Rocky Mountain Renovation: Christy Rost’s Award-Winning Breckenridge Home

Christy Rost

Swan’s Nest in Summer. All photos courtesy of Christy Rost.

If you follow television and radio chefs and cooking teachers, you’re likely to be familiar with Christy Rost, who hosted the Texas-based television cooking and lifestyle show Just Like Home for 12 years, and a PBS special in 2009 that has become a Thanksgiving tradition, re-airing nationally every November since. Rost and her husband, Randy, maintain a home in DallChristy Rostas where they live for much of the year, but bought a second home in Colorado in 2006, which they have renovated to applause. The Breckenridge Heritage Alliance recently honored the Rosts with the Theobald Award for historic preservation and advocacy for their outstanding remodel and preservation of Swan’s Nest, a house built in 1898 by Colorado gold baron Benjamin Stanley Revett for his bride.

Christy and Randy purchased the property in August 2006 and spent years restoring the home, preserving practical historic detail, but bringing its infrastructure up to modern standards. A registered nurse by training, Rost has authored 3 cookbooks, is a regular on the cooking TV and radio circuit, and does all her own home design. Here’s more on this lovely lady, her top-caliber mountain home renovation, the Thanksgiving show that presents highlights of the project and inspiration for holiday meals …

 

The House

First, a look at the exterior: workmen laying the foundation for an addition which would be a studio kitchen. Notice all the colors on the side of the original house, varied hues the house had been painted over the years:

Christy Rost

The Living Room

Christy Rost

A major issue was the living area fireplace: “The original hearth was one of the most difficult projects during our restoration of Swan’s Nest,” said Rost. “The interior of the fireplace was inspected by camera. After removing the 1970s remodel we discovered the fireplace had suffered significant damage sometime in the past.” Their solution was to take the surface down to the original wood surround, repair the stonework, install a firebox and piping, and extend the original mantel. Hand-carved wood corbels and marble tiles were added to make the fireplace the focal point of the room, and the wood was stained to match the original woodwork.

What a difference!:

 

Christy Rost

 

A 650-square-foot kitchen and walk-in pantry were added on to accommodate filming, photography, cooking classes and entertaining. The space features in-floor hot water heating, which you can see in this construction stage photo:

Christy Rost

 

The island surface is Zodiaq by Dupont quartz, a nonporous surface that doesn’t trap bacteria; the backsplash is Terrazo tile. Faucets are Hansgrohe, and appliances are Kitchenaid, including ovens with steam technology: christyrost23-new-kitchen

Here’s the room finished and decorated for the holidays:

Christy Rost

The kitchen above is used for Christy’s professional role, producing cooking-related television programs, YouTube videos, classes, and entertaining.

Here’s the view from the chef’s table in summertime:

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The home has a second, smaller kitchen for everyday use. The prior owners had built what Christy calls the “old kitchen” to take advantage of the mountain view. In Ben Revett’s time, the room was used as the gold baron’s office. Adjacent was the vault where Revett stored his gold fortune.

“It’s hard to describe just how depressing the “old” kitchen was when we purchased Swan’s Nest,” said Christy. “The walls and ceiling featured beautiful, original beadboard stained a dark honey color, and similarly-stained wood shutters covered the windows, so the room was dark. There was carpet on the floor, the oak cabinetry was faded, and the hardware was dated. An electric range was pushed into an opening in the small island, and the back of the island and wiring were completely exposed, though we didn’t notice it until we pulled the kitchen away from the island. But, the two things that left the greatest impression were the bright orange ceramic sink and the condition of the glass in the bay window — it had been painted black on the lower half to disguise the fact that the lower cabinets had no backs on them!
“While designing the restoration, we retained the room’s footprint and original beadboard walls and ceiling, but everything else changed,” Rost continued. “I ordered gorgeous creamy white cabinetry with a butterscotch glaze that takes advantage of the kitchen’s 11-foot ceilings and complements the beadboard, added a matching built-in buffet with leaded glass upper cabinets in a wide kitchen walkway to take advantage of wasted space, and installed matching cabinetry in the adjacent gold vault to create a butler’s pantry. The new island, with a four-burner induction cooktop and built-in downdraft, is much larger than the one we removed, with angled edges to maximize preparation and serving space, yet facilitate access throughout the room. The original fir floors were sanded and refinished along with the rest of the floors throughout the house.”
Here’s the result, where Christy cooks day-to-day:
Christy Rost
 The new buffet:
swans-nest-buffet
And the former gold vault, nicely redone:
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While all this was going on, multi-tasking Christy used the opportunity to research a cookbook she titled Where’s My Spatula?: Fast Healthy Meals for When Your Kitchen or Your Life is a Mess.(Capital Lifestyles, 2008/$10.) Still available on Amazon, the book sounds like a fun gift for someone launching a kitchen redo.
christyrost-in-kitchen-under-construction

The master bedroom was the smoking and billiards rooms in Ben Revett’s day, where men gathered after dinner, while women adjourned to the parlor to sip tea.

