilairy. When the time was right to build, the entire process took just over a year, a feat homeowner Michael attributes to smooth and trusting partnerships with the architects and builders.

Steamboat Architectural Associates wanted to maximize the benefits of the site. That included situating the home at just the right angle to take advantage of the expansive views. The layout is aligned in layers to create a natural framing of the landscape, much like a picture within a picture. “With every project we do, we look at how to situate the house to best capture the view and the design carries on from there,” says Erica Hewitt, Project Manager and Architectural Designer for Steamboat Architectural Associates. And in this home, it all starts with a grand entryway. 

Tucked into the otherwise unassuming front of the house, the massive front door greets you.

The wide glass entryway lets you know that this home is a welcoming place, one where the homeowners are happy to have you and want to bring you into their world.

That welcoming feeling continues throughout the home, where each pocket of the home is designed to feel warm and comfortable, a space where anyone is welcome to stay and chat.

The home has an open floor plan, but strategic use of furnishings divides the space into smaller areas, each with their own purpose. For a couple that likes to entertain, a well-appointed kitchen with equal parts prep and congregating places was a must. Granite countertops serve as bookends to the central range and maintain a perfect line of sight to the very lounge-able living room. Yet each area feels distinct, thanks to the keen design eye of Hewitt. Hewitt worked closely with Hilairy Guerriero and Hilairy’s close friend, Houston-based designer Mersina Stubbs, to create the perfect furnishing complements to the architecture. Says Hilairy, “SAA created the spaces, and the design amplified the space to create these natural places that are conducive to conversation.”

The vast living room area features smaller conversation pods within it, including a perfectly placed round table and chairs. This corner spot invites the visitor to sit and enjoy a cup of morning coffee while soaking in the unobstructed views of Steamboat Ski Area’s Mount Werner. Opposite the table sits a pheasant-clad lounge chair and matching ottoman, primed for solo reading or piping into the larger conversation in the living room.

In fact, the entire home seamlessly merges spaces so everyone has a place to belong.

“We wanted a great place to gather, with enough room to socialize and interact, as well as places to retreat and be a little quieter. A gathering place for lots of people but also a peaceful place for one,” describes Hilairy.

The lower floor features most of the home’s four bedrooms, but also a bunkbed room, with eight large beds designed for the couple’s twenty-something sons to crash with friends after a long day of skiing. Typically a space designed for kids, this bunk room features a grown-up design palette, reminiscent of an upscale European hostel.

Even the dogs have their own space in this thoughtful design. The homesite’s 50 acres give the family dogs plenty of space to roam, and plenty of opportunities to get nice and muddy. A strategically placed dog wash in the garage works to contain the mud before the dogs can track it inside. “It’s one of my favorite features in the house,” says Hilairy. “We use it almost every day in the summer.”

Creating spaces that encourage communication

One of the couple’s primary goals in building the Steamboat home was to have a place to gather. At the end of the day it is a vehicle to spend time with the family; it just happens by itself because there are so many areas where people can come together,” says Michael. With their children now older, living away from home with friends of their own to invite to the house, the Guerrieros wanted a home base; a place for their family and friends, a central meet-up gathering point. The home was specifically designed to that end, with the design creating spaces that are welcoming, where people would want to come back to. Someplace where future grandchildren and great-grandchildren would want to spend time.

One way SAA achieved this goal was by creating social and inviting rooms, where people can see and communicate with each other in different spaces. Thoughtful design choices like swivel chairs in the main living area encourage communication between areas. They chose furnishings that are inviting and comfortable and not too sterile.

For this Southern family, communication is uniquely important. Providing spaces where people wanted to sit down and visit over coffee or cocktails was a must. Strategically placed chairs around the main living areas, plus additional seating on the vast deck, check that box with style.

One thing you won’t notice in the main living area is a television. That’s by design. Steamboat Springs-based Fedewa Custom Works created a custom cabinet to shield the tv from plain sight, but it can easily rise into view when guests want to turn on that must-see football game. Then the tv becomes another stimulus for conversation, rather than a distraction from it.

Fedewa created custom cabinets throughout the home, solving for the homeowner’s requests for unique style and functionality. “I’ve always thought our job is to bring the client’s mental picture to life,” says Kevin Fedewa, owner of Fedewa Custom Works.  “The front-end collaboration was Steamboat Architectural Associates, JSM, my design team and the clients.  From that point my cabinet shop took the reins and turned the drawings into cabinets.” The result is beautifully designed storage that fits perfectly into the family’s needs and style.

The lower level boasts another large gathering area with long, comfy couches perfect for lounging. A shuffleboard table lines the wall, while a poker table in the corner serves as another inviting place to pass the time between family and friends. Even the home gym was designed to allow family and friends to share a space during what is typically a solo activity. Designed as an afterthought, when excavation revealed a hole in the landscape that needed to be covered, the gym is a clever way to utilize space and provide a bonus room that increases the home’s unique appeal. Spanning the entire length of the upstairs garage, the well-equipped home gym has the typical cardio equipment, and then some. “I may have gone a bit overboard with that space,” laughs Michael, “but it’s a great place that everyone enjoys.” He worked with a personal trainer to outfit the gym with everything from free weights and punching bags to complete strength training systems. Glass garage doors allow for a unique view during each workout.

A marriage of styles

When creating a custom home, a designer is working with a blank slate. And when the tastes of the homeowners skew in vastly different directions, that can create unique design opportunities. In the case of this home, that meant going neutral in most of the home’s spaces to accommodate Michael’s refined tastes, then turning up the design with pops of color and texture in select spaces to satisfy Hilairy’s love of bold design. Bathrooms are a natural place to have fun with design, and each one in the home reflects Hilairy’s personal taste. No place is that more evident than in the choice of wallpaper and sinks in the powder rooms. Bold wallpaper patterns with bright colors play together with Mexican-style sinks and tile.

Another unexpected and dramatic design element is a colorful glass chandelier that hangs in the entryway. It’s enough to stop anyone in their tracks. Designed by James Hayes Art Glass Company, calling this chandelier a lighting fixture would be an understatement. Crafted in his Arkansas studio then carefully transported to Colorado and installed for the first time in the home, the piece brings just the right amount of drama to the lofted ceilings.

Throughout the rest of the house, the design team sweated all the small stuff too, including flush Trufig outlets that blend seamlessly into the kitchen and hand painting other outlet covers to match the carefully selected wallpaper. Personal reading lights in each of the bunk beds make every guest feel at home. It’s these finishing touches that help transform this custom build into a unique home.

Twelve years after the Guerriero’s purchased their dream lot, they can now enjoy their cozy gathering place in the mountains. It was the first home the couple built together, and they’re proud to call out that their marriage has come out intact. As Michael notes, at the end of the day, building a home can either be stressful or enjoyable.

“Leverage your professionals and let them do their job so you can enjoy the process.” They did just that, and the result was a building and design process that all partners agreed was efficient and even enjoyable.

The home was worth the wait. Now it’s ready for the current generation to enjoy their time in the home they so carefully crafted and create a legacy space for future family and friends to gather together.

Laura Soard is a writer and marketing professional based in Steamboat Springs. When she’s not writing, you can find her running, biking and hiking on the trails around the Yampa Valley with her husband, daughter and Chocolate lab.


Builder: JSM

Architect & Interior Design: Steamboat Architectural Associates

Custom Cabinetry: Fedewa Custom Works

Lighting: Tricia Hauan, The Light Center

Building Supplies: Northwestern Supplies

Roofing: Revelation Roofing

Doors: Carriage House Doors

Chandelier: James Hayes Art Glass Co

Insulation: Accurate Insulation

The Heart of the Home


Photos by: Kat Walsh Photography

It’s often been said that kitchens are the heart of a home.  Much like our own hearts, kitchens are the centerpoint for energy, for infusing life into our dwelling space.  They serve as the place for fueling family and guests, serving food and drink to keep them satisfied.  They are the central spokes of the house, always offering a welcoming space to reconnect.  And they are often the most prominent place for guests to see, setting an expectation for what the remainder of the home might look like. 

With such prominent roles in the home, it’s no wonder that kitchen designs are so complex and creative. That was certainly true for Lindsay Grant and Gibb Clark when they decided to renovate their kitchen. 

Before buying their Dakota Ridge home in 2016, it was obvious to Lindsay that she would be remodeling the entire house; over time, she did just that.  For her, the most logical place to start was the kitchen.  “It’s where we always hang out,” Lindsay offers as her reason for beginning there.  Understanding the importance of the kitchen, and with the awareness that the entire house would undergo a complete change, she wanted the kitchen renovation to “set the stage for the pallet and materials that would be used throughout the entire house.” 

At the onset, the kitchen layout was a challenge.  Originally, it was a long space divided into a small working kitchen and a small dining nook, divided by a massive, hidden support beam.  To help reimagine her kitchen, she enlisted the expertise of Al Rosenthal at Alpine Kitchen Designs.  His approach to kitchen design is exactly what Lindsay needed. 

At the onset of any kitchen remodel, Rosenthal looks at three design pillars to guide him: function, symmetry and balance.

Rosenthal’s 3 Kitchen Design Pillars:

1. Function – meeting the family’s specific needs for the space to work well

2. Symmetry – using symmetry or asymmetry to create comfort in the room

3. Balance – seamlessly tying together the elements

First, they outlined exactly how the kitchen would need to function, identifying several work spaces: raised counter space for informal gatherings with a prep area close to the refrigerator; separate areas for cooking and cleanup, in close proximity to the range; wine bar for hosting small parties; and computer/desk space for her two sons, Hudson and Nixon. 

Once the functionality was outlined, Rosenthal determined that  Lindsay preferred asymmetry, which allowed him creative permission to imagine two islands with complimentary, but not matching, structure and finishes.  The “working island” sits directly across from the range and offers an expansive prep area with ample storage space.  The “gathering island” offers a raised counter space for serving, and is located directly across from the oversized refrigerator for easy access to food and beverages. It also has a cove for four bold barstools.  Both islands have a different finish on them, creating more visual interest and asymmetry.  The prep island is finished with clean, modern lines, while the gathering island boasts a more rugged rock finish. 

Another interesting challenge was the workspace/computer area.  As this house was built into the ridge, there is a slight bend in one wall of the kitchen as it hugs the side of the mountain.  To tie this into the final design, Rosenthal created the area to perfectly situate with the bend, creating two workspaces for Lindsay’s sons.  This space is conveniently located near the kitchen, so that the boys can finish schoolwork while Lindsay is close by, preparing dinner. 

“I love how comfortable the kids are in the kitchen,” Lindsay said. 

From that point, Rosenthal determined how to bring balance to the space through consistent sizes, shapes, colors and finishes.  The soft cream color of the custom built cabinets, consistent modern grays of the countertops, industrial pendant lights and hardware all create a balance that makes the asymmetry feel intentional and visually appealing.  Without the balance, asymmetry can feel chaotic. 

Once the design was complete, Drury Construction was tasked with bringing it to life. “The project required a lot of creativity to run new plumbing and electrical service through concrete floor, walls, and ceilings to reach new appliances and lighting locations,” recalls Jake Drury, owner of Drury Construction.  “Our team of contractors was amazing, and we couldn’t have pulled it off so successfully without them. In the end, it was a fantastic project and experience.”

In her wildest imagination, Lindsay didn’t expect Rosenthal and Drury to be able to deliver on all of her needs; but they did, and they brought it to life in an elegant expression of creativity.  It’s everything she had hoped for: the heart of their home to set the stage for the remainder of her remodeling. 

Brooke Salazar spends most of her time loving on her two daughters.  In her spare time, she and her husband run two local Steamboat businesses. 


Downsizing for Retirement with Safety, Sustainability in Mind


Couple maintains 1970s roots adding low-maintenance, solar home

Photos by: Matt Eidt

In the 1970s, Linda and Donald Cantway purchased a beautiful 12-acre property in a hay meadow south of Steamboat Springs to plant their roots. The couple, who met through a ski club in Chicago and started skiing together at Steamboat in 1970, built a two-story house that became their home for 45 years.

The Cantways lived a busy, healthy lifestyle with horses and gardens and raising four daughters who participated in barrel racing, ski racing, gymnastics and theater events. Donald maintained a 35-year career as an emergency room doctor, traveling alternative weeks to the hospital in Laramie.

More than a decade ago, Donald was diagnosed with the progressive nervous system disorder Parkinson’s disease. In recent years, the couple’s home with multiple sets of stairs, safety obstacles and terraced outdoor landscaping gradually became too much to navigate. The couple began planning toward a smaller, low-maintenance, sustainable home to be built next door. When they lost a friend with Parkinson’s disease who died from a fall, the motivation for a safer home accelerated.

The choice of home designer was obvious as the Cantways and Steamboat Springs architect Joe Patrick Robbins have been friends since the 1970s.

“I told Joe our retirement home should be maintenance-free with walkout everywhere on a single level, except for granny’s fort where the grandchildren sleep when they come to visit,” said Linda, grandmother to six grandchildren ages 10 and younger.

