The Prughs lived in eight different houses around the valley in seven years. When they were ready to settle down, they took elements and details from each of these and added personal touches, the biggest of which are their three young boys.
By Dina Mishev | Photography by David Agnello
The night before I met Eileen and Greg Prugh at their 4,500-square-foot home across the street from Jackson Elementary School, 15 kids were running around it and its yard, which is thick with aspen trees. Three of these kids were their boys, Rory, 10, Luke, 8, and Crosby (Croz), 6. “I love super neutral interiors,” says Eileen, “but we don’t live that life.”
The life the family does live is one of well-curated and well-designed simplicity informed in part by humor and the unusually high number of homes they lived in prior to this one—a hazard of Greg’s job as a Realtor/developer—but mostly by their boys. “We picked all imperfect finishes from floors to tile and even to the way the drywall was finished,” says Greg. Eileen says, “We didn’t want to be worrying that our kids and their friends were nicking stuff. It had to be livable.”
Included in Greg and Eileen’s definition of livable is fun. “Our stuff is tongue-in-cheek,” Eileen says. “We’ve had so many challenges, and humor and fun have saved us. This home reminds us not to take things so seriously.”
“We picked all imperfect finishes from floors to tile and even to the way the drywall was finished. We didn’t want to be worrying that our kids and their friends were nicking stuff. It had to be livable.”
[ Eileen Prugh ]
The fun: Propped on the kitchen counter against a tile backsplash is an oil painting of a stick of butter by local artist Mike Piggott. On a wall near the dining table is a photograph of two men in well-worn jeans and cowboy hats staring at Prada Marfa, a permanent architectural installation by artists Elmgreen and Gradset just off U.S. Highway 90 near Marfa, Texas. Custom metal work and sculptures by artist and friend Ben Roth decorate several rooms. Tucked among books and mementos from world travels on a shelf in the living room is a soccer-ball-size bust of their dog Wheatleigh, who died in 2017. You can’t visit the powder room, where the walls are covered in white tiles with dozens of butterflies painted in black on them, without smiling. In the game room, try not to fall in love with the vibrant wallpaper of birds resting in tree branches that covers an entire wall.
A challenge: While Eileen was pregnant with Croz, the couple learned he had Down Syndrome. It was this knowledge that helped convince them to finally commit to building a home for themselves. Their prior houses were almost all spec projects of Greg’s that they lived in until they sold. “Building this house was us taking control of the situation as much as we could,” Eileen says. “We wanted to know we’d have a home that would grow with us and give us the opportunity to address whatever needs Croz might have.”
Because Croz’s biggest needs at the moment are Star Wars toys, music, superheroes, and playing outside with his brothers and friends, an extra master suite, included in the design in case he needed a live-in helper, has been transformed into a game room.
The extra master suite might have been one of the biggest nods to practicality in the home’s design, but it is not the only one. Surrounding the fun and whimsical décor and style are an abundance of thought-through details. You could accuse the couple of having an excess of built-in storage … until they explain how it allows them to keep pretty much everything neatly hidden from view yet easily found. “We know exactly where everything is, but you don’t see it unless you need it,” Eileen says. The number of deep sinks, which are in every bathroom, could also be seen as excessive, but they’re utilitarian. “We lived in a place with shallow sinks and learned they didn’t work for us,” Eileen says. “Unless you were really careful, water splattered everywhere. We didn’t want to have to be really careful in this house.” Lights inside the toilets might seem silly, except “they’re great for the boys’ aim,” Greg says.
After several years of carrying car seats and groceries up the stairs of houses that had reverse-living designs, they knew they wanted their kitchen and all of the home’s public spaces to be on the ground floor. Eileen also wanted the ground floor to open out to green space. Because of this, and because of the home’s location directly across the street from Jackson Elementary, the couple jokes that the house is school-in/school-out. Except none of their boys goes to Jackson Elementary, so the joke is really on them. (This school year, all three are students in Munger Mountain Elementary’s dual language education program.)
By intention, there are no fences around the yard. Before Greg sold the adjacent lot to the east to a friend who has three boys almost identical in age to Rory, Luke, and Croz, he asked the parents if they’d put up a fence between the two houses. They said, “no,” which was the right answer. “We want our house to be open and welcoming,” says Greg. “It’s more important to us who is in it than what is in it.”