Story by Suzanna Logan
Photos by Heidi Long
To some, packing for vacation is a chore. For John and Elizabeth Parrish, it’s a task they’ve come to love, because they know what lies ahead. For the Tennessee couple, loading up their bags — and their Burmese Mountain dog, Skye — to make the 29-hour cross-country trek to their getaway home near Steamboat Springs, Colorado
, means they’ll be waking to sweeping valley views; hands wrapped tightly around steaming mugs of coffee; and days where time is measured not by the clock, but by hikes through fields of wildflowers.
It’s a good life, and one the couple waited to enjoy for more than 15 years. During that time, the Parrishes faithfully visited a nearby western-themed dude ranch
, complete with a smattering of cabins, for a single week each summer. There, they fell in love with the log home vibe and began dreaming about building their own place where they could, someday, spend months on end.
“When a parcel came up for sale that was in middle of the dude-ranch properties we loved, we bit,” says Elizabeth. The property, part of an original 1,000-acre homestead with numerous 19th-century outbuildings still standing, fit perfectly with the couple’s design vision.
With modern monoliths of glass, cable and steel springing up around them, the Parrishes wanted to create a structure that hearkened back to slower days and honor the area’s history as a mining town
“We didn’t want a gigantic house that wouldn’t fit in with its surroundings,” John states. “The house sits on a high plateau, so everyone can see it. We wanted to have it lay softly on the land.”
Photo: Heidi Long
The couple teamed up with Matt Franklin, PrecisionCraft Log & Timber Homes
’ lead architect, to draw up their dream. “They wanted something that looked like it had been built 150 years ago, when pioneers started moving out West,” explains Matt. With authenticity in mind, the couple opted for Douglas fir logs with chinking, adding a dark stain and lots of distressing to give the wood an aged appearance. Natural stone, much of it from local quarries, appears inside and out, rooting the home with a sense of permanence.
Now, situated between hundred-year-old sheds and barns on the rolling landscape, the home appears almost sepia toned, but the construction is far from antiquated. The 2,400-square-foot getaway is a log hybrid using structural insulated panels (SIPs)
that sandwich insulation between two layers of logs and chinking. The approach stands up well to the home’s severe climate, 7,000 feet above sea level. Electric in-floor heating topped with bamboo flooring, an enormous wood-burning fireplace in the living room and a propane stove in the master bedroom allow the home to feel as cozy as it looks.
The layout offers the best of old and new, too, including open-concept living, two bedrooms with a sleeping loft and porches wrapping around three sides of the home that are tailor-made for kicking your feet up and taking in the views.
Photo: Heidi Long
When they’re not porch-sitting, you can probably find the couple hiking the local trails, teaching neighbors how to play pétanque (a French lawn game similar to bocce ball) or entertaining their grandchildren with “rock collecting, kayaking and camp-outs in the tepee,” says John.
But, no matter what the days’ activities hold, every one of them ends in much the same way, with the couple and their guests lingering over sunset views and conversation that flows to the rhythm of rocking chairs across a wooden porch. “Then,” John says, “we repeat it all the next day.”
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