A Fresh Perspective
Interior designer Madeline Stuart transforms a dated house in Jackson Hole—and abandons preconceived notions about mountain home design
The first time interior designer Madeline Stuart saw the Jackson Hole, Wyoming, house that her clients George and Kelly Davis purchased as their mountain getaway, she was both appalled and intrigued. “It was one of the town’s ugliest homes situated on what has to be one of its best sites,” says the Los Angeles-based decorator.
Everything about the circa-1970 ranch-style structure seemed off. The clapboard exteriors were painted a blinding, inappropriate white. Inside, walls were angled this way and that, resulting in chaotic spaces. Worst of all, stingy windows throughout made it difficult to appreciate the main attraction: panoramic views of the Snake River just 200 feet below and the soaring Teton Range in the distance.
Architect David Lake of the San Antonio, Texas-based firm Lake|Flato agreed with Stuart’s assessment, advising the Davises to demolish the place and start over. But the couple, hoping to use the house for a family vacation during the Christmas holiday less than a year away, vetoed a time-consuming, ground-up construction project. They wanted a speedier, strategic remodel.
Lake and his staff reorganized the dining room and kitchen into a coherent whole. The architect’s biggest decision, however, was to replace the house’s entire middle section with an 18-foot-wide, three-story entry and living room, including a small library above and an inglenook below. Fashioned from blackened steel, moss rock, polished concrete and planked wood and encased by ample windows, the addition was effective—and dramatic. With one design move, Lake transformed the core of the dwelling into an intimate and breathtaking gathering spot.
“You want to hang out in that living room,” says the architect. “It’s cozy. It feels good. And now you can look up and down the entire Snake River valley. The room works like a big bay window.”
Stuart and Lake collaborated closely on the project. Her vision for the interiors was rooted in a desire to complement the architect’s smart reimagining of the house while avoiding Rocky Mountain design clichés. “There’s a decorative tradition in the West that features Molesworth furniture, antler chandeliers and predictable plaid,” she says. “Thankfully, George and Kelly were willing to explore a more modernist look.”
To soften the contemporary edges, Stuart created a palette that emphasizes texture over color. “In every room,” she says, “we combined leather, suede, sheared and curly lamb, goatskin, rabbit, antelope and sheep skin, and we blended those handsome hides with mohair and cashmere.” The result is a warm haven of camels and browns, a color scheme echoed by the olive-brown paint the team chose for the exterior. There are plenty of bright surprises—burnt-orange pillows and throws throughout and two Wedgwood-blue sofas in the living room—but the overall feel is quiet and relaxed.
The furnishings Stuart selected span a wide array of styles and a broad range of periods. One of her proudest purchases is a Philip and Kelvin LaVerne bronze table featuring abstract etchings of trees that echo the surrounding wooded scenery. It commands the inglenook. In the living room, she placed a pair of William Haines lounge chairs from the 1950s and a 1960s buffet. Throughout, she used works by T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, Paul McCobb, Brazilian master Sergio Rodrigues, and glass artisan Alison Berger. Stuart also called upon her own talents as a furniture designer, creating such custom pieces as elk-skin dining room chairs. For all the variety, everything coexists harmoniously. “My mandate was to produce something understated,” the designer says. “I sincerely tried to avoid a self-conscious mash-up of mid-century gestures.”
The homeowners relished working with Stuart and Lake. “They brought out the best in each other,” Kelly Davis says. And they are thrilled with the results. “We spent that first Christmas in the house,” she says, “and we’ve spent every Christmas there since. It’s where our entire family comes together.”
ARCHITECTURE Lake|Flato Architects, San Antonio, TX, 210-227-3335, lakeflato.com INTERIOR DESIGN Madeline Stuart & Associates, Los Angeles, CA, madelinestuart.com BUILDER Jay Ankeny, 307-733-7853 HOMEOWNERS Kelly and George Davis, firstname.lastname@example.org LIVING ROOM SOFA Blue Mohair Sofa, custom design by Madeline Stuart & Associates, madelinestuart.com CLUB CHAIRS Minotaur Club Chairs by Blackman Cruz, Los Angeles, 323-466-8600, blackmancruz.com COFFEE TABLE Bronze and Pigskin Coffee Table, custom design by MSA, madelinestuart.com CHANDELIER Custom Four-Arm Mendocino Chandelier by Tuell + Reynolds, CA, 707-669-0556, tuellreynolds.comENTRY RUG Cowhide Flower in Brown, 10’ by 7’ 11”, The Rug Company, Los Angeles, 323-653-0303, therugcompany.com INGLENOOK PENDANT Two-Part Pendant from Alison Berger Glassworks, Los Angeles, 323-653-5635, alisonbergerglassworks.com COFFEE TABLE Vintage La Verne Table, “Eternal Forest,” Weiss Gallery, 248-594-1200 LOUNGE CHAIRS Kelly Lounge Chairs in Rogers & Goffigon Alpaca, custom design by MSA, madelinestuart.com DINING ROOM DINING TABLE Custom Claro Walnut Table by MSA, madelinestuart.com; fabricated by Hudson Furniture, 212-645-7800 CHAIRS Bleached Elk Skin Chairs with Nailhead Detail, custom design by MSA, madelinestuart.com MASTER BEDROOM BED “Architecture” Natural Steel Bed by Room & Board, roomandboard.comKITCHEN/BREAKFAST NOOK Murano Glass Acquatinta Pendants from Plug Lighting, Los Angeles, 323-653-5635, pluglighting.com CHAIRS Vintage Hans Wegner Cane Chairs from Lawson Fenning, Los Angeles, (323) 934-0048, lawsonfenning.com LEATHER BANQUETTE & DINING TABLE Custom design by MSA, madelinestuart.com LOFT CLUB CHAIR Rift Oak Club Chair in Amber Sheepskin, custom design by MSA, madelinestuart.com