Cabin Before and After: A Colorado Cabin Renovation
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Before and After: A Timber Frame Cabin Transformation

Written by Jana Studelska
Photos: Courtesy Steve Rundquist
 
When Steve Rundquist, owner of Brewster Timber Frame Company, signed on to help renovate a ranch-style home in northern Colorado, it turned into an opportunity to use skills and materials most builders dream of. Thanks to good bones and great vision, the transformed home is a now welcoming, rustic retreat, filled with unique craftsmanship and an abundance of reclaimed materials.
 
“The homeowner grew up in Ohio around old timber framed barns, and she came into the project with a strong aesthetic, wanting the solid, built-to-last carpentry of Douglas fir timber trusses with traditional pegged mortise-and-tenon joinery,” said Steve. “We spent months designing. She came to the project with a collection of pieces she’d been saving for her dream home. But she also needed a working home, with a functioning mudroom and home office. She wanted to create a cabin feel…not rustic, but lots of warm mood with a sensible, solid and clean feeling.”
 
The home, with its typical eight-foot ceilings and pressed panel boards, slowly gave way to a dwelling that approaches a work of art. They used wormy maple in the stairwell surround,  wide-plank Douglas fir flooring throughout, and even hand-made the windows to fit the niches and views. They custom built beetle-kill pine doors, and turned mountain laurel branches into woven hand rails. A peek-a-boo window dormer window in the raised roofline created a new spacious, open interior. The western view to the snow-capped mountains prompted a dining room bump-out.
 
“The cathedral ceiling gave us an opportunity to do some fairly complex roof framing sections that show off the best elements of timber framing,” Steve said. “Many of the interior details came from architectural salvage places–old doors, old hardware, stained glass pieces.”

 
The owner worked directly with the stonemasons to build the fieldstone fireplace, sharing her vision as well as her rock pile, a collection that she and her family had gathered on family vacations over the years. “She had a vision of what she wanted and was able to clearly communicate. The masons used their own creative craftsmanship under Deb’s guidance and direction,” Steve said.
 
The kitchen is central to the home, a collaboration between the owner, cabinet makers, and timber framers. Using reclaimed barn wood, the cabinets were made to fit the space, rather than the other way around. “It was a tight squeeze getting everything to fit properly,” Steve said. “We had about a half-inch to spare once everything was set.”
 
The stove, a beautiful black cast iron stove designed with modern gas fittings, was sourced online from England,  and took some careful heaving and hauling to place. Even the kitchen tiles were salvaged and stored over the years, saved for a dream house.
 
Outside, the house was clad in cedar with a metal roof, where a solar array was installed to power the house. Decks for admiring the view welcome long meals under a big Colorado sky.
 
The entire build, once started, took about nine months. The homeowner served as her own general contractor, and lived in the basement during construction.
 
“It worked out great in my opinion,” Steve said. “There was great collaboration, and in the end, the homeowner created a home that even while new, is filled with memories and materials from another time.”
 

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