Steamboat Springs Wrenn and Mary Blalock are children of the South, but Wrenn Blalock has had a longstanding cowboy fantasy, and Mary Blalock is right behind him. Now, the couple from Tybee Island, Ga., plans to spend six months of every year at their new home at Marabou Ranch, just west of Steamboat Springs.
"I always wanted to live on a ranch," Wrenn Blalock said, "but I couldn't afford it. Now, I can share it with 62 other owners. I'm going to go move cattle with Chad (Bedell) tomorrow. Me and my wife like the wild West."
Mary Blalock said she's having fun making the transition from beaches to the Rocky Mountains.
"I've been on the sand my whole life. The first half of my life, I was a surfer girl," she said. "Now I want to be a cowgirl."
Wrenn Blalock is so enthused that there was a brief time when he contemplated acquiring his own horse.
"I told (Bedell), 'I think I'm going to get my own horse.' He said, 'Wrenn, you don't want your own horse.' I've decided he was probably right," he said.
The Blalocks are among the original investors in the ranch preservation subdivision that sprawls across 1,700 acres. And theirs is the first single-family home to be completed. They hosted an open house for fellow Georgians in their home overlooking Sleeping Giant on Aug. 28.
Wrenn Blalock is a developer in Savannah, Ga. He displayed an excellent sense of timing there several years ago when he developed a number of large industrial warehouses just as the Port of Savannah was receiving rapidly growing interest from shipping companies eager to locate a portal for receiving goods from Asia on the Eastern Seaboard.
"I developed 10 million square feet of warehouses and then sold it to Duke Realty," Wrenn Blalock said.
Bizjournals.com reported that Duke purchased 18 buildings comprising 5 million square feet in January 2006, with an agreement to purchase more buildings that Wrenn Blalock and his partners planned to build on adjacent land.
A news release issued by Duke confirmed the transaction and noted that many of the warehouses were leased with an aggregate average term of 7 1/2 years.
The news release also described Savannah as the fastest-growing port in the U.S. for the preceding 12 years.
Tybee Island is known as Savannah's beach and, like Steamboat, is a resort town. It's also a critical nesting area for endangered loggerhead and leatherback turtles.
Now that they have moved into their new home in Marabou, the Blalocks plan to reside there for six months in the spring, summer and fall.
Mary Blalock said among the things she loves most about Steamboat is its relaxed lifestyle.
"I like being able to go to a workout and then shop at Romick's (Into the West) without having to change out of my workout pants," she said. "I don't want to impress anyone, and at my age, I couldn't impress anyone."
When the Blalocks set out to plan their home at Marabou, they turned to Brooks Design/Build of Steamboat, interior designer Jane Coslick, and builder Cary Hamilton, of Hamilton Construction of Steamboat.
Hamilton said his goal was to create a home that evoked an older ranch house that had been brought up to contemporary standards.
"I wanted to make it look like an old ranch house that had been spruced up," Hamilton said."
The Blalock home is not a log house in the typical sense, but the exterior siding incorporates extensive use of native logs to achieve the desired effect. Instead of relying on standing dead trees that had died recently from beetle kill and peeling the bark from them, Hamilton chose to use standing dead trees that already had shed their bark. That choice gives the exterior of the home the patina of age.
Coslick, who has gained notoriety for her classic beach homes and cottages in Coastal Living magazine, has worked with the Blalocks before. Her color palate typically trends to a bright Caribbean palette set off by large expanses of wood that has been painted white. But Coslick tackled an entirely new vernacular with the Blalocks' ranch home.
The Blalocks deliberately set out to build a smaller home than one might expect to see on a multi-million-dollar estate lot. The 4,400-square-foot home is spacious but not overwhelming.
"It's just what we wanted. And the cabins at Marabou make it a bigger house than it really is," Wrenn Blalock said. "When friends and relatives come to visit, they can stay in one of the cabins."
Wrenn Blalock is pleased with his den, or "man cave," near the foyer and loves to show off a small apartment above the garage that the family calls "Janie's Room," because Coslick gave it a personal touch. The standout pieces in the room are a fire-engine-red refrigerator and stove. The chrome on the stove is so bright it evokes a 1950s jukebox.
There's Italian marble in the master bathroom, but the standout feature in the entire house may be the use of Mexican oak harvested from old trees in Arizona, where they died of natural causes.
Slabs of dark-colored oak are installed on the kitchen island and over the fireplace in place of stone.
Mary Blalock said her family felt tremendous warmth from people in Steamboat from the first visit. However, nothing quite prepared them for the emotions they felt the first time they saw their son Edward, 21, skiing down a trail here.
Edward uses a wheelchair and has been unable to speak since suffering a stroke as a boy. But the expression on his face while participating in the adaptive skiing program at Steamboat Ski Area, with guides on either flank, spoke volumes.
"We just burst into tears when we saw the joy on his face," Mary Blalock said.