Donald and Linda moved into their new functional, comfortable, 1,900-square-foot home in the Country Green neighborhood in March, and their oldest daughter moved with her family into the original 4,000-square-foot home to help take care of the property.

“It’s awesome. It’s a godsend with no maintenance and the ability to live safely,” Linda said. “Donald can walk on flat surfaces all around the house.”           

Architect Robbins said the home is a passive solar design “with practicality in mind in every aspect.”

“Budget, livability, low maintenance and low upkeep were all important,” Robbins said.

“The home is well insulated, tightly constructed and oriented to best take advantage of views, sun and our mountain climate. The primary glass openings are southeast facing to best take advantage of winter sun, while limited glass and long overhangs shade the home on summer afternoons.”

Energy efficiency features include in-floor radiant heating using a Warmboard system and a heat recovery ventilation system, noted home builder Brian Beck, owner of Beck Construction, who has 23 years of construction experience in Routt County.

Both the new and the original family homes are powered by two grid-tied, ground-mounted solar electric systems. Other sustainable features include using beetle-kill pine wood for soffits and glued laminated support timbers (glulam) since the engineered wood decreases logging of bigger trees.

The builder said some of the home’s low-maintenance features include factory-painted metal facia, COREtek commercial grade vinyl plank flooring and a hard-coat stucco exterior with elastic color coating completed by S & R Stucco & Plaster from Steamboat Springs.

The Cantways’ well-thought-out home is equipped with numerous grab bars, a wheelchair accessible shower, wider doors and hallways and limited doors on closets and side rooms. The oversized garage functions as an exercise, physical therapy and music room.

The exterior doorways provided a special construction challenge to limit the floor transition to only one-fourth of an inch.

“We dropped the door through the subfloor down to the joist to eliminate the threshold bump that is usually 1.5 inches,” Beck said.

With Linda’s professional background as a respiratory therapist, the home’s healthy indoor air is an important element with no wood-burning fireplace, a downdraft ventilation unit that lowers into the cabinet behind the cooktop, and the use of low- or no-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints, stains, caulks and adhesives. The couple finished the home with creative design touches such as “granny’s fort”, soothing earth tones, family furniture antiques and framed artwork by their daughters and grandchildren.

Both the Cantways and Beck encourage homebuyers to think about reasonable home sizes, aging-in-place, long-term maintenance needs and environmental sustainability when planning for a new house.

Beck said 90% of the time clients ask for more space in a home than they will actually use. Many buyers end up asking for 10 to 15% of their wish list to be removed to meet the construction budget.

The builder shared some simple ways to save on new home construction: design with straight lines and a simple roof; avoid round elements and reduce the number of corners; and utilize design dimensions matching the 2-foot increments of lumber and supplies. Beck emphasized choosing modest, durable fixtures in plumbing, lighting and finishes which are available in a wide spectrum of costs.

Beck said homebuilding magazines and websites feature design inspirations “because they look cool,” but he warns clients “if it looks really cool, it’s really expensive.”

“Everything you do that incorporates more trades people will increase the costs. I think a lot of people miss that,” Beck noted.

Linda said although the family does have storage in the existing horse barn, downsizing was easy. The new home on the property full of family roots is more functional and a sensible size that meets their needs.

“I wish people would think about that more often. We all get older and have ailments, and we cannot work at the level we did as youngsters,” Linda said. “The reason we built this house is so that Donald could live his life in the safe environment and that I could take care of him, and the home, for the rest of our lives.”

Home Features Solar Triad: Passive Design, PV, Thermal

When building their energy efficient retirement home, the Cantways included a 7-kilowatt, ground-mounted solar electric system and they added a 12-kilowatt, ground-mounted system to help the original family home be more environmentally sustainable.

The new home incorporates a three-pronged solar approach: passive solar architectural design, solar electric calculated to power all the home’s electrical needs and a two-panel solar thermal systemfor domestic water heating.

Steamboat Springs vendors Brightside Solar and Simply Radiant Heating installed the solar PV and hot water systems, respectively.

“Many people in Routt County are aware that renewable tax credits are de-escalating and scheduled to phase out soon, consequently we have seen an uptick in business,” Piva said.

“Solar is certainly viable because of the abundance of sunshine here as well as the ability to design systems that work with snow loads in northwest Colorado.”

Solar electric installations in 2020 earned a federal investment tax credit of 26%, which is scheduled to roll down to 22% for 2021. That means owners of new residential and commercial solar can deduct 22% of the system costs from their taxes through the end of this year.

Simply Radiant Heating owner Jeffrey Campbell said the most efficient use of solar thermal energy is for domestic hot water that is used daily and would be otherwise fueled by more expensive propane gas. Campbell installed an integrated hot-water system for the home including a 95 percent efficient Viessman boiler and the hot water in-floor heating fueled by propane.

With tax incentives rolling down, experienced local solar vendors and the Yampa Valley Solar Co-op in 2019, solar permits across Routt County have increased in recent years. Solar permits reached 31 across the county in 2019 and 17 by the end of the third quarter in 2020, according to Routt County Regional Building Department figures.

Another sign of the importance of solar locally, City of Steamboat Springs and Routt County leaders are reviewing solar-friendly policies as both entities work to earn the U.S. Department of Energy’s SolSmart designation.

Suzie Romig, a Routt County resident, is a degreed and award-winning journalist who has lived in Colorado for 30 years. In addition to reporting for many media outlets, she has worked for numerous nonprofits across the state in educational and environmental efforts.


Coming Together


From neighborhood favorites to insider info, the best communities for staying connected.

This is the power of gathering: it inspires us, delightfully, to be more hopeful, more joyful, more thoughtful: in a word, more alive.

Alice waters

The essence of community can shine brightest on the darkest days. Nowhere is that more true than here in Steamboat.

This past year, the Steamboat community has come together by staying apart.  We’ve had to skip our favorite festivities, hold off on holiday events and make changes to our daily routines. We now continue to hibernate through this winter out of care and civic duty. We hunker down with loved ones, remaining humble and hopeful as we cloak ourselves in the warmth and comfort of knowing that we live in a community that will bloom like wildflowers once hibernation is over.

And as certain as the snowmelt, that time will come. In anticipation, let’s take a look at some of our favorite Routt County communities and the unique ways that they come together. Sharing fun and traditions like families, these neighborhoods each have special ways of coming together.


Best time of year to gather: Summer – there is nothing better than summer in Stagecoach! Being on the lake is amazing and always feels like a vacation. There are really cool hiking trails, boating, swimming, fishing…our first summer in Stagecoach FAR exceeded our expectations.

A must-have for any gathering: A Yeti filled with a drink of your choice and kids on bikes. We have been known to go for neighborhood happy hour walks, where we all meet up and let the kids run or bike while the adults stroll and have a drink together.

Favorite gathering spot: The beach. While it can get crowded on the weekends, we always go during the week and usually find one of our neighbors to hang with. It’s great for kids and adults alike – perfect for swimming, playing in the sand, paddleboarding and just hanging out.

-Sophie Dingle

Stagecoach beach is a favorite for families.


Best holiday or event gathering?

Hayden Days where the entire town gets together in the summer for a parade, local vendor booths, bounce houses, events and community concerts.

A must-have for any gathering in your community?

A fun attitude. The barista at the coffee shop said, “If you’re fun, you can come,” and I think this is the exact mindset of Hayden.

You know you live in the Hayden when…?

Someone gets your Amazon package delivered to their house and instead of taking it back to the post office, they bring it to you in the evening when they know you’re home from work.

-Heidi Mendisco

The Granary is a beloved gathering place.


What makes Fairview people so community-driven?

There is a legacy of humor and play in Fairview. For example, we designate a “mayor” by bequesting  them a golden plunger; we like entering parades as “the Fairview Nation” and we have a Fairview Fiesta every year, complete with a band and a “state of the nation” address.

You know you live in the Fairview when…?

Your yard does not look like the cover of mountain living and you know what the golden plunger symbolizes.

Favorite gathering spot?

Wherever we happen to be! But, probably on Emerald Mountain meeting each other by chance on dog walks or skis or bike rides.

-Megan Moore

Fairview neighbors always find each other in their backyard of Emerald Mountain.

Silver Spur

Best holiday or event gathering?

Halloween is always a fun night in Silver Spur. Pretty much every house participates and many of the families have BBQs and fires going in the driveways.

Favorite gathering spot?

The community field, playground and the foot/nordic path are always social.

You know you live in the Silver Spur when…?

You haven’t seen your kid(s) for hours and you haven’t even begun to worry about where they are.

-Courtney & Jenny Wiedel

Neighbors enjoy the foot/nordic track right in their backyard.

Ranching Community

Best time of year to gather?

Anytime but July is generally good because “you have to make hay when the sun shines” and that month is packed.

What makes the ranching people so community-driven?

I think the drive comes from history.  Ranching is deeply embedded in the history of the west and there is no such thing as a rancher that can do it all alone. Every rancher at some point needs help from another rancher.

You know you live in the Steamboat ranching community when…?

You see tractors driving down 131 going to the next field to cut, or when the driver in the truck passing the opposite way waves simply because I am wearing a cowboy hat.

-Leigh & Yancey Rushton

There is always work to be done on a ranch.

North Routt

What makes North Routt people so community-driven?

When you live in a remote area like North Routt, the phrase “it takes a village” has a very tangible meaning. From plowing a driveway, towing someone out of a ditch, or running to town for milk or gas, North Routt is the most generous and compassionate community I’ve ever known. It’s more like family.

You know you live in the North Routt when…?

You’ve slid off an icy road at least once or you’ve pulled someone back onto the road at least once. Or you wear muck boots almost year-round as a staple of your wardrobe.

Best holiday or event gathering?

Cabins at Historic Columbine hosts a community Christmas event that is a lot of fun. We sing carols, decorate the giant tree, visit Santa and enjoy having our families connect.

-Vie Rhodes

Families love to gather at the Clark Store for ice cream in the summer.

Blair lives in Steamboat with her husband and three (soon to be four!) children. When not writing or spending time with her family, you can find her running or skiing on the trails of Steamboat.

A Cozy Addition


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.

Homeowners are not only thinking of how every space can be optimized, but how additional space can be created. Whether you can build out or redesign an existing room, your home should function in a way that makes sense for your family as you live in it now.

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.

We realize that our homes are more than shelters, they are a place of comfort and inspiration; a place to grow, gather and retreat.

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.


Economic Development and Steamboat Springs


Boom and bust. That is the love-hate economic cycle that weaves its way through Colorado’s history that many of us know all too well as our economy expands and then contracts, sometimes overnight. In our Colorado history classes, we learned about the collapse of the fur trade in the 1830s, the Silver Bust in the 1890s, the Great Depression in the 1930s, and even more recently Black Sunday in 1982 which hit the West Slope hard. We know the story of Leadville with the closure of Climax Mine in the late 1980s and how that impacted both Leadville and Buena Vista, my then hometown, as jobs were lost causing families to move and the community’s overall wealth and ability to attract investment to decline. Thankfully, Colorado is learning how to evade the sharpest busts as community leaders from urban and rural areas embrace smart economic development practices.

At the heart of it, economic development is about supporting the diversification of a regional economy across a wide array of industry sectors. It is akin to working an investment portfolio, identifying risks and opportunities, hedging to offset declines, and doing the research on what the next big opportunity is so that you are well-positioned in the market to gain wealth. Or simply put, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Wise communities study the distribution of their industry sectors looking at jobs and total salaries to know where their community is invested and to identify any potential risks. Then, they take action and make thoughtful investments in areas of opportunity that will support long-term economic sustainability and an improving-quality of life for their community. Colorado has seen this necessity to diversify our local and regional economies and it is delivering results.

Colorado’s economy was ahead of the nation during the Great Recession and again it is ahead of the nation with the current pandemic-induced recession. Our economic diversity is making us more resilient to economic shocks, just as a diversified investment portfolio does.

Here in Routt County and Steamboat Springs we are fortunate to have a more diverse economy than our peer counties, which is to say we are not overly reliant on any one industry sector.

Do we have risks? Of course we do, but we know what they are, and we are proactively working to smooth the risk in those areas while smartly targeting our diversification work towards up-and-coming industry sectors and new start-ups that pay above-average annual wages.

This is a proven economic development strategy to advance economic diversity by directing resources towards sectors and jobs that are higher on the economic ladder with a strong future. A few of our targets include outdoor gear manufactures, value-added agriculture, creative industries and location neutral business/workers. In the long run these deliberate efforts help protect our community’s economic well-being and quality-of-life by maintaining and expanding our community’s existing wealth while also presenting a strong case to those looking to invest in our community.  Anyone looking to open or buy a business, build or buy a home, or simply relocate here and enjoy a stable and sustainable community should find reassurance in our economic diversity when making comparisons and investment decisions now and down the road.

Looking ahead to the next five to ten years, it is easy to see that Steamboat Springs and Routt County are well-positioned to continue enjoying a diverse and stable economy.

We enjoyed record-breaking real estate market over the summer of 2020, and building permits are up year-over-year as people are making investments. Other economic indicators such as personal income, including median household income, average weekly wages, and labor source vs. non-labor source income, are all trending the right direction and have for the past few years.

