Reclaimed and Refined

> Story by David Porter
> Photography by Latham Jenkins

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In the Kitchen: Willow Creek Woodworks’ founder, Jaxon Ching, in an interior showcasing the team’s work.

We’re lucky to live among artists in Jackson Hole: from sculptors to painters, ironworkers to writers. Jaxon Ching can certainly count himself among them. As owner and operator of Willow Creek Woodworks, Ching imbues his work with not only high-quality craftsmanship, but beauty, contour, and line, the staples of any artist.

Willow Creek Woodworks is a full-service woodworks mill located in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Ching founded the business in 1997, not long after completing his tenure in the U.S. Navy. The shop, less than 20 years old, has grown from a business of two employees to 30 today. It is the demand for its customized work that has made Willow Creek so successful.

Although Ching owns and runs the business, he emphasizes that everyone at Willow Creek works as a team. He notes, “I hold the company’s vision, but everyone has a lot at stake and a lot of say in any project.” Some employees have been with the business for over 15 years, and the staff includes three engineers to ensure the structural integrity of all projects.

In addition to a high-functioning team, Ching finds great rewards in his work with Jackson architects and contractors. He says, “I’m so grateful for the building community in Jackson Hole. Everyone has been generous in offering work to us. I want to be sure to thank those with whom we’ve collaborated over the years.”

The craftsman finds that working closely with architects brings plans to life. He communicates often with the architectural design team to understand homeowners’ desires and then to build and install just what his clients seek. While working on the kitchen and bunk room pictured here, Ching had several face-to-face meetings with the homeowner. This is access his clients “really appreciate.” An additional eight to 10 meetings with the architectural team brought the project to fruition.

The completed kitchen dazzles with the brilliant results of communication and precise construction. Clean lines, bright colors, and contrast mean the space pops with liveliness.

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Gorgeous Utility: This kitchen boasts reclaimed barnwood on cabinet fronts and wood grains perfectly aligned along the large faces. The walnut, Shaker-style cabinets along the walls provide a stunning contrast in the bright room. Ching’s team used a special finish on the barnwood that is water- and stain-proof, yet appears unfinished, as if “it has just come off the barn and into the kitchen,” he says.

When Ching saw the same architect’s plans for the bunk room, he was immediately excited and began considering how to adapt the drawings from a construction perspective. Here, reclaimed materials and steel fuse rustic with industrial.

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Imaginative Bunking: The bunk room is Ching’s favorite room in this house. It features floor-to-curved-ceiling reclaimed barnwood and rustic rails on the bunk beds to hold youngsters snug.

Stair Solution: Space is used innovatively on this staircase, bookshelves meticulously aligned with each tread and rail.

He often favors working with reclaimed materials, observing that the “wood has natural imperfections, but the construction and installation make perfect,” a testament to Willow Creek’s insistence on the highest-quality product.

Willow Creek Woodworks continues to be tapped for exciting new projects, and one can easily see why. When speaking of a highly technical installation the team recently completed for Carney Logan Burke Architects, John Carney says, “I don’t know anybody who could have pulled this off like Jaxon did.” The company also custom-outfitted the staircase and kitchen of Carney’s private home.

Art, precision, and practicality guide all of Willow Creek Woodworks’ collaborations, to most exquisite results.