A Cozy Home Inspired by Love at First Sight
A Virginia couple builds a family home in Jackson, where they first met
Like many young couples over the years, Liz and Henry Shield met at Jackson, Wyoming’s, popular Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. They fell in love, married and settled in Virginia. Avid skiers, they returned to this classically Western town often during snow season and eventually started coming in summer and fall as well. Now, more than a dozen years and three children later, the story comes full circle. The Shields have built the family vacation home they’ve always wanted—a mountain rustic-meets-contemporary in the town where they first met.
Their 4,300-square-foot, 5-bedroom, 4.5-bath open floor plan home—with coveted views of the Tetons, including the Grand—is close to the shops, restaurants and galleries of downtown Jackson but also convenient to Snow King Mountain and the popular Cache Creek Trailhead.
“It began with a single image of a ski-town mountain home that Liz liked,” recalls architect Chris Jaubert of Wilson, Wyoming-based A43 Architecture. “She and Henry wanted a vacation home … but one in which they could live year-round at some point.” That torn-from-a-magazine image inspired a flurry of architectural drawings, “a lot of emails back and forth” and, eventually, 3D computer renderings.
To position the home for the best Grand Teton views, Jaubert walked the site at different times of day. “Those ‘field exercises’ made it apparent that the house should sit on the southernmost part of the lot … to peek over the homes to the north,” he says, because that’s where the site naturally sloped. Taking advantage of the natural grade helped elevate the house and create unobstructed sight lines and views from the upstairs living spaces.
The home is almost H-shaped, with the open-plan communal spaces, a secluded master bedroom and a guest suite on the second floor. Downstairs, there’s a bunk room and den for the kids and a covered patio with fireplace seating. Just off the garage (with its opaque glass garage door), a mudroom with laundry also serves as an efficient gear-storage space.
Jesse Roy, owner of Jackson-based Couloir Construction, helped the Shields choose their architect and was very hands-on during the 15-month building process. The home is clad in 3-inch-thick Chief Cliff stone veneer, reclaimed barnwood and pre-finished cedar siding. Steel trusses that support each of the gables are patinated to the sheen of a rifle barrel. The stair railing inside has the same gun-blue patina. Roy installed triple-pane lift-and-slide glass doors throughout the home because “they are easier to open and close more tightly than the traditional sliding glass doors.”
Interior designer O’Brien & Muse, based in Richmond, Virginia, created timeless spaces that look good and live well. The interiors are colorful and organic, with a tiny bit of whimsy and a huge emphasis on comfort and concealed storage. “We worked with the Shields on their home in Virginia, so we know their personalities,” explains designer Lili O’Brien. Her partner, Leigh Anne Muse, adds, “Of course, this home is completely different—more outdoorsy, sporty and rustic.” Layered textures, an intriguing mix of shapes and the liberal use of “Wyoming sky blue” create naturalistic, almost minimalist rooms that invite the outdoors to come right in.
Homeowner Liz Shields enjoys the home’s expansive views and reflects that her favorite place to de-stress is the living room—right in front of the fireplace. “Those blue colors and cozy textures are so relaxing … but I also love to have morning coffee on the little deck outside our bedroom,” she says.
Sometimes, Liz and Henry walk downtown (just 15 minutes away), stopping in the iconic Million Dollar Cowboy Bar to reminisce about the past, drink a toast to family, friends and to their new home.
Comfort & Style
It is not difficult to create a home that’s both stylish and family friendly. Lili O’Brien and Leigh Anne Muse of O’Brien & Muse offer these suggestions.
PERFORMANCE FABRIC IS A NO-BRAINER You can clean anything off it, and it’s readily available in today’s market. You (and children and pets) can sit on it, use it, live it and there’s no fear of damaging stains. Keep in mind that, although they are stain-proof, solid colors (especially white) will require more frequent cleaning. Use MATERIALS ON THE FLOOR with texture and color but also variations of pattern. Patterned floor coverings are way more forgiving than straight solids. Inject style into a room with LIGHTING AND ART. They are not sat upon or walked upon so you can go with your heart’s desire, making those pieces work especially hard for you. Approach big pieces with THE IDEA OF COMFORT FIRST. If a sofa is not tuck-your-feet-under comfortable, it fails the test. Always choose comfort over style—but in today’s industry it’s often possible to get both.