More Than A Feeling

When remodeling their house, the Rippses were guided by how they wanted their home to feel rather than look.

When remodeling their house, the Rippses were guided by how they wanted their home to feel rather than look.

By Maggie Theodora
Photography by Tuck Fauntleroy

Carolyn and Andy Ripps already had this sofa and pair of swivel chairs. “The sofa was probably the first piece of ‘grown-up’ furniture that we purchased for our old house,” Carolyn says. “We’ve had it for about 10 years and it’s a good reminder of why you might want to invest in non-disposable furniture. A solid couch in a neutral fabric can last a lifetime, and we’ve just changed up the pillows over the years.” These pillows are alpaca from RH. John Thorkildsen, the couple’s friend and an interior designer, helped them choose new fabric for the swivel chairs. Carolyn found the vintage cane-back settee at Eclectic Consignment and spray painted it black. The coffee table from One Kings Lane is faux shagreen with brass inlay. The print is by artist Squeak Carnwath from Tayloe Piggott Gallery.

This is the house that Instagram built,” says Carolyn Ripps—only half-joking—about the Cape Cod-style home she and her husband Andy and their two kids moved into last May after six months of remodeling. The social media manager for Picnic and Persephone and former gallerist at Tayloe Piggott Gallery says it was natural to find ideas and inspiration on the social media platform Instagram. “I’d be on there for work and before I knew it would be going down an interior design rabbit hole,” she says. 

While Ripps might have gone to the internet for inspiration, driving all of her decision-making was the feeling she and Andy both wanted the house to have. “It was easier for us to describe the feeling we wanted more than the look,” she says. “We were similar in that we both wanted a house that was warm and welcoming and comforting and filled with things that have meaning and [that we] collected in our lives and on our travels.”

Longtime locals, the Rippses had been living in a 3-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom Boise Cascade duplex in West Jackson that Andy bought in 2005. Carolyn says she loved the duplex, especially after doing a complete remodel on it about five years ago, but as their kids, now four and six, grew, the couple wanted something with more space. “Our budget had us looking at a lot of fixer-uppers. We’d been actively looking for several years and put in a number of offers, but nothing came through.”


This page: “I love how tall the ceiling is here and had a vision of hanging this Isamu Noguchi light from the moment we first started the remodel,” says Carolyn. “Eventually we’d like to add a sliding glass door here for summertime deck dining, and I have my eyes on a giant piece of art for the tall wall.” The couple has had this dining table for years, though it’s been repainted a few times. “I definitely have a thing with painting old furniture to give it new life,” Carolyn says.


This rocking chair is vintage—it belonged to Andy Ripps’ parents—and the couple reupholstered it. The wedding photo is of Carolyn’s mom. The bookshelf was bought at Bet the Ranch, owned by Hillary Munro, a friend of the couple’s.

Andy, the branch manager and a senior loan officer at Guild Mortgage’s Jackson office, looked at the Cape Cod-style house in East Jackson shortly after it went on the market in June 2017. “I remember us talking about it then,” says Carolyn, who grew up in Massachusetts and whose parents now live in Cape Cod. “He said it’d be right up my alley—a cute, New England-style house.” But, because it was out of their price range, Carolyn didn’t spend much time thinking about it until December, when the sellers reduced the price. She immediately went to look at it and immediately fell in love with it. 

“I remember driving away and going too fast down Cache Creek Drive. Someone yelled at me to slow down, which I now do to people. My mind was spinning with how we could transform it—keeping the things that were amazing and charming like wide baseboards and the wood floors—but making it ours.” She says the house also appealed to her because it reminded her of the homes she and Andy had grown up in. “My parents built a house when I was in second grade. Andy’s parents built a house when he was in second grade. He grew up on a dirt road. I grew up on a dirt road. This house is on a dirt road. Now that we’re here, it seems inevitable.”

The couple closed on the house at the end of January. “Within a week of closing, I had pretty much everything picked out,” says Carolyn, who as a kid kept a binder full of ideas for her future dream house. (“I’d go through my mom’s Pottery Barn catalogs and architecture magazines,” she says.) The day they closed she placed the order for a custom-designed Home Depot kitchen. “We did a Home Depot kitchen when we remodeled our duplex and loved it. They’re solid wood and have most of the bells and whistles you can get with custom cabinetry, but are much more affordable.” Carolyn says that because the house “was at the top of what we wanted to spend, doing the remodel we were budget-focused.” This was part of the reason Carolyn acted as the general contractor. 


The kitchen shows how the couple blended budget items with spurges. The KraftMaid cabinets (in mushroom) come from Home Depot, but the custom maple butcher block counter is by John Boos. The counter is Silestone and the backsplash tile is Zellige by Cle Tile (found at Earth Elements). Carolyn discovered the Jones County Road sconces above the sink on Instagram. The painting to the left of the stove is by Teton Valley artist Mike Piggott; the piece to the right is by Mari Andrews. “We love collecting art from artists we know,” Carolyn says.


But they weren’t so budget-focused they didn’t allow themselves some splurges. “We made sure to save money in one area so we could spend more on something else,” Carolyn says. The kitchen cabinets are from Home Depot, but they ordered a John Boos butcher block countertop for the kitchen island. The lighting sconces on either side of the kitchen sink are from a small Los Angeles-based company, but the wicker chandelier in the media room is from IKEA. 

The couple bought appliances from JB Mechanical. “I wanted the look of a fully integrated built-in fridge, but not the Sub-Zero price,” Carolyn says. “I walked into [JB Mechanical] and asked them how I could make the look I wanted happen with more affordable options.” They directed her to a Fischer Paykel fridge and a Miele gas range that was a floor model. When it came to many of the ideas she got from Instagram, Carolyn says, “I’d look for similar materials or items here in Jackson and at a more accessible price point.”

Now that the family has lived in the house for almost a year, Carolyn says, “I’m happy with everything we’ve done and picked out so far, and we’re looking forward to seeing how it will grow, evolve, and change.” Asked whether the home feels like she and Andy imagined, Carolyn replies without hesitation: “Yes.”


Carolyn’s parents purchased this pair of Cornelia von Mengershausen paintings from her aunt Stella Aguirre McGregor’s gallery THE SPACE in 1990. “The gallery is no longer, but was a very conceptual gallery in Boston for the time,” Carolyn says. “We have another piece by the same artist hanging in the same room, and I love the connection to my past in addition to the works themselves. They were in my living room growing up, but when my father moved years ago and didn’t have room for them, I was the lucky recipient.”


“Last winter, Andy and I went to Japan to celebrate a big birthday and discovered this very cool store in Tokyo’s Ginza district,” Carolyn says. “Everything in the store was a little treasure, from beautiful ceramic dishes to funny light-up croissants, and we both were drawn to this particular artist. This piece was the only one that could fit easily in our ski bag, so it came home with us.” The vase filled with tulips is by ceramic artist Eleanor Anderson, a former valley resident.
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