By Amanda McCorquodale
You have to be a really good self-editor to design a 5-star western ranch resort. Any slip into ropin’ and ridin’ references means you risk creating the visual equivalent of Billy Crystal perched awkwardly on a saddle among other cowboy-for-a-day clichés. Mother Nature can’t save you, either. One more property claiming to “bring the outdoors in” is just going to get an eye roll from high-spend, savvy travelers. Simeone Deary Design Group sidestepped those pitfalls by recasting natural materials with a refined charm and playing up contrasts in textures, lighting and conceal-and-reveal space planning to break new ground for the menu of culinary experiences housed in The Farm at Brush Creek, Saratoga, Wyoming.
Part of the Brush Creek Luxury Ranch Collection, which sits on 30,000 acres in the Rockies, The Farm’s premier seed-to-table venues are rooted in the bounty of the land. Fare includes cheese from the property’s goats, ranch-raised wagyu beef and small batch rye, vodka, gin, moonshine and whiskey distilled at the resort.
The designers set out to create interiors that would be just as inspired by the surroundings but still make their own statement. “We were committed to designing spaces that would be a true, dynamic expression of the American West,” says Gina Deary, co-owner of the studio along with Lisa Simeone.
As the Farm at Brush Creek sits between the Sierra Madre mountains and the Medicine Bow National Forest, Deary says she and her team took their cues from Wyoming’s flora and fauna as well as the area’s storied American West heritage. They chose a neutral palette of clean, contemporary materials including finely textured linens, refined millwork and native stone juxtaposed with Western-inspired details such as leathers, fine hair-on-hides and tailored plaids to present a sophisticated blend of rugged and genteel elements.
With multiple buildings and more than a dozen distinct spaces, The Farm at Brush Creek is meant to feel like a settlement of established and successful homesteads. “Every space feels incredibly intimate,” says Deary. “Because each space is designed to provide a unique experience, the complex does not feel massive.”
But massive it is: there’s the Cheyenne Club restaurant that also houses a bar and retail space, Brush Creek Brewery, Brush Creek Distillery, Saddle Barn event space, two greenhouses, Medicine Bow Creamery and the Bakery. When guests descend two flights of stairs, they’ll also find a series of exclusive tasting rooms, wine cellars and meeting spaces, which lie off a dimly lit underground tunnel that is the length of a football field.
Developing a series of intimate, distinct, outlets started with making the buildings focal points, says Deary. The owners, Bruce and Beth White (Bruce is also chairman and ceo of White Lodging), found decrepit buildings elsewhere in Wyoming and had them rebuilt for The Farm’s various venues.
“They used reclaimed wormwood through the complex, which gives the atmosphere a unique timelessness,” says Deary. “It feels like the buildings have always been here.”
“We wanted to showcase that rustic, genuine architecture with interior design that is a clean, modern interpretation of that,” says Deary. For instance, guests’ first impression in the Cheyenne Club is set by an intimate whiskey lounge with a live-edge bar made with indigenous marble as well as a fireplace of local moss stone, topped with a modern custom lighting sculpture composed of antlers.
The team also installed a series of circular barn-style chandeliers by Jon Sarriugarte, an Oakland, California-based metal artist and blacksmith known for his hand-forged lighting fixtures, in the Cheyenne Club restaurant and Saddle Barn. “We wanted the lighting to be understated,” Deary says. “When the lights are dimmed they glow and appear to float.”
Beyond custom light sculptures, expansive barn-style chandeliers and pendant lamps over tables, fixtures, were kept to a minimum as lighting was tricky throughout the project. Not only are there a lot of large windows to showcase views of picturesque landscape, but the signature wood used in the architecture also absorbs a lot of light. “It was almost impossible to light the main floor,” Deary says. “In the morning, you have yellowish light; in the afternoon, it’s bright white light, and toward evening the light appears blue.”
The same wood that makes the space comfortable, timeless and romantic also complicates what materials you put in it, says Deary. “It’s [the wood] a large design element and overshadows everything. But, it’s part of the magic of the place,” she says. To make sure pieces stand out against that backdrop, the design team chose large-scale furniture with lighter patterns, neutral and earthy tones ranging from creamy whites to soft grays and hints of sage green, and accents of burnt umber leathers and soft plaids.
With such strong elements in play, all of the other visuals had to be selected strategically. “As a designer, it’s an exercise in restraint,” says Deary. Cases in point: dramatic moments introduced throughout the spaces with unexpected taxidermy displays and a carefully curated art program.
Still, given the size of the buildings, the project required a longer list of accessories. The difference here is that it didn’t necessarily mean just specifying more objets d’art. For instance, guests sitting in the Club’s booths may notice a strap detail on a leather seat and a plush plaid cushion with a metal detail that goes around strap hooks, explains Deary.
Downstairs in the windowless spaces, the team compensated for the lack of stellar views of mountain peaks by selecting visually heavy furnishings and statement-making art. For example, Catskills, New York-based designer John Houshmand created the dining table from a huge upended split log, which serves as the focal point in the Founder’s Cellar, a moss-stone-lined tunnel with modern concrete floors.
Also downstairs is a tucked-away bar called the Spirit Vault, which makes no apologies about its uber-masculine vibe. Cowhide rugs accent the leather tile floors; tufted leather sofas and hair-on-hide chairs surround tables made from barrel tops. The walls are lined with the owners’ extensive collection of spirits. Each bottle of whiskey and bourbon is backlit with warm red and orange tones in its own locked cabinet, creating a conversation-starting focal wall.
The Farm’s vibe, particularly in the Spirit Vault, pays tribute to the essence of luxury and adventure of the historic Cheyenne Club, a storied Wyoming destination in the 1880s that was popular with well-to-do cattle barons, industrial giants and British aristocrats. Yet, today’s Farm also pays homage to American soil with its food and beverage program rooted in the actual earth and by supporting the craftmanship of master chefs, brewers, distillers, sommeliers, farmers and fromagers.
An essential part of The Farm is telling the story behind what guests are eating and drinking. Next door to Cheyenne Club, the Brush Creek Brewery and Brush Creek Distillery each feature long tables for tasting events and a panel of windows to put key pieces of equipment like the distillery’s impressive copper still in the spotlight.
The Medicine Bow Creamery sits in an adjacent building where guests can participate to see how butter, cheese and ice cream are made. Here The Farm’s signature reclaimed wood serves only as an accent to the Creamery’s high-shine, white subway tile walls. Finally, guests can tour the nearby 20,000-sq.-ft. greenhouse that produces enough fruit, vegetables and herbs to supply the entire property.
“Designing The Farm was a labor of love. Here, there’s nothing contrived. You let the land guide you,” says Deary, adding that construction even had to be paused so that a local bird, the sage-grouse, could mate in peace. “You can’t help but feel like you’re part of the stewardship of the land when you work on these projects.”