Home of the Year: Cabin, Reimagined

A modern take on the traditional high-country dwelling is our 2014 Home of the Year

“A good house has multiple personalities,” architect Larry Pearson declares. This 5,400-square-foot rustic-modern home, built in the hills of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, beautifully illustrates his theory. “It changes depending on the time of day and the season,” Pearson explains. “It reveals itself over time.”

But before their home could begin to inspire such poetic praise, Pearson’s clients, Clay Heighten and Debra Caudy, had far more pragmatic considerations for the retreat they would build for their family of six. They wanted a home that would embrace the views of the Tetons, blend in with the spectacular surroundings and allow the family to enjoy the outdoors. Their primary design directive: Dream up something with a modern regional aesthetic other than the typical log cabin.

With this “license to have some fun,” Pearson says, he and colleague Josh Barr created a home that marries contemporary leanings and raw, rustic materials. The first clue that this isn’t a run-of-the-mill cabin is the home’s sculptural butterfly roof, a bold departure from the gabled roofs so characteristic of Jackson Hole dwellings. “The roof opens to the views: one capturing the Tetons to the west,” Pearson says, “and one opening to the east, down-valley, which feels more intimate. It’s like an invitation to explore the site.”

Pearson’s choice of materials also pays tribute to the land’s beauty while drawing inspiration from its colors and rugged terrain: Reclaimed, weathered snow fencing—silvery-gray and variegated—clads much of the home and provides a rich contrast to the natural steel detailing. Board-formed concrete plays up the textural interest on the walls and fireplaces, with accents of black walnut used for interior doors and cabinets. 

All of these elements are visible from afar, but the home’s biggest surprise is meant to be experienced: In lieu of a formal entry or porch, Pearson Design Group created an inviting outdoor living room. “As we were designing, it occurred to me that we could make the entry a room and embrace the lifestyle and views that Debra and Clay wanted,” Pearson explains. “It reflects the owners’ temperament perfectly.” A fireplace warms the space, while sliding barn doors keep out wind. A rug-like, inlaid-wood floor is stylish—and adds textural contrast to the solid concrete surfaces. Rain Houser, Pearson Design Group’s lead interior designer, furnished the space much like an interior living room, with hefty, cozy pieces she designed, and even a pendant lamp by Aldo Bernardi, weighted to keep still on windy days.

Inside, board-formed concrete walls anchor the home, while weathered wood plays a dominant role on the walls and ceilings, and a concrete floor runs through the main living spaces. To soften these stark components, Houser infused the interiors with things that feel good to the touch. “Because we used minimal color, we chose elements with significant textural interest,” she explains.

The living room is a fine example. A large sectional sofa from Camerich and Alvar Aalto-designed caribou hide armchairs sit atop a 16-by-16-foot sheepskin rug. “Who doesn’t want to sink their toes into a sheepskin rug?” Houser laughs. “It’s cozy and comfortable—and embedded in the idea of a rustic mountain cabin,” she explains. “We can tip our hats to the Western vernacular without making this a traditional log cabin.” The centerpiece of the room is a custom coffee table, made from a sliced tree stump. Above it, an ethereal pendant from Moooi softens the mood of the room. 

Throughout the entire house, Houser masterfully—and playfully—wove details inspired by classic high-country style. A collection of colorful arrows fills a jar beside the living room’s orange NY Chair from Alchemy. The master bedroom’s headboard is made from a giant black-walnut slab; another slab serves as a vanity top in the powder room. Houser designed the dining table from yet another piece of the wood and painted the live edge white for a modern riff on a rustic motif. And in perhaps the greatest (and hippest) tribute to the West, the wall that faces the front door holds an art installation of bison heads, created by Utah artist Owen Mortensen. “The key to marrying rustic and modern elements is the experience,” Houser says. “You expect to see these things in a mountain home in Jackson, but we used them in ways that make you experience them or see them differently.” 

The unexpected discovery of these design details is at the heart of the home’s charm. “This home keeps your interest,” Larry Pearson concludes. “It invites you to enjoy the grand elements, like the views, and the smaller experiences, like savoring a cup of coffee with another person. It lives with you.” 

