A Jackson Home Transformed Into a Regal Retreat
A talented designer assembles a dream team to take a Wyoming investment property from tired rental to refreshed getaway
Sometimes the hunt for the perfect lamp only illuminates the fact that every single thing in a home must go. That’s exactly what happened when a couple from the Chicago area popped into a Jackson, Wyoming, showroom in search of an accessory or two that could help refresh their early 2000s-era vacation home.
“That’s absolutely how it started. They came in here looking for lighting, and all of a sudden we had a complete remodel on our hands,” says interior designer Rush Jenkins. “What could have been a $500 purchase certainly turned into a bit more than that!”
The couple wasn’t exactly rolling the dice with a random lamp proprietor, though. Jenkins is the CEO and co-founder with COO Klaus Baer of Jackson-based firm WRJ Design, and he also just so happens to be a very dear friend. So they were confident in his abilities to transform their not-so-special townhome into a beautiful getaway fit for generations to come. Still, it wasn’t going to be easy.
“The house had all the original furniture from when they purchased it, which was fine, as they primarily used it as a rental for years,” explains Jenkins. “But now they were ready to update the furnishings, along with all the dated finishes and plumbing.”
The owners also wanted to totally reconfigure the 4,200-square-foot space, which would require moving walls, shifting rooms and carving out brand-new spaces, so Jenkins put together a team that included architect Veronica Schreibeis Smith of Vera Iconica Architecture, builder Chase Beninga of Shaw Construction and Stephanie Hill, Designer at WRJ Design.
“What could have been a $500 purchase certainly turned into a bit more than that!
—Interior Designer Rush Jenkins
From the start, the teamwork made the dream (house) work. “I think the biggest change that the design team came up with was changing the circulation of the kitchen—it really helped the home a lot,” says Beninga. “Other remodeled homes in the community don’t have anything like this.”
Once the new floor plan was put into place, Jenkins got to work removing all traces of the orangey yellow that permeated the room. “The cabinetry was all in the yellow pine that was popular in the 1990s and 2000s. It had to go,” he says. He worked with Schreibeis Smith to lighten up the space with white Shaker-style cabinets, re-claimed wood, polished Quartzite Taj Mahal, a custom steel range hood and glazed linear tile that was installed all the way up to the hood. “I don’t love tile that stops halfway. It just looks like you ran out of money,” says Jenkins.
The kitchen was just the beginning. An open flex space and mechanical room became a bunkroom that sleeps five, along with an en suite bathroom. Schreibeis Smith and Jenkins decided to borrow space from a much-too-large primary bedroom closet to add square footage to a previously pinched upstairs living area.
The architect also brought in an abundance of natural light throughout the home with more windows and custom sliding doors with a mix of transparent and translucent panes. She even transformed the garage. “We were able to increase the functionality and storage by increasing organization and using underutilized space to build out a mudroom and laundry room,” Schreibeis Smith says.
While the construction was considerable, the new interiors are no less dramatic. Jenkins replaced around 90 percent of the furnishings (“I’m pretty straightforward—I’ll tell a client, ‘That doesn’t work,’” he says), featuring a nature-inspired palette and plentiful texture. “The living room has super comfortable sofas, upholstered chairs with leather straps, and drapes that you want to touch—there’s nothing better than the feel of cashmere,” he says. “They say the kitchen is the heart of the house, but if you’re not living in your living room, we haven’t done our job.”
Once everything from artwork to cutlery was in place, it was time for the big reveal. The homeowners flew in from Chicago and were met with Champagne, candles, flowers, music and, yes, a brand-new home. “When we opened the door, it’s like theater. It was really emotional,” Jenkins says. “It’s pretty wonderful to exceed someone’s expectations and experience that together. It’s like Christmas.”
Interior designer Rush Jenkins shares some of his rules for renovation:
COME WITH A DREAM (BOARD) We ask clients to bring imagery from Instagram, Pinterest and magazines so we can discover what they’re drawn to. Once we understand what resonates with them, we can start going down the path of figuring out design concepts. JUST DO IT Initially, the homeowners were reluctant to take on the guest bedrooms and baths, but it’s never my recommendation to do a renovation piecemeal. Once you’ve refreshed one room, everything else looks dated. Just dive in and do it all at once. CONSERVE YOUR COLOR SPLASHES Rather than going too big with color, I like to bring in pops of it with art, pillows and throws. If you go with something tonal for your big pieces, they’ll have a longer life. And think about it: Making a pillow change is more economical than bringing in a whole new sofa. DIM ALL THE LIGHTS I’m not a fan of the simple on-off switch with a single brightness setting. I prefer dimmers to create the ideal ambience in every room of the house.