Looking at business indicators, we see new business openings, city sales-tax collections, GDP and unemployment rates all trending in the right direction. Prior to the pandemic, our local unemployment rate was so low it was actually restraining business expansion due to lack of workers to support expanded operations. Another indicator of note is that investments in the region, revealed by bank deposits, commercial property values, and residential property values, are all steadily trending upwards at reasonable rates. These indicators tell us that our diversity is our key strength, keeping us well-positioned for the next decade and away from a boom and bust cycle.

John is the Director of the Economic Development Council and a 3rd generation Routt County resident with a deep love for the Yampa Valley.  Coming from a  long line of ranching, he is proud of, and has a passion to protect, Steamboat’s diverse economy that supports all industry sectors.

A New Way to Bring the Heat This Summer


Picture this: it’s eight o’clock on a summer evening and you’re sitting outside with friends and family, laughing and sharing a glass of wine while the sun sinks down below the mountains. Flames from a softly crackling fireplace dance before you, setting the scene for another easy summer night. Fire is a focal point for drawing people together and making memories. And it’s not just for cozy winters – more often than ever before homeowners are seeking to bring the indoors outside, especially in the summer. Installing an outdoor fire feature elevates your landscape and your evenings. Here are three things to consider before sparking flames this summer.

Design + Placement

What is your taste for the overall look? Small, discrete flames or tall, dancing bonfire? Logs, glass or lava rock? Stand-alone fire feature or more built in fireplace? Accent flames or something to sit around during dinner? Do you prefer a more contemporary linear look or a traditional campfire? Plus, how windy is your patio? These are all things to keep in mind when choosing a design for your outdoor fire feature. You can have virtually any look and feel you desire given enough planning and budget.

Consider the Fuel

Where is your fuel source? The larger the flame, the bigger the gas supply line required. Specifically for fire pits, where the gas line is usually buried under the patio or deck, the size of the line is based on the capacity of the fire feature and the distance from the meter or propane tank.  Installing gas and potentially electric supply in an existing patio can be done but it will be disruptive.  New construction or remodels where piping locations can be accessed and hidden are less expensive than tearing up pavers or landscaping. 

Care and Maintenance

Fire pit features do require some care and maintenance in our environment. Logs and burners left uncovered during snow and rainstorms will fail when water goes through freezing and thawing. Plan to cover up that fire pit – buy a cover and use it! Fireplaces that are more vertical are less likely to fill with water, but any fire feature will be susceptible to freeze damage.  Additionally, many outdoor fireplaces are open – there is no glass between you, kids or pets.  Most can be supplied with safety screens.  Some firepit designs incorporate glass shields that act as wind and safety barriers. 




By Tera Johnson-Swartz | Photos by David Patterson Photography

A classic style in the fashion industry is easy to spot: clean silhouettes, tailored cuts, neat hems, minimal detail, and neutral colors are just a few identifiers. Designing an ageless home is similar. Susse Budde and Corey Larsen of Dimension Fine Homes in Steamboat Springs are experts in the field. Having worked together for over a decade and providing their clients a rare full-service Design+Build experience, this husband-wife team have become a featured staple in the tight-knit circle of professional home design.

However, before transplanting to Steamboat, Budde already had a name in custom work in Los Angeles; where starting trends, keeping abreast with fashion, and investing in stylists are prerequisites for anyone who’s on the rise in their industry. And though designers and stylists in that metropolis come a dime a dozen, few can say they’ve had as much recognition for being repeatedly featured in magazines and articles about a single home.

Budde and Larsen just so happened to be in the right place at the right time in 2013. They were at home in Steamboat when a visiting couple driving up the winding mountain road got stuck. After a brief exchange of neighborly help and thank-yous, the visitors spotted a selection of tile samples and asked if Budde was an interior designer. That was the beginning of a two-year project that launched Dimension Fine Homes into the archives of timeless design history.

While Larsen had been a builder since 1995 and as a couple, Budde and Larsen had already built three other homes prior, what made this project resonate was how similar the design process – it’s ebb and flow – related to a relationship. “It was a lot of give and take,” Budde said. “We brought a lot of work home, and toward the end, we were there night and day.” Where she’d sketch a roofline, he’d chime in to prevent ice dams. Where he’d build a wall, she’d make sure the materials used complimented each other aesthetically.

The over 6,000 square foot masterpiece was no easy feat, however. The owners’ primary residence was in Dubai with a 10-hour time difference, and both had demanding careers: he, often in Vietnam, and she, all over the world. Budde and Larsen embraced the challenge and pushed forward to flesh out the couple’s dream of a spacious, functional home that complimented both of their tastes.

He wanted a “man room,” a traditional log cabin with antlers and wagon wheels and taxidermy décor. She wanted elegance with a sophisticated-feel and contemporary touches. And both were used to bustling around big cities and being frequently on the go, so conveniences like a complete gym in their home were crucial; all the while allowing enough space for visiting family and friends to have their own piece of heaven in the mountains.

First, they focused on the outer architectural plans. Attracting opposites was the theme. Clean lines, floor-to-ceiling windows, and minimal detail with steel edging brought a subtle modern-look without clashing with nature’s neutral color pallet of stone and wood often found in a typical log home.

Next, the concept of bringing the outside-in was key. The open space between the kitchen overflowing into the great room was Budde’s inspiration.

“In the ‘70s, homes were compartmentalized. Families wanted personal space and boundaries between rooms, but times have changed. Families want to be together. They want to communicate and be accessible to each other.”

Susse Budde

So, the home’s 270-degree unobstructed mountain view became the focal point in the great room; not to mention the awing beetle kill pine ceiling, hand-distressed beams, along with a mix of barn wood, stone, steel, and clean-painted walls paired with varying floor mediums such as concrete, tile, and wood.

The mix of opposites throughout the home – steel and glass, old and new, shiny and rough – allowed pieces that normally blend in with the background a chance to shine. Like the reclaimed wooded staircase next to the muted steel handrails and cables, back-splashed with sleek metallic walls brought out texture and color and interest in a place most would pass by without a thought.

Once it was time to fill the finished rooms though, Budde had an interesting approach. “People don’t remember the color on the walls,” she said. “They remember the big light fixtures.”

And that’s exactly what she requested her clients commit to first: memorable light fixtures.

Budde found a similar 2-tiered version of the 60-inch-diameter halo of contemporary lighting, featured in the great room, at a showroom in New York. But she felt the second tier too distracting. Because of her history and access to exclusive showrooms and custom designers though, she was able to have the original piece altered to a single tier in order to create the subtle elegance the finished product clearly exudes.

“Only designers can purchase or alter from most upscale showrooms,” she explained. “When clients invest in hiring a designer, they’re not just paying for styles and ideas – they’re paying for access to the newest, most exclusive concepts.” And she’s right. Think of a much nicer, but equally reputable version of a Miranda Preistly from The Devil Wears Prada.

Besides the many eye-catching light fixtures throughout the home, custom cabinets and tile are Budde’s other focuses. “Don’t cheap out on the tile,” she advises. “The cost of labor isn’t determined on the price of the tile itself, and quality matters.” It’s hard to argue this point; no one wants to bring in a jackhammer and demo crew to replace cheap tile. It’s better to invest in quality at the start, Budde insists.

But what Budde and most designers are known for, isn’t just where they encourage their clients to spend their money. It’s where they help them save it too. Often folks get caught up in trends that are either impractical and cost more than they’re worth, or are simply fads that go out of style as quickly as they came in. “Keep it classy,” Budde advises. “Neutral pallets for things that are permanent – like cabinets, ceilings, and in some cases walls too. You can always add color in the accessories and items that are easily replaceable.”

Throughout this particular home, it’s easy to spot exactly what she’s talking about. A mustard-colored bench sits in the entryway. Purple-plush throw pillows dot the living room. The legs of the dining room table are painted a muted blue. Colorful wall art adorns the hallways and guest bedrooms. All splashes of color are in otherwise neutral toned spaces.

So too, like the classic styles of fashion, the longevity of timelessness is in the simple touches. The plain, minimally-detailed backdrops that allow varying trends and fads to fall in and out of style through the accessories. And if there’s someone who knows a thing or two about where to save and spend on those, Susse Budde has probably got their number too.


Routt County Sustainable Home of 2019


Sustainable Home of Year highlights first planned net-zero subdivision in Routt County

The latest award for Routt County Sustainable Home of the Year — selected by nonprofit Yampa Valley Sustainability Council — honors smart, durable and energy efficient construction. Moreover, the award recognizes the renewable energy goal of Oak Creek Commons to become the first net-zero energy subdivision in Routt County.

“The home represents sustainable affordability that holds its value along with bold energy performance.”

project developer John Eastman, a former City of Steamboat Springs and Routt County planner for 10 years.

Located a block off main street in downtown Oak Creek, the winning two-bedroom home on Wild Hogg Drive is the second house built in a 10-unit planned development that is bringing to life a decade-long dream for Eastman. With buildout in five years, the practical, modern homes will be fully powered by a neighborhood solar garden and rooftop solar installations.

The award-winning efficient home was designed and built by sustainable homebuilder Eric Simonsen, owner of Nordic Custom Constructors in Steamboat Springs since 1999. Simonsen said the tightly built, high performance home was designed and constructed with a focus on details inspired by passive house principles.

The home was recognized in January during the ninth annual Yampa Valley Sustainability Council awards and was selected through a competitive process by a committee of local sustainable construction experts.

Scott Kemp of New Mountain Builders in Steamboat Springs, the builder and owner of the Routt County Sustainable Home of 2018, was pleased that the Wild Hogg project completed testing to verify the home’s predicted performance. Kemp pointed out the neighborhood will include similarly well-constructed and reasonably sized homes and complimented “the builder’s efforts documenting and tracking home performance in an attempt to build better and define the goals for sustainable homes.”

“All of the submittals should be proud of their efforts to build more sustainable homes,” Kemp said. “However, the Wild Hogg project stood out with its more comprehensive approach to and execution of sustainable principles. It displayed a high degree of planning and intent to save energy utilizing extremely high insulation values, passive solar design, modest mechanical systems including a high efficiency heat pump hot water heater, and a small physical and environmental footprint.”

Proof of the pudding for the completed home’s performance is the blower door testing certification of .88 air changes per hour, which shows the home is more than three times tighter than the three air changes per hour required by the base building code.

The mountain contemporary home with simple, clean lines is comfortable and quiet thanks to its 10-inch wall assembly including 6.5 inches in structural insulated panels (SIPS) and 3.1 inches in rigid closed-cell foam (EPS) with foil facing ventilated to rain screen siding.

The second-level, 725-square-foot home is all electrically powered and set on top of a three-car garage with insulated and well-sealing garage doors. The home is actually a secondary unit for the next home to be built on the street, thus the three-car garage can be shared by the residents.

A professional carpenter for eight years, Tanner Coulter currently lives in the home with his wife, 1-year-old son and two dogs. Coulter describes the home as “super” in multiple ways, including being healthy, efficient and rock solid.

“It’s a well thought out home with efficiency at the forefront of design. It lives a lot bigger that it is. Eric is a structurally sound builder. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Tanner Coulter, owner

Developer Eastman said the energy efficient triple-glazed windows on the south, east and west sides of the home were precisely designed to provide good views, cross ventilation in the warmer months and an open feeling without sacrificing energy performance.

“The careful window placement combined with the vaulted ceilings make the house feel much larger than 725 square feet,” Eastman noted.

A communal garage plan where residents can rent garage space for $200 per month for one bay or $250 per month for two bays is just one of the progressive ideas Eastman fashioned for the project. The co-op model also includes a shared equity financing opportunity to help residents get past the homeownership barrier of a 10 to 20 percent down payment. The residents pay market rate rent at $1,400 per month and are invited to become investment partners for a percentage of ownership of the entire development including the solar array, Eastman explained.

The neighborhood is built on 12 city lots with the southern end of the street utilized for the solar array and a neighborhood picnic area. More information about Oak Creek Commons can be found at:

“They are sustainable homes for real people,” Simonsen said, while wrapping up an on-site tour of the home with its cheerful blue siding. “They are cool little green homes built for regular folks.”

Sustainable features of the 2019 Routt County Sustainable Home of the Year:

  • Located on infill development on existing lots within walking distance to town services
  • Use of REScheck software analysis that indicates the home would perform 38% better than the baseline of 2015 building codes
  • High insulation values for the building envelope including R-42 walls, R-65 roof assembly with a cold roof design, and R-50 floor between the home and garage
  • Wide overhangs designed to allow passive solar gain in the winter to warm the dark brown tile floor and to block high summer sun
  • Solid foam insulation 4 inches thick on the foundation walls and under the slab
  • Full ERV, or Energy Recovery Ventilation, system for both whole-house fresh air and on-demand bathroom ventilation
  • 100 percent LED lighting and Energy Star rated appliances including induction cooktop
  • Unvented condenser clothes dryer avoids the inefficiency of venting the heated air outside by instead condensing water from the clothes and recirculating the heat
  • High-performance front door with a multi-point lock for a tight air seal along with insulating cellular blinds on windows
  • 100 percent use of Oak Creek or Routt County subcontractors



Photos by David Patterson

When it comes to home design, “new” doesn’t always mean starting a project from scratch. Just ask Carolyn Jenkins. She’s been buying, renovating, and flipping houses in Houston, Texas for over 30 years. Once upon a time she was a schoolteacher with a need for a creative outlet; home renovation was her medium and quickly, her gallery of over 100 homes made her a name long before HGTV streamlined the concept. She acted as the primary general contractor and did all her own design work with a tried-and-true formula of how much she was going to sell a home for before she even took ownership of a property. Then she found “the one”.

