2024 Homestead Magazine


Homestead Magazine


Dream Homes: Renovation

‘Jewel Box’ Addition: Thinking Outside the Log Box

+ Story by Edythe Pollack
+ Photography by Matthew Millman & Paul Warchol

Carney Logan Burke Architects

Tennyson-Ankeny Construction

Sirewall USA, LLC

Earth Wall Builders, LLC
& Terra Firma Builders LTD
earthwallbuilders.com, sirewall.com/licensees/terra-firma-builders

Helius Lighting Group

What to do when you’ve got a log house you love, but are interested in an addition that is not log and is modern? “The homeowner said she wanted a ‘jewel box’ of an addition,” says Jen Mei, an architect at Jackson-based Carney Logan Burke Architects. “That’s what we kept in mind as we were designing, and the end result is this special moment within the house; the space is very different and more abstract than the rest of the home.”

Elegant Execution

“We like to say that we are inspired by place, and in this project we were able to create something that is literally of the place,” says architect Jen Mei about the 500-square-foot rammed earth addition to this home. “That’s very poetic and exciting.”

Wall Craft

Office – Exterior

This addition to the original home will last several lifetimes without the need for maintenance, and it exceeds current standards for energy efficiency and compressive strength. It’s also beautiful.

To execute the design, the architectural team turned to Jay Ankeny of Tennyson-Ankeny Construction, Joss Krayenhoff of SIREWALL USA and Brad Mimlitz of Earth Wall Builders. “Rammed earth was an excellent choice for both its visual impact and its rustic, natural texture—like logs,” says Mei. “It fits a modern aesthetic because it is detailed in such a clean way.”


The home’s addition seemingly—and seamlessly—rises from its natural surroundings.

Exterior Detail

Exterior Detail
Jackson-based artist Ben Roth created a custom surround for the new outdoor shower.

Graceful Retreat

Illumination above the sinks is flush wall- mounted, designed by Helius Lighting Group.

“I was immediately intrigued when the architects suggested rammed earth; it is such a wonderful, natural material,” says the homeowner. “We knew we wanted the addition to flow beautifully from the traditional log cabin but also for it to be its own thing: a beautiful piece of contemporary architecture.”

Carney Logan Burke prides itself on site-specific design that simultaneously highlights and blends in with the landscape. Still, this addition to a butte-top home with some of the valley’s best views of the Tetons took “site-specific” to the next level. Rammed earth is exactly what it sounds like—supercompacted soil. The walls of the 500-square-foot study/library are two feet thick—20 inches of Jackson Hole soil blended with SIREWALL’s proprietary strengthening mix and a smidge of dye and then a four-inch pocket filled with insulation.


Matching sinks come from the Italian company Boffi. The aluminum, steel and plastic ManOMan light fixture dominating the ceiling is by German craftsman Ingo Maurer.

Bathroom — Before

Bathroom – Before
Top-end finishes and beautiful windows evolved to a daring new result.

Having the views this property does, the rammed earth walls do have plenty of windows. “This design called for a rammed earth corner with windows on either side. That execution required specialty details,” Krayenhoff notes. And Mimlitz points out that both color and design are crucial to the end result. “We always do a lot of test blocks to dial in color and texture,” he says. “A full-sized sample wall allowed the architects and the homeowner to really see what the walls would look like. And that test wall became the address marker for the property.”

Though this is the first rammed earth project that general contractor Tennyson- Ankeny Construction has been involved with, Ankeny felt confident working with the assembled team. “Remodels are always challenging because you’re trying to blend the old and new,” he says. “And here we were changing a log structure on the inside and making it look very modern. You have to spend the time doing it right the first time.”

The homeowners loved the addition so much they began plans to remodel their master bathroom. Again, they turned to Carney Logan Burke, Tennyson Ankeny Construction and lighting specialists Helius Lighting Group of Salt Lake City. Jarron Pew said Helius was charged with finding a clean solution for vanity lighting in a space already outfitted with decorative elements. “This was one of those high-end residential projects that we specialize in,” Pew says. “We devised a flush wall- mounted LED product. The result is great light and a crisp finish.”

“The homeowner was the driving force behind both these projects,” Mei says. “She had a vision for both spaces, how they would work with the rest of the home. It was a very collaborative process, and one that truly allowed us to realize the potential of renovation work. You might like the log house you’ve bought here because you’re drawn to Western rustic, but might also like a bit of modern detailing. These projects showed us how much we can do with little nodes that juxtapose log with new materials.”

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