Fixer-Upper: Telluride Miner’s Shack

OUTSIDE MY USUAL ORBIT (I’ve never even been to Colorado), but I enjoyed this renovation tale by a young newspaperman named Matthew Beaudin, who fixed up a late 19th century workman’s shack measuring all of 400 square feet, with the help of all four of his parents, his girlfriend, and IKEA.

Annabelle the Labrador has learned to stay off the sofa (from top); in the bedroom downstairs, the bed lifts up for storage space; a compact, storage-built-in $99.99 IKEA sink; spiral stairs connect the two floors.
The kitchen with everything in its place; a refrigerator and stove, both purchased for $35 from a salvage site, the refrigerator door doing double-duty as a chalkboard.

Here’s part of Matthew’s story:

….The shed was nothing new or novel; here in Telluride, where supply and demand has elevated the price of old miners’ shacks to that of a three-bedroom home in Montrose, sheds are among the most coveted and cherished dwellings in town.

Their charm is one of utility and purpose.

It was most likely built in the late 1800s, out of barnwood, tin and whatever else was nearby and cheap. Over the years, the town had grown around it, with the condos to the left and right now nearly swallowing it whole…

I saw it there, its barnwood curling at the corners and its tin nearly black, and I could imagine myself in it, drinking coffee and looking out my tiny front window as it snowed heavy and cold, my dog curled up at the far end of the room, chasing something in a dream. I wondered what history I could add to it….

….within three days of purchasing it, I had taken a building that functioned and ripped it to the point of being uninhabitable.The toilet sat at the bottom of the stairs for two weeks; the mini-fridge, stocked with just beer, takeout and half-and-half, was the only appliance that worked. The concrete floor, drizzled in carpet-glue graffiti, was the closest thing to art in the entire house.

At first, I owned a shed. Now, I owned a very expensive storage container. Someday, I still hoped, I would own a home…

You’ll find the rest right here.

About cara

I blog for fun at, and write about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites. My recently published posts and articles can be found here:
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3 Responses to Fixer-Upper: Telluride Miner’s Shack

  1. Harriet says:

    Cara, I’ve been to TRide several times. (David’s aunt and uncle rent a house there every August.) I’ve not been in the winter, because my skiing days are long over, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful place in America any time of year. It’s not easy to get there–the closest commercial airport–except for a small private plane airport–is an hour away. It is a charming town with every outdoor activity you could imagine and lots of arts festivals during the year. In much of town, as you can see, the houses are right on top of one another and have no privacy or personal yard space. (Well, you have the Rockies all around you!) And, boy, are houses expensive, so there are lots of rich people who own homes. I imagine that Matthew spends most of his time on the slopes. Hmmm, wonder if he rents the place out?

  2. Terry says:

    “mini-fridge, stocked with just beer, takeout and half-and-half” that’s the spirit.

  3. GAP says:

    Great story. I love small spaces/places. He did an amazing job on a budget–very home-y.

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