The room when the Rosts purchased the house was a far departure from its origin. “A large 1970s-era closet with sliding mirror doors had been installed along one wall, there was a wallpaper-covered ‘decorative’ insert where the bed’s headboard had been (covering damage to the wood paneled wall and an exterior door that was no longer used) heavy woven drapes covered the windows making the room even darker, and the only lighting was a less-than-flattering 1970s ceiling fixture,” said Christy.

“Faced with a master bedroom that was even paneled on the ceiling presented a major decorating conundrum for me — one that took months to resolve. Removing or painting the paneling was not an option. Swan’s Nest has been called one of the most historic homes in Colorado, so maintaining and restoring its integrity was critical. One day, I realized the key to decorating this new master bedroom was to think of it as a winter room, rather than a summer room — one that’s warm, cozy, and wraps it arms around us. Within moments, I knew exactly how I was going to approach styling the room.
“We insulated and repaired the damaged wall with matching 1898 paneling found behind sheetrock in another room, removed the drapes to take advantage of majestic mountain views, removed the closet to restore the room’s original footprint, installed a crystal chandelier Ben Revett would have loved, restored the paneling throughout the room (notice how the wood ceiling shines now), and installed cove lighting along the ceiling to provide a soft glow at night.”
Here’s a photo of the room taken when all but the last sound system fixture was done. Ignore the loop hanging from the ceiling, and feast your eyes:

Christy Rost

The master bathroom was the poker room when they purchased the house, and had its share of challenges. “The floor dropped 5 inches from one side of the room to the other, the walls were paneled in dark wood on the bottom half, with red velvet flocked wallpaper on the upper half. Red shades covered the bay windows, and the room was a passageway to the back hallway and main staircase,” said Christy.

Their solution?
“The small bath off the master bedroom was gutted and replaced by a hallway and large closet for Randy. The new hallway now connected directly to the new Master Bath via a new doorway, and the former doorways from the music room to the main staircase were closed off. New access directly from the living room to the main staircase and back of the house created much-needed flow and allowed natural light to brighten formerly dark space.
“The new bath is bright and luxurious, and the now level room features white tile floors, peachy-pink walls that make me feel happy in the dead of winter (I call the color Bermuda Pink), white trim, a large shower with solid brass and crystal fixtures, double sinks with marble countertop and solid brass and crystal fixtures, and a free-standing Bain Ultra soaking tub, reminiscent of Victorian tubs,” she explains.
Here’s the sink area with gold mirrors Christy fell in love with at a lighting store on Knox Street:

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The Rosts believe the upstairs north bedroom, one of five bedrooms, was most likely Ben Revett’s room based upon items they found within its walls. The room was in bad condition when they bought the house, to say the least. “The original lathe and plaster could not be saved, much as I would have loved to, the walls contained no insulation, there were large holes in nearly every wall, the two closets (a sign of wealth in Victorian times!) were so tiny they were unusable, the floor was painted schoolhouse red, as were all the upstairs floors and stairway, and the only lighting in the room was a single lightbulb hanging from a cord that plugged into a socket on the wall. The ceiling and socket were each surrounded by black soot, so we were afraid to turn on the light for fear of fire.

And yet, I envisioned an elegant guest room where I could spoil friends and family with luxurious comfort and beauty. The window seat, which we added, overlooks the mountains – a perfect spot for guests to relax in the morning with a cup of coffee and gaze at the view.”
I’d say she nailed it, without fussiness:
Christy Rost

The Books, Local Appearances, and the Thanksgiving Special: 

You can catch Christy on local TV Friday, November 18, 2016, 8:45 am on FOX-4’s Good Day Show, KDFW-TV Channel 4, where she’ll demo make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes, and at Barnes & Noble Preston Royal, Sunday, November 20, 2016, 1:00 pm, where she’ll be signing her most recent book, Celebrating Home; A Handbook for Gracious Living (Bright Sky Press; $29.95.)

christy-rost-book-cover

A Home for Christy Rost; Thanksgiving,” the American Public Television special featuring holiday cooking and decorating as well as the home restoration has now been aired in more than 91 percent of the country with 6,600 broadcasts on 340-plus stations in 46 states. The beloved annual special will air again in November 2016 at various times during Create TV’s  weekend marathon November 19 and 20. Tune in for more of the story of the restoration.

Here’s a snowy night last look at this praise-worthy mountain home:

christy-rost-exterior-winter-night-final