When certain city slickers decamp to greener pastures, the luckiest take their decorators with them. For a lodge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a devoted client flew out New York City–based ED A-List designer Jeffrey Bilhuber to a land of bucking broncos and Arcadian vistas, bringing his signature brand of American eclecticism to a rustic perch under the penumbra of the Teton mountains.
爱博体育下载For many longtime New Yorkers, the name Jackson Hole evokes images of gray-colored hamburgers served in a hazy room on the Upper East Side of Manhattan where the air was equal parts oxygen and grease. But recently, there’s been a mass migration of the needle-tower crowd to the quaint frontier town for which the diner was named. Jackson Hole may have a population of just 10,000, but the homeowners here include Harrison Ford, Christy Walton, and the Kardashian Wests. Clearly, for a certain kind of urbanite, there’s something about a pristine natural landscape that is ideal for escape or renewal.
Bilhuber’s immediate goal with the lodge was to defy everyone’s expectations—particularly his own. The house is made up of 19th-century structures, connected by long corridors, that were moved here from Vermont in the 1970s. Historically, the lodge genre signals wood-burning fireplaces, high ceilings, and thick timber beams. Bilhuber could see the charm in that kind of aesthetic, but he also saw brown, brown, and more brown. “You say lodge, and you get clear ideas of what one should look like,” he says. “I had to invent a whole new language.” This rejection of the status quo was the starting point for the designer, who in his 30-plus-year career has created homes for David Bowie, Hubert de Givenchy, and actress Mariska Hargitay.
爱博体育下载A few years ago, this client, a successful northeastern businessman, fled the din and density of urban life with his wife and teenage son to make Jackson Hole their permanent residence. Bilhuber had previously designed their Manhattan townhouse and country home in Lyme, Connecticut, which established bona fides. “Jeffrey is the kind of designer who takes your own taste and makes it better,” the homeowner says. “We gave him a blank sheet of paper and said, ‘Do what you want.’”
The first thing Bilhuber did was bring in color to counteract all that brown. He had the floors of the home’s largest, most frequented rooms—study, family room, kitchen—painted in a variety of geometric patterns using mostly shades of blue with a pop of red here and there. “Painting the stripes on the floor was a significant step forward,” he says. In the kitchen, he removed partition walls to satisfy modern living needs. “Today, we want life to be around the kitchen.” The sweeping, singular space includes dining and living areas as well as a freestanding island. For the painted floor, he chose a chevron pattern, which he says unifies the dissimilar ceiling heights but also acts as a subtle reminder that there’s more of the house to see.
The rooms on the ground floor are all on an axis, each opening onto the next like cars on the Orient Express. The instinct with an enfilade such as this is to walk a straight line through all rooms until the end is reached—in this case, a screened porch filled with humble Low Country furniture. In the living room, which abuts the porch, Bilhuber created an elegant bottleneck to prevent this. “I want people to congregate here,” he says. He split the space up into two distinct furniture groups that keep the center open and encourage intimate gatherings. “It allows you to pause and take a breath before you move to the next room.”
In the guest room, Bilhuber placed twin beds with custom upholstered mattresses perpendicular to each other so that one profits from the window light and view, while the other is up against a wall, more inward and quiet.
Outside in the crisp Wyoming air, Bilhuber created two grand gathering areas, one of which features a dining table that comfortably seats 10. “A particular joy of that area is that you are fully one with the landscape,” he says. “You are surrounded by uninterrupted views of mountains, green pastures, and plains and not conscious of neighbors.” In that regard, life here seems to be on the opposite pole to New York City—nary a gray hamburger in sight. There is only, as Bilhuber puts it, “sky, light, purpose, and meaning.”
This story originally appeared in the Summer 2020 issue of ELLE Decor.