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A LESSON IN CONTRASTS
A contemporary addition triples the size of a log cabin.
By Geraldine Hochrein
Photography by David Agnello
The idea was that the forty-some-year-old, 800-square-foot log cabin on Second Street in Wilson would become a playroom for the Hoyt family’s two kids, ages three and seven. But now that there’s a 1,600-square-foot addition—most of it a new second story—that has an open kitchen/dining/living area flooded with sunlight and with views down onto Fish Creek, the kids have mostly forgotten the cabin that until Christmas 2013 was their home.
TIP: If you’re doing a contemporary addition or building a contemporary home in an existing neighborhood, be cognizant of the surrounding buildings. “We had initially thought about contrasting the addition with the cabin even more by using exterior materials like metal panels or something, but decided it would be too jarring for the neighborhood, not respectful enough,” architect Brad Hoyt says. The clear cedar Hoyt and his wife ended up going with is both natural and contemporary.
Architect Brad Hoyt bought the home a decade ago. “As an architect, if you’re going to live in something you didn’t do, an 800-square-foot cabin with a gabled roof and a porch on the front is perfect,” he says. But when the family of four needed more space, adding onto the cabin wasn’t a given. “We knew it’d be easier to sell it and buy something else,” says Hoyt, the founding principal of Hoyt Architects. “But it is nice to live in something you designed.”
Not that Hoyt knew what it was like to live in something he had designed. “I had never designed for myself,” he says. “Going into it, we knew doing the addition would be hard work, but by the end it was more rewarding.”
TIP:“Leave money in your budget for furniture,” Hoyt says, “and for window treatments; they’re more expensive than you think.” The Hoyts are fine living without window treatments since there are no nearby neighbors that can see into the second story, “but they’d be nice to have,” Hoyt says. “Down-ups would be perfect—you could get privacy while maintaining views. Rollers are contemporary and would fit well, but drapes would warm the space up.”
From the earliest design ideas Hoyt considered, he knew the addition would be contemporary. “I didn’t want a near-miss. In my mind, you’d either have to mimic and blend the new structure or contrast it. We contrasted it and we drove that all the way through with every decision we made. If something was one way in the cabin, it was a different way in the addition.”
Hoyt’s thinking—applying a contemporary structure to an existing one of an older style—isn’t new, although there are few, if any, purposeful examples of it to be seen in Jackson Hole. Such additions are called parabuildings: modern ticks on a postmodern host. One of the most famous examples of this is Chicago’s remodeled Soldier Field. Only because of its significantly smaller scale, Hoyt’s parabuilding isn’t as jarring as the juxtaposition of old and new at Soldier Field—that addition caused quite an uproar—but it’s still full of tension and energy. “People have reactions,” he says. “We see all kinds of expressions on the faces of people passing by. Some like it, some don’t, and that’s all right,” he says. “We’re thrilled with it.”
Rather than go for grandiose mountain views, which were an option, the couple went for maximum light. Hoyt says, “I asked my wife, Brit, what views she wanted to focus on, and she said she didn’t care about any of the views. ‘I want light,’ she said.” So the majority of the home’s windows face south. But there is a pair of corner windows in the master suite looking north and west, down to Fish Creek, which nearly flows through the backyard. “They give us nice connectivity to the creek, and sometimes we get to watch moose walk through the yard,” Hoyt says.
Think a second floor packed with south-facing windows sounds like a sauna? “We had that thought, but it’s not hot at all in the summer, and we don’t have a single window treatment,” Hoyt says. “It’s more the west sun that kills everybody and we’re sheltered in that direction.”
Tip: Go for little splurges and be willing to compromise. “Most everything’s IKEA,” Hoyt says, “but we spent money on nice fixtures.” Initially the master bath did not include a bathtub—only a shower—but that was important to Brit, so they found room in the budget for it. “Our compromise was that she got the tub and I got a lift in the garage. If you can’t build a three-car garage, do up,” Hoyt says.
And then there’s the roof deck. Twenty-six feet above the ground and accessed via an exterior stairway off the kitchen area, it has 360-degree views. “Instead of looking at the neighbors’ houses, you can see Glory and the Grand, and that’s about as opposite from the cabin as possible,” Hoyt says.