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Steamboat Magazine

Yampa Living

12/01/2003 01:00AM ● By Anonymous

Winter 2003:

Yampa Living

Distinctive touches - make a home say Steamboat     Whether Routt County residents live in a vintage arts and crafts bungaloin Old Town or rustic log cabins perched on the hillside, their homes have one thing in common: those special touches that create an alpine ambiance. Homeowners and shopkeepers offer advice on infusing a home with local flavor. 1.Western/mountain motif     Western and mountainous décor may mean log bed frames and weathered furniture to some, but antler chandeliers and an animal hide coffee table make Lynne Russell and Larry Myer’s home a world all its own. Lynne and Larry moved from Houston to Steamboat about a year ago, and can’t keep away from their cow-town roots.     “I’ve always been drawn to the country. There’s something permanent about that,” Lynne says of her connection with Steamboat’s western heritage. “I think it’s my responsibility to keep the tradition and culture alive.”     Native American art and southwestern knickknacks engulf Lynne and Larry’s home, which is decorated with lamps, figurines and wall hangings.     “I wanted a real woodsy, wooden look, and I like a lot of color in a room. We were very comfortable bringing the outside in,” Lynne says.     Searching for the ideal mountain décor is no longer a daunting task; a plethora of local stores carry items with a mountain or western motif that will complement any Steamboat home.    “I think what I see is a mix of a sleeker mountain elegance. In this area, we see more ranch architecture. It may be old wood on the outside but modern on the inside,” says Into the West owner Kim Romick.2.Casual comfort     Although Virginia residents Ken and Marci Huntsman chose not to go with a predominant western motif, the energy of mountain living drethem to seek family-oriented comfort with a hint of rustic style.     This means oversized furniture, warm colors and big pillows to sink into after a rough day on the slopes. What every person craves when they come to the mountains, right? “We wanted furniture that you could fall into at the end of a long ski day,” Marci said.    Buying a condominium in Steamboat may have been the best thing the Huntsmans ever did. It gave them an escape from hectic city life outside Washington, D.C., and it proved to them that family-oriented towns still exist.     The mountain environment creates a hearty feeling that is evident in a home’s décor. Mountain Homefitters Manager Shannon Sowash couldn’t agree more. “(Steamboat’s) a western town. People come here to feel the Colorado experience. That’s important for the ambiance you create,” says Shannon. 3.Dressing up simple furniture    Dressing up furniture is a simple way to turn your customary home into a western playground. Shannon recommends adding a fringe skirt to an ottoman or sanding down accessory tables to give them a distressed, weathered look.     “We like to call it ‘cowboy elegance’ – you can dress it up or dress it down,” Shannon says. “In the 1940s, cowboy was big. Then it died out. Nocowboy is back with a vengeance. It’s very colorful, much more so than other styles, with the denim blue, reds and greens.”    Some people want traditional western items to accentuate the flavor of the home – iron or antler lighting, for instance.     Introducing copper or crystals to a rustic item can dress it up with a refined look, which Kim says is enjoying a resurgence of popularity. 4.Fabrics and wood     Heavy fabrics and wood are also becoming increasingly popular for use in chairs, sofas and beds typical of a mountain setting. Kim says mixing and matching upholsteries gives an easygoing, vintage look that people love.     One example is a wood sleigh bed with leather headboard and wrought iron lamps. If you want your room to proclaim loudly its western, mountain association, add a wood-carved lamp of a moose or deer on the night-stand.
    Leather can also be perfect for creating a western haven, but if you’re looking for something a little warmer, Shannon says chenille is ideal for sofas. “Don’t worry – it doesn’t wear like your sweater,” she says.    Hickory and peeled bark are ideal woods for tables, dressers and chairs, Shannon suggests.    Kim adds pine, alder, mesquite and chestnut to the list of woods that are representative of Colorado mountains. Oak and cherry woods are more traditionally associated with urban environments. 5.Western animals     While mounted wooden skis and antique snowshoes are major mountain décor items in Steamboat, many have found local animal hides or mounts to be complementary conversation pieces.    Wall mounts of buffalo, elk, deer or other native Colorado creatures captivate people, Kim says.        Lynne and Larry’s family room wouldn’t be complete without the cattle skull and antlers over the fireplace and the large moose head on the wall.     Antler chandeliers, lamps, candlesticks and centerpieces are also popular.    “We do a lot of cowhides and hair-on hides. It’s an unusual use of the product, but many people want an unusual look,” Kim says.     Second homeowners in the Yampa Valley typically want a look completely different from their primary home. An old cattleman’s sofa or leather whip stitching may not be easy to find in a place like Minnesota, Kim says, so owning something from the West makes a home say “Steamboat.”