A Swiss-Inspired Chalet in Jackson Hole
With the help of his carefully assembled team, a Californian was able to realize his dream home
Anyone who has skied Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn or really anywhere in the Alps is well-acquainted with the hallmarks of chalets—the pitched roofs, wood shingles and snow-covered eaves, to name a few. But folks making runs in the Tetons? Not so much. A California-based businessman aimed to change that when he decided it was high time to introduce a whole lot of Swiss flavor to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. “We liked the idea of creating a ski-in, ski-out vacation home in a very European chalet style—something transitional with modern elements,” he explains. “We wanted something more refined than Mountain Modern. It had to be sculptural.”
After finding a plot of land that afforded vista views and mountain access, he and project manager Christopher Janney hunted for an architectural firm that could make European dreams a stateside reality. Enter Rich Assenberg and Nathaniel Gray of Jackson Hole-based kt814. The duo was more than game, even though they had never designed a chalet before. Says Assenberg, “The first thing Christopher did was present us with a photo archive of pretty much every chalet that’s ever been built. He dug deep, and we studied all these 200-to 300-year-old structures with strong, stone bases and low, sloped roofs that are made to hold snow. Then we started sketching.”
Rush Jenkins of noted Jackson interior design firm WRJ also came on early in the planning stages. The team met often with the very hands-on owner to select just-right materials for the 7,777-square-foot, four-bedroom (plus bunk room), four-and-a-half-bath home. They compared numerous samples of woods and stones that would carry through the exterior to the interior and agonized over stains. Christopher Janney even tracked down a dramatic limestone for the floors. “All of the finishes are a result of collaboration,” says Jenkins. “There’s a true harmony that extends from the outside in. Nothing is competing against anything else. All the woods on the beams, soffits and flooring, as well as the stone used for the floors and the walls—it all works together.”
When selecting furnishings, Jenkins took his cues from the architecture. He chose an array of unusual sculptural pieces, many sourced from makers in far-flung locales.
“The lower-profile sofas and chairs are primarily by European makers,” he says. But this designer prioritizes function as much as form. “Comfort is everything for everyone—this homeowner is no exception,” he explains. “Even though the dining chairs have a contemporary look, they’re very comfortable. It’s the same for all the sofas and chairs in the home. They all have beautiful lines, but if they’re not comfortable, then what’s the point?”
Another all-important feature of a chalet? The fireplace. To that end, the homeowner asked for an ultra-modern, Danish-inspired hearth in the great room, and the architects more than delivered. “The exterior hood goes all the way up, and the firebox extends outward,” he says. “So the fire feels like it’s actually out in the room and projects a lot of warmth.” The warmth goes well beyond the physical, according to Jenkins. “At night, when all the lights are down, you’re actually experiencing the fire,” he notes. “That’s what this home offers—the palette, the materials, the art, the fabrics, the fragrance—it’s a totally sensory, totally Zen experience.”