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At One with the Land

Photography: ROGER WADE

In Ketchum, a Bold House Defies Convention and Makes a Statement of Its Own.

It has been said that there are more architects per capita in Sun Valley, Idaho, than anywhere else in the world. And while this claim could be put down to altitude-induced hyperbole, the area’ appeal is undeniable. Situated in the heart of the Idaho Rockies, it is surrounded by high peaks and blessed with clear, dry air. It’ no wonder that businessman Averell Harriman chose the spot to build his great American ski resort in 1935.

A love of the outdoors first lured a Seattle couple with four children to the region. The wife had dreamed of a log cabin on a river until her husband, who had in mind something decidedly more modern, discovered a seven-and-a-half-acre lot on a hill a stone’ throw from downtown Ketchum. The vision evolved into a house atop a ridge, but the city’ strict height requirements sent the couple and their architect, Jim McLaughlin, back to the drawing board. “Our challenge was to take advantage of the views and still stay within the setbacks,” says McLaughlin, who sought to create a house that would be contemporary yet wholly appropriate to its mountain setting. “The result is a unique home that tucks nicely into the hillside.”