A Texas Couple Creates Their Dream Home in Gunnison, Colorado

As a passion project, a couple enlists the help of architect Dan Murphy and builders Steve and Paul Pike
Gunnison Ext Copy

Built with stone, hand-scribed timber and chink-and-plank walls, the rustic home on the Ohio Creek near Gunnison perfectly complements the natural splendor. “We appreciated the perfection of imperfection,” says homeowner, Mary Blake. | Photography by Emily Minton Redfield

Attending camp in Colorado as a kid made an indelible impression on Jack Blake, who dreamed of one day owning a place there. Through the years, he and his wife Mary visited the area and in 2015 purchased a 35-acre parcel with spectacular views of the Anthracite Range and Ohio Creek outside of Gunnison, Colorado. “It was a true dream,” Mary says. “We fell in love.”

Gunnison Living Curtains Final Copy

A custom-sized metal chandelier by Paul Ferrante from John Brooks softly illuminates the formal living room, where a sofa by Rose Tarlow anchors a convivial seating zone that includes a pair of low-slung chairs by Lee Industries from Columbine Showroom.

While they hadn’t intended to build a home from scratch, the instant rapport they enjoyed with architect Dan Murphy, builders Steve and Paul Pike and interior designer Carolina Alling, I.D. Studio, made the process far less daunting than they had originally imagined. All had the same advice for the couple: “Just chill out on it and let it take on its own mindset,” Mary recalls. “We didn’t feel the need to rush it.”

Gunnison Kit Copy

Smoked-glass pendants by Tech Lighting juxtapose the rustic beams in the spacious open kitchen. The mix of modern and rustic textures flows from floor to ceiling. With bar seating and a breakfast nook, the kitchen has ample space for entertaining family and friends.

Echoing the bend in the creek, the post-and-beam home Murphy designed is built with textural Arkansas moss rock, reclaimed hand-scribed timber and chink-and-plank walls. The rustic materials are punctuated by black metal-clad windows that frame jaw-dropping vistas in every direction. “We wanted them to see and experience the river as much as possible and this was one of those lots where we could achieve that,” Murphy says. The attention to detail also distinguishes the interior, where many of the walls have been hand-troweled with American clay, creating a living finish that changes as the sun traverses the sky. “They polish it over and over until they get the texture that the client desires,” Steve Pike explains. “It gives you a warm and welcoming feeling.” American chestnut floorboards in random widths—some as wide as 19 inches—likewise distinguish the project.

Gunnison Entry Copy

Cowhide wall tiles soften the foyer, where an antique Italian leather bench fosters an eclectic vibe that perfectly reflects the homeowners.

As a warming contrast to the rustic materials, Alling used materials such as grass cloth, shearling and sheepskin throughout the home. Custom cowhide tiles, for example, accent the clay walls in the foyer and mudroom. “The textures bring this house to life and create a sense of home,” she says. “We wanted to reflect the environment where this house is set.”

Developing a close bond with the Blakes during the project, Alling traveled with them to showrooms in Denver, selecting a mix of contemporary plush furnishings alongside older pieces, such as a vintage Italian bench in the foyer. “Antiques and personal items bring the space to a more personal level that reflects the clients,” Alling says.

Gunnison Dine Copy

A mirrored platinum tile backsplash from Ann Sacks elevates the bar in the formal dining area.

An antique sofa table does the same for the living area. There, a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace calls attention to the high post-and-beam ceilings while creating a dramatic focal point for a sumptuous seating zone that includes matching sofas and leather club chairs covered in a warm caramel-colored leather.

Designed with guests in mind, the bedrooms and two bunk rooms are equally well-appointed with beautiful, textural fabrics that play off the reclaimed timber. However, the primary bedroom was practically empty the first night the Blakes stayed there, cots in hand, near the end of the four-year project. “It was a fun little glamping experience,” Mary Blake says. “It was wonderful being right there by the creek.”

Gunnison Bed Copy

A soft contrast to the reclaimed wood elements, sumptuous bedding, drapery fabric by Hartmann & Forbes and a pair of complementary swivel chairs from Kravet contribute to the cozy milieu in the primary bedroom.

Indeed, the home’s mix of modern and rustic influences never fails to delight the owners, who spend about half the year there, often hosting family and friends for extended stays. Despite the home’s size, they marvel at the fact that it’s just as comfortable when fully occupied as when it’s just the two of them. “Every time we sit down for a glass of wine, we look around and pinch ourselves,” Jack Blake says. “It hasn’t worn off.”

“We’re so proud,” Mary adds, noting they owe it all to the designers and skilled craftspeople who spent so much time on the project. “The end result surpassed our dreams.”

