(Photos by Don Jones, Studio 9 Commercial Photography.)
Being cooped up in our homes for the last year brought on thoughts about things that could change to make life better. Some people want to get out of the city and find more breathing room, and others found new hobbies to cultivate. Most of us spent time evaluating our living spaces and the functionality of them for work–life balance. This amounts to an emerging trend in home building and architecture defined as the “Colorado ranch lifestyle.”
In short, the lifestyle brings together an easy, workable floor plan with functional spaces and a larger plot of land, which offers the opportunity to garden, raise horses and other livestock, and enjoy wildlife and nature. And although there is plenty of flexibility to accommodate a host of wants and needs by the homeowner, this lifestyle is being embraced by Shea Chappell Luxury Homes.
Charlie and Nancy Shea, directors of development and senior advisors to the company, are living their best lives on 35 acres northeast of town, and company owners Lain and Barbara Chappell reside in a home they never dreamed they would want but have settled in nicely on 16 acres of land.
“The Colorado ranch lifestyle is about a special place with versatility,” says Charlie. “We’re not talking about city suburbs. This is a rural setting to create your own environment free from city covenants. And you’ll share space with everything from moose, elk, and white-tailed deer to rabbits and coyotes.”
In developing these plans for their own needs, both couples really leaned into the concept, researched, and talked to others about ranch-style living. And what that really meant. “We found that people wanted to redefine their work and home spaces so there was some separation,” Lain says. “The folks we talked to are looking for a setting where work and family can be enjoyed, but there is peace, tranquility, and the ability to have other hobbies.”
Window placement is also important to take advantage of views, and outdoor living spaces are equally well thought out for year-round enjoyment with outdoor kitchens, covered and heated patios, and wood-burning fireplaces. Interior spaces are designed to be flexible, so what is at one time a nursery can later become an office or workout room. An open concept with beamed ceilings creates a more authentic look and helps achieve a comfortable feeling while providing a focal point for the kitchen, which is still the heart of the home, according to Nancy.
Lain says many of the company’s more affluent clients are also building in personal recreation, such as an indoor swimming pool, pickleball court, or specialized workout room, so the home base is self-serving, leaving no reason to travel to the city on a daily basis. And for those with multigenerational needs now or in the future, these flexible floor plans can be very accommodating.
Charlie says outbuildings are extremely important to the ranch lifestyle, and again, versatility plays a role. Whether you need a guesthouse, shop, stables, greenhouse, RV parking, or storage, these structures can be designed to be multi-purpose for a more cohesive look and plan.
The Shea Chappell team builds 6–10 luxury homes per year and strives to achieve a custom concept that is specific to each family. “People are getting away from McMansions,” Lain says. “We’re designing what we call ‘jewelry boxes.’ Our homes are high quality, well defined, and well thought out to meet the needs of our clients.”
Still, this lifestyle is not for everyone. In most cases, rural settings require a well and septic system, and Charlie says, “You’ll never wake up and have nothing to do. The horses need tending to or the garden needs attention.” He explains there is an educational journey that needs to be embarked on before considering this lifestyle to include finding the land and then defining the lifestyle needs and activities the homeowner wants to pursue. “This is truly country living, which has its pluses and minuses,” Charlie says.