The Jenkins family had been visiting Steamboat for over 25 years. They were always on the lookout for a place to buy and serve as their summer home. They could have built something from scratch and with Carolyn’s experience and knack for design, could have easily made a new home look old, but when Kevin and Jane Bennett put their home on Princeton Avenue on the market, “It was love at first sight,” Carolyn said. “It had everything I wanted and more.”

The original log cabin was once home to the familiar names of James Crawford, F.M. Light and Charlotte Perry, co-director of Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp, but it became Carolyn and Rick Jenkins’ in 2016. And unlike Carolyn’s business in buying and flipping homes in Texas, this purchase was different. All the formulas and plans to resell went out the window before she even crossed the threshold. This was the place Carolyn wanted to put all her wishes and dreams into no matter the cost. Just the sight of it made her happy and she knew there would be years of memories in the forecast.

The original structure of the cabin was captivating; it had all the charm of a beat-up, well lived in cottage, and the creek and garden in the backyard confirmed she could never look at another house. But Carolyn knew there was work to be done to breathe new life into the old bones of the home and make it her own. And she knew what she wanted. Through recommendations, as well as her trusted gut-feeling they were the right team, Gerber Berend Design Build was able to deliver.

“From our first meeting, it was clear that Carolyn was going to be an inspired collaborator. We both had the same appreciation for the eclectic nature of how the existing cabin was added onto over the years and the subtle moments of ‘surprise’ that made it unique and special.” 

Jeff Gerber, Principal of Design for Gerber Berend

Some of these existing details included re-purposed Mediterranean columns in the entry courtyard, simple carved log column and beam portal at the main entrance, and a steel-clad window seat bump-out at the guest suite.

“We knew from the onset that a successful project needed to seamlessly integrate the existing historic cabins with the new spaces by referencing the current rusticity while at the same time bringing it forward with a unique and fresh interpretation of a comfortable and primitive style.” 

Maintaining the integrity of historical elements was important to the Jenkins’. They incorporated reclaimed materials whenever possible from timbers and timber skins to floors and barn wood siding. They also enhanced existing art like the stained glass windows that were already on the property. And when it was time to expand the home, Gerber Berend made sure the outer structure additions blended with the colors and textures of the original log cabin, providing a seamless marriage between something old and something new.

While there was an eclectic appeal to the outside of the house and property, inside was filled with a hodge-podge of antiques the Jenkins inherited from the previous owners. Carolyn wanted to keep and use what was already there for inspiration. Chests, distressed doors, bureaus, or iron pulleys became the centerpieces of a room.  The empty spaces were filled with just the right amount of art, textiles, and furniture, enhancing the natural beauty of each room’s focal point.

The renovation wasn’t always easy though. While part of the remodeling was simple and straightforward for Carolyn and the Gerber Berend team – the master bedroom and bathroom, as well as the expansion of the garage and caretaker unit overhead, didn’t change much of the detail and structure of the original home – when it came time to discuss adding 1,298 square feet to the lower level, another 1,000 square feet to the main floor, and over 2,300 square feet of outdoor patio space to make this tiny cabin into a 4,458 square foot dream home, Carolyn and Gerber Berend slowed down the construction process considerably.

“The more time you take, the better product you get,” Carolyn said about the six months it took to draw up the plans. “Gerber Berend allowed me to work with them from the beginning. They heard what I wanted and just ‘got it.’”

Carolyn sat with lead design associate Tanya Lillehoff to go over every detail, tweaking and moving things around until it was just right. She knew expenses were going to be greater than her business homes, but some ticket prices were down right jarring. The roof was her biggest sticker-shock. In Texas the cost for materials, labor, and engineering didn’t have to factor the weight of the heavy snowfalls in the mountains. When she learned the whole roof had to be replaced and got the estimate for the cost, surprise was an understatement.

She faced other unexpected expenses such as re-chinking the logs on the existing home and the cost of labor and materials was nothing compared to her experiences in Texas. But when she blew her budget, she held steadfast: this was her forever house, and she wasn’t about to back down or cheapen her vision until it was exactly how she wanted it.

Since their home renovation was completed in 2017, Carolyn and Rick return every summer to spend as much time as they can in their fairytale-come-true. Carolyn poured so much sweat and love into every crevice of this one-of-a-kind home, and she made sure their children could share in the awe of her masterpiece. With friends and partners, their son and daughter visit often and enjoy the warmth and beauty she’s created.  And they have made some memories of their own: the Jenkins’ son got married two years ago at Perry-Mansfield, and their daughter was recently engaged on the cabin’s balcony overlooking the exquisite gardens Kevin Bennett started and the Jenkins have preserved. May through October, the home on Princeton Avenue mesmerizes all who happen to sight a new bloom, a butterfly, or bee paying homage to their historical site.

“We love every single room in the house. There are so many beautiful places inside and out – only problem is we can’t sit in all of the places at once!”


And while some artists are known to be the most critical of their work, it’s certainly not the case for Carolyn. This time, her work wasn’t for sale and she plans to keep it for years to come. “Don’t get caught up in the cost,” she advises to anyone considering renovating a home they plan to live in for the next 5-20 years. “Think of it like buying a nice pair of shoes. Buy the ones you want – not the cheaper ones.”

The New Way to Shop Local


It was the middle of March when the retail stores lining Lincoln Avenue closed their doors and restaurants began advertising their takeout options. The mountain shut down early and schools moved to distance learning. Early spring brought the COVID-19 pandemic to Routt County and as residents hunkered down and prepared for long weeks at home, Steamboat Springs became deserted. But several businesses were busier than usual – banks.

Steamboat Springs has many options for banking, and especially local and community banking. Mountain Valley Bank, Alpine Bank, Yampa Valley Bank and Vectra Bank, to name a few, became busier than ever during this time, thanks especially to the newly instated Paycheck Protection Program established by the CARES Act and implemented by the Small Business Administration with the support of the Department of the Treasury.

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provided small businesses with funds, in the form of a forgivable loan, to pay up to eight weeks of payroll costs including benefits. Businesses could also use funds to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.

The first round of funding saw $349 billion dispersed quickly to desperate small businesses across the country. The second round of funding provided $310 billion more, which is expected to last until the program ends on June 30. The low-interest loan program was designed to keep millions of workers at small businesses on the payroll and off unemployment during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic. Many small businesses in Routt County took advantage of the program and applied for a PPP loan – from restaurants and shops to nonprofits, businesses were desperate to stay afloat during COVID-19 and their banks helped them do just that. But when many business owners found long waits and lack of customer service frustrating, they turned to smaller banks to help.

“When looking at businesses who were extremely successful in receiving PPP funds, they had a good relationship with their bank and banker.”

Adam Wilson, Market President for Vectra Bank in Steamboat Springs

Wilson said the banks were overrun with applications to process and in addition to that, bankers had to learn the guidelines and rules surrounding the program in a matter of days – rules that were constantly changing, too.

“Imagine you work at a retail shop in downtown Steamboat and you usually have 10 customers an hour,” Wilson explained. “Then you get to work one morning and there are 150 customers all needing to be helped immediately.”

Vectra Bank got right to business, communicating with their small business clients and helping them through the process of applying for a loan, suspending mortgage payments or answering the many questions that flooded in.

Downtown retail store Urbane owner Melissa LeBlanc applied for the Paycheck Protection Program right away, when the first round of funding was announced. She received the funds and was able to hire back employees who she had to lay off when the store closed in March.

Vectra Bank helped her through the process, discussed options with her and even sent paperwork over to her before the April 3rd date when she could officially apply.

“There was a lot of communication from them and they were very available to me during this time which was extremely helpful and important – it made the process so much easier and more streamlined,” LeBlanc said. “I knew who I could call to talk to and get real talk, not a party line, if you will.”

The experience wasn’t so smooth for all small business owners though – Scott Boettcher, owner of Big Ed’s Fishing Adventures, was banking with a large national bank when the pandemic hit. He applied for the loan within a day of the program opening and then he waited…and waited. He called customer service and waited on hold some more. When he finally spoke with a representative, he was told that he would receive an email shortly. When the email came through, it said that his application had been received, but in order to increase his chances of securing funds, he should apply again, through another institution.

He submitted a second application, this time through Vectra Bank, and within thirty minutes of applying online, a representative called him to discuss the process.

“For me, the main advantage of a local bank is the response time and the ability to call the bank and speak with a person without sitting on hold for an hour,” Boettcher said. “Throughout the entire application process, I worked with one person and they were incredibly responsive.”

For Boettcher, having PPP funds meant that he was able to pay his employees while his doors were closed and it bought him time to create a strategy for when he was able to re-open.

Ultimately, as Wilson points out, what made the experience smoother for some than for others was the relationship between the bank and the business.

“It’s important for business owners to know and understand how the decisions are being made at the banks and who has the ability to make them,” Wilson said. “If there is an issue, is a business owner calling a 1-800 number or a local number to reach someone who they know?”

When the Paycheck Protection Program was announced, many Presidents and Vice Presidents of local banks spent long days sorting through applications and processing loans themselves – for clients who they knew.

Abby and Eric Schissler, owners of Bella Vista Estate, chose their bank, Yampa Valley Bank, because President PJ Wharton is their neighbor.

“We trust him immensely and knew that if we had the pleasure of banking with him we would be in good hands,” Schissler explained.

And, they point out, another benefit to banking locally is the philanthropy aspect that community banks practice and value. For example, Yampa Valley Bank’s To-Go Together program supported takeout at local restaurants and through it, they were able to donate $53,000 to help those most effected by COVID-19. Alpine Bank designed a Bingo game to help local small businesses during this time – and the number of programs and events that local banks support in more usual times is staggering.

Ultimately, as Wilson puts it, these local banks are in the people business.

“When you have a relationship with your banker and they understand you and your business, when you need something from them, they already know you. We lend first to people. And when you do that, then the person comes first and understanding their financials and their credit worthiness kind of comes afterwards.”

New House, Same Neighborhood


It was 1993 when Al Rosenthal and Rosanne Iversen built their first house at 875 Douglas Street. Several years later, they met with an architect to draw up plans for 885 Douglas Street – both homes, they remember, were the last house on the left. Nearly three decades later, they knew and loved their downtown neighborhood but were ready for their dream home. After several years of heartfelt and meticulous planning, they were able to build their final masterpiece.

From the outside balcony, it’s easy to spot their former homes. “We both love mission or craftsman style homes with straight, clean lines,” Rosanne explains, describing their journey to their newest project. The home highlights both Al’s kitchen design expertise – he’s the owner of Alpine Design Kitchens – and Rosanne’s artistic eye to create the home they’d always dreamt of. The iconic home features an unforgettable state-of-the-art kitchen, inherited antiques and innovative passive house techniques. Rosanne’s artistic touch can be seen in every attribute of the home, while Al’s expertise in kitchen design provides an efficient and purposeful layout.

Coming up the stairs from the ground floor entryway, it is the beautiful, open kitchen that is revealed first. The owners love to cook and host, thus needing a very functional yet inviting space to do so. It is in fact, a kitchen designer’s kitchen, with all the bells and whistles, yet in a minimal setting.

Two islands have been incorporated into the layout; the first with a sink that doubles as a food prep station with two faucets and moveable butcher blocks. The chef can therefore prepare food while still being able to enjoy and interact with company. A drawer reveals a hidden refrigerator, making it convenient to turn and reach for the most-used ingredients. The second island features an induction cooktop as the main focus. Growing rapidly in popularity, these cooktops are 40% faster than gas, with more controllable heat and a higher safety rating due to the fact that the area around the stove does not get hot. Stainless steel gleams in the sun, another feature that makes cleaning easy. Pots, pans, plates and bowls are neatly tucked behind long modern cabinets; there is no clutter at all. The couple was pleasantly surprised that family and friends tend to gather in the kitchen as this was not the case in their previous two homes.

“The kitchen is truly the heart of this home.”

Rosanne says

Next to the kitchen sits an antique couch, upholstered in a bright blue fabric which divides the living room in the midst of the open-concept room. The centerpiece of the living room, the couch is from the mid-1800s, reupholstered by Rosanne who sought to put her art degree to good use with the intention of finding ways to incorporate curved lines into a house full of straight ones. The couch is one example; she was also able to find a dining room table with a curved base and next, a camel back sofa and chairs to help the antique couch blend in with the rest of the home’s décor.

