Gear Up

Specialized rooms make for easy, organized gear storage, and might also double as a home gym or yoga space.

By Molly Absolon

Carson Stanwood’s modern Wilson home features a gear room much like a large walk-in closet with a sliding door. “Now I come home from a ride or ski, change and dump the gear, slide the panel shut, and I don’t have to look at all that stuff,” Stanwood says. Photograph by Price Chambers

Carson Stanwood’s modern Wilson home features a gear room much like a large walk-in closet with a sliding door. “Now I come home from a ride or ski, change and dump the gear, slide the panel shut, and I don’t have to look at all that stuff,” Stanwood says. Photograph by Price Chambers

THE GREATEST SPORTS/gear room I ever saw was in a townhouse my brother rented. Who knows what the original intention for the space was, but it made the perfect gym and storage area, with four walk-in closets lining one wall. He could stash his equipment and also had a huge, open space for working out.

You don’t often luck into a gear room like that. In most homes it seems as if such a space is an afterthought, with architects, owners, and designers spending more time on living rooms, kitchens, and master bedrooms and baths. But for many people—especially Jackson athletes—a sports-specific room is one of the most important, most loved, and most used rooms in their home.

“Of all the things that drove me crazy about my old house, the worst was the clutter,” says Carson Stanwood, who had Eric Logan of Jackson’s Carney Logan Burke Architects design a house that included what has become known as a gear vault. “I had a mud room [in my old house] that was hopelessly overstocked with everyday jackets, but also all my gear for cycling, skiing, snowboarding, motorcycling, etc.,” Stanwood says. “Eric designed a closet space and big gear room, both of which have sliding panel doors. Now I come home from a ride or ski, change and dump the gear, slide the panel shut, and I don’t have to look at all that stuff. It’s simple, but it makes for a less-cluttered existence.”

To help come up with the design for the gear vault, Logan peppered Stanwood with questions. What time did he get home? What did he carry through the front door? What worked in his current home? What didn’t? Stanwood’s answers resulted in the vault, with its hooks, shelves, drying racks, space, and, most importantly, the sliding doors that hide it all. For Stanwood, those doors have been enough to make his home feel organized and spacious, and that’s just what he wanted.

From the outside this looks like a historic barn. Inside, it has a Stairmaster, treadmill, weights, stationary bike, and entertainment area with surround sound. Photograph by David J Swift

From the outside this looks like a historic barn. Inside, it has a Stairmaster, treadmill, weights, stationary bike, and entertainment area with surround sound. Photograph by David J Swift

NOT ALL SPORTS-specific rooms stop at storage. Carney Logan Burke designed a gear barn for a home near the airport. The barn has a workout space with a treadmill, stationary bike, Stairmaster, and weights, plus space to store the family’s skis, bikes, and other equipment. It also has an entertainment room with cushy, overstuffed chairs and surround sound.

“I wanted it to look like a big television screen,” the barn’s owner says about the windows lining one wall of the workout space. “The windows face an open area. I wanted to be able to watch animals. One day I was running on the treadmill, and a moose with a baby walked by. It was a dream come true. I was like, ‘Yes, it actually happened!’ ”

The gear barn is designed to be comfortable and inviting, and the owner says someone in the family, which includes four boys, is there every day either working out or lounging in the entertainment room playing video games or watching movies. Having such a space for relaxation and exercise helps keep everyone happy, but it’s more than utilitarian. The owner, with the help of her designer, paid careful attention to details. She found Thomas Molesworth chairs at Fighting Bear Antiques to place around a table where the family puts together jigsaw puzzles and used antique decorations from a horse’s bridle to make handles for the doors. Big, comfortable rocking chairs line the front porch. The property brand is integrated into the floor tiles. The roof is made from corrugated tin, and weathered-gray hardwood siding makes the exterior of the building look like a real barn. “It has a genuine barn door that you can open,” the owner says. “The kids can shoot BB guns out it, but really what I wanted was the full glass windows where you could see animals.”

BUILDING HOMES IN Jackson Hole naturally invites interaction with place. In such a spectacular setting, designers and homeowners want to bring the outside inside. Margot Snowdon’s home in the John Dodge subdivision off Teton Village Road is focused around large banks of windows that open out over a pond surrounded by native grasses with the Snake River in the near distance.

