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When a family survives something as challenging as a childhood leukemia diagnosis, there is certainly cause for celebration. That’s what led a Michigan couple and their two children to take a sabbatical to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. They thought they’d move to Jackson for one school year after their son’s leukemia went into remission. However, after living in the area for just a few weeks, they were hooked and decided to stay. “It’s a pretty typical Jackson story,” says the wife. “People are drawn to the area who want to heal, who want a healthy lifestyle; it’s very peaceful here.”
They enlisted the help of Michigan architect Jeff Visser, principal at J. Visser Design, to help them create their peaceful retreat in the West. They had a history with Visser, who had recently designed a cottage home on Lake Michigan for them.
Rather than remodeling the house they had purchased in the Jackson area, the couple decided to take Visser’s advice that “We can do better,” and start from scratch on a 3-acre site in nearby Wilson, Wyoming, a charming community nestled against the west bank of the Snake River.
“The property is amazing,” says Visser. “My job was to try to capture the best of what’s offered in Jackson–the outdoor living. We feel very strongly about how the outdoors lives with the indoors, so that’s part of our design process and layout.” Visser adds that a sense of scale was also important to the homeowners, who didn’t want the house to be too grandiose or too rustic.
Capturing the best views and maximizing the natural sunlight throughout the day was also key to the design and factored into the decision about where to orient the house on the lot.
The resulting home features five bedrooms (including a master suite and a guest apartment), an open-concept kitchen, great room, cozy sitting areas, a yoga room, and plenty of outdoor space where the family gathers.
Visser broke down the mass of the home by creating a “village of buildings” and stretching out the house on the lot, fashioning several outdoor spaces and capitalizing on the views. The various sections of the home–from the master suite on one end, through the main building with the living areas, to the wing that houses the upper-floor bedrooms–are connected by low-pitched copper roofs that create nooks for indoor/outdoor living.
The wife decorated the home herself with the help of her sister, who ultimately moved to Jackson, as well. Textiles and prints–showcased in block-pattern curtains, colorful rugs, textured wallpaper, interesting tile and bold throw pillows–were the main design focus. Everything else, including the natural-colored barstools, dining chairs and couches, are intentionally understated to support, rather than compete with, these materials and the natural surroundings.Photography by Roger Wade.
Architect: J. Visser Design; jvisser.com.
Builder, Kurt Wimberg Construction; kwcjh.com.