Photo by Chris Pilaro
in the lodge
River Run Lodge, a Sun Valley couple builds their own elegant mountain
retreat. Words by Betsy Andrews. Photos by Chris Pilaro
It began with a broken
leg. Unable to ski for the winter, one part-time Sun Valley resident
whiled away the days at the base of Bald Mountain’s River Run while his
wife and guests enjoyed the mountain. By the time the break was mended,
says his wife, “He’d fallen in love with River Run Lodge.”
Paula and Darrell Rubel had already found a sunny mid-valley lot on
which to build a home that would graciously accommodate guests, children
and grandchildren. Darrell always wanted a log home, but Paula dreamed
of something more refined. “He told me, ‘If I can have a log house, then
the inside can be yours.’” The Rubels found common ground in River Run
Lodge’s union of massive logs and elegant, highly detailed
walnut-stained woodwork. They hired Ruscitto/Latham/Blanton Architecture
P.A., the firm responsible for the Sun Valley Resort base lodges, to
build their dream home.
antique inspired dining table provides a focal point to the home’s great
Nick Latham, a project architect on both buildings, found inspiration
for the Sun Valley ski lodges in the National Park Service lodges
designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood in the early- to mid-20th century.
With River Run Lodge, Latham had set out “to produce the highest quality
resort architecture that had ever been built, anywhere.” But his
challenge now was how to scale down such a design to make it a welcoming
It started with choosing the right logs. “One of the biggest design
challenges was getting the scale and proportion of the logs just right,
letting the owners feel comfortable and not overwhelmed by the scale,”
said Latham. “Logs too large, and the architecture can look awkward and
overbearing. Logs too small, and the design is too light and doesn’t
feel supportive and substantial.”
Twenty-four-inch diameter load-bearing posts, courtesy of Montana Idaho
Log Homes, support an expansive loft overlooking the great room—which
includes the living room and dining area—and its wall-sized views of the
valley. Slightly smaller logs make up the walls, which rise to a 25-foot
peaked roof supported by 30-foot trusses.
entryway echoes the building that inspired the creation of this home,
Sun Valley Resort’s River Run Lodge.
The home site is blessed
with long southern and northern exposures. “We wanted to produce
architecture that took advantage of the views and the light,” explained
Latham. On the ground floor, the great room is central, with ambient
light washing over it from the north-facing floor-to-ceiling paned
windows, which provide 180-degree views of rolling greens and the
mountains beyond. Summertime brings bursts of color into the foreground,
as 37 cast-concrete urns overflow with hundreds of carmine geraniums
mingled with blue and white petunias. A generous fireplace with a dark,
carved wood mantel rises majestically against the north wall, visually
anchoring the stunning vista with its artful arrangement of smooth,
dove-toned river rocks.
With its soaring ceiling,
the room’s scale might overwhelm the senses, except for the clever
ministrations of architect and interior designer Lauren Tyler of Osborne
Tyler Design Inc., who worked with the Rubels to create a feeling of two
separate spaces within the vast interior. By positioning an intimate
grouping of small, comfortable sofas and soft armchairs around the
hearth, Tyler distinguished the living room area. A simple iron
chandelier neatly centers the dining area, and as a bonus, draws the eye
down to Paula’s prize find: a 12-foot-long, antique-inspired dining
table, designed by Mike Bell—an internationally renowned master of
English and French reproductions. The floor’s wide planks of oiled,
antique oak barn wood, the color of molasses mixed with honey, offset
the table’s handsome presence, while contrasting with the pale pine
logs, which in turn amplify the sun-drenched tones of the plaster on
Lowered ceilings in the kitchen impart a cozy feel—although the room is
large enough to easily accommodate a 10-by-4-foot island, lined with bar
stools for informal dining. Recessed and track lighting softly
illuminates the expanses of walnut-stained alder cabinetry as well as
the island’s countertop composed of a single slab of dark green and
black-veined Utah granite.
Pale pine logs
litter the structure, amplifying the sun-drenched tones of the interior
The west end of the
structure houses an enclosed master suite, which includes an office. To
the east, the great room opens into the kitchen. A cheerful, casual
sunny breakfast room takes advantage of the morning sun and boasts its
own river-rock fireplace and family-sized dining table. The south-facing
entryway rises to high clerestory windows in the gable, which floods the
centrally located stairway with natural light. Ornately milled newel
posts and banisters on the stairway, created onsite and augmented by
patinated bronze detailing, look like more delicate versions of their
River Run counterparts.
Practical features of the home include a mudroom with built-in
floor-to-ceiling cubbyholes and a wine cellar located off the basement
under the portico, where it remains the optimum temperature year-round.
A bath and shower room off the mudroom was designed for bathing a large
dog, although a large dog has yet to make an appearance—the resident
Cavalier King Charles spaniel gets bathed in the laundry room sink.
The quirks of building with logs result in some of the home’s most
charming features: a trapezoidal pantry and a triangular broom closet.
It brings bonuses, too: dead space under the eaves became an unplanned
rumpus room. “Our five little grandchildren and their dog camp out here.
They love it,” said Paula.
Another favorite feature is a sun porch nestled against the south wall
of the master suite. Protected from the wind, it collects the heat of
the day even in the middle of winter, and today—10 years after the home
was inspired by not skiing—it offers a perfect spot to enjoy a glass of
wine after a day on the slopes.
LOCAL COMPANIES WHO HELPED CREATE THIS HOME
Ruscitto/Latham/Blanton Architecture P.A., Ketchum, 726-5608.
Interior Design: Lauren Tyler: Osborne Tyler Design Inc., Sun
Valley, 726-4838. General Contractor: Sawtooth Construction,
Inc., Ketchum, 726-9070. Cabinetry: Treasure Valley Woodworking,
Boise, (208) 378-1165. Plaster: Base Mountain Plaster, Picabo.
Hardware: Rocky Mountain Hardware, Ketchum, 726-2345. Windows:
Peak Glass, Ketchum, 726-1840. Doors: Wood River Door Company,
Hailey, 788-8555. Fireplace: Don Fraser, Wood River Masonry,
Hailey, 788-3304. Floor Installation: Rob’s R & R Hardwood
Floors, Bellevue, 788-3320. Tile: Cassile Granite and Tile &
Matt’s Tile and Stone, Hailey, 578-0311. Electric: Pace Electric,
Hailey, 788-9712. Plumbing: Idaho Custom Plumbing, Ketchum,
726-8483. Glass: Glass Masters, Ketchum, 726-1420. Landscape
Design: Richard Emmick. Landscaping: Webb Landscape, Ketchum,
726-7213. Security: Sentinel Fire and Security, Ketchum,
726-4788. Radiant Heating: Professional Radiant Systems LLC,
Bellevue, 788-4979. HVAC: Dane Sheet Metal and Heating, Ketchum,
726-9332. Appliances: Fisher Appliances, Ketchum, 726-2622.
Closets: The Closet Company, Ketchum, 726-7517. Theater: Home
Media Inc., Ketchum, 725-0075.