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Not So Simple
A home in the Aspens shows how a “simple” house done well takes a lot of thought and planning.
By Lila Edythe | Photography by David Agnello
New York-based architect Hope Dana first visited Jackson Hole in the late 1960s when she was a child. “I think I took a ski lesson with Pepi Stiegler,” she says. “It was an amazing vacation.” In 2013, Dana and her husband John Perkins, who is also an architect, albeit not practicing, bought a “shack” in the Aspens—built cheaply in the 1970s and well on its way to obsolescence—with the idea of eventually demolishing it and building something new. When the couple started designing their new home several years later, “we wanted it to feel like a vacation house,” Dana says. “The idea was to have everything be so simple and the house be all about easy living and the views. We wanted to have space for guests [including two adult kids] and where we could entertain, but my husband and I also wanted to be able to be there alone.”
The couple celebrated Christmas 2017 in their new home. “It’s everything we wanted it to be,” Dana says. And more. Dana says neither she nor Perkins realized how good the 0.75-acre property was when they bought it. “Having a perimeter lot in the Aspens is unusual, the established vegetation makes it super private, and the views are incredible,” she says. Siting the house was not easy, though. “Now it seems obvious, but it took us a while to arrange the program of the house to maximize the views,” Dana says.
As special as the views from inside the four-bedroom, 3,000-square-foot home are, “it is very plain from the outside,” Dana says. “We were kind of looking for a big statement without it being ostentatious in any way.” The statement the home makes is one of ultimate simplicity. Bedrooms don’t have closets, bathrooms have medicine cabinets but no vanities, and there are very few doors. “Inside is as plain as outside, but everything inside is very purposefully done. We thought about every inch,” Dana says.
The simplicity of the design and finishes gives spaces the feeling of a Scandinavian summer home, and the whole house screams “hygge,” a Danish word for a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders contentment or well being. While Dana doesn’t use the word to describe the home’s design, “I did want the house to feel cozy,” she says. But “we also wanted a super-open house with lots of windows.” Because of these often-disparate directives, “we spent a lot of time on the window configurations,” she says.
The interior materials palette adds to the home’s coziness, too. “The first big decision was to have the walls and floors be eight-inch ash boards, which are light in color but also textured and warm,” Dana says. From there she selected porcelain green-gray tiles for the entry hall, mudroom, and laundry and powder rooms. “It has a shimmer to it that compliments the ash wall boards and ash flooring.” They painted all of the interior window frames black—“You see right out,” Dana says— as well as the stair handrail, the revel where the floor meets the walls, the ledges at the fireplace, and upstairs lighting fixtures. In the kitchen, the cabinetry is dark with light countertops. “The furnishings throughout the house also play on the ash-black or ash-white themes,” Dana says.
While this is the first home Dana has designed for her family from the ground up, “we have done apartments before and did a huge remodel to an existing house in Connecticut,” she says. “They’ve all been different, but we do have a very clear aesthetic that has been similar between the spaces: We always bring the outdoors in. With this house, it’s a very special landscape that we’re bringing in.”