Discover what gives this home its rustic, textural look. 

RECLAIMED WOOD SNOW FENCING Weathered by the sun, wind and snow, this material is loved for its soft grayish tones. This home’s vertical pine siding is a fine example: The shades of the wood vary depending on the material’s source and exposure to the elements, making it a good match for the varied colors and textures of the surrounding landscape.

BOARD-FORMED CONCRETE Long before metal and plastic were used to form concrete into shapes appropriate for building, wood was the material of choice. It was strong enough to hold up against the pressure and weight of a concrete pour, and the texture it left on the concrete was an accepted byproduct of the process. Fast-forward nearly a century, and architects and homeowners now covet the heavily textured surface of board-formed concrete. 

STEEL DETAILING Architect Larry Pearson used rusted steel panels to complement the aged wood exterior, giving the home a slight industrial bent while preserving its nature-inspired color palette. “We don’t think of the materials as decorative,” he says. “We think of them as fundamental.”


ARCHITECTURE Larry Pearson, Pearson Design Group, Bozeman, MT, 406-556-6466, pearsondesigngroup.com INTERIOR DESIGN Rain Houser, Pearson Design Group, Bozeman, MT, 406-556-6466, pearsondesigngroup.com CONSTRUCTION On Site Management, Inc., Jackson, WY, 307-733-0733, onsitemanagement.com LIVING ROOM SECTIONAL Camerich, Alchemy, Seattle, WA, 206-448-3309, alchemycollections.com NY CHAIR Alchemy, Seattle, WA, 206-448-3309, alchemycollections.com COFFEE TABLE Custom Design by Rain Houser, Pearson Design Group, Integrity Builders, 406-539-6024, integritybuildersmt.com CARIBOU HIDE CHAIRS Alvar Aalto, Inform, Seattle, WA, 206-622-1608, informseattle.com DRAPERY Kneedler Faucher, Classic Cloth Fabric, 303-744-7474, kneedlerfauchere.com DRAPERY FABRICATION John Tate workroom, Bozeman, MT, 406-587-7463 RUG Sheepskin, Kleen Leathers, Westchester, IL, 708-409-9800 PENDANT LIGHTS Moooi, Inform, Seattle, WA, 206-622-1608,informseattle.com DINING ROOM ARTWORK "Ascension," by Rocky Hawkins, 72" x 108", Visions West Gallery, Bozeman, MT, visionswestgallery.com CHAIRS Hans Wegner Design Within Reach, 800-944-2233, dwr.com TABLE Tim Sanford, Bozeman, MT, 509-998-1729 CHANDELIER Custom Design by Rain Houser, Pearson Design Group, Iron Glass Lighting, Bozeman, MT, 406-586-3777 KITCHEN BARSTOOLS Custom Design by Rain Houser, Pearson Design Group, Integrity Builders, 406-539-6024, integritybuildersmt.com HARDWARE (DOOR & CABINET) Rocky Mountain Hardware, rockymountainhardware.com EXTERIOR ENTRY FURNITURE Integrity Builders, 406-539-6024, integritybuildersmt.com PENDANT Aldo Bernardi, Ollier Distributors Inc., Indianapolis, IN, 317-634-5000, carolollier.com ENTRY HALL ARTWORK "Bison Skulls," by Owen Mortensen, 435-787-0287, owenmortensen.com MASTER BATHROOM TUB Victoria and Albert, Fantasia Showroom, Bozeman, MT MASTER BEDROOM HEADBOARD Custom Design by Rain Houser, Pearson Design Group, Integrity Builders, 406-539-6024, integritybuildersmt.com TABLE LAMP Jason Miller, Roll and Hill, Brooklyn, NY, 718-387-6132, rollandhill.com ANTLER CHANDELIER Custom Design by Rain Houser, Pearson Design Group, Frank Long, Willsall, MT, 406-578-2011, franklong.com SHEEPSKIN-COVERED CHAIR Refuge, Alt for Living, New York, NY, 212-431-1000, altforliving.com ARTWORK "A Calf In Between," by Craig Spankie, WRJ, Jackson, WY, 307-200-4881 

Categories: Contemporary Homes