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Steamboat Magazine

Country Living

05/25/2021 02:35PM ● By Suzi Mitchell

Streamlined navy cabinetry adds a modern flair to the farmhouse-style kitchen, where views of the surrounding landscape abound in every direction.

Story by Suzi Mitchell
Photography by David Patterson

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – When the alarm goes off in the early hours of the morning at Ben Litoff and Brenda Smith’s home in Cow Creek, they welcome the interruption. Unlike most people’s wake-up calls, theirs comes in the form of sandhill cranes tapping their beaks on the bedroom window. 

The sounds of nature are a welcome change from the city buzz the couple had been used to in recent years. In 2018, they packed up their loft in the center of Denver and moved to a 20-acre spot in the Yampa Valley. “We love the openness of what we have here,” Litoff says. 

The house is a forever-home for treasured finds such as rugs and wall hangings from the couple’s extensive travels.


The 2,700-square-foot home was a partially built shell when they stumbled upon it. Their initial plan was to build on a piece of land not far from their current house. “When we crunched the numbers, this made more sense,” Smith says. “We were able to tweak a few things and make the house what we wanted.” 

They enlisted the help of Bruce Caplowe and Katie Burnet of Rumor Designs to design the interior. The duo took the couple’s ideas and steered their vision into something tangible. “I remember running into Bruce one day and he said he’d knocked a hole in a wall to open up a stairwell, and hoped we’d approve,” Litoff shares with a grin. “We did, which wasn’t a surprise because we completely trusted them.” 

The couple bought their home during its construction and were able to make amendments to the design, such as opening up an interior wall to allow an open-plan staircase and bright living space.


The aesthetic is contemporary with a hint of rustic country. “I used to haunt antique fairs,” says Smith, who was born and raised in England. Her 1900 Irish farm table and Danish wood dining chairs from Litoff’s parents’ home add character to the modern navy kitchen cabinetry. 

“We could not replicate what they have now,” says Burnet, lead designer with Rumor Designs. “The one thing you can’t get are the personal pieces which set everything else apart.” 

Not every decision about the interior came easily. When Smith struggled to envision a bronze-hued ceiling in the living space, the team at Rumor created a poll on Instagram. The majority of votes were in favor. “It was a case of, ‘The world has spoken,’” Burnet says, laughing. It is now a favorite feature within the space. 

A 1900 Irish farm table and Danish wood chairs are a nod to the couple’s love of antiques.


Light fills the two-story property through large windows that frame an ever-changing seasonal view. Family photos, treasured art, rugs and far-flung finds from the couple’s extensive travels add to the lived-in feel. 

“We’ve found a true sense of place here,” Smith says. “Connecting with the landscape is part and parcel of how we live.”