An East Coast designer brings Adirondack-inspired style to the Rockies
Emily Minton Redfield
"This is a real log home," says Norwalk, Connecticut-based interior designer Diana Sawicki of her first rustic project, a 12,000-square-foot vacation home in Bachelor Gulch, Colorado. She’s not exaggerating: The builder collected tons of discarded logs, many of them found floating in rivers, and used them to construct the home on a site not far from the Ritz-Carlton hotel. During construction, Sawicki’s clients happened to spot the property and fell in love.
Their affection was born of nostalgia: Growing up in upstate New York, one of the owners spent summers in the Adirondacks at “camps”—a local term for vacation homes—that embraced the natural beauty of New York’s beloved mountains. She wanted a Colorado home that recreated the feeling of those childhood summers: casual, inviting and inspired by nature.
To find the right pieces to achieve this look and feel, Sawicki set to work researching the community of rustic-furniture designers. “I discovered this fascinating world of amazing craftspeople from all over the country who do incredible things with branches, bark and reclaimed natural materials,” she says. “I started to meet artists and talk with them. We developed wonderful relationships.”
The designer and her clients also trekked to the famous Rustic Furniture Fair at the Adirondack Museum in upstate New York, an invitation-only show where the country’s finest rustic craftspeople exhibit their work. “I took my floor plans with me, and we got there very early,” Sawicki says. “When we saw something we liked that would fit, we bought it. It’s a very competitive show, but very fun.”
Sawicki’s travels and the new friendships they yielded resulted in a home that holds museum-quality crafts and furnishings, each with its own story. A twiggy rocking chair in the living room was made by Michigan artisan Clifton Monteith, whose work has appeared in some of the country’s finest craft museums. In the kitchen, a breathtaking chandelier, crafted by Lean 2 Studio in New York, spans 6 feet. “It’s monumental,” Sawicki says, “but this house can take it.”
The designer points out another one-of-a-kind piece in the dining area: a whimsical free-standing cabinet by Maine craftsman Randy Holden, who builds furniture that celebrates the natural curves and characteristics of trees. Across the room, barstools handcrafted by La Lune in Wisconsin double as art pieces; to customize them, Sawicki varnished hand-painted canvases that portray natural scenes and used them as upholstery.
“Everything was a labor of love,” she says. “Most of the pieces were delivered in person by the artists. They knew their work was going to a place where it would be loved and appreciated.”
Sawicki took great care to blend the owners’ affection for the Adirondack-inspired look with the Rocky Mountain vernacular. She hung a collection of antique fly-fishing baskets on one wall and amassed an impressive group of moccasins found in small shops around Colorado. (The little town of Minturn is one of her favorite places to find Western objets d’art.)
The authenticity of the furnishings and accents is a perfect match for the genuine log structure. There’s nothing too precious or predictable here. “It’s not a trendy house,” Sawicki says. “It’s strong, handsome and sophisticated”—as rustic design should be.