An Architect’s Home in Jackson Balances Old and New

Austin DePree, Northworks’ founding partner, involves his entire family in the design of their new home
Jackson Ext

Built on an existing foundation, the new house fits nicely into its surroundings. | Photography by Tuck Fauntleroy

Chicago-based Northworks is known throughout the country for its portfolio of solidly urban homes, rustic-chic country homes and contemporary interpretations of classic designs. As more projects began to come in from Western states, Austin DePree, Northworks’ founding partner, opened a local office in Jackson, Wyoming, in 2016. He fell in love with the mountains, the wide-open spaces and the relaxed style of living. So, it was not long before he was asking his family, “Why don’t we just move there?” His wife, Sage, who’s a nurse, says, “I have family in Wyoming and Montana, and the kids love to ski— so the answer was a big and immediate yes.”

Jackson Entry

In the entry, two antique Austrian chairs flank a chest-on-legs given to Austin and Sage DePree on their wedding day by their bridesmaids and groomsmen (there’s a plaque inside with all their names and the wedding date). The paneling conceals a coat closet, hidden behind a jib door.

The family found a home in a quiet tree-shaded neighborhood across from a 10-acre park with a community garden administered by Slow Food in the Tetons. The location was ideal, but the in-town lot was small, and the home, an early 1980s split-level ranch, had small, cramped rooms. Sage DePree recalls, “We wanted some large spaces where the living room and kitchen were closer to one another … and the kids could be playing while we were cooking dinner.” Because they had lived in and renovated three homes previously, Austin DePree says, “We had a common understanding of what was important for us and the program requirements for our family.”

Jackson Livingroom

Creating a comfortable and easy-care seating area in the great room was a priority. The family often gathers around the large-and-sturdy wooden coffee table to play board games. Oversize doors lead to a covered deck.

Before new construction, the existing structure was removed— except the foundation, which was in great condition. Reusing the foundation was a major cost and time savings and great from
an environmental standpoint, but it posed an interesting design challenge for Austin. “Overall, we wanted a simple home in terms of geometric forms,” he says. Adds Sage, “We are raising our kids in this home and want it to be reflective of who we are—our personalities and values.” And, indeed, the entire family was involved; even the children were excited about the process. They lived a few blocks away during construction and brought picnics on their weekly visits to their new home. “Sometimes we would make small tweaks and adjustments during our visits,” says Austin. “Architects learn a lot by building homes for themselves.”

Jackson Deck

A covered deck with its two-sided fireplace is welcoming in all seasons.

It was also important to design a home that was contextual with the neighborhood. “It is a tight-knit neighborhood, and we wanted our home to blend in,” says Austin. The home is strategically placed to have long views to Snow King Mountain and the Tetons, with smaller windows where it is immediately adjacent to the neighbors.

Jackson Kit

The kitchen is simple and classic—soapstone island, marble countertops and oak floors. Wishbone counter stools have denim cushions. A sliding ladder provides access to the ceiling-height cupboards.

“Different levels and ceiling heights give the home a dynamism that’s unusual in a smaller home,” says Austin. An abundance of natural light and accessible covered decks give the 3,700-foot (5,996 with basement) five-bedroom, five-bath home an open feeling. “The French doors are always wide open, making it an indoor-outdoor house,” says Sage.

Jackson Bed

The four-poster bed and little rush-seat fireside chair are family antiques. A woven wool rug covers the floor.

Chad Grohne, founder of Jackson-based Creative Building Solutions, notes that “It was fun to build a house with a client who is very educated on the construction process and understands the challenges of custom home building.” Partner Trevor Klein agrees, adding that one of the interesting challenges was marrying a new structure to an old foundation. “To be able to recycle and reuse what was there is not common in this day and age,” he says. “In addition, many of the home’s timbers were salvaged from an old Forest Service building here in Jackson.”

Jackson Bath

The all-white theme in the powder room pairs nicely with gray-accented countertops.

The DePrees worked with Emily Janak of Jackson-based Emily Janak Interiors to select fabrics and finishes that make sense in the American West but are also classic. “They wanted a timelessly layered interior—incorporating meaningful family antiques—that didn’t scream ‘new construction,’” says Janak. The look is elegant but not too formal, durable and not “too precious.”

“We wanted to create a home that has a good spirit,” says Austin DePree, “welcoming to family and friends but with a good spirit of its own.” Sharing home-cooked meals at the dinner table or hearing the laughter of kids playing outside tell him—again and again— that he has succeeded.

Jackson Sitting

In another bedroom, an 18th- century chest of drawers sits between two barrel-back swivel chairs.


Emily Janak, owner of Jackson, Wyoming-based Emily Janak Interiors, offers tips on incorporating well-loved and significant family pieces into a contemporary home. She says that an heirloom, antique or vintage piece can change the entire mood of a room.

ANTIQUES CONTAIN MEMORIES, tell a story, and connect us with the past—maybe dining chairs from the annual Thanksgiving at Grandma’s house, an ornate wooden chest from a generations-ago sea captain or a beautiful Madeira tablecloth from a great aunt who honeymooned in Portugal. Antiques can enliven a room with context and history. HAVE FUN MIXING AND MATCHING You don’t want your home to look like a museum, so mix antiques with modern. It is this mix that will make your room look both of-the-moment and timeless. DON’T BE AFRAID TO UPDATE A wingback chair may need to be reupholstered for a fresh look; a 1950s crystal lamp can be modernized with a stylish contemporary linen shade. SOMETIMES A PIECE NEEDS TO BE REPURPOSED Anything can be repurposed, except for that mirror that your great-great-great someone bought directly from the 18th-century London showrooms of Thomas Chippendale. Don’t touch that one; it is priceless. A sideboard becomes a desk; a slightly worn vintage rug becomes floor cushions; antique French lacquered doors are hinged and transformed into a room-divider screen.

INTERIOR DESIGN Emily Janak Interiors
CONSTRUCTION Creative Building Solutions
PHOTOGRAPHY Tuck Fauntleroy

Categories: Rustic Homes