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Home Away from Home

How one local bed & breakfast is bringing people together

Moving away from home for the first time presents challenges to any young adult. Sweet freedom is trailed closely by bouts of homesickness. This nostalgic state is exactly where I found myself in October of 2019, three months after I moved to Colorado from Georgia to be near my fiancé and his family. Luckily, my mom was flying out to Rocky Mountain country for some much-needed mother-daughter bonding.

At the time, I was living in a small, rented basement apartment in Parker. Needless to say, we needed a comfortable place to stay where my mother could ward off her jet lag.

We scoured the internet for cheap hotels and Airbnbs but were on the hunt for something with a little more character. With a stroke of luck, we came across the Red Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast.

The Red Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast is surrounded by a lush 5 acres of 100-year-old Ponderosa pines, yet it is only a mere 10 minutes from downtown Parker. Jolynn and Durr Gardner started the B&B in 2013 with an intention to bring people together. Unlike traditional hotel rooms that tend to be more generic, the Gardners aim to bring a level of intentionality and personality into every component of their guest’s stay.

The first thing guests will receive when they arrive is a big smile and a warm welcome from Jolynn. The second is freshly baked cookies and a mug of coffee or tea, no matter the time of day. After everyone becomes acquainted, Jolynn ushers guests into their choice of four rooms (selected upon booking). My mom and I stayed in the Larke room, which is fittingly adorned with cheery yellow, farmhouse-chic white furniture and abundant natural light.

Since they were newlyweds, Jolynn and Durr have fostered a love for bed and breakfasts and toyed with the idea of starting their own.

However, they never surmised that they would run it out of their personal home. They built their house in 2007, but it wasn’t until their last child got married in 2012 that they decided it was time to start making the preparations necessary to actualize their dream of owning a B&B.

To be honest with you, when we first started, I was a little skittish about strangers staying in our home,” Durr said. “Now, it’s just a lifestyle.”

It has become so much of a lifestyle that, “are we having guests tonight?” is a daily question in the Gardner household. When they first started, the couple thought they might have guests once or twice a month on the weekends. In reality, there have been months where every day on the calendar was stuffed with a booking.

People from all around the world (42 states and 20 countries, to be exact) have stayed at the B&B during its 7-year tenure. The couple often reminisces on all of the cultural exchanges they’ve been able to have thanks to the B&B. There’s the couple from Japan whose children bestowed the Gardners with origami and presents every day. There’s the Muslim guest from Israel who laid out his prayer shawl in the living room for prayers each morning. There’s the group from Australia that stayed up and chatted with them for hours. There’s an English couple who became fast friends and offered to swap houses with them for a week.

“We don’t have to travel much because the world comes to us,” Durr says.

Though no single demographic can be traced to a typical B&B guest, the clientele typically has one thing in common— they like to talk.

“It’s very rare that we get someone whose shy here,” Durr says.

Depending on the time guests want to start their day, Jolynn will pick a dish out of her cookbook and have piping hot food on the table when they wake. After she clears the plates, guests often linger around the table for hours and share their plans for the day.

The semblance to familiar southern hospitality coupled with the company of my mom washed my homesickness away. Though the B&B maintains a ranch style through and through, the design elements the Gardeners chose reminded me of a home out in the Georgia country.

From burlap feed sacks to dressers fashioned out of old chick incubators, Durr and Jolynn like to handpick decor that has a story. Large wagon wheels, windmills, reclaimed wood, and tin farmer’s market signs are all pieces that culminate to their farmhouse aesthetic.

Though she loves decorating, the part of the B&B that Jolynn is most fond of can’t be bought.

“Yesterday, right outside of the window there was a deer with the teeniest little fawn,” Joylnn said. “I’m looking at this mother deer with her brand-new baby, see a turkey strutting around, and hear squirrels running up our trees. I just wanted to cry. I felt so blessed that we get to live here.”

The Gardners are quick to share their blessing with strangers and family alike. Their home has become an ideal canvas for the couple to share their gifts and talents. The farmhouse has been featured in furniture catalogs, used for fashion shows and photoshoots, and even served as the set for a Bronco’s commercial. The Gardners are available and willing to hold a variety of events on their property. Whether guests want to book a wedding, business retreat, party, bridal or baby shower— they’ve done it all.

When they don’t have paying guests, the Gardners love to host their family, which includes 5 kids and 13 grandchildren. Their backyard is optimal for fire pits and “screen-on-the-green” outside movie nights in the summer.

It doesn’t matter if you’re related by blood— Jolynn and Durr will treat you like kin. The Red Farmhouse is the perfect destination for locals to book a summer staycation and for travelers to get an authentic taste of Colorado culture.

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