The open concept is found again in the master bedroom as there are no doors separating the bedroom and bathroom. The faucets in the bathroom bring in more curved lines, resembling ski jumps. “After purchasing them, we realized the angle of the slope of the faucet is the same as that of a ski jump,” Rosanne explains. “It all made sense and came together, why we liked that faucet so much. Our son ski jumped. We spent a decade on the side of a ski jump, marking or shooting photos. The lines of the faucet felt like home.”

The duo wanted to bring nature into the house as well, with some unique accents to their home. One way they accomplished this is by extending materials used inside the home to the outside. The stone used for the indoor fireplace extends to the outside in plain view of the expansive window both above and next to the fireplace. The small interior touches – light covers that look like tree branches, river rock tiling on the floor, shower tiles that resemble waves – add to the natural feel.

“We wanted to bring the beauty of our valley into the house,” says Rosanne.

Lines of rock columns and beams continue from outside in and the soffit wood continues from exterior to interior. The outside siding stretches down the hall and is found on the headboard in the master bedroom. The outdoor stucco color is used again in the office and the family room. The theme of many of the windows is repeated on the interior doors. And the color of the antique Victorian sofa – blue velvet – mirrors the sky.

Expansive glass patio doors, made by local company Zola Windows, feature triple pane windows to optimize heat retention and provide breathtaking mountain views. Each window was designed to face a specific direction and each is a different size depending on its purpose to either help heat or minimize heat in the house. This strategy is growing popular as part of the passive house system that minimizes heating and cooling costs making even the largest home have a smaller environmental impact. Large South and East facing windows ensure warm winter days and carefully designed overhangs ensure the sun is heating the house at optimum times of the day. The West side of the house has smaller and fewer windows to minimize unwanted solar heat gain. Part of the passive house method includes an air exchange system with a heat recovery component to ensure proper air quality to the home without losing heat. In the master bedroom, nearly floor to ceiling length windows embody a newly-trendy “tilt and turn” design, in which the window opens into the room from the top. This allows for fresh, mountain air to flood the bedroom without any unwanted furry visitors as well.

The home includes 100% LED lights to minimize electricity consumption, a component that was important to the owners. They own 20 solar panels at a solar farm in Craig and estimate that they will have a net zero electric cost after a year’s cycle. Part of their electric savings is due to the fact that their insulation greatly exceeds standards. Builder Kevin Hendrickson noted “the build was challenging because of the high R-value they desired and making sure it was an air tight home; but it was worth it because we were all passionate to achieve a very efficient home.”

The owners would like to “age in place”, thus they have thought through the sustainability and longevity of their design. Main floor bedrooms and an elevator ensure that they can live out their days at their home rather than a senior living facility. And while an elevator may seem extravagant, it’s a much better financial decision than some of the alternatives.

“The owners were very open minded during the design process,” Erik Lobeck of WorkshopL, a Residential Design Firm in Steamboat Springs with a focus on fusing modern architecture with energy efficiency. “The end result was allowed to develop naturally from a combination of their desire spatial arrangements coupled with the unique characteristics of the site.” The building design morphed from a three story structure to a two story structure when it was determined that a two level home would suffice. “From the onset, the owners expressed a desire to have an efficient and comfortable home. That was a good fit for our firm’s emphasis on blending modern architectural design with top tier efficiency and comfort – a combination not typically found within the larger, high end home realm. The design isn’t something that’s cherry picked out of a magazine and replicated; it’s a spectacular site.

alpine kitchen ad

mountain home & stove ad

zola windows ad

workshop l ad




Photo Credit: Tim Murphy Photography

Home Design: WorkshopL
Builder: Kevin Hendrickson Carpentry
Windows: Zola Windows
Kitchen Design: Alpine Design Kitchens
Cabinets & Countertops: Alpine Design Kitchens
Lighting: Alpine Design Kitchens
Fireplace: Mountain Home and Stove
Insulation: Accurate Insulation

A Bright New Option for Steamboat Home Buyers


To be familiar with the Steamboat housing market is to be aware of how low the inventory is for single family homes – especially affordable single-family homes. But Steamboat’s newest neighborhood, aptly named Sunlight, has made things a little brighter for home buyers looking for new construction at a reasonable price as construction prices in Steamboat continue to climb higher.


With 92 total residential lots, it has been the answer for many Steamboat families who have been searching and waiting for a house that meets their needs, wants and budget. And even for some who weren’t searching at all, such as Nic and Laura Polaski, who weren’t planning to build their dream home for another 5-10 years. After hearing about Sunlight from their realtor, they decided to take a look.

“Once I drove up to Sunlight, I knew we were going to live up here. We moved here in August of 2019 and we are absolutely loving it.”


It’s easy to understand why, with panoramic views of Mount Werner, Emerald Mountain, Sleeping Giant, Howelsen Hill and Copper Ridge plus two miles of sidewalk, a leash free dog park, and community green space with a playground. Location is another unique and appealing aspect of Sunlight. Less than a mile from the library, it sits upon a hilltop just west of downtown.

Charis Petty and her family were one of the first to move into Sunlight. “It’s been fun to watch it grow. It’s one of those rare new neighborhoods in Steamboat, where you are not moving into an established neighborhood with families that have been there for 15 years. We are all new coming into it so we are sort of creating our own neighborhood which has been fun. Everyone is really eager to meet and get to know each other.”

One downside to living in a new neighborhood is the amount of construction taking place, but for Charis and her family, it’s a non-issue. “You’re aware of it but it doesn’t really bother us. It actually brings some level of excitement because with each new house it means new neighbors moving in.”

Views and amenities are not the only things that make Sunlight attractive.

The homes themselves are a complementary mix of mountain-contemporary, craftsman, modern and western style builds. The covenants allow for either traditional stick built or prefab modular homes.

Smartpads, a local boutique prefab company, has completed four homes in Sunlight with one more currently being built. Ryan Cox, co-founder of Smartpads, explained the benefits of a pre-built home. “We offer a streamlined approach to building. Prefab homes are efficient in both cost and time. Homes are built off site in Vernal, Utah and then delivered and completed onsite, with the average completion time being four months.”

Whether it be a prefab or traditional stick frame, once building is complete there is no denying the allure of a newly built home. “It’s amazing”, said Charis, whose home was built by JSM Builders. “The finishes are high quality and everything feels bright, shiny and new.” JSM is one of the primary builders for the Sunlight neighborhood. Known for their ability to deliver high-end homes while maintaining savvy economics, JSM homes are a perfect fit for Sunlight. Buyers can expect beautiful homes with clean lines, lots of natural light and quality finishes.

In addition to the variety of building choices there are also many options when it comes to the lots available in Sunlight. Lot sizes range from approximately one-tenth of an acre to almost a full acre. Currently there are about 35 homes completed and more than two-thirds of the lots have been purchased. Todd Pederson, one of Sunlight’s developers, is optimistic about the progress. “Our goal is to have all phase one and two lots sold within the next two years, but everything has been selling faster than we originally anticipated, so maybe sooner. Construction has also occurred faster than original estimates.”

Embracing Steamboat’s mountain charm and small town feel, Sunlight is proving to be a popular and much needed addition to the list of Steamboat’s micro-communities such as Old Town, Whistler, Fairview and Brooklyn.  As more people decide to make Steamboat home, many locals hope to see more of these well-reasoned developments to help alleviate the housing inventory shortage and take some pressure off high housing costs.


New Trends in Outdoor Living


As spring melts away the winter and the days turn warmer and longer, we all want to be outside more. Outdoor living spaces are gaining momentum each year as homeowners look for ways to extend the indoors out. Designers, homebuilders and owners are giving more consideration to how the indoor space flows to the outdoors. Here are a few new ways to make your outdoor space just as livable and functional as any room in the house.

Choose Versatile Furniture Pieces

While it would be lovely to have a patio large enough to hold a dining room set as well as a lounge set, often times homeowners have to make a choice as to what will fit properly. Luckily there are several new, inventive options in patio dining and lounge. For example, the latest convertible trend is a coffee table that literally rises to the occasion to become a dining room table. Or, choose an extension table that can change from 4 person capacity to 8 or even 12 at the flip of a board.

Use Architectural Design to your Advantage

It’s not just about the furniture – interesting angels and structural patterning add depth and uniqueness to a space. Choose pillows or rugs with a pattern, quirky light fixtures or colorful umbrellas – these items will bring interest and presence to the patio, whether it be subtle or bold.

Make it Green

Not with plants (although that’s great too!) but with recycled plastic. Many manufacturers, such as Polywood, are focusing on eco-friendly pieces. Their designs have gone beyond the classic Adirondack chair to include comfortable deep seating, dining and firepits. The best part? The material is low maintenance and suited towards any climate.

Turn up the Heat

As many counties have banned open burning and log firepits, homeowners are turning to gas. If you don’t have the capacity for a built-in gas firepit, or if you want more versatility to be able to adjust or take your investment with you to your next home, try a freestanding option. Most of these can be used with propane or converted to natural gas. Did someone say s’mores?

10 Ways to Reduce Waste in Your Home


1. Reuse items you already have

Before purchasing new items, consider if you already have something in your home that could be used. One impactful change you can make is to swap single-use paper towels for cloth rags. To make your own, take holey or old towels or clothes and cut them to use for cleaning. By thinking creatively, you can also easily repurpose items into whatever you need. For example, you could turn your broken wire basket into a light fixture. 

2. Educate yourself on how to recycle correctly  

Confused about what can and cannot be recycled in your home? Search the Yampa Valley Recycles app at or download the free mobile app to search hundreds of items and find out where to recycle or donate them locally. You can also avoid buying items that cannot be recycled by knowing what is accepted locally and checking the label of the product before you purchase. 

3. Learn how to repair

Prolonging the lifespan of an item will help reduce your waste in a multitude of ways. By fixing a broken zipper, gluing the chip back on your mug, or repairing your table’s broken leg, you can maximize the lifespan while also putting off purchasing a replacement. This skill will not only reduce the waste generated from your home, but it will also save you money.

4. Choose reusables

One easy way to create less waste is by packaging your food, cleaning supplies, homemade beauty products and other items in reusable containers instead of single-use plastic. You can also repurpose containers you already have. Some examples include using small glass jars for leftovers, plastic ice cream containers with a screw-on lid to hold nails, and large mason jars for bulk food.

5. Invest in quality

Choose items that will stand the test of time. By investing in products that use higher quality materials and are built to last, you will be able to use the product longer. Avoid products made of cheap materials that will degrade quickly or break easily. You can also look for companies that offer a lifetime guarantee or that have repair options if your item breaks.

6. Make your own

Consider making your own toothpaste, cleaning solution and other household and personal care products. See below for simple recipes for toothpaste and an all-purpose cleaner.


  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 25-30 drops of food-grade peppermint essential oil

Place all ingredients in a glass container with a sealable lid (small mason jars work well). Mix until you obtain your desired consistency. If you prefer a more liquid consistency, add more coconut oil. If you want a more solid consistency, adjust the baking soda. For easy removal from the container, use a small scoop or spoon to scrape it out and onto your toothbrush.

All-purpose cleaning solution

  • Water
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Scented essential oil (optional) 

Fill a reusable spray bottle halfway with water. Fill the remainder with distilled white vinegar. Add 15-20 drops of scented essential oil, if desired.

7. Choose minimal packaging

When shopping at the grocery store, choose items that have the least amount of packaging. An easy switch is buying loose-leaf lettuce instead of greens packaged in single-use plastic. When shopping for other items in your home, choose items made of recycled materials or items that can be recycled or repurposed. 

8. Look for secondhand options or borrow

Need a tool or material you don’t own? Check your local secondhand shop or online resale sites for items that can meet your needs. You can also borrow from a neighbor. Have extra tools that you don’t use that often? Create a tool library for your neighborhood to share tools and equipment.

9. Start a compost system 

Composting is an impactful way to decrease your waste that goes to the landfill. In our area, we don’t currently have curbside compost pick-up for residents or businesses, and wildlife and our high-mountain climate can present challenges for composting at home. However, here are some composting methods that have been proven to work locally on the household scale: vermicomposting (composting with worms), bokashi, or an in-vessel system enclosed by an electric fence. For more information on these options and other organics recycling systems, visit

10. Donate items you no longer need

One of the easiest ways to give your useful items another life before they are recycled or landfilled is to donate them. You can take things like clothing, furniture, household items and lots more to a local secondhand store or consignment shop to be loved again. Bonus: when consigning items, you can gain back some money in the process.

Learning From Home


Over the last few months, many of us have transitioned to working and learning from home.  This has provided us the challenge and opportunity to evaluate the space we have to work with.  Many of us have rearranged furniture, created makeshift work areas, and figured out in a pinch how to make it all work.  Whether or not our homeschooling continues, setting up a prepared learning environment in your home can be beneficial to you and your child.

As a Montessori teacher, I use the Montessori philosophy as a guide for creating the ideal learning environment at home.

