A Working Cattle Ranch Guesthouse

This stone-and-timber abode marries rusticity with Western comfort

Photography by James Ray Spahn

The family had been longtime visitors to Colorado when they discovered their 5,000-acre dream ranch near Gunnison: an expansive valley with pastureland and foothills bisected by a creek and surrounded by public lands. “They’d always wanted some sort of ranch; the husband had grown up on one,” says architect Jennifer Barvitski. “They found this unexpectedly and it’s a fabulous property.”

The project has taken shape over a decade, with Barvitski designing and Trout Creek Construction building bridges, a caretaker’s home and barns and undertaking modest remodels of the existing ranch home. As the extended family has grown, however, so has the need for additional beds, as well as storage for fishing gear, ATVs and vehicles.

The most recent project was conceived as a three-car garage with an apartment; it morphed into a guesthouse with a room for fishing gear and a garage on its back side. The structure reads like a barn, albeit a refined one. It speaks to its agricultural surroundings in square beams, reclaimed wood, a porch roof supported by rough posts, and rusted metal roofs.

We wanted it to be inviting so we added the covered porch.” — Architect Jennifer Barvitsk

“You drive up to this site before reaching the main house,” explains Barvitski. “We wanted it to look like an accessory building, and we wanted it to be inviting so we added the coveredporch. It’s rare to see full log homes anymore; we integrated square timbers with round logs and tried to represent that throughout the ranch for a common architecture.”

The living space includes a bedroom, bunkroom and bath downstairs, and an open kitchen/dining/living area with a sleeping area separated by a partition upstairs. Interiors, designed by Priscila Palhava of Studio West, are given rustic character through reclaimed wood ceilings, pine floors, square post balusters, round log timbers and custom barnwood and-metal cabinetry. Unique details such as refined metal “hogwire” on the staircase and a partition designed by Palhava—of one-of-a-kind stained-glass panels sourced from antiques shops and online—add a sense of fun, as does interesting lighting and accessories like the hammered-copper kitchen sink and a bathroom mirror suspended from rope.

Palhava kept the spaces airy and light-filled with white walls, minimal window treatments, built-ins to hide clutter and simple backsplashes. The home expands and contracts to accommodate as many as seven residents, all a short stroll from the main house.  The structure works with living spaces that can be open or closed off from each other, garages tucked out of sight around the back, and plenty of storage space for fishing gear and outdoor equipment. And it fits aesthetically while still offering a fresh look. “We wanted to integrate something new and up-to-date, different from the traditional log on the main house. It doesn’t look as rough and old as a barn that’s been sitting out for 100 years,” says Barvitski. “It’s a refined rustic.”

Interiors—designed by Priscilla Palhava of Studio West in concert with the owners—feature clean lines, rustic materials and bursts of color.


Palhava likes barnwood for its natural variations in color; she strives to combine different textures throughout. “We tried to keep everything clean but unique because this is a small house.”


A bunkroom for three, simply detailed with wood paneling and trapper blankets, combines functionality and fun.


The structure is built into a slope, using natural contours of to nestle into the landscape. Since the building is the first one seen by visitors, the architect added a porch on the front and tucked the garage around the back. Rustic materials and an agrarian form further the Colorado aesthetic.


ARCHITECTURE Jennifer M. Barvitski  INTERIOR DESIGN Studio West CONSTRUCTION Trout Creek Construction

Categories: Rustic Homes