A Family Retreat That Weathers the West

Audrey Hall

“There’s a lot of weather in Jackson,” says the owner of a recently completed home in the nearby community of Wilson, Wyoming. Wintry conditions last from December to mid-April, snows come as early as October, and springtime is often referred to as “mud season.” And while summer can be heavenly amid some of the most glorious scenery in the Rockies, it’s often harsh. The relentless sun can push temperatures into the 90s, while strong late-afternoon winds sweep in from the Tetons to the west.

So when principal architect Eric Logan, project architect Bryan James and their team at Jackson-based Carney Logan Burke Architects began designing this second home for a New York-based family of four, preparing for the elements was a critical part of their strategy. Fortunately, the clients’ desire for “a modernist home within the Western vernacular” made it easier for the design team to create a structure that responded to the specific demands of the location.

The home’s overall plan organizes public and private spaces into two separate structures connected by a bridge-like, glass-enclosed hallway. An L-shaped single-story building contains the garage, entry, powder room, den and an open-plan pavilion with cooking, dining and living areas. A two-story structure has four bedrooms, a sauna and an additional room that doubles as a yoga studio and office space. The arrangement creates a central courtyard that provides sheltered space for outdoor dining while still allowing views of 120 acres of conservation land to the south.

The modernist approach also yielded gently sloping rooflines that shed snow in winter—and echo the contours of the mountain range beyond. Broad overhangs clad in hemlock protect the structure from harsh weather and provide shade both inside and out without obscuring panoramic views through floor-to-ceiling windows.

Landscape architect Mark Hershberger, of Hershberger Design in Jackson Hole, collaborated with the design team to create what Logan describes as “a vibrant, colorful carpet of native plants” surrounding the house and extending to the adjacent open spaces. Hershberger also added a grove of aspen trees, including one that rises within view of the upstairs master suite and six others that form a “beautiful leafy green canopy” over the dining terrace.

The architects and homeowners chose local materials that perfectly suit the home’s natural setting. A complementary palette of woods includes white oak for the floors, teak for the master bath, cedar exterior siding, hemlock on the underside of the eaves and weather-resistant ipe for the bridges and decking. Blocks of medium-gray tuxedo limestone from Montana frame the fireplace. Steel detailing—from thin shelves above the fireplace to stainless deck railings to bonderized plates surrounding the kitchen’s built-in pizza oven—adds a modern industrial accent.

The result is a residence which, in spite of its spare aesthetic, feels entirely in harmony with the look and feel of much more traditional homes in the area. “We didn’t want something brand new that looked like it was a hundred years old,” the homeowner explains. “We believe that if you’re building something in 2015, it should reflect contemporary architectural developments while fitting into the mountain environment.”

The finished house fits in so well, in fact, that the owners consider it a three-seasons second home; a place where they can make the most of Wyoming’s summers, autumns and winters—no matter the weather.

Large custom window-doors of glass and wood slide open from the main living space to a bridge of weather-resistant ipe wood that leads to an outdoor dining area. Brooklyn-based custom furniture designer Asher Israelow made the dining table of solid walnut with brass inlays. The chairs are vintage Eames.

The homeowner selected the dining area’s Moooi Heracleum chandeliers, with white polycarbonate lenses attached to wire branches, because they reminded her of aspen trees and snowflakes.

As night falls, light from the two-story bedroom building illuminates the dining deck.

In the master bedroom, the ceiling slopes down toward corner windows and a balcony, which, says the homeowner, underscores “a feeling of being high up in the mountains.”

Teak woodwork and a white marble vanity endow the master bathroom with a simple, elegant aesthetic.

Steel accents express a modern aesthetic, from the front door’s brushed stainless panel to the pizza oven’s bonderized-steel surround.

The great outdoors is ever on display—through window walls lining the enclosed bridge that connects the public and bedroom wings, from a fire pit deck off the living area, and from the master bedroom balcony.

Like the house itself, bridges and decking sit above the area’s high water table. Pebble-lined channels surrounding the native grasses carry runoff during rains or snowmelt.

Outdoors and inside, the spare lines and limited palette of natural materials, including wood, concrete and steel, add up to a contemporary home that feels in synch with its mountain setting.

Complementing the fireplace’s cleanly chiseled stone surround are a mantel and shelves made of thin steel plating.

Both the living room and the master bedroom offer views across a manmade pond toward Teton Pass. As well as reflecting the scenery, the water feature attracts wildlife, enhancing the owners’ appreciation of their natural surroundings.

The home’s gently sloping rooflines not only subtly echo the contours of the mountains beyond and alleviate winter snow buildup while providing broad overhangs for shade from the summer sun but also help orient the largest window spaces toward the finest views. A combination of clear cedar siding and poured concrete walls helps the structure harmonize with the surrounding landscape and vegetation.


To create this Wyoming residence’s richly layered look, the design team selected a limited number of materials in a narrow range of tones for
maximum effect. Some highlights:

WOOD-SLAT CEDAR SCREENS  Screens on the east- and west-facing exteriors look just like the home’s cedar siding but have gaps between the slats that cast “the most amazingly beautiful shadows on the patios,” the homeowner says.

HEMLOCK SOFFITS  Dramatic 7-foot-deep eaves help shade the house from intense sun and shelter it from snow and rain. The soffits are clad with hemlock paneling, which provides a pale color that “makes the big roofs feel a bit lighter,” architect Eric Logan says.

STEEL FINISHES  Stainless-steel deck railings shimmer in the sun, while inside the house, patinated-steel panels—treated with a wax finish—glow with a rich, deep luster. “The finish feels soft and warm, like velvet,” the homeowner says.

CAST CONCRETE  The home’s exposed concrete foundation was sandblasted to create a softer look that resembles the more costly natural limestone used for the fireplace surround.


ARCHITECTURE: Carney Logan Burke Architects, Phoenix, AZ, 307-733-4000. CONTRACTOR: Dembergh Construction, Wilson, WY, 307-733-0133. INTERIOR DESIGN: Owner with Carney Logan Burke Architects; Glenda Lawrence, Matterhouse, Jackson, WY, 307-699-7947. LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: Hershberger Design, Jackson Hole, WY, 307-739-1001. CUSTOM STEEL (fireplace, shelving, pizza oven surround): Jack Kearney, Company K, Seattle, WA, 206-632-0509. MILLWORK: Jaxson Ching, Willow Creek Woodworks, Inc., Idaho Falls, ID, 208-522-2486.

Categories: Contemporary Homes