Beauty, simplicity, and order are guideposts for the Montessori classroom.  It is a welcoming space, filled with natural light, plants, living creatures and purposeful materials.  It is an environment rich with realia and treasures found in nature, so children can learn through inquiry and hands-on experience.  Everything in the classroom is perfectly sized for children, therefore they can work independently, moving through the classroom with purpose and grace.   In this space, there is a deep respect for the child’s process of learning – giving support when needed, but also allowing the child to construct his own learning through experience and repetition.  Through daily routines in this prepared environment, children learn what is expected of them, how to complete tasks independently, and how to find joy in their learning.

Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator (1870-1952) said, “We must give the child an environment that he can utilize by himself: a little washstand of his own, some small chairs, a bureau with drawers he can open, objects of common use that he can operate, a small bed in which he can sleep at night under an attractive blanket he can fold and spread by himself. We must give him an environment in which he can live and play.”  As parents, we can apply many of these strategies in our own homes.  We can create a learning environment that is orderly and beautiful, and set our child up for success with daily routines. 

To start, find a space where your child can comfortably work.  This could be at their own desk or at the kitchen table.  Ideally, the child sits in a chair that is proportionate to their size and their feet can touch the floor.  Think about what you find most comfortable about your work space and try to recreate this for your child.  One option is using a “floor table”, or a low table so your child can sit on the floor while working.  Ensure ample lighting with a lamp or plenty of natural sunlight.  If your child has their own desk, show them how to decorate simply with a few photos, a special rock, or a piece of art they created.

Next, the area where your child works should remain free of clutter.  Look at your own work space.  How well do you keep it organized?  Show your child examples of your own organization.  This is a skill we need to intentionally teach our children; check in with your child regularly about the challenges of keeping their workspace tidy. 

Then, talk with your child about what supplies they need – pencils, pencil sharpener, markers, scissors, stapler, and tape.  You’ll want to store these supplies in a central location, at child height, so your child can access these easily.  You and your child should get into the habit of returning these supplies after each use.  If materials are always put away properly, this could prevent you from hearing “Mom, where’s my…? (insert any number of supplies here).

Lastly, it’s important to help your child love this space, so that he/she enjoys time there.  There are three important ways to do this:

  1. Create a daily routine.  Many families find success with daily routines.  For younger children, you might take pictures of your child doing their daily tasks and post them on the wall.  For an older child, a posted written list should work.  As a family, you should collaborate on what to include on this to-do list – school work, daily chores, play time, snacks.  Ideally, your child will have opportunities to choose which tasks they would like to do and when.  This empowers your child to make choices for themselves, and there’s a greater likelihood that they will complete the chosen task. 
  2. Cultivate independence and a sense of personal space.  Once your child engages in an activity, try not to interrupt them.  Rather, observe your child.  Observe how they are playing with the materials or how long the activity holds their attention.  Are they handling the materials carefully and purposefully?  Learn from your child – what are they interested in and how can you support these interests?  Celebrate their independence. Share your joy and interest in their learning.
  3. Establish some expectations during work time with your family.  Turn off the television or radio.  Set aside time for everyone to work quietly.  Let your child know how and when you can, or shouldn’t be, interrupted.  Give them a strategy for how to ask for help or what to do if you are unavailable.  Ensure your child is familiar with their schedule and what is expected of them, so they can complete their work and also have time for play.

With your child, revisit the effectiveness of your workspaces often and reevaluate your daily routines.  Make adjustments with the things that are not working.  Celebrate the things that are!   Set the example for how to balance work and play.  Follow your daily routines but keep your heart and your eyes open for unexpected moments of joy with your child. Parting words from Maria Montessori: “Do not tell them how to do it. Show them how to do it and do not say a word. If you tell them, they will watch your lips move. If you show them, they will want to do it themselves.” 

Home Grown

Local builder constructs a new home in a historic neighborhood

Perched on the edge of downtown Steamboat Springs, Jeremy and Krysta MacGray’s home stands as an example of how a unique vision can transform a landscape. What was once a narrow, sloped lot now stands as a modern farmhouse that perfectly balances seemingly opposing styles as well as the needs of a large family.

Jeremy MacGray, a general contractor and President of local building company JSM Builders, has been in the business of fulfilling future homeowners’ dreams in Steamboat Springs since 1998. When deciding on a new build for his own family, finding what worked for all of them was a top priority. This unique downtown location gave them access to amenities, a safe environment and a chance to build their long-term home. It’s a place to watch their kids grow, where family and friends are always welcome, and they can support their active lifestyle.

Located near the site of the former Steamboat Springs hospital, the neighborhood is a mix of traditional homes, remodel projects and new builds. The appeal of the lot is undeniable, located on a private street close to schools and within walking distance to downtown shops and restaurants. The access is in the back of the home, much like the alley approach common in downtown Steamboat, but with much more open space. The front of the property, with no driveway approach, is reminiscent of a park entrance with its thoughtful landscaping and stone walkway. 

Once they found the perfect lot, the MacGrays turned to Steamboat Springs-based architectural design firm Vertical Arts Architecture to transform the lot into their future home. With a houseful of four children and three dogs, that was a large task – seeing beyond the everyday, anticipating future needs and building to suit them. Vertical Arts was ready to take on the challenge.

Architect Brandt Vanderbosch was tasked with transforming the sloped lot into a homesite.

“The slender shape and grade of the site with access points on each end of the house made for a big challenge,” states Vanderbosch. The lot also created interesting design challenges within the home. “It was a unique challenge getting the mud room entry on the lower level to connect with the upper level kitchen and not overwhelm the upper level with a large exposed stair.” The architect not only overcame any layout challenges but created a home that easily moves the family throughout the space.   

The MacGrays first and foremost wanted to create the perfect home for their family. The thoughtfully designed, modern space isn’t afraid to show signs that a family lives there. It goes beyond décor – children’s framed watercolors decorate the walls – but also features unique details specifically designed for kids like built in cubbies, a utilitarian mud room and even a downstairs theater room. The family- friendly design ranges from reading nooks by the fire to an open floor plan and large kitchen windows that provides easy visibility to kids playing in the yard.

 “We thought about the kids coming home from school and being able to watch that from the upper deck,” says Vanderbosch. “We also thought about where they enter on the lower level and the pathway to storage – where they put their back packs.”

Merging the couple’s style was a top priority for Vanderbosch and Interior Designer Sarah Tiedeken O’Brien at Vertical Arts Architecture. “Jeremy really loves industrial design whereas Kristen has more of a modern farmhouse/feminine aesthetic. The goal was to integrate elements from both of those styles to create an eclectic mix that reflects their styles. Everything needed to be kid-proof and durable without being too precious,” notes O’Brien.

The result is a modern farmhouse with industrial accents featuring a combination of those styles, like shiplap next to exposed duct work and weathered steel beams. The varying styles work to contrast but also complement each other – the combination of metals and warm wood throughout the home helps to soften the industrial elements of concrete and metal. The main room houses the family’s collection of books, further illustrating how diverse tastes can create a cohesive style. “We love how the house feels like a family home, due in part to the eclectic taste that my wife and I have with furnishings and interiors,” says Jeremy.

Steamboat residents often like to spend as much time outside as they do in, and this home is specifically designed to meet that need. Floor to ceiling windows throughout the main room allow the beautiful surrounding views to steal the show. At the far end of the home, foldable glass doors open to an elevated, full-size stone patio, complete with hot tub, fire pit and plenty of seating. The layout takes you above the street, and above even most of the surrounding homes, so you can focus on soaking in that picturesque view. In this type of setting, you almost forget you’re minutes from downtown.

The family feel extends beyond the home. A detached caretaker unit emphasizes their desire to have friends and family visit, with the unit often occupied by guests staying for weeks at a time. “We are really proud of the way the mother-in-law unit is separate but connected to the home by the rooftop patio.  Our guests get to stay with us, but not in our space,” notes Jeremy.  And when those guests come inside the main home, they are welcomed at a custom wooden farmhouse-style table that begs for family and friends to gather round.

A large stone fireplace serves as the focal point on the main floor, the one element that diverts the open floor plan. The double-sided, French farmhouse-inspired sandstone piece provides an entryway on the one side and on the other side a cozy space that opens up the rest of the home. It’s a stunning centerpiece, a grounding feature that both welcomes guests in the front door and encourages them to sit and stay awhile. Perfectly placed reading chairs provide ready seating to enjoy the ceiling-height book collection that sits opposite.

Providing another component of the modern industrial style, concrete floors throughout show attention to detail.  The main floor features smooth, diamond-ground concrete floors while a different, hand-troweled texture finish is used on the upper floor. “Getting the concrete floors finished and installing the huge windows and doors was the most challenging aspect of the build,” says Jeremey. “Both were done in the middle of the winter when it was cold, snowy and icy.” Despite the challenges though, it’s clear the family is thrilled with the floors. It’s the perfect material to maintain that modern feel while still being practical for lots of little feet and paws scurrying around.

An essential element to the family home has to be the kitchen. The MacGrays wanted an open design that creates a seamless transition to the outdoors, with large windows, floating shelving and suspended cabinetry blocks. The design allows the light from the large windows to saturate the space and extend the indoor/outdoor feel to the kitchen. Another creative touch in the home is the custom breakfast bar. The non-linear bar sits at a 90-degree angle, so diners are looking at each other, not just down the line. It also makes an easier job of serving up meals to four hungry kids.

The stairs leading to the second floor feature one of the most vibrant elements of the home: an eye-catching, colorful runner that adds a playful feel to the modern space. Constructed from 12 separate rugs, this statement piece makes an inviting and lively path to the upper level, where a playful patchwork-style wood sliding barn door fabricated by Twenty1Five creatively hides an upstairs laundry unit. The highlight of the upper floor, the master suite boasts 180-degree views of Mount Werner and Emerald Mountain. Design details like a low-profile bed and window shades that rise from the ground up take full advantage of the views while minimizing the surrounding structures. In the master bath hand-picked tiles, selected even before the house was designed, add a colorful contrast to the shiplap walls and repurposed snow fence vanity.

Being a local builder comes with some perks: the owners knew what they wanted and to how to get there, having built a few houses along the way. They are also well acquainted with local resources. They often use the same subcontractors for every project, have worked with the architects and designers many times, and are familiar with the unique challenges and opportunities of building in Steamboat. They can also use their own home as an example of their craftsmanship, a story that potential buyers can see unfold as they walk through. The home is a result of close collaborations with local partnerships that have been fine-tuned over the years.

Perhaps the most striking feature of the MacGray home is that at the end of the day, it’s the perfect home for them. It’s a beautifully crafted home that showcases their love of family, love of the outdoors and their desire to live life with both of those front and center. 

Photos: Dave Patterson Photography



Builder: JSM Builders
Windows: Zola Windows
Appliances: Ferguson
Insulation: Accurate Insulation
Architect:  Vertical Arts Architecture

Adding Value to Your Home

Vail, Colorado, USA - October 1, 2015: Multi-million dollar home has been built along the Gore River in Vail, Colorado. The village was established and built as the base village to Vail Ski Resort, with which it was originally conceived and is the third largest ski mountain in North America. Vail attracts wealthy visitors, many of whom, who build and purchase vacation homes and condominiums near the ski slopes. Each Autumn, the Colorado Rocky Mountains create a dazzling and colorful display as the Aspens turn a brilliant yellow and glow against the mountains. In addition, their tall, vertical, trunks with white bark create a repetitive pattern under the foliage.

Should we add a bedroom or a bathroom? How about finishing out the basement? A garage apartment would be a nice separate space for visiting friends and family….

Chances are, if you’ve considered adding-on or remodeling your existing home you’ve had similar thoughts and questions. But how do we improve our home and simultaneously give ourselves the best chance for a positive return on investment?

Real estate is a fickle market, and a notoriously imperfect one: humans are prone to irrational decision making, and this conundrum is compounded when dealing with an emotional topic such as one’s home. What follows is a brief overview of potential value adding improvements from the perspective of a valuation expert.

Perhaps the most important principle at the forefront of property improvement is a rather inconvenient truth: cost rarely equals value. The dollar amount you allocate to an improvement almost never equates to the contributory value added (or lost). A common example is the addition of a swimming pool. The average cost of an in-ground pool hovers around $35,000, however the pure value added to the total market value of the property might be $10k-$15 less than the cost of the pool. One need not be a mathematician to conclude that in the purely financial sense this is a poor investment. There are several additions/modifications that can prove to add value to your home at a greater rate than cost, however they must adhere to certain criteria when considered in the valuation of a home.

Real vs Personal Property

To be considered in the valuation of real estate, any improvement on a property must be a permanent fixture to the real estate itself. Is it owned or leased? Is it permanent or non-permanent? An example might be a detached workshop on a block and beam foundation. While it may appear permanent, a forklift and the disconnection of a few wires renders it mobile rather quickly. Solar panels may improve your home’s efficiency, but if they’re leased rather than owned the question of whether or not they add value to a prospective buyer or lender is a moot point: because they are not explicitly owned, they are not considered real property and thus not taken into account when valuing the property.

