A romantic vision of cowboys gathered 'round the fire was part of the inspiration for this 5,000-acre working ranch in Wyoming. But the owner, a Boston banker turned cattle rancher, wanted his new home on the range to be comfortably modern and a little bit New England, as well as rustically Western. The light-filled kitchen at the center of the house captures that wide-open yet cozy feeling and is practical, too. The 220-square-foot kitchen opens up with a cathedral ceiling and connection to the dining, living, and outdoor spaces. Instead of a campfire, there's a built-in wood stove with an integrated pizza oven to warm the dining and kitchen areas and a large stone fireplace to heat up the living room and screened porch. The expansive living wing uses copious insulated glazing to give the feel of the great outdoors without the sub-zero temperatures.
Architect John Carney canted the double-height great room off to the side of the main house in order to give it the best views of the verdant valley below and the distant mountain range in the opposite direction. As guests come in the front door, the kitchen is the first space they approach. But it's not until they're standing in the kitchen that the vaulted living spaces with expansive vistas of the Green River Valley are revealed. Carney says, “We put the kitchen at the crux of the plan to anchor the open living spaces and to be accessible to the service rooms.”
The kitchen's style and materials embody the cowboy-meets-debutante tone of the entire house. Exposed timbers support the Gothic ceiling with clear fir veneer plywood panels in between. Carney likens the ceiling to the inverted hull of a ship that pays homage to the owner's New England upbringing. Painted clapboard siding and slate countertops reinforce the idea of a refined New England farmhouse, while reclaimed wood floors and sliding barn doors on cabinets mix in touches of the Wild West.
A butcher-block-topped island with attached swing-out stools indicates that this is a hard-working kitchen meant to be casual and comfortable. Separate sinks and spaces for food prep and cleanup let two people work together without getting in each other's way. A door in between leads to a walk-in pantry with a large wine closet attached. The nearest grocery store is 15 miles away, so the spacious pantry is a must. According to Carney, the couple doesn't formally entertain very often, but there's always a family member or friend staying with them for weeks at a time—yet another reason to keep the larder well-stocked.
The owners wanted their long-term houseguests under the same roof but with a slight separation. The upstairs master suite is above the home office, with an interior bridge connecting it to the rest of the second floor. The master bath picks up on kitchen details with the same painted pale green cabinets and slate tiles that are used in the kitchen. The fir vanity top also matches the ceiling panels from the great room's vaulted ceiling. The consistency of materials that evoke the home's locale as well as the owner's heritage is continued throughout the house.
On the exterior, however, materials as well as building layouts focus on withstanding Wyoming's extreme weather. Construction manager Paul Kinnard explains that it was critical to site ranch buildings close enough to walk between them in blizzards but far enough apart to keep barnyard smells and bugs from migrating to the main house during the region's hot, humid summers.
Carney applied that protective compound theory to the main house. A segmented footprint divides work spaces from places of fun or respite. Service areas, including garage, mechanical room, laundry, and an ample mudroom, run down the center of the plan, with the double-height living space set off at a slight angle. The owner's office and a den/media room tower stand as separate volumes at either end of the footprint to create a courtyard. Rustic materials were selected for durability and low maintenance, but used to create an edgy design. “Oxidized steel panels, and corrugated steel roofing add a subtle hint of modernity to dry-stacked moss rock, rough-hewn timber posts, and vertical cedar siding,” says Carney, “but the combination of materials is true to the place.”
Builder: On Site Management, Jackson, Wyo.; Architect: Carney Architects, Jackson; Landscape designer: Herschberger Design, Jackson; Living space: 5,800 square feet; Site: 5,000 acres; Construction cost: Withheld; Photographer: Roger Wade (except where noted).
Dish drawers: Fisher & Paykel; Wood stove: Tulikivi.