A River Runs Through It
Not everyone thinks the best views in the valley are of the Tetons.
By Lila Edythe • Photography by Tuck Fauntleroy
Page Bingham can sit in her West Jackson townhome and watch birds all day, and also watch Flat Creek flow through her backyard. “So many people think the Tetons are the big views you want to have, but I love the more intimate views,” she says, “especially when they are filled with as much wildlife and live water as I have here.” It was partially because she loves these views so much that a smallish kitchen remodel grew to include the living area and its fireplace. “I love to sit by fires, but the existing fireplace was very dated,” says Bingham. “I wanted to create something I’d love to sit by.”
While the update to the kitchen is nice, it is the new fireplace that has transformed the space. “I wanted the fireplace to be sleek, yet not too big to overwhelm the space or one’s eye,” Bingham says. Formerly set unobtrusively into a bamboo-paneled wall—to match the bamboo floors—the fireplace is now set in a Venetian plaster wall with a patinaed steel hearth. “It went from something that was nice to something I love,” Bingham says.
Bingham’s remodel was designer John Martin’s first official project at his own firm, John Martin Design. “I met John through a friend of mine when he was working at WRJ [Design] and he and I eventually became friends,” Bingham says. “I started thinking about updating my kitchen at the same time he was thinking about starting his own firm. I asked him, ‘Why don’t I be your first client?’ ”
Bingham’s townhome is one of thirty-six in the 810 West development, between the Teton County Library and Flat Creek. When these dwellings designed by architect Stephen Dynia were finished in 2005, they were unique, both for their modern aesthetic and mix of market, affordable, and employment-based homes. Fast-forward a decade though, “and the inside was a little dated,” says Bingham, who lives in one of the market-priced townhomes. “There were these big, recessed lights in the kitchen that drove me crazy.”
When Bingham bought her townhome in 2014, she wasn’t thinking about a remodel. “It was just after living here for a while that I realized there were things I wanted to change,” she says.
While Martin reworked the kitchen lighting and the fireplace, the furniture and artwork in the two areas were collected by Bingham, often on her travels to Asia. (Bingham lived in Burma, now Myanmar, for two years while researching a cookbook, A Taste of Shan, about that country’s cuisine.) Prior to moving to Jackson, she and her then-husband lived in a nineteenth-century Greek revival home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “It was done by a well-known designer from New York City and was totally different,” she says. “But some of the art from that house came to Jackson with me, and John worked with me to pull things together and make the space flow.” Because Bingham was more interested in a remodel and not redecorating, only two chairs—right in front of the fireplace—were changed out.
One of Martin’s goals with the fireplace redesign was to make it a piece of art. “Why does a fireplace have to just be a fireplace?” Martin asks. Bingham adds, “It’s like a sculpture that just happens to have a wonderful function. It’s sleek but not too big to overwhelm the space or one’s eye, yet totally transforms the space. I love that such a relatively small change made such a big difference.”
Meet one of Jackson’s first developments that combine market and deed-restricted housing.
In 2003, the Town of Jackson put out a request for proposals (RFP) for a development on the parcel of land that is today 810 West. At the time, this land included an old home, a collection of sheds, and a horse pasture, among other things. “I heard that it had been an oyster farm in the 1960s,” says Greg Prugh, a Jackson native and the project’s eventual developer.
At the time the town put out the RFP, Prugh had recently moved back to the valley and had obtained his real estate license. He had been living in Japan and San Francisco, and in both places, he says, “There was such cool, mixed architecture and I was thinking how we could bring some of that to Jackson.” Prugh teamed up with Jackson-based architect Stephen Dynia and the two answered the RFP with an idea that included 50 percent deed-restricted affordable housing based on employment and 50 percent market housing. “Town was on board and was a great partner,” Prugh says. “The Town Council and [Town Manager] Bob McLaurin were huge proponents of working through the ideas and seeing it through to completion.”
The 810 West project was Prugh and Dynia’s first collaboration. The duo has since collaborated on the Seven Ten Split building (home of Picnic eatery), the Margaret Jaster and Daisy Bush additions in East Jackson, and the Pine Box live/work loft development on Alpine Lane, among others. “Steve is one of the best designers of small spaces I have worked with,” says Prugh, who himself lived at 810 West from 2005 to 2007. At 810 West the goals were “low maintenance and simple design—a space that people wanted to live in and enjoy,” Prugh says. “It was important that it was space that worked, and that it be light, open, and airy.”