Photography by Scot Zimmerman
On the covered porch of this ranch-style cottage and its lawn, strewn with autumn leaves, chairs are set to watch the Colorado River wind through the red desert and the Navajo Sandstone mesas on its 1,450-mile journey to the waters of the Pacific.
From the vantage point of the ranch-house grounds, the determined Colorado River runs swift and flat, without the treacherous rapids for which it is famous. The landscape around Moab, Utah, couldn’t be much more Western, with the red and orange rock and sand contrasting against the cobalt sky. There is a beautiful inhospitableness about the setting that makes
the small wooden home even more welcoming.
The cottage follows the theme of historic Western ranch houses. Ranch houses are usually simple, one-storied structures with high ceilings that allow the heat to rise. In the past, because of the lack of skilled craftsmen in the area, ranchers built the homes themselves, using surrounding materials like logs, wood, and stone and when these weren’t sufficient, mud adobe. Hallmark features of this style are the deep covered porches and the overhanging roofs that shade windows from the direct desert sun.
The log-supported wooden ceiling, plank floor, and simple wood furniture recall the homes of past Western ranches with their durability, unpretentiousness, and use of available materials. The sunny yellow cushions work especially well in the fall with the matching hue of yellow cottonwood leaves outside.