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WRJ Design Shares Fresh Insights and Luxury Interior Design Trends from the Rocky Mountain West Real Estate Boom with Wall Street Journal’s Mansion Global Magazine

The Wall Street Journal’s Mansion Global magazine tapped WRJ Design’s Klaus Baer and Rush Jenkins for design expertise on recent luxury mountain trends (kitchen PC: Eric Piasecki).

Jenkins and Baer “marry luxury with natural materials to reflect the mountainous region” that they call home.

Following the recent surge of home buyers in the Rocky Mountain West, Mansion Global, the premier luxury real estate and lifestyle brand included in the Wall Street Journal, interviewed Rush Jenkins and Klaus Baer, co-owners of Jackson Hole interior design firm WRJ Design, for their take on how the migration is shaping regional design trends. The magazine’s winter 2021 issue highlights stories of city dwellers “Heading for the Hills,” seeking more space and scenery in the mountains, and interviews the design duo, citing WRJ’s “widespread acclaim for creating luxurious yet comfortable spaces reflecting the scenic region and its laid-back, albeit active lifestyle.”

Raised in nearby Idaho, Jenkins has always turned to nature for inspiration, and Baer has roots in Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. In 2010, the partners succumbed to the lure of the Teton Mountains, relocating their growing design firm from Manhattan to Jackson, Wyoming. That history gives them a special understanding of the current urge to escape urban life that has driven an explosion of interest in Jackson Hole real estate. “To connect to nature does something to you spiritually,” Jenkins tells Mansion Global. “You’re connecting to that essence of who you are, and that is hard to find today. That’s why it’s a huge draw to many people.”

Jenkins shares with Mansion Global how the mix of WRJ clients has shifted since the pandemic, with more clients making Jackson their primary home rather than just a vacation escape. Consequently, they are investing in their mountain houses at a different level, spending more on furnishings, and housing art and wine collections there, as well as garaging more cars – perhaps creating a compound including guest cabins for visiting friends and family. The interest is in truly creating spaces that inspire, energize and relax, filled with meaningful pieces. Another pandemic effect: more work-from-home options. “In the past, we may have designed an office, but clients are requesting a desk in every bedroom,” Jenkins says, while Baer emphasizes the desire for elevated technology. “With all the Zoom meetings and streaming involved, they need to have the bandwidth,” he says.

More importantly though, people are relocating to the area to have a good time and enjoy doing the things they love outdoors – and also indoors – bringing a rush of home amenities. “Great mudrooms … are required here,” Baer tells Mansion Global, citing the large amount of gear that accompanies the outdoor lifestyle. Jenkins agrees: “We’re seeing larger recreation rooms to house skis and equipment because more friends are coming from cities to stay with them for longer periods. People stay two, three, or six months, and their kids stay longer than a couple of weeks.”

One slopeside Jackson Hole home’s spectacular mudroom, designed by WRJ Design with JLF Architects and featured in the Mansion Global article, includes a fireplace to warm ski boots and chic, durable benches, with bins for equipment beneath a room-long window seat, and luxurious touches like shearling rugs atop a radiant-heated stone floor. Rooms for outdoor gear are balanced by spaces dedicated to indoor fun, prompting a rise in game rooms with pool tables, ping pong and card tables, for example – including a game room and custom wet bar featured in an exclusive Architectural Digest online tour of a WRJ-designed Jackson Hole remodel that AD calls a “perfectly updated cabin.” “We’ve seen a separate weight room or gym, treatment room for massage, yoga studio, a wet bar detached next to the pool, and plunge pools,” Baer adds.

Another trend WRJ notes is the desire for extravagant kitchens with high-end appliances from Gaggenau to Miele, pizza ovens, and luxurious materials for countertops, cabinetry and seating, as well as artful light fixtures. Notable in the kitchens – and throughout home interiors – is the desire to reflect the natural environment, which is something WRJ Design has mastered and thoughtfully imparts in every home, consistently bringing a harmonious connection to the remarkable landscape that surrounds them.

That connection to nature can be reflected in an interior’s color palette and carefully layered textures – or it can be literal, as when WRJ worked with a homeowner and builder to turn a 700-pound boulder, excavated from the homesite, into a unique organic stone sink in the powder room of one Jackson Hole home. Artisans crafted the basin and hung the stone with steel supports on a salvaged wood accent wall, where it appears to defy gravity.

In late 2019, Jenkins and Baer’s book Natural Elegance: Luxurious Mountain Living (Vendome Press) came out, featuring their nature-inspired, sophisticated yet comfortable interiors. The timing of the book now seems prescient given the flood of newcomers to the area since its debut who embrace the WRJ Design approach to mountain homes, combining clean-lined European design and a subtle color palette drawn from surrounding nature with one-of-a-kind antiques, the work of regional artists and artisans, and richly layered natural textures including linen, leather, hair on hide and cashmere. Ultimately, as Mansion Global puts it, Jenkins and Baer “marry luxury with natural materials to reflect the mountainous region” that they call home.

About WRJ Design:

Headquartered in Jackson, Wyoming, WRJ Design imparts the special serenity of its local Teton landscape to interior designs in Jackson Hole and across the country. WRJ began out of a passion for great design by Rush Jenkins and Klaus Baer, who create experiences and environments through inspired design. The team provides homeowners timeless reflections of their collections by combining the work of regional artisans with finely crafted European furnishings and accessories, and historically rich one-of-a-kind pieces curated from around the world. Three-time Mountain Living Home of the Year winners, WRJ has been featured widely in media including Architectural Digest and House Beautiful, as well as their popular book, “Natural Elegance: Luxurious Mountain Living (2019, Vendome). For more information visit wrjdesign.com and follow @wrjdesign on Instagram.

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