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At Home in a Winter Wonderland
There'll definitely be snow for Christmas at this Jackson, Wyoming home. Ski on over for fun, food, and gorgeous views inside and out.
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Nineteen years ago, lured by a picture in a magazine, Mike Kelly headed to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with an engagement ring in his pocket and his girlfriend, Kristin, at his side. They’ve been coming back ever since.
First as newlyweds, later as new parents, the couple often skied by a rustic home right on the slopes. “‘Wouldn’t it be great to live here?’ I’d say. He’d tell me, ‘You’re dreaming,’” Kristin says. “But one day that dream came true.”
After buying the house, though, Kristin and Mike did want one more thing—a design team that could open up the space to accommodate gatherings of family and friends and add a layer of sophistication to the woodsy interiors.
“A lot of the design in Jackson is rustic,” Kristin says. “So when I walked into Rush and Klaus’ showroom and saw their blend of modern with rustic flair, I heard angels sing.”
The WRJ Design team—Rush Jenkins and Klaus Baer—understands the aesthetic that makes Kristin’s heart as light as fresh powder. They insert clean-lined and contemporary into an envelope of rugged stone and natural wood—elements that speak to a still-wild country. “The juxtaposition is wonderful,” Jenkins says. “You experience it the moment you walk in the front door.”
Holiday magic glows in the great room, where a crackling fire reflects in the cheery glow of lights on the Christmas tree and a giant elk-horn chandelier. It speaks—or perhaps bugles—to a Jackson tradition: Each spring, local Boy Scouts gather thousands of pounds of naturally shed antlers from the nearby National Elk Refuge and sell them as a fund-raiser.
To tame the busyness of the antlers, the designers filled the soaring space over the fireplace mantel with an expansive landscape that highlights one of the Kellys’ favorite things: snow.
When Mike, Kristin, and sons Connor and Kyle return from a day on the slopes, they relax in tailored sofas clad in grayish-blue velvet that adds softness and a hint of color to the room. “Comfort was No. 1, but we also wanted clean lines,” Jenkins says.
The frames of camel-hue leather sling chairs glimmer in bronze. A fumed and smoked teak table from Belgium inserts a European sensibility that’s a hallmark of WRJ interiors—Baer’s family is from Austria; Jenkins studied in London.
“The Kellys and our other clients in Jackson are sophisticated and well-traveled,” Baer says. “They don’t want their homes here to be a repeat of how they live in L.A. or New York or Chicago. They want their homes to be authentic to Jackson but, at the same time, have a global feel.”
On the other side of the chimney, another gathering area—furnished with a casual sectional, cushioned armchairs, and a striking hair-on-hide-topped coffee table—works equally well for family time or entertaining.
Fun and frivolity also can spill over to a cozy hangout just off the main living area. A round table plays host to family game night, puzzle-piecing, or time with a good book.
When the gathering is more formal, family and guests settle in at a rustic-meets-chic bluestone and French oak dining -table. Midcentury-style chairs atop a silk carpet mirror the long, lean, low-slung style of a contemporary buffet and contrast the piece’s acid-ebonized white oak finish. Linen draperies provide soft counterpoint to a rich mix of wood surfaces. The fabric is neutral, though—what would dare compete with these mountain views?
Kristin prepares her famous raspberry coffee cake and -other culinary delights in a wood-cocooned kitchen that’s -simultaneously cozy and cultured. Stenciled sunflowers that dot the ceiling like wildflowers in a summer meadow weren’t banished during the renovation. “Kristin loves them,” Baer says. “And for me, it’s reminiscent of Austria—nostalgic and sweet.” A satisfyingly thick quartzite countertop with a luminous glow pairs with bronze pendants to balance the style scale and elevate the country kitchen.
Food is always part of the equation for the Kellys, who love to welcome friends. Their New Year’s Day ski lunches are a cherished tradition. More recently, Kristin has opened her doors to the wider community, putting on dinners that raise thousands of dollars for the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, a charity that provides funding for pediatric cancer research and helps families pay for treatment and travel to medical facilities. “I’m happy I was able to use our home as a launchpad for an important cause and give back to families in need here in the Jackson community,” Kristin says.
When friends want to stay over, there’s plenty of space. The boys’ bunk room incorporates queen beds on the bottom, so adults are just as welcome as youngsters. Grown-ups feel like kids again in this playful space, where a real canoe hangs from the ceiling. “A little whimsy is fun,” Baer says. “I can envision the boys there with friends staying up until 4 a.m. It takes you back to when you were a kid.”
Kristin and Mike, meanwhile, can count sheep—or perhaps more delicate creatures—long before the boys’ banter subsides. The headboard wall in their master bedroom is decorated with an art installation of butterflies that repeats this home’s dedication to nature. The butterflies flit on wood rescued from a white-painted, 100-year-old barn.
The same character-rich scraped wood continues in the master bath, where a sculptural freestanding tub, a large -nature-inspired work by a local artist, and a bone-inlay cabinet expound on the white tones in a mix of textures.
Everything is at once beautiful and practical, elegant and casual. “Homes here must mesh with the lifestyle,” Baer says. “It’s about casualness, being outside, and using natural materials to bring different elements into each space. It’s like a big bear hug when you walk into these rooms.”
Kristin agrees. “The house lets us reconnect with all of our friends, yet it still feels comfy and cozy when it’s just the four of us,” she says. “This house—and Jackson Hole—will always be my happy place. It’s magical to me.”