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