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The Sun Valley Guide magazine is distributed free twice yearly to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area communities.

Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express newspaper will receive the Sun Valley Guide with their subscription.

Photos by Kirsten Shultx.

A place to party
Imagine having a space where people can dance, dine and mingle, without moving any furniture. Imagine a place in your backyard where caterers have a kitchen of their own, a wide wall upon which to present a buffet, and where bands have room to play. Imagine a party house. Text by
Dana DuGan. Photos by Kirsten Shultz.

If ever there was a place to let your id run wild, a party house is it. From a renovated barn to an entirely new building, structures built specifically for entertaining are the ultimate in luxury living.

If dinner parties are the primary goal of this specialist abode, a professional kitchen is a priority. If music is the thing, a great sound system and large dance floor are a must. Entertainment junkies might opt for a movie theater, and those with a yen for play and competition may envision a game room or even an indoor swimming pool. A party house, it almost goes without saying, should also have a good bar or beverage serving area. The specifications are as wide and varied as the entertainment goals. "You need a big enough area for more than a few people, good mood lighting, a focal point that doesn’t intrude, numerous hors d’oeuvres areas and ample options for standing and sitting," explains interior decorator Janis Gillett.

An example of an ultimate private party house exists in the mid-Wood River Valley. Owners Dan and Martine Drackett host numerous large charity events throughout the summer.

"We have a party every year for the biggest donors for the Sun Valley Summer Symphony and for the Sun Valley Center’s Wine Auction," said Dan, the Sun Valley Arts Foundation chairman emeritus. "We always had our fingers crossed for the weather, and the house didn’t lend itself to hosting such large parties."

The solution? Build a permanent party pavilion. The challenge? The main house and outer buildings on the Drackett’s rural property are reconstructed old barns, raised by the Barn People of Windsor, Vermont. So, they talked to their original architect, Charles Bultman, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, about building a structure shaped like a hay barn.

"We had always had an idea to have a backyard entertaining facility, as the Dracketts are involved in many organizations and were often hosting large parties," explained Bultman. "In the house, 250 people for a formal dinner was not possible. Their mantra is ‘honor the barn.’ Everything had to be about the barns, farmstead-like. So, a party barn needed to feel like it was part of the same thought."

The result is a steel barn-like structure, open on the sides to capture the views of the surrounding Smoky and Soldier mountains. Awnings hang along the length of the structure to provide additional shelter from the elements, the searing afternoon sun and gusts of wind that can whip through Greenhorn Gulch. Two gabled ends feature built-in fireplaces to provide warmth during the vagaries of Idaho’s weather. The structure, named Le Pavilion de Fête, is the perfect appellation as it honors the lady of the house, who is French. "One of the reasons this is successful is you can have a party there with 15 or a party with 250," said Bultman. "It doesn’t feel out of scale to have a small group. The materials are warm, with fine-grain details. It’s not like a hall; it has a lot of character."

This summer it will be used for another festivity: a wedding. "We have three daughters, and we thought it was a possibility that they’d be married in it." The perfect event for the perfect party house.