The Pony Up Ranch, deep in the Colorado Rockies, embraces the great outdoors in serious style
Having been born and raised on the west coast of Scotland, my concept of a ranch is fairly primitive, drawn primarily from childhood Sunday mornings spent watching Clint Eastwood’s Rowdy Yates ‘rounding ’em up’ in Rawhide. In fact, the only thing that Colorado’s magnificent Pony Up Ranch has in common with the places I remember so fondly from those old TV shows is the horses.
And it’s horses that brought the owners of this jaw-dropping home to the Vail valley in the Rockies in the first place. They wanted a place where their daughter, a keen rider, could breed and train horses. The results are impressive, with the creation of a world-class ranch and the improvement of the entire 146-acre property. It was a massive two-year job, involving a huge amount of building work. Remarkably, despite meticulous preparation and extensive discussion with the project architect, some of the plans were made up on the hoof, as it were: “Our operational model was ‘never let the written plans interfere with an idea’,” recall the owners, who lived on-site during construction so they could respond quickly to any problems – and to any opportunities. “No idea was dismissed,” they add. “In fact, good ideas were constantly surfacing from everyone. Our motto was ‘shift happens’, and it did. Change was constant.”
The project architect, Tom Cole, also remained on-site throughout the build, moving into one of the spare rooms and creating a makeshift office in which he spent more than 40 hours a week. He had been tasked with a trio of design dilemmas: to build the owners something they couldn’t see; give them views they didn’t have previously; and to bring the outdoors inside. The ‘invisibility’ issue was particularly tricky, but the owners were insistent that the landscape had to be the focus, and that building anything that detracted from that would be against the very reason they’d bought the ranch in the first place.
It was a daunting prospect, but the team that was assembled to tackle it had a dynamic that made the process easier. Working alongside Cole were interior designer Andrea Monath Schumacher and builders Tom McCord and Patrick Barrett. The owners has been determined to employ local people who were principals at their respective firms, and who were also committed to being active on this job on a daily basis. It was a combination that worked effectively and creatively.
This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 232-246, issue 110.Subscribe now