Rustic Language

Still rooted in history, the vocabulary of rustic design is ever expanding. Also, three rustic-design reads.

I attended a presentation at the 2017 Denver Design Week by Eric Logan, principal at Jackson’s Carney Logan Burke Architects (CLB), called “Pioneering Innovation & Preservation: Practice, Pragmatism and the Wild West.” In one hour, Eric shared a timeline of CLB projects spanning 1992 to 2017, illustrating the firm’s evolution and search for a distinctive design language appropriate in the unspoiled Western landscape. Before our eyes, projects evolved from 100 percent rustic, log-and-stone lodge-style homes, to hybrids of rustic/contemporary incorporating log and stone with clean contemporary lines in interior spaces, to mountain modern homes with touches of rustic—begging the question, What is the rustic vernacular of the West today?

Castle on a Hill, photo by Gibeon Photography and Gravity Shots

You’ll see new rustic style expressed in this issue in a variety of ways, including Freedom Lodge in Montana with a whimsical rope swing in the living room, a fishing cabin reassembled from historic logs on the Taylor River in Crested Butte, and a castle-like home near Bozeman modeled after the majestic railroad lodges of the West (above).

Cowboy Chic, photo by Gordon Gregory

Incorporating the right materials is key to a rustic look, as designer Jacque Jenkins-Stireman, architect Larry Berlin and builder Randell Mayers demonstrate in the story of a Jackson home built 15 years ago that was recently expanded and updated and challenged the team to make the new work look like it always had been part of the original home—see the results in Cowboy Chic in Jackson Hole.

Still rooted in history, the vocabulary of rustic design is ever expanding. Like the homes referenced in Eric Logan’s talk, rustic renditions are evolving and changing before our very eyes. In the spirit of the Wild West, hold on to your hats!


Rustic Modernby Chase Reynolds Ewald with photography by Audrey Hall (Gibbs Smith, 2015), provides a look into homes and properties in the Mountain West and California. Hall and Ewald are frequent contributors to Mountain Living—in fact, one of the homes from Rustic Modern, Freedom Lodge, was featured in our Sept/Oct 2017 issue.


Beauty, Neuroscience and Architecture (Oklahoma University Press, available late 2017). Architect Don Ruggles draws upon 50-plus years of experience to demonstrate that a single ancient pattern has been important in art and architecture for thousands of years and can be the catalyst for a new and more beautiful world.


The Family Cabin: Inspiration for Camps, Cottages and Cabins (Taunton Press,  available October 2017). Written by “cabinologist” Dale Mulfinger, the book explores our affection for cabins and their deep connection to family histories. 


Categories: On Location