Text by Bethany Adams
As an interior designer, Katie Payne Confer of That Girl Katie Design Studio knows how to tackle a challenging project. But when she and her husband moved from San Francisco, California, to a mountain home in Jackson, Wyoming, they were faced with the challenge of turning the space into the perfect home for their family. “There were just weird angles and . . . some odd things that didn’t make sense,” Katie says, noting that the basement was in particularly bad shape.
But adding square footage and reworking the flow of the layout wasn’t the only obstacle that needed to be overcome. Originally brown cedar, the home’s exterior had been painted yellow, and it was nearly too much for Katie. “We almost didn’t buy the house,” she says.
In the end, the Confers decided to paint the exterior brown rather than letting the ruined cedar deter them, and Katie now considers the dilemma just another puzzle in the process of designing a home.
“The whole thing is a puzzle, but it becomes even more of a puzzle when you’re taking what is interesting there and trying to make it flow and work,” she says.
It’s a theme that presented itself throughout the entire design process as Katie set about crafting an interior that would honor the home’s surroundings while incorporating the pieces the family brought with them. “I like to design with a purpose while using items that tell a story and then adding what is necessary to make the space cozy, inviting, and livable,” she says.
With the intention of creating a “cozy mountain cottage,” she took a cue from the shiplap ceiling in the living space and introduced a similar finish throughout the house. When it came to selecting a color palette, it was easy for Katie to go with rich reds and browns—not only because they fit with the desired cozy mountain vibes but also because red is a favorite shade of the designer. “I love red,” Katie says. “I have a friend who has told me that my house is always one wreath away from being decorated for Christmas.
The warmth of the color palette is made cozier by the ample, varied textures used in the design, like the barnwood cabinets in the kitchen. While the couple originally considered all-white cabinets, the home’s rustic surroundings made it clear the choice would have been a mistake. “They’re only going to get better with age,” Katie says of the cabinets.
Throughout the home, Katie furnished spaces with pieces from her family and her childhood home in West Virginia. China given to Katie by her mother sets the dining table, and sconces crafted from snowshoes that Katie’s uncle gifted her when she was a child adorn one wall. “For me, it’s more meaningful,” Katie says. “It has history and a story to it.”
Downstairs, the Confers were faced with yet another puzzle—that of creating the ideal space for visiting friends and family. Despite the contractor’s hesitation, Katie knew that she wanted a guest suite that adjoined the family’s media room. “We opened up the windows and we added the texture of the shiplap ceilings and made the flow of the basement open up,” she says.
Just like in the rest of the home, it was a creative solution that resulted in a unique, welcoming experience for all who enter. To keep up with Katie’s design journey, visit her on Instagram at @thatgirlkatie_studio.