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When Libby and Regan Foster first visited the for-sale Dove Inn in downtown Golden, they fell in love with the historical Victorian house—and their idea of what it could become: a Victorian-meets-modern inn for a new generation of travelers.
The house was built in 1866—back when Golden was Colorado’s capitol—by Ebenezer T. “Eben” Osborne, proprietor of the Osborne Meat Market (in 1877, he would become Golden’s mayor). It had operated as a beloved bed-and-breakfast since the 1980s, and when the Fosters came upon it, looked “very clearly loved.”
In other words, an update was in order. Libby and Regan (her background is in veterinary medicine; his is in construction and firefighting) embarked upon a gut renovation that introduced 21st-century amenities and a fresh aesthetic that blends classic Victorian details with a modern-farmhouse vibe. They also transformed the inn’s style of service from a traditional bed-and-breakfast to a behind-the-scenes, Airbnb-meets-boutique-hotel model. That means check-in is automated, continental breakfasts are self-serve, rooms aren’t fully cleaned each day (though you can request a refresher), and you might go a day or two without spotting an innkeeper.
As a result, it’s totally possible that when you’re binge-watching Netflix in your cozy room (there are 10, including three suites and a studio) or AeroPressing your morning coffee, you might just forget that you’re not at home. And that’s exactly what the Fosters envisioned.
Here, they tell us more about renovating—and running—their first inn:
5280: Were you planning to become innkeepers, or did this house inspire you?
The Fosters: We are constantly looking for opportunities to be creative. A friend sent us the listing for the inn, and when we went to look at it, we saw the potential for what it could be—and how we could update it to meet the needs of a more diverse customer base. The inn had amazing, historical bones, so it was easy for us to see the potential.
Are you DIY types, or was this a new challenge for you?
We are definitely seasoned DIY-ers. Regan built our home, which was our largest-scale project, but the inn gave us some challenges too. We had never worked on a historical project.
What did the renovation entail?
We renovated 6,000 square feet, 10 bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, and three kitchens. Not only were things very outdated, but there were previous renovations that needed to be fixed. We took out walls to make the inn feel more welcoming and open, and we completely redid each bathroom, adding marble tile, glass showers, and gold fixtures. We also added all new trim, panel molding, and crown molding to the living room.
What original details did you preserve?
We exposed beautiful brick from the 1800s in almost every room, and the wood floors throughout the historical part of the inn are original (and gorgeous). Our hope was to keep what we could that would transport guests to another era. Where we couldn’t keep those things, we tried to make them better. All of the light fixtures are new, but are replicas of pieces that would have been used during the Victorian era.
How long did the renovation take?
We were in super-renovation mode for two months, but even after we opened we were working like crazy. We finished room by room, as we needed them. We literally would finish a room as the guest was checking in.
Where did you find so many great antique and vintage furnishings?
We sourced the inn’s furniture from all over the country. We frequented the Brass Armadillo Antique Mall just down the road, and we loved West End Architectural Salvage in Des Moines. We also did a lot of shopping at Restoration Hardware.
Any favorite pieces?
The fan in the main room is a favorite—of ours and our guests. It was hand-built in Pennsylvania. We also love the shelves in the dining room, which were taken from the original doorjambs and repurposed. The jambs were built with hand-forged nails—of course we kept some! We also love all four of the bathtubs. Two are from the early 1900s (and are in great shape), and the other two are more modern soaking tubs. Another point of pride is our light fixtures; we worked so hard to choose pieces that were unique and reminiscent of the Victorian era.
Tell us about your unique beverage program.
We have local kombucha and nitro cold-brew coffee on tap at our lovely coffee bar, and we offer short video lessons from local coffee-roasters on how to brew coffee using different methods, from French press to AeroPress. We also offer local coffee beans for our guests to use.
How does your behind-the-scenes approach to innkeeping differ from traditional models?
We like to think of ourselves as a boutique hotel that’s spending a little too much time with Airbnb. We love the class and amenities, and we do have someone at the inn every day for a short time, cleaning, restocking, and working hard to make our guests feel at home. But we also know that more and more travelers are interested in autonomy and independence. I often hear that our guests appreciate coming and going without the need to chat with someone. Of course we want our guests to feel taken care of, but we think that looks different now.
If You Go
The Dove Inn is located at 711 14th St. in downtown Golden (720-608-1714). Rooms start at $145 / night. To make the most of your stay, innkeepers Libby and Regan Foster recommend these five nearby spots to dine, shop, and satisfy a sweet tooth:
Abejas: “Their seasonal menu is delicious and inspiring. We love that they use as many local ingredients as possible.” 807 13th St.
Goldmine Cupcakes: “Who doesn’t love a special treat at the end of a long week (or the beginning or the middle)?” 700 12th St., Suite 130
Earth Sweet Botanicals: “What a perfect little spot for gift-buying. Just try to get out of this place without buying something for yourself.” 1224 Arapahoe St.
Mountain Lux Candles “This place is so great for a unique date or fun girls’ night. You can scent your own candle!” 1111 Washington Ave., Suite 100
Marrygrams: “We love this place for little notecards for our brides and grooms and anniversary guests. They have really sweet little gifts too.” 708 13th St., Suite 160