“Our first walk-through was a little scary,” recalls homeowner Sherri West about a turn-of-the-century mining cabin she and her husband, Travis, spotted in downtown Crested Butte. “But the thought of bringing it back to life really appealed to us.” Plagued by a laundry list of problems that included decaying joists, water in the crawl space, and wadded-up newspaper for insulation, most people would have run the other way. But the Wests, fresh off a renovation of their 1937 home in Austin, were eager to tackle yet another.
Besides, the location was perfect for the couple and their three children. “We wanted a place in town where our kids could ride bikes and where there are lots of things to do,” she explains. Along with that, they envisioned interiors that were both warm and surprising, so they brought Dallas interior designer Jan Showers, a fellow veteran of their Texas remodel, along for the ride.
First, though, the house had to be stabilized, starting with the crumbling stacked-stone foundation. “We separated the walls from the original first floor and jacked up the house 8 feet so that we could get a small excavator under it to dig a proper crawl space,” says contractor Bob Huckins. “Next, we built a new foundation and framed a new first subfloor before setting the house back down.” Then, in order to maintain the structure’s original character (a city preservation code requirement), architect Daniel Murphy essentially remodeled the house from the inside out.
“Everything was held in place, sags and all, taken apart from the inside, and reinforced and rebuilt as we found them,” says Murphy, who also revamped the layout by opening up the cramped first-floor living spaces, creating new bedrooms upstairs, and connecting the two with a proper staircase. “It would have been be easier to tear it down and start over, but then you wouldn’t have the sag in the roof and the bow in the walls.”
Meanwhile, Showers and her associates, Katherine Fisk and Zara Taitt, plotted ideas for the interiors. “I knew Sherri and Travis loved being there in the summer, so we thought, instead of having warm-toned browns, why not do a beautiful blue throughout?” says Showers. “It’s so unexpected in the mountains.”
Two vintage porter’s chairs with their original finish and sporting azure-colored linen set the stage in the living room, where Showers opted for a “less dressy,” though still chic, feel in contrast to the glamour in the couple’s Austin residence. Instead, Showers emphasized generously scaled designs in light-toned woods and simple, fresh fabrics. Even in the family room, designed with kids in mind, Showers balanced practicality with understated elegance, choosing a durable Ultrasuede to cover the stylish Louis XV–style bergères and adding hard stone lamps and gilt tables. Mixed throughout are witty nods to traditional mountain design, including the living room’s coffee table with brass double rams’ heads and an ornately carved Napoleon III faux bois mirror.
A variation on the blue theme continues in the master bedroom, where the blue-and-white toile wallpaper and fabric is so prominent that “it’s almost like a solid,” says Showers. A chest inlaid with lemonwood parquetry and topped with bright yellow accessories prevents the classic French fabric from overwhelming the space. The same toile repeats on the Roman shades in the master bathroom, a quirky space that resembles a hallway and precedes the bedroom.
To round things out, the Wests added a few pieces of their own—such as the buffet and table in the dining room and rugs in the living room and family room. According to the designer, the melding of existing items with things selected specifically for the renovated house was easy. “Sherri and I were on the same page from day one,” says Showers. “She has very good taste and a great eye.”