The Market Calls the Shots (“It depends…”)

In the residential real estate valuation process, the most widely used method is the Sales Comparison Approach. Purely market based, this is the foundation for the real estate professional’s comparative market analysis (CMA), and should be at the forefront of any decision making process. If the perceived value added cannot be proven in the local market, then it is difficult to give it a dollar amount in the valuation process. Local market is emphasized here because all markets are different: an additional bathroom might add $10k to one home and be a complete non-factor in a competing market (it depends!). That additional bathroom must be proven to add value within the market by comparing two otherwise similar homes: all other things constant, the difference in sales price between a two bath and three bath home is the added value.

Concerning additions….

If you are planning an addition to your home there are several considerations to keep in mind, chief among these being the effect on gross living area (or GLA). GLA is the valuation synonym to finished square footage (with a few notable exceptions), and deals with the amount of space, above grade, within the primary dwelling. If you are looking to add value to your home this is a very effective tool, however it must satisfy several criteria in order to be considered GLA within the valuation process.

  • It must be attached and immediately accessible via the main dwelling – a garage apartment or detached quarters does not contribute to GLA; you may decide that a detached living space is ideal for visiting guests, just be aware this area will not be counted as GLA and the return on investment will reflect accordingly
  • It must conform to the remainder of the dwelling – i.e. similar flooring and finishes; heating and cooling (if applicable) should likewise conform
  • Basements are not considered GLA, though in some cases can add equal value to a GLA addition – an example would be a walkout basement with similar finishes to the above grade dwelling

Speaking of basements….

In the example above we considered a walkout basement with similar finishes to the main dwelling. These are fairly common here in the Yampa Valley as many homes are built into the hillside and thus a basement might have doors, windows, and generally conform with the remainder of the dwelling. It is not uncommon for these types of basements to be valued at the same rate as the GLA of the main dwelling, however they must have similar finishes when compared with the above grade living area.

An important distinction from the walkout basement is the interior basement. Fully below grade, these may have a window or two but otherwise low natural light penetration. They don’t typically have a natural “flow” with the rest of the home, and are often valued at a different rate than GLA and walk out basements. Keep that in mind when considering your finish level to an interior basement. While they can be an excellent spot to house visiting family or a mancave for the Broncos game, chances are the loan officer has never had your mother’s peach cobbler, and shocking though it may be there’s an underwriter out there who’s never heard of Von Miller. Cost will rarely reflect value in this case.

Minor improvements that could have a major effect on value….

An addition or a finished basement might not be in your budget, however there are plenty of options to add value without breaking the bank. Sometimes merely swapping out your kitchen counters, appliances and cabinetry for more modern versions can easily tip the scales in your favor. Updated bath vanities and hardware can substantially improve the aesthetic of a home to a prospective buyer at a fairly minimal cost.

So… what option is best for my home in my neighborhood?

You’ve made the decision to add to or modify your home, but what is the best course of action if ROI is the driving factor? A rather complicated question has an ironically simple answer: talk to your realtor! Realtors make their living by keeping a pulse on the market, and their commissions are reflected accordingly. It’s in their best interest to help you maximize your ROI and they are typically the best resource when tackling the project. If you don’t have a realtor, the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors is an excellent place to start.

Just remember an improvement is an investment, and investments are rarely without risk. Your goal is to mitigate that risk as much as possible, and knowledge of the local market is the first step.

Robert “Dos” Crow is the President of Vanguard Valuation Services, based in Steamboat Springs

Net-Zero Electric


Acting as their own general contractor and key laborers for their new home has been very time consuming, but happily for Chuck and Laura Shifflett, their sustainable home under construction is less consuming in other aspects. All the electricity needed to complete construction is being powered by the sun, generated by a new 6.75-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system on their roof.

The Shiffletts are entering the home stretch to complete their energy efficient “modern barn” home situated on the edge of an existing wooded lot in the Fairview neighborhood in Steamboat Springs.

“We’ve always wanted a smaller home with good finishes, but we put more money into the solar system,” said Laura, a retired IT analyst.

The couple, who moved out of an older townhome in Steamboat, were at the max of their budget constructing their 1,700-square-foot sustainable home, so they took advantage of the state-sponsored RENU loan program, or Colorado Residential Energy Upgrade Loan, to add solar. They said RENU was an easy and simple process. The RENU loan origination fees are about $44, and loan rates start at 2.75 percent for a three-year loan. The program requires opening an account with Elevations Credit Union in Colorado with a $100 minimum deposit.

The statewide RENU program sponsored by the Colorado Energy Office is available to finance residential energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements. Notably, the loan can used for efficiency projects as low as $500 with no-money down. RENU can be used for: space heating and cooling, insulation and air sealing, water heating, energy analysis and monitoring, windows and doors, Energy Star rated appliances, lighting, and solar PV or solar thermal systems.

Homeowners can work with two Routt County pre-approved RENU contractors — Brightside Solar and Sunwise Solar — or ask their energy efficiency-minded contractors to complete the relatively simple process to become an authorized RENU vendor. Other contractors who work regularly in the Yampa Valley are also RENU pre-authorized vendors, such as Accurate Insulation based in Grand Junction. A list of preapproved vendors is available on the RENU website (

At the Shifflett home, the couple is paring their solar investment with energy smart features to reduce their energy consumption and ensure comfort. They used efficient structural insulated panels (SIPS) for the home’s walls and roof, installed better sealing commercial grade garage doors, selected more efficient triple-pane tilt-and-turn windows from Alpen Window, used beetle-kill pine wood for trim and soffits and reclaimed barn wood for cabinet doors, installed a 95 percent efficient hot water radiant heat system for in-floor heat, and used a tankless on-demand hot water heater powered by the same natural gas boiler.

Common sense measures such as all LED lighting, Energy Star rated appliances and efficient induction cooking stoves in the main home and rental unit also reduce electricity use. Efficient EPA WaterSense rated fixtures save on water and thus save on energy, as the more water used the greater energy required to heat the water.

They also have been careful to ensure good indoor air quality by choosing 100 percent low-VOC (volatile organic compound) finishes including for harder to locate products such as a water-based sealant for the concrete floors. Using cork and concrete flooring as well as installing HRVs, or heat recovery ventilation systems, also aid in healthy indoor air.

Downstairs in the main home, the couple incorporated an indoor greenhouse and winter solarium with a concrete floor and stone wall to retain heat.

An electrical engineer who worked 21 years in the U.S. Air Force, Chuck Shifflett is well equipped to serve as his own general contractor and designer for a sustainable home. He is a LEED Accredited Professional and earned a master’s degree in architecture and urban design. Chuck said some of the inspirations for the new home came from attending sustainable or green home tours such as the annual fall tour organized by Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.

The engineer used the ArchiCAD program to perform a sun study for the home design. As a result, in late June the wider roof overhangs block the summer sun but let in the lower angle winter sun fully in late December. Window specifications were tuned to the different sides of the home, so on the west side, the higher performance windows filter the summer late day heat and insulate from cold winter winds.

Chuck designed the home under 2015 building and energy codes in Routt County using a modernized A-frame barn profile with a taller garage bay in the middle to store an RV. An attached rental apartment on the north side will assist with the local housing stock and serves as the couple’s home base during construction. The outside of the home uses durable finishes such as metal roofing, stone veneer siding and recycled plastic decking.

Installing a solar electric system in 2019 captures the added benefit of a federal tax incentive of 30 percent of project installation costs. That investment tax credit will be 26 percent throughout 2020. With the healthy tax credits as well as the inception of the nonprofit Solar United Neighbors (SUN) co-op in the Yampa Valley, solar is hot in the valley.

Installer Matt Piva, owner of Brightside Solar, confirms an increase in solar interest calls and installations.

“We’ve seen a marked increase in demand due to the federal tax credit availability and a general understanding that the technology truly works,” said Piva, who has worked in solar nine years.

Piva said the RENU loan is “accessible to everyone” and has no prepayment penalties. So far, Brightside has worked with five clients who used the RENU loan in 2018 or 2019 for solar installs on a mix of new home builds or systems for existing homes in Routt County. Piva noted federal tariffs on solar panels has not impacted his end user clients as the tariffs have been absorbed by distributors and installers.

SUN’s Colorado Director Bryce Carter said the co-op in 2019 signed up 135 local members interested in solar. SUN is a vendor-neutral nonprofit with members free to choose their own financing options, including a RENU loan.

Since it kicked off in December 2017, the RENU program has financed 388 loans for a total of $6.1 million, said Jeffrey King at the Colorado Energy Office. Of those loans, 286 were for solar and 102 were for energy efficiency projects.

The Shiffletts do not plan to stop with their new 18 solar panels that are modeled to create enough power for their home to be net-zero for electricity use. They hope to add up to 11 panels in the future to also power the attached rental apartment that is prewired for solar, and they may add a battery storage system to go off-grid.

The couple is keeping an eye on the electric vehicle market to purchase a plug-in pickup truck, which will start hitting the market in 2020 and beyond from Ford, General Motors, Rivian, Bollinger and Tesla. That way, their drive time can be solar powered too.

The couple said many neighbors and acquaintances have inquired about their solar installation, which cost $15,000 after federal tax credits. The ecologically minded couple readily share what they are learning about sun-powered upgrades for a lower consumption lifestyle.

Tide is Shifting for Steamboat Land


Of the four major property types in the Steamboat Springs real estate market (Single-Family Homes, Condominiums, Town Homes, Land), the one type that has not fared so well over the last several years is land.

Land products offered in the Steamboat Springs area and Multiple Listing Service range greatly, from in-town lots on less than a tenth of an acre in downtown Steamboat to ranches of over 3,000 acres in the country.

Once a major staple in the marketplace and generating as many sales as condominiums and single-family homes, land (brown line) has taken a back seat to ‘finished’ products since the market crash of 2008.

In the 2000’s, land sales hit an all-time low in 2009 at 51. Like other product types, they slowly and steadily climbed out from their slumber and topped out at 262 sales in 2017; then slipping a little to 224 in 2018.

The reason for land’s fall from grace is due mainly due to building price increases, which went from $250 – $300 per square foot in 2006/07 to $400 – $500 per square foot today.  Material, labor, government permitting, and more expensive building requirements have all attributed to the effect.  Because of the higher building costs “standing inventory” of completed homes are a cheaper purchase than buying land and building. and taking two years to do so.  Clear evidence of land’s market shift is seen from the following chart, which shows the percentage of inventory “Pre-Crash” and “Post-Crash”.  Nine percent of the market has gone away from land and mainly toward single family homes.

Although building costs are the main reason land has lost its luster, one niche within the land market that has skewed the total land sales in 2018 is the Stagecoach market.  In 2016 the dormant ski area, 17 miles south of Steamboat Springs, was under contract.  The buyers had big plans to revitalize the ski area, creating quite a stir. Sales jumped from 30 in 2015 to 85 in 2016.  Sales fell slightly a year later to 72. Then the deal fell apart with sales tumbling the following year by 38 to 34. If those 38 lost sales were added back to the total MLS land sales they would have posted the exact same number of year-over-year sales in 2018.

Most land sales in the Steamboat MLS are in Steamboat Springs or Stagecoach. As of the time of this article (first week of August) there are 136 land parcels listed for sale in the Stagecoach area.  They range in price from $4,500 for a half-acre parcel with no utility services or improved road to get you there, to a 250-acre parcel with electric and full access for $1,550,000. Stagecoach lots with electricity and road access typically start at $20,000. Half of those lots are on the market for under $20k.

There are 81 residential lots for sale within Steamboat Springs and range in price from a $184,000, .12-acre lot in the Sunlight neighborhood, to a .41-acre lot on the ski slopes for $1,350,000. Median, 2018 prices for Stagecoach lots was $25,000. Median in Steamboat was $327,500.  Although the price differences are great, the graph below shows just how erratic land sales can be between the Stagecoach and Steamboat Springs markets, and although they are only 17 miles apart, location does matter!

Buyers and sellers need to be keenly aware of the time it takes for a property in a certain price point to sell.  Below is a chart showing the current inventory for lots in Steamboat Springs.  Don’t expect to see lots on the market for long if they are priced under $200,000, where a nine-month supply exists.  It may also appear there is plenty of inventory otherwise – but don’t let the numbers fool you.  Just last month a lot in the Rolling Ridge subdivision was listed for $1,049,00, had two offers only 18 days later and sold for $985,000. If it is scarce, desirable and priced right, it will sell!

Solar Power Living Poses No Problem


Three miles up County Road 36 in Strawberry Park where the pavement ends and the dirt road begins marks the traditional end of utility services.

A few more miles up the road, the Franklin family lives in their beautiful off-grid solar-powered home. The solar lifestyle is not a burden for Paul and Mitzi Franklin. Spotty cell phone service and the need for satellite internet service are more of a hassle, they say.

“It’s more about making a conscious effort to turn lights out and using utilities when the sun is out,” said Paul Franklin of their passive-solar design home powered by a 6.6-kilowatt photovoltaic ground-mounted solar array and a backup propane generator.

The family does not run the dishwasher during the dark hours, and the clothes washer is used on sunny days. But the active, empty-nester couple loves their 18-acre site bordering national forest land. Mitzi often exercises their three large dogs on a trail running north through their property connecting to the Lower Bear Trail. A previous black powder hunting season, Paul rode east on horseback from their property along with their two mules for more than three hours to the Continental Divide. His trip resulted in an impressive European mount of elk antlers now hanging atop the fireplace.