From inside the gear barn, its owner has spotted moose walking by. Photograph by David J Swift

From inside the gear barn, its owner has spotted moose walking by. Photograph by David J Swift

A longtime yoga instructor who, years ago, opened the state’s first yoga studio, Snowdon wanted her home to include a private place to practice yoga that captured a sense of peace, quiet, and serenity. In response to that desire, Logan designed a simple, spare room with a north-facing wall of windows. The room is painted white, and the floor is made from a blonde wood. A small alcove in the west wall serves as a spirit shelf. When I visited, Snowdon had a photo of B.K.S. Iyengar, with whom she’d studied and who had recently died, propped up next to candles. A blue yoga mat lay out on the floor, ready for use.

Snowdon’s daughter, Ariana, showed me around the house. She, too, is studying to be a yoga teacher and says that when she is visiting her parents, she enjoys using the room. “It’s all set up, so it’s easy,” she says. Logan says he sought to capitalize on the unique light of the space. “It’s a very small room,” he says. “But it feels bigger because of the window, which lets in this beautiful, calming view with a diffuse, gentle north light.”

Logan says when he is designing custom rooms for a special purpose, he goes deeper with clients to best respond to their needs. “There’s a lot of back and forth in the process,” he says. “It’s interesting, especially when it is something we haven’t done before. How many master bedrooms have we done? How many master baths? Hundreds. These special rooms have different challenges, though.”

In addition to the yoga studio, the Snowdon house has an indoor endless pool. Windows cover three of the four sides of the room, and a redwood deck surrounds the pool. The trees outside create dappled patterns of light on the water. “When I’m home I use the pool all the time, especially in the winter,” Ariana says. “I love the light in here. It’s such a quiet, Zen space.”

But the space is not always quiet. Snowdon’s husband, Yves Desgouttes, plays the bagpipes; the endless pool room doubles as his bagpipe studio. “Apparently it’s hard for bagpipes to be in such a dry climate,” Ariana says. “So he stores his bagpipes and practices with them in here.”

MULTIPURPOSE ROOMS LIKE this are integral to George Barlow and Liz Brimmer’s downtown home, designed by Nona Yehia of E/Ye Design. The first floor of their house has two rooms and two closets, but “closet” doesn’t begin to capture the nature of what the couple has created in these smallish spaces. Barlow’s closet is also his ammunition-loading room, fly-tying space, and office. The rooms around it serve as guest bedrooms, a sewing room, and Brimmer’s home office. “We wanted our house to be used,” Barlow says. “So we looked for ways to make the rooms multipurpose. We didn’t want a guest room that sits empty most of the time.”

To create his workspace, Barlow thought about his vision during the design process. Barlow’s room requires extra electrical outlets to ensure adequate power and light for his detailed work. He needed more room than if he were just storing clothes, so the space is a bit bigger than an average closet. He reinforced the walls so he could hang shelves and other items wherever he wanted. The key, Barlow says, is to have his tools ready for use at any time. “If you have to set something up every time,” he says, “it’s less likely to get used.”

When Margot Snowdon and her husband built their home near the Snake River, she asked architect Eric Logan to create a small, private place with a serene view to practice yoga. Photograph by Bradly J. Boner

When Margot Snowdon and her husband built their home near the Snake River, she asked architect Eric Logan to create a small, private place with a serene view to practice yoga. Photograph by Bradly J. Boner

Richard and Kathy Jolley acted on that same premise in the design of their house, which was done by Stephen Dynia and includes a gym. The couple knew if their weights and exercise equipment were stored in the garage, they were unlikely to get used, regardless of their best intentions. Modeled after a CrossFit gym, the Jolleys’ gym has a treadmill, a rowing machine, and a Stairmaster. There’s also a fingerboard, pull-up bars, kettlebells, and free weights. Rubber straps hang from hooks, and a large wooden box is ready for step-ups and box jumps. The floor is covered with a rubberized mat, and one wall is reinforced for wall throws and handstand pushups. “We like the convenience aspect of having our own gym,” Richard Jolley says, “for when you go for a quick mountain bike ride or ski and you still want to hit the weights.”

He laughs and adds, “Only in Jackson, of course.”

“Both my wife and I work from home,” he says. “So even when we just have forty-five minutes we can get a really good workout in. It gets used every day, especially by my wife. She’s an exercise fanatic.”

But keeping in shape is important to Richard as well. “It’s nice to be fit enough to be able to get out and enjoy things without feeling like you are carrying a piano on your back,” he says. “And now football season is coming up. I figure it’s better for me to watch football in here while I’m working out than to sit on the couch shoveling Doritos into my mouth, aging rapidly.”

| Posted in JH Living
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