A Sun Valley Love Affair

This family’s vacation retreat uses rustic materials in a refined, modern way

When a young woman and man from Chicago visited Sun Valley in 1997, they fell in love. With the place. And with each other. 

Two decades later, Anne and Mark Dooley are still under the spell of Idaho’s fresh air and natural beauty.

“When Mark and I met, he was going to spend the Fourth of July there with a group of friends, and he invited me to go,” Anne says. “I was in awe of the blue, blue sky. We had our third date in Sun Valley and have gone back every single year, except for one or two.” One of those was when Anne was too pregnant to travel. The Dooleys now visit Idaho as a family, three children (now 14, 12 and 9) and two dogs in tow.

For many years, they vacationed in a home that sits on a bench above Trail Creek, which Ernest Hemingway helped make famous as a hunting and fishing spot (the writer was a local resident and is buried in the Ketchum town cemetery). The sound of the water is invigorating and the views are outstanding, so when the home came up for sale, the couple didn’t hesitate. But rather than renovate, it was time to realize their dream and build a new home.

They wanted it to feel like a mountain house in its materials, but be clean, uncluttered and welcoming, says Janet Jarvis, principal architect of The Jarvis Group Architects in Ketchum. “We used a lot of reclaimed timbers, native stone from Montana and hand-troweled plaster. The exterior also has reclaimed fir and all the windows are steel, so you have the juxtaposition of rustic and modern, their aesthetic.”

The home was designed to maximize the views of Bald Mountain, Griffin Butte and the Dollar Mountain ski area, Jarvis says. “Mark wanted the windows to be as big as possible in the living room so when you walk in the glass front door you can look all the way through the house,” she explains. 

The home’s soothing color palette and furnishings were chosen to complement the environment as well. “So much of what we did was inspired by the views. The colors and textures were made to feel like you scooped the outside right into the inside,” says interior designer Hank Page of Wayne, Pennsylvania.

The Dooleys like to entertain, so a big open kitchen with island seating was a must. Cerused wire-brushed oak was used in the cabinetry, American Mist granite for countertops surrounding the sink, and on the island, quartzite with a leathered and acid-washed finish. When it’s time for al fresco mountain meals, a steel-and-glass pivot window wall door opens hydraulically in the dining room for the ultimate indoor-outdoor experience.

Meeting their desire that each design element in the home be functional as well as beautiful, in the master suite, the bed has built-ins that include recessed shelves and reading lights. In the master bathroom, a soaking tub surrounded with floor-to-ceiling blue glass tile and a window that welcomes the morning sun create a spa-like experience.

Outdoor spaces are important, too. A glass-roofed pavilion in the back lawn of the home is a focal point. It’s where family members spend time lounging or reading during the day, and have meals on warm evenings. “In the summer the symphony is down the street, and many times you can hear the orchestra warming up,” Anne says. “Listening to the river, looking at the mountain with a cocktail in your hand … It’s amazing relaxation.”

A table by Ketchum artisan Wes Walsworth and mirror from Red Door Design House in Haley, Idaho, highlight the entryway.

"The symphony is down the street, and many times you can hear the orchestra warming up." — Homeowner Anne Dooley

The great room’s fireplace echoes the stone used on the exterior. Custom chandeliers from Hammerton hang from the reclaimed barnwood ceiling.


A pivot door welcomes fresh air into the dining room. John Pomp’s custom chandelier is suspended over the Century dining table; host and hostess chairs are in Lee Jofa fabric.


The kitchen’s cerused oak cabinetry and ceramic floors are as durable as they are beautiful. 


Family members love gathering at the kitchen’s leathered quartzite-topped island. The Dan Parish custom barstools are upholstered in Kravet fabric, and the pendant lighting is from Chaddock.


The home’s clean-lined furnishings include a Century bed and loomed rug in a guest bedroom.


Carved limestone wall tile and a cerused oak-and-painted-maple vanity highlight a guest bathroom.  

The outdoor pavilion is a favorite gathering place for summer meals; with a steel-framed tempered glass roof and solar shading, it provides protection from the elements while offering views of the mountain sky. 

Clever or whimsical design elements that are also functional add originality to a vacation home. Here are a few of the ways Mark and Anne Dooley personalized their family’s Sun Valley residence.

GREAT ART WORK, BAR NONE  Arizona artist Kenneth Michael Peloke was commissioned to paint a picture of the Cold Springs Pegram truss railroad bridge near Ketchum. What the casual observer doesn’t see is that the painting pulls up to reveal a bar recessed into the wall of the great room.  

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY Rather than relegating the pool table to an out-of-the-way location in the home, it’s front and center in the great room, along with a game table and chairs. A similar approach was taken with a shuffleboard table, placed adjacent to a seating area on the balcony that overlooks the main floor. “We wanted people to be engaged and active with each other, and you don’t do that if people are in different rooms,” Mark Dooley says.  

CANINE COMFORT  The Dooleys’ two pampered pooches have their own built-in dog bed that offers them views of the great outdoors. It sits two feet off the floor and can be used as a window seat as well.  

CLIMB A TREE  In the kids’ bunkroom, the spiral staircase leading to a loft isn’t just wood; it features a center post that’s a tree trunk, split logs for the stair treads and a rough-hewn log for the newel post.  IN SINK The trough-style sinks in the girls’ and boys’ bathrooms are made of poured concrete colored in bright blue and red.


ARCHITECTURE The Jarvis Group Architects, AIA, PLLC INTERIOR DESIGN Hank Page Design Consultants CONSTRUCTION Krekow Jennings

Categories: Rustic Homes