When Dallasite Amber Venz Box first started spending time in the Big Bend area 10 years ago, she quickly fell in love with the landscape and slow pace of life. Along with her husband, Baxter, Amber—the co-founder and president of affiliate marketing giant LTK—eventually developed a hospitality property, The Local Chapter, on the border of the national park in 2017. All that time spent out West had Amber and her family craving the serenity that came with wide-open spaces. “Every time we had to leave [the ranch], I had a sinking feeling,” she says. “I didn’t want to go back to the noisiness and speed of the life I created for myself at ‘home.’ ”
Over time, she and her family transitioned to living solely at the ranch, learning how to rework their days to fit their new quiet lifestyle. “Things take longer here, from procuring a meal to visiting a neighbor,” she says. The lack of nearby restaurants, for instance, has prompted the Box family not only to learn to cook but also to pay more attention to the food they’re eating. “We are much more conscious consumers and eaters today than ever before,” she says.
Amber has carried this newfound approach to meals over to her other favorite pastime: entertaining. For her, dressing a table, like dressing herself, is a creative outlet. “Tabletops are the outfits of the ranch,” she says. “I collect high-quality pieces that mix and match, and I try to create a new tabletop each night.” Her favorite event to date was Baxter’s 40th birthday party—a weekend-long affair filled with branded ranch swag, lots of home cooking, good friends, and great conversation. “I try to find ways to personalize events by surprising or delighting my guests,” she says. “And I am always intentional about conversation…finding the right social chemistry.”
All their gatherings have one thing in common: They’re set against the backdrop of the family’s cowboy-chic residence. Amber has worked to create a home that blends into the native landscape, utilizing deep colors, hard-working materials, and framed prints of photos she has taken around the Big Bend area. The couple strove to create a perfect atmosphere for slow living—one that’s an intentional departure in design from their Dallas home. While Amber didn’t necessarily want to reject her own aesthetic, she says she wanted to embrace the local American-frontier style, employing materials that could stand up to the desert’s elements. “Everything is in its place and is visually stimulating,” she says. “The beauty of the indoors fills my cup and allows me to relax and rest.”
When asked what slow living means to her, Amber points to the purposeful use of her time each and every day—be that flipping through a coffee-table book on the porch while the sun goes down, making each night’s dinner an affair, or, most importantly, spending as much quality time with her four kids as possible. “Moving to the ranch and ejecting from the demands of—and conveniences of—life in the city has empowered us to own our discretionary time and spend more time together as a family,” she says.
From watching her children learn how to ride their bikes to seeing them develop their own cowboy accents—“There’s no way to avoid it!”—Amber is relishing the reframed perspective she’s gotten from remote living. “Our four children are ages 2 to 7, and we were yearning for more time with them,” she says. “Now we get time to love on them, teach them, and live life alongside them.”