Just keep the windows closed, and you’d swear you’re in the Rockies
When Mohammed couldn’t make the mountain come to him, he went to the mountain. But what does one do with just the opposite problem?
Ask Lana and Dan Murray of Lakewood, who for years have dreamed of living in the mountains. “We’ve always wanted a cabin in the woods,” Lana says. “We really are outdoors people.”
But with schools and jobs firmly planted in our neighborhood, she says their dream is years away from becoming reality. So, with powers seemingly greater than Mohammed’s, the couple made the mountains, or at least the mountain home, come to them.
Using plenty of imagination and hard work, they converted their third-floor attic into a cozy retreat that looks as though it belongs smack dab in the middle of the great outdoors.
They began by shoring up the floor, then finishing out the walls with rough cedar logs cut so the bark would show, along with old boards found on the side of the road.
Luckily, parts of the attic had original pine floors, though they were covered with spilled paint and dirt. The Murrays sanded them down to a beautiful new finish, adding carpet to areas where crossbeams once served as the only place to step.
Then came the fun part: decorating. Lana, an antiques dealer and schoolteacher, already had plenty of items to decorate with. And what she didn’t already have, she found at antique stores, markets or specialty shops.
“Most everything up here, I got from flea markets,” she says. “A lot of it is from Canton.”
Much of the room’s outdoorsy feel comes from the many animal skins, trophies and antlers found around the room. There’s a full-mounted brown bear that guards the bathroom door, looking much like Smokey the Bear with its felt ranger hat.
Several animal skin rugs cover the floors, while antlers from around the world line the ceiling beam.
“They came from the Black Forest, France, England, Africa, everywhere,” she says.
For the Murrays, owning these items meant buying them.
“Neither of us is a hunter, and I could never kill an animal,” she says.
Interesting antiques and details are literally in every nook and cranny of the large, split-level room. An antique seat from a sleigh makes a perfect loveseat. A clock from the ’50s fits right in, complete with a cowboy on horseback rocking back and forth to keep time and a snow-covered mountain scene in back.
A pair of antique children’s skis offer the perfect focal point on the room’s back wall. An old English safe serves as an end table for a cowhide chair.
“I don’t like to have things that aren’t usable, so I use most of what I have,” Lana says. “It might not be for its original purpose, but I use them.”
Even simple items, such as an old minnow bucket, a pinecone made into an owl and a quiver of arrows made as an old Boy Scout project, add plenty of charm. And in the center of the room is an antique mechanical Uncle Sam, who’ll tell your personality for a quarter and a handshake.
But while most of the items in the room are antiques, some decidedly modern features help keep the area from being a rarely visited theme room.
One is the wide-screen TV in the back, hidden around the corner and out of sight from most of the room. Overstuffed sofas sit on the opposite wall, allowing for plenty of cozy couch potato action.
Offering a change of scenery from just about anything else in Dallas, the room has become a popular place to relax for the entire family.
“We spend a lot of time here,” Lana says. “Probably more than anywhere else in the house.”
The Murrays still hope to move to the real thing one day, planning to retire in Colorado. But until then, they’ve got the next best thing, just a staircase away.
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