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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
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.”
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.
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.”