2019 Homestead Magazine

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Going With The Grain

Design Inspiration
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?A 5,500-square-foot barn/guest suite provides more living space and 180-degree balcony view

CONTRACTOR
With the Grain LLC

Story By
Cory Hatch

Photos By
Simply Taken

Just as a piece of music is only notes on paper without a talented musician, even the best designs rely on the translation of a skilled builder to realize their highest form. Yet between architect/builder Todd Witek and builder Kurt Mitchell, no translation is required. After collaborating for more than a decade, the two speak the same language, and the results show in the quality custom homes they’ve built.

This year, Witek and Mitchell will formalize this partnership to create one business, With the Grain LLC, where a seamless progression from design to construction assures the best product for their clients.

After earning his architecture degree from the University of Colorado, Witek began his 23-year career remodeling Victorian houses in San Francisco. Mitchell started creating custom cabinetry and interior trim in college; his business soon morphed into building custom homes.

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The two builders first met in Boulder, Colorado, where they developed a mutual respect for each other’s meticulous craftsmanship. That respect, combined with a shared work ethic and a passion for functional design, led to a 15-year working relationship. The goal: making their clients’ dreams a reality.

Take, for example, this residence near Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club. The project features an extensive remodel of the 6,000-square-foot main house, as well as the construction of a 5,500-square-foot barn/guest suite and a 1,700-square-foot carriage house to store the homeowner’s treasured collection of antique horse-drawn carriages. Precise detailing abounds here—from log walls finished with a hand-rubbed glaze to the false panel under a central staircase that curves around a massive tree that was part of the original house.

This assiduity is consistent in even the smallest of touches. Eight of the home’s entryways feature panel-cased openings homesteadmag.com with multi-step crown molding, each handcrafted from more than 100 individual pieces. Witek and his team even worked the family’s cattle brand into a custom cherry mantelpiece over the fireplace in the homeowner’s office, a stained-glass window set into a door, and the end caps of the bar’s iron foot rail.

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Facing page: With the Grain finished the logs of the main home with a hand-rubbed glaze.

“Being part of both design and construction gives us more versatility and efficiency.”
– Todd Witek of With the Grain LLC

Inside the carriage house, exposed wood beams, stained concrete floors, and interior wainscoting blend aesthetics with function. A porch from the barn’s guest suite provides visitors with views of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ski area.

While big remodeling projects like the residence near Golf & Tennis Club offer ample opportunities to demonstrate their expertise, Witek and Mitchell say shepherding a custom home from design to construction holds just as much appeal.

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Todd Witek and Kurt Mitchell confer on a job site.

The partners first collaborated on a home perched on Pine Creek Pass in Idaho. The client asked for the aesthetic of a rustic fishing lodge with ample room to entertain guests, plus a large mudroom to store gear. “I sketched it up and the client loved it,” Witek says. “Kurt got it to the very end, including the trim work and the finishing touches, and it is a great house. It turned out really nice.”

Maintaining a holistic process allows Witek and Mitchell to play off each other’s strengths, sparking creative solutions. “We have a shared vision of what we want to do,” says Witek, a LEED-accredited architect who likes to incorporate environmentally sensitive materials into his designs. “Being part of both design and construction gives us more versatility and efficiency.”

“Kurt’s a fantastic builder,” Witek continues. “He comes up with good ideas, practical ideas. If I’m stumped on something, he’s the first person I call.”

“There’s a great benefit and balance having two minds that are so open,” Mitchell adds. “It doesn’t handcuff you to anything.”