Gunnison Bath Copy

A colorful, patterned area rug from Artisan Rug Gallery energizes the spa-like primary bathroom.


WARMTH AND TEXTURE Despite the Mountain Modern home’s soaring ceilings and generously proportioned spaces, interior designer Carolina Alling of I.D. Studio created an eminently cozy milieu that owners Jack and Mary Blake never take for granted. To that end, the designer incorporated warm colors and textural fabrics. For example, the stone fireplace in the living room is surrounded by a cozy furniture grouping that includes shearling slipper chairs and matching sofas upholstered in a Perennials fabric aptly called Touchy Feely. “Everything is designed so it can be used and touched,” Alling says. “This house represents calm and provides a sense of home.”

In the same spirit, custom hide tiles accent the American Clay walls in the front entry and mudroom areas. And warm area rugs cover the reclaimed chestnut floors in the main living areas and primary bedroom, which has high wood-beamed ceilings and walls covered in a mix of timber and American clay. Wall-to-wall carpet likewise creates an enveloping feeling in the guest suites and bunk rooms. “Sometimes tall ceilings can feel kind of cold, but every space in this house sort of hugs you,” Alling says. “I was so gratified to see how it all came together.”


ARCHITECTURE Daniel J. Murphy Architect
PHOTOGRAPHY Emily Minton Redfield


LIVING ROOM SOFA by Melrose House from John Brooks SOFA TABLE by Window Fine Living SIDE TABLE by Fauld England COFFEE TABLE by Four Hands SWIVEL CHAIR by Hancock & Moore from Hoff Miller LOW CHAIRS by Lee Industries from Columbine Showroom CHANDELIER by Paul Ferrante from John Brooks DRAPERY by Kravet DRAPERY ROD by BlackStar Ironworks PRIMARY BATHROOM RUG by Artisan Rug Gallery VANITY by Arteriors Home from Ivystone Group LLC FIXTURES by Cal Faucet from Ultra Design Center TILE by Ann Sacks DINING ROOM TABLE by Fauld England TILE by Ann Sacks DRAPERY ROD by BlackStar Ironworks CHANDELIER by Dennis & Leen from John Brooks RUG by Artisan Rug Gallery DRAPERY by Kravet FOYER CONSOLE by Formations from John Brooks CHANDELIER by Visual Comfort from Mountain Colors Design Shop RUG by Artisan Rug Gallery ACCENT WALL by B.K. Holland Enterprise LEATHER BENCH by Page Home Design PRIMARY BEDROOM BED by Century from Hoff Miller BEDSIDE TABLE by Century from Hoff Miller DRAPERY by Hartmann & Forbes DRAPERY ROD by BlackStar Ironworks SWIVEL CHAIR by Kravet ART Winter’s Eve by Joseph Alleman PRIMARY BATHROOM DRAPERY by Sandra Jordan from John Brooks DRAPERY ROD by BlackStar Ironworks RUG by Artisan Rug Gallery TILE by Ann Sacks FIXTURES by Cal Faucet from Ultra Design Center SCONCE by Visual Comfort from Mountain Colors Design Shop GUEST BEDROOM 1 CHANDELIER by Currey & Co from Mountain Colors Design Shop BED by Bernhardt SWIVEL CHAIRS by Four Hands DRAPERY by Lee Industries from Columbine Showroom CARPET by Atlas from Columbine Showroom SCONCE by Palmer Hargrave from Town Studio GUEST BEDROOM 2 CHANDELIER by Formations from John Brooks BED by Bernhardt PILLOWS by Santa Fe Dry Goods Home DRAPERY ROD by BlackStar Ironworks CARPET by Atlas from Columbine Showroom SCONCE by Palmer Hargrave from Town Studio KITCHEN RUG by Artisan Rug Gallery CABINETRY HARDWARE by Sun Valley Bronze from Mountain Colors Design Shop PENDANTS by Tec Lighting WALL FINISH by American Clay BACKSPLASH by Decorative Materials FIXTURES by Cal Faucet from Ultra Design Center BREAKFAST ROOM TABLE by Fauld England DRAPERY by John’s Upholstery CHANDELIER by Visual Comfort FABRIC by Kravet RUG by Artisan Rug Gallery LIBRARY DRPERY by Kravet SOFA by John Brooks Travis Swing Arm Sconce by Hargrave from Town Studio RUG by Artisan Rug Gallery BUNK ROOM UPHOLSTERY by John’s Upholstery HEADBOARD by Schumacher LIGHT by Visual Comfort NIGHTSTAND by Made Goods RUG by Artisan Rug Gallery PILLOWS by Santa Fe Dry Goods Home WALLPAPER by Elitis from Chuck Wells CHANDELIER by Visual Comfort PENDANT by Hinkley

Categories: Contemporary Homes