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Carney Logan Burke Architects, Tennyson Ankeny Construction

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  • John Carney
  • Matt Thackray
  • Sarah Kennedy
  • Jay Ankeny


  • Carpenter: Kelsey Woodworks



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Project Description

The architect and builder got so many project benefits out of smart decisions, said the judges of this year’s best of the year project—which began as a rustic log home and ended as an exceptional contemporary.

Having worked with these clients before, John Carney, founding principal of Carney Logan Burke Architects, was surprised that these artists and “avowed modernists” had bought a log home. “But the site [in Jackson Hole] was stunning, the house was well-built with good bones, and they had been looking for just the right house or property for a long time,” Carney says. “I also think they felt comfortable after our other efforts together that we would bring a creative and fresh approach to a traditional, quite ordinary log house.”

The house, says project manager Matt Thackray, had “a number of redeeming qualities but also a number of log clichés going on,” such as clunky trusses, grandiose vaulting in narrow spaces, and an overwhelming rock fireplace. The owners wanted to update the house and showcase their own art and collected works.

Thackray and the design team—along with builder Jay Ankeny and Shane Kelsey—responded to the challenge with what Thackray calls a “reductive effort.”

Even the most gracious of log structures can feel cramped because of dark spaces hemmed by thick wood logs. The logs on this home had been covered with varnish that had yellowed over time. The master bedroom had a circuitous layout and lots of small spaces. The kitchen needed more of a light, open feel to accommodate the clients’ needs.

The project team gutted the master bedroom, says Thackray, and “gave it a more orderly layout that takes advantage of the view of the Tetons.”

With a couple of small moves in the kitchen—cutting a large opening into an east-facing wall to bring in more light, shunning upper wall cabinets, and creating a pantry—and one big gesture, painting the interior white, Thackray says, “we were able to transform and update the cabin.”

The judges agreed, saying, “[The architects] came up with a bright idea and explored it in the house. It really shows the spirit of remodeling. You can see the existing structure transformed.”

Near the main house is a guest house, which, says Ankeny, “we used as a sample board to work out the colors.”

On the exterior logs, they used a glass-blasting technique to remove the color. But blasting the interior logs “would be a mess,” Thackray says. The team researched a number of different options and settled on a tinted lacquer—again, using the guest house as a color guinea pig. Because the wood on the house was older than that on the guest house and the walls had different exposures, “the colors didn’t read the same” on both structures, Ankeny says, so it took a few tries before they settled on the blue-gray exterior and alabaster interior. Being able to test things at the guest house “really made the decision process go more quickly,” Ankeny says.

“It was a very collaborative process,” Thackray says, which included input from the architect, the builder, carpenter, interior designers Sarah Kennedy and Nanette Mattei, and the homeowners themselves.

For example, the decision to include drywall in certain areas was driven by the clients, who had their own ideas about where specific pieces of art would look best. “We took an artistic approach when deciding where to put drywall and where to leave logs exposed,” Thackray says.

The judges were unanimous on this project’s merits. They felt it was smart, sophisticated, fresh, unique and had a sense of humor. “[The team] let the original structure do what it does, and the new, modern insertions are clean and clear. They were able to blend the old logs with contemporary style without ruining the character.”--by Stacey Freed

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