When Jennifer Hoey Smith and her husband, Cory, decided to expand their “tiny house” in West Ketchum, Jennifer had a vortex of creative ideas swirling in her head. The owner of Jennifer Hoey Interior Design, Hoey Smith is the diva of detail and knew exactly what she wanted to see when the dust settled.
“It’s a designer’s dream to design their own home in a style reflective of their own aesthetic,” she said, “and over the last year, I’ve been lucky enough to realize this dream.” She quickly assembled a crackerjack team, starting with architect Gretchen Wagner, AIA, of Scape Design Studio. “I was drawn to Gretchen’s sensibility and womanly approach to architecture,” said Hoey Smith.
Originally, the house had been part of a ranch dating from the early 1900s, a small barn situated on an irregular lot on a street no wider than an alley. Cory and Jen had remodeled the barn themselves into an intimate 700-square-foot home. But as their family grew, they realized it was time to expand the house, too.
Knowing that an addition could potentially dwarf the original structure, Wagner designed what Hoey Smith calls a “series of barns” connected by flat roofs. “We took care to create a rhythm of forms that looked like they belonged together,” explained Wagner. “The two-story part of the addition repeats the same gable as the original house in pitch, proportion and window type. Then, these anchoring forms were connected by smaller stone elements to the main perpendicular gable in the center. The lot is a tricky shape so we sweated inches in every direction. We even measured Jennifer’s car to make sure her hood would fit under the stair in the garage!”
Mike Pfau oversaw construction for Lee Gilman Builders and kept the project on schedule despite the challenging logistics posed by the small lot and narrow street. “We used structurally insulated panels, which are like big foam-filled Legos that arrive as pre-assembled walls. Getting them off the truck, onsite and staged was difficult,” he said, “but the project’s time constraints didn’t allow us to stagger shipments.” Pfau likened himself to an air traffic controller on a busy day at O’Hare Airport. “It’s a matter of sequencing to keep the timeline going. But it was a fun project. Jennifer’s detailing is immaculate, and we wanted the finished product to reflect this.”
Hoey Smith’s attention to detail is evident throughout, including the steel surround that frames the exterior kitchen windows for an edgy touch, vintage orange Eames chairs and an antique mustard Oushak rug that throws warmth and color into the minimalist room.
The wood floors are an antique oak that was bleached, sanded and tinted with a grey wash to take the yellow tone out and give her the patina she wanted. Looking closely at the door hardware reveals two-toned bronze and a white leather inlay. In the master bath, Hoey Smith used a blend of light and dark metals and polished and brushed finishes for the plumbing and lighting fixtures. She integrated bronze rails into the cabinetry of the limestone slab vanity for use as towel bars.
Hoey Smith described the overall style of the home as clean and fresh with a slightly minimalist feel. “The rural structure of the original house ‘drove the bus,’” she said. “I wanted to respect that, but I made it as modern as I could. There’s sort of a Scandinavian barn feeling, but it’s very warm.”
Hoey Smith wanted to achieve “a sense of space and connection to the outdoors,” which she accomplished by flowing materials such as stone flooring in the front entry from outside to the inside, and placing a tall window in the powder room directly opposite the front door, so the first thing a visitor sees after stepping inside are the trees outside. The yard was landscaped to create “outdoor rooms” that extend the family’s living space.
The great room area is light and open and anchored at one end by an oversized white cement fireplace. Trough lighting in the mantel creates a subtle effect. The roofline follows a false gable, seemingly supported by hewn beams. In contrast, the ceiling of the kitchen is flat, which visually creates a separation of space. Hoey Smith juxtaposed the sharp lines of the glass-fronted cabinetry and stainless steel counters with the softer rusticity of the reclaimed wood floors and ceiling beams. “We love to cook, so the kitchen is a big component of the design,” she said. Her father crafted the custom cabinetry throughout the house.
Hoey Smith is pleased with her dream home and doesn’t hesitate to credit the people she worked with to realize her dream. “I’m a huge proponent of teamwork,” she said, “and we all worked so well together. I had an amazing team!”