The 4,000-square-foot, three-level timber-frame home completed in 2014 lays out in a L shape with simple roof lines. Franklin served as general contractor with a design by Vertical Arts Architecture in Steamboat Springs. Franklin and Vertical Arts Principal Brandt Vanderbosch worked together since 2006 on projects including the Olympian condo and commercial building in downtown Steamboat as well as homes in Elkins Meadows near Fish Creek Falls.

Built on a sloping site, the family’s home is constructed partially below ground so the lower level saves on heating. The main-level garage suite including a mud room and laundry room extends from the main house as the north leg of the L via a suspended bridge atop 15-foot steel beams. That design element helped to save on site work on the ridgeline location.

Views to the west from the sunny living room take in Sleeping Giant. The surrounding forested land on the large acreage is thinned for firewood to fuel a large custom fireplace fabricated by Nordic Steel that is situated in the middle of the first-floor living and kitchen area.

One relatively unique feature of the home design is the use of structural insulated panels, or SIPS, in the ceiling, which works well with a simple roofline in a timber-framed home, said Vertical Arts team member Sarah Tiedeken O’Brien.

“SIPs really do lend themselves to a larger structural bay system,” O’Brien explained. “They work very well with a timber-frame because it can span 20 feet, is thermally unbroken, well insulated and can reduce framing costs.”

The SIPS panels, more commonly found in walls, were prefabricated at the large headquarters of Big Sky R-Control in the small town of Belegrade, Montana. The product requires six to eight weeks lead time for an order, said representative Mark Yerbic, based in Grand Junction.

“It’s a unique way for a high-performance ceiling that combines framing, insulation, sheathing and air barrier in one panel,” Yerbic said. “It is a time-saving material for labor and is engineered for the snow load.”

Construction on the off-grid home set back from the county road up a winding driveway took only eight months, but that followed four years of thoughtful consideration at the site. The family spent plenty of time at their property they purchased in 2010, riding horses and camping in a homesteader’s cabin. In past decades, previous owners of the land rode snowmobiles to the wooden cabin in the winters.

Inside the Franklin home the décor is a rustic mountain contemporary style in earthy, soothing tones with durable, classic finishes including white walls with thick, dark trim in Douglas fir and alder woods giving the home a sort of European hunting lodge ambiance. Reclaimed timbers and barn wood with touches of decades-old red paint are found throughout the home. The flooring is dog-durable with sealed and polished concrete floors on the ground level and oak veneer on other levels. Steel stair rails were welded and built on site by Doran Enterprises in Steamboat Springs. Metal light fixtures contribute to the durable yet comfortable style.

The family enjoys plenty of elk steaks sitting around the large kitchen island with its reclaimed walnut wood countertop made by Fedewa Custom Works in Steamboat. The large custom fireplace with steel top radiates heat through the functional kitchen and living room, and a tall chimney reaches to the 22-foot vaulted ceiling.

Franklin said he likes the atmosphere of log homes, but the timber-frame skeleton with highly insulated walls is a better fit for off-grid energy-conscious living. The timber-frame was fabricated off-site and assembled on site by then-Fort Collins company Powder Cache Designs, now headquartered in western Nebraska. The timbers were made out of kiln-dried, Forest Stewardship Council certified, Douglas fir, according to Andy Johnson, Powder Cache owner.

“The timber-frame has a log home feel with high ceilings and an open floor plan but is more energy efficient,” Franklin said.

Since they enjoy the outdoors and an active lifestyle, and prefer their dogs to have freedom too, the Franklins installed a rubber-sealed, windowed garage door off the kitchen to connect to a walk-out patio with a large overhanging roof.

The garage doors may not be the most energy efficient in the windy winters, noted architect O’Brien, but the large doors do provide plenty of solar gain. Designing a home is always a balance of intent, usage and energy performance, the architect explained.

“Even though we utilized large window walls in the great room for solar gain, we took away windows in other areas of the house to try and balance the overall window-to-wall ratio,” O’Brien said. She noted the residence has a simple form for a tighter building envelope with a gable roof on the main home and a shed roof extending from the main house across the garage.

“It’s simple in form while utilizing an interesting material pallet,” O’Brien said.

Outside the home, the siding is a low-maintenance Douglas fir wood along with 16-gage steel panels in a brick pattern.

The family utilizes a small greenhouse near a creek to grow carrots, beets and lots of zucchini squash. In the garden beds next to the patio they raise salad greens, more squash and strawberries, fitting for Strawberry Park Valley. In the warmer seasons, the family raises chickens.

A ground floor exercise room – complete with free weights for hockey-playing Paul and tennis-playing Mitzi – also sports a roll-up garage-style windowed door leading to an outdoor grassy area for family badminton play. This fall, a momma moose and her calf were lounging in the grassy area next to the home gym when the family’s beautiful black and white cat attempted to harass the moose. The family’s dogs had been trained not to bother wildlife in the area, Paul said, but who knew the family’s 2-year-old shelter cat would try his paw at moose harassment? The large creatures weren’t really bothered, but Paul was bummed not to have a video camera at hand to record the unexpected feline mischief.

Opening Up the Home


It was 2009 and the market had collapsed. Kathy and Scott Schroeder knew it would be a good time for them to buy a larger house. They were ready to get out of the condo they had owned for the past few years. With three teenage sons, they needed more space.

When they found the perfect house, up Anglers Court, their first move was to do just that – create more space. In 2010 they began the first of two renovations on their new house. At first, it was just adding bedrooms to the lower floor where their sons would be sleeping. When they bought the house, there were three small bedrooms on the lower level, only one of them with an ensuite bath. They wanted to create a living room space for their sons to “hang out”, as teenagers do, so they tore down the walls of one of the bedrooms to create a living room. Then, with the extra space, they added two more bedrooms, each with its own bathroom attached. The end result was a downstairs with four bedrooms, each with an attached bath, a living room with a large TV and small kitchen area. Plus, adding the extra bedrooms created more space for an outdoor patio.

The family lived in their newly renovated house for seven years until the next renovation. It started with the two-sided fireplace, on the main level, which was in the middle of the room and separated the kitchen from the living room.

“Scott wanted to move it to the living room where it wouldn’t be blocking everything. That was the ONLY thing we were going to do!” Kathy exclaims, “but then we thought ‘well, there’s dust already. What else do we want to do?’”

That question sparked a massive remodel of the entire house. Scott was the brains behind the idea and designs, but the couple hired architect Eric Smith to oversee the plans and make sure they were structurally feasible.

“The main goal with this project was to create a more open, connected floor plan,” Smith says. With that in mind, they moved forward with their second renovation.

They started with the front of the house which had a stone façade and long, thin posts holding up the roof over the front door. Changing the dated stone to wood and painting all of the cream window casings a darker color created a more modern design. Landscaper Phil Steinhauer of Design Scapes pulled up dozens of overgrown shrubs and trees.

“You could barely see the house,” he remembers, “the idea was to get rid of anything that wasn’t necessary and open up the front of the house.”

Inside, they continued to open up. The kitchen was dark with small windows and a low ceiling, so this was the next area that they focused their attention on. They raised the ceiling and pushed one of the walls out four feet from top to bottom. Moving this wall on all levels not only opened up the kitchen (it added 80 square feet) but also increased the size of two downstairs bathrooms and allowed for a larger space for the master bath above. It also created cleaner roof lines so that the exterior of the house looked better, with fewer sharp angels and lines.

Above the oven, they put a custom, hand painted hood which compliments the island in the center of the kitchen and serves to draw the eye through the kitchen and up to the ceiling. Robin Campbell at Olivia’s Home Furnishings oversaw the interior design of the house.

“Our goal was to reuse what we could, like cabinets,” she explains, “but we wanted to update things a bit and make it more modern. We tried to keep the mountain home feeling but bring in some southern charm, since the owners are from Texas.”

They did this by softening the colors and using more blues and grays as opposed to the more traditional, darker mountain colors. They reused the dining room table but painted the base white to make it more modern and fun and picked out new, patterned dining room chairs. Campbell wanted to house to feel relaxed and slightly playful, like being on vacation.

Other additions included a window nook in the living room with two chairs perfect for reading in the sun or sharing a glass of wine. The downstairs powder room got an accent wall, a new sink, great mirror and a modern light fixture.

The entry way and staircase were the next to go. Walls were torn down to open up the entry way so that when arriving at the house, you walk into a bright, airy, high ceiling-ed room.

“At this point, we were all in,” Kathy says, “so we kept going, fixing anything that we didn’t like or that wasn’t functional to how we were living.”

When they bought the house, there was a mudroom off the garage which served as a multi-purpose room with a dog wash, pantry and desk. It wasn’t functional even with all its purposes. So they floored part of the two story entry way to create a study on the upper level outside of the master bedroom. That moved the desk out of the mudroom. They took the dog wash out but left the dog’s bed. Now the room is solely a mudroom with dark wood cabinets and shelving and a blue and white tile floor that Kathy picked out because she thought it looked like snowflakes – the perfect small detail for a mountain town mudroom.

Walk upstairs and you are in the new study area with the large desk that was previously taken out of the mudroom. This leads to the master bedroom which has incredible views of both Howelsen Hill and the ski mountain. The owners tore down a few more walls and put a fireplace where the closet used to be. “It was just funky up here,” is how Kathy describes it. The bedroom leads to a large, bright master bathroom as well as a plush walk in closet and immaculate laundry room.

The last thing they decided to do was put a cover on the outdoor deck. Step outside, and it’s clear why they came to this decision as the wind whips by.

“Our umbrella was always flying off the deck,” Kathy remembers, “and our furniture was everywhere.” She worried that putting a roof on top would make the space feel like a cave, but Eric Smith stepped in again to create tall wooden posts for the cover so that the ceiling is functional but not obtrusive. Now their deck furniture stays put, even in the high winds, and they are protected from the hot sun in the summer.

Over the edge of the deck, there is a manicured lawn below, a sunken hot tub and two areas for sitting outside and admiring the view, as one does in a mountain town. There used to be a pond which Kathy describes as a “maintenance nightmare” and when their oldest son had a daughter, they decided to remove it.

“The idea behind the landscaping,” Steinhauer explains, “was to make it very low maintenance since this is a second home – but to still have it be beautiful when the family and guests are there.”

One day, after months of renovation and remodel, the house was finished. 1000 square feet had been added, higher ceilings and bigger windows let more light in, and it finally felt like a beautiful, modern mountain home. And while the owners live in Houston, they are frequently in Steamboat, enjoying their “new” house.

Expanding Horizons: New Developments Bring Diverse Options to Steamboat Housing Market


Steamboat Springs is growing. From the East side of town to the West, new developments are dotting the landscape. Like many other mountain towns, Steamboat is faced with a housing shortage. The dream of many locals to own their piece of paradise is being overshadowed by the reality of too few options in the marketplace. However, many new developments aim to reverse that trend, injecting new inventory into the market for many different needs and price points.

As West Steamboat Neighborhoods (WSN) Project Coordinator Michael Ann Marchand points out,There is no one size fits all solution to the housing challenges that exist in Steamboat.” Looking at the diverse projects slated for the next few years, it would appear other developers agree. From affordable housing projects to luxury condos and everything in between, recent developments aim to fill various voids in the local housing market.

Perhaps the need that is felt most acutely is for entry-level homes. “We feel that WSN, along with the other new developments, will provide more options for home buyers and free up inventory in the lower end of the market for entry level buyers,” adds Marchand. That’s good news for locals that want to see their dream of home ownership become a reality and continue to live in the place they work. It’s also good news for employers that often are faced with challenges for housing current employees as well as luring new employees to town.

On the other end of the spectrum, several new developments look to cater to the luxury market. “It’s been ten years since we’ve seen new high-end condos downtown,” notes Chris Paoli, Broker/Owner at Colorado Group Realty. He sees potential in the current market for new luxury properties in the downtown area. Unlike other mountain towns, Steamboat still has room to grow, and downtown is just one of the areas seeing growth.

Whether they feature affordable housing or luxury condos, one word that defines the new developments in town is variety. Many of the new neighborhoods plan a mixture of home styles and target consumer, from move-up buyers looking for more room to those looking to downsize.

From single-family homes to loft-style mixed-use developments, here’s a rundown of some of the current and future projects in Steamboat Springs.


Mountain Area

Urban Street at the Mountain

Located across the street from Casey’s Pond Senior Living, the Urban Street neighborhood features mixed-layout units. The developers describe the community as urban-alpine style, combining progressive, big-city style with small-town charm. The neighborhood includes 12 row houses, four duplexes, eight triplexes and two condo buildings with 2-4-bedroom configurations. The development’s proximity to the Steamboat Ski Area, shopping and dining areas and the Core Trail make it an attractive option for home seekers.

One appeal of this project is ease of living. “We hear from buyers that they want quality living with few amenities and work,” says Cindy MacGray, Broker Associate at Steamboat Sothe