Where The Heart Is

ARCHITECTURE
Merrell Designworks
mdwjh.com

CONSTRUCTION
Couloir Construction
couloirconstruction.com

Story By
Shannon Sollitt

Photos By
Sargent Schutt

Most homes have a “heart”: a fireplace, a living room, a cozy master bedroom. The heart of Jennifer Bruno’s mountain modern home is the laundry room. And the laundry chutes are the veins.

“I designed the house around the laundry chutes,” Bruno laughs. It’s kind of a joke, but for a mother of three growing, active kids, laundry is a constant.

Bruno’s life and kids demand efficiency, so every inch of her Teton Village home is highly functional—but not at the expense of taste. Wood trim and stone walls give a touch of that traditional Western rustic feel, but metal accents and big, open rooms bring it back to this century.

Unlike many of the neighboring houses designed for vacation rentals, Bruno’s feels like a home—her dream home. Builders Jesse Roy and Derek Di Venere of Couloir Construction and Rick Merrell of Merrell DesignWorks turned the heavily wooded lot into a custom home in just 14 months.

The design team tried a few iterations of the primary living spaces before deciding on the final layout. They wanted to maximize space, utility and views of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. The Couloir Construction crew built a temporary mock-up skeletal wall that framed Tower Three, relocated the chimney to add a corner window, then brought Merrell and Bruno in for feedback. The team then worked together to redesign the picture windows, living room and kitchen to bring Bruno’s ideas to fruition.

The home’s two primary functions are family and entertaining. It needed to be comfortable and cozy enough to house Bruno’s family, likely for the rest of their lives, but big enough to welcome visitors and entertain guests.

Wooden accents, like this barn-style bathroom door and wall trim, add rustic flare to this mountain modern home.

Two rows of bunk beds in the basement sleep four young guests. “Jen showed us an inspiration photo of the bunk beds, and I started to design on the fly,” says Roy. Accounting for bed size, stair width and space for additional wall cladding, he designed each bed like a small cave, recessed into the wall and accessed by a staircase between the two rows. He left room in front of the bed “caves” to add doors to them in the future.

With just one photo for reference, Jesse Roy designed a set of cavelike bunk beds nestled into the wall for young guests.

“With only a picture, I think we captured the look and feeling that Jen was trying to achieve, keeping in mind functionality,” he says.

Upstairs, a wooden, sliding barn door turns the first-floor office into a guest suite. Each floor has different heating accommodations, and the team left room to build an elevator for Bruno’s aging parents.

Although Bruno had the vision, the entire process was collaborative. “She made the process enjoyable and fun,” Di Venere says. “We were always trying to understand what she wanted, and I think ultimately we helped give her that.”

The rock lining the walls is custom-made from a mix of three different types of stone from three different quarries around the West.

Merrell admits it was one of the most enjoyable projects he’s ever been a part of. Laughter was never in short supply on-site, he says. The team shared desks, jokes and a healthy supply of peanut M&M’s.

And the heart of the house, the laundry room, is painted purple: Bruno’s favorite color.

The team calls this window “The Tower.” It spans two floors and offers views of the valley in front of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.