You don’t have to be a Hollywood director to create a cinematic scene. All you need is a beguiling setting and a cast of head-turning characters. Unfortunately, when we first walked into the house on this legendary 4,000-acre Wyoming ranch (the former home of Mary O’Hara, author of the 1941 novel My Friend Flicka), the interiors were what La La Land producers would affectionately call “a flop.” There were linoleum floors and tiled counters in the kitchen, gloomy and dark spaces, carpeted bathrooms…the list goes on! But when it came to riveting characters, Remount Ranch had unforgettable ones that formed the backbone of our revamp.
Take the bar, built circa 1946 when the place was a dude ranch. We kept it pristine, down to the antique pistol wallpaper and brass footrail burnished by cowboy boots over the decades. Proof it’s as authentic as it gets? A horsehair halter made by Tom Horn, an outlaw Steve McQueen played in the 1980 Western Tom Horn, presides over the place. The ranch’s original 1886 homestead remained, too, complete with its log and chinking walls and kiva fireplaces. On the back of new library chairs, we installed a chinoiserie toile, glazed-linen fabric that pioneered the entire color palette for the whole project. It has a saturated, mystical feel that speaks to the homeowners’ spirituality and can stand up to the jaw-dropping landscape beyond the windows.
Nobody in Wyoming, the least-populated state in the nation, should ever feel cramped. So, in the adjacent family room, we expanded the footprint by ten feet so the homeowners’ frequent houseguests—including grown kids and grandkids—would have plenty of room to roam. Where previous owners turned the exterior walls of the original cabin into a courtyard, we created a billiard room with wallpaper I had custom-printed from a 1960s newspaper article about the ranch by the Laramie Boomerang.
A personal feel is always a must. Even in the parts of the property we took down to the studs, we used naturally aged, reclaimed barnwood as a finish to imbue rooms with the heady aura of Wild West history. When you’re lucky enough to work on a storied property, you have to go big, pulling out the best elements of the backstory to propel the design forward. Here, we subtly repeated the double R monogram for Remount Ranch throughout the home, everywhere from the banquette in the billiard room to the railing in the upstairs kids’ room. We even transformed the homeowner’s massive collection of cowboy hats into an art installation by hanging them on custom hoof hooks made in Wyoming. We purposefully limited the number of seats in his book-lined private study so it could be his retreat, the proverbial man cave.
It’s all in testament to the wildness that flourishes here and can’t be pinned down, from their own herd of Texas Longhorns to the antelope, bobcats, and mountain lions that occasionally wander the grounds, as if on cue.
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