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While remodeling their vacation home in the valley, a San Francisco couple decide to remodel their lives as well, by making the home—and Jackson Hole—their main residence.
By Lila Edythe ∙ Photography by Tuck Fauntleroy
The plan was for Jackson Hole to be a vacation home, a place where Chad and Edward could escape the busyness of San Francisco and their lives in the city’s trendy Noe Valley neighborhood. “I thought we’d get bored if we were in Jackson full-time,” says Edward, who works in corporate financial consulting. “But every time we were at the Jackson airport flying home to San Francisco, I didn’t want to leave.” Chad, a former advertising director who now cares for the couple’s toddler twins, Violet Genevieve and Ethan Bennett, says, “I almost had a hangover every time I went back to San Francisco. That’s when we knew we loved Jackson, and it was our home.” This realization came after the couple bought their vacation home here, though.
“We looked at about a dozen houses,” Chad says. “When we started looking, we thought a condo would be great—you can lock the door when you leave and not worry about it—but the condo that we really liked had zero outdoor space and overlooked the jail. We already had a house in the city. We decided that if we were going to live here, we needed something with space.” The couple looked at houses all over the valley—from Teton Village to Wilson to South Park—before settling on a home built in 1993 on seven acres on West Gros Ventre Butte.
The house, which was designed by Ellis Nunn and Danny Egan, was not love at first sight. “Edward liked it more than I did initially,” Chad says. “I had a harder time getting past the pickle-bleached oak and pink. The snarky me would describe the decor as ‘Golden Girls meets early 1990s condo in Boca, meets the mountains,’ and I had an issue coming from a 1,200-square-foot house in San Francisco to 5,000 square feet. I thought it was way too big of a house for us.” Edward immediately saw the home’s possibility, though. “For being designed and built in the nineties, it was pretty contemporary with high ceilings and lots of light in the great room,” he says.
“After weeks of searching, I finally found out it was a limited-edition wall covering by Catherine Martin, wife of director Baz Luhrmann and herself the Academy Award-winning set and costume designer of Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby.”
[ Chad, Homeowner ]
Chad and Edward spent time in the home for a year. “We wanted to find out what we liked and what we didn’t,” Edward says. Once they had ideas of what they wanted to do, the couple went directly to Carney Logan Burke Architects (CLBA); they had seen a condo the firm did and knew they liked their style. The couple and CLBA worked on designs for about one year, redoing everything. “Nothing of the original house, outside of the footprint itself, was left untouched,” Chad says. Walls were knocked out, a new staircase was manufactured, windows were added, and doors were put in downstairs guest rooms for direct outdoor access. The men made the kitchen all white, “despite the contractor trying to talk us out of it,” Edward says.
It wasn’t just in the kitchen that the men knew what they wanted. Chad, who traveled widely for work, fell in love with wallpaper he saw in a hotel restaurant in Sydney, Australia. “The hotel didn’t know anything about it, so I took a bunch of photos and did Google image searches,” Chad says. “After weeks of searching, I finally found out it was a limited-edition wall covering by Catherine Martin, wife of director Baz Luhrmann and herself the Academy Award-winning set and costume designer of Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby.”
“We’re so excited at the idea of our kids growing up here.”
[ Chad, Homeowner ]
Chad found one online wallpaper company who had it, but it was listed as unavailable. The mother (who lived in Sydney) of CLBA’s Australian-born interior designer Sarah Kennedy “found the one roll that was left,” Chad says. One roll was exactly the amount needed to cover one wall in the media room.
The wallpaper in Edward’s office is custom and is the easiest way to see the couple’s pleasure in personal touches and attention to detail. The print is lifelike and of a bookshelf. On the wallpaper’s “shelves” are favorite books of the couple’s, photographs of Chad’s dad and his twin brother as babies and a photo of Chad’s grandmother from the 1940s, Edward’s bronzed baby shoe, a pair of Chad’s childhood sneakers, a replica of a roadside attraction from Chad’s hometown in Wisconsin, and even some superhero action figures from Chad’s collections. “It took time and effort to make this happen, but it was fun and worth it,” Chad says. “Even if this isn’t Edward’s office anymore right now.” This office became the bedroom of Violet and Ethan when they were born in July 2016.
“We designed this house for two guys who maybe have friends coming in,” Chad says. “I refer to it now as ‘Baby Hunger Games.’ There is not a single thing about this house that is family friendly—we’ve got concrete floors and sharp metal edges. We would have had different considerations entirely had we known we were going to have two little ones running around here.” At the time I toured the house, Violet and Ethan were not yet walking, so the floors and edges weren’t an issue. “But we know we’re going to have some pretty serious modifications as soon as they’re walking,” Chad says. “And when we do that, it—and Jackson—will feel even more like our true home. We’re so excited at the idea of our kids growing up here.”