The King Eider Subdivision

A Rare Bird Indeed

Dubbe Moulder Architects- Jackson Hole House Blueprint

The King Eider duck is one of nature’s most magnificent and colorful waterfowl species. When the drake sports its breeding plumage, the head feathers and colors are nothing short of a rainbow. So, it’s not too surprising that the Rafter J King Eider subdivision derives its name from such a hearty and colorful species.

The wide, sweeping views of Munger Mountain, the Butler Creek drainage, the Mosquito Creek drainage, Indian Paintbrush, Glory Bowl, and then to the north, the Teton Mountain Range, Adams Canyon, and Horsethief Canyon, all harmonize the homes in the subdivision with everything that is alpine living. The 360-degree canvas of turning aspens in the fall, or snow-capped peaks in the spring and winter, or the endless summer sunshine gives the King Eider neighborhood some of the most sought-after mountain plumage for homeowners to enjoy.

Dubbe Moulder Architects-Jackson Hole House Exterior

But what really makes the King Eider neighborhood a rare bird is the affordability and design of the actual houses. The Rafter J Ranch is about 3.5 miles south of the Town Square in Jackson, Wyoming, and in the late ‘70s, it was a radical idea to build a subdivision so far away from where the antler arches now stand. But Jackson, even then, needed a place for the locals to live. The result was a subdivision set into what feels like the heart of the Jackson valley and a quintessential place for families to call home.

“The developer’s business model was simple. They wanted to create a “one-stop shop” kind of experience for folks, and this model worked very well.”
–Chris Moulder, Principal, Dubbe Moulder Architects

Rafter J is a subdivision with over 500 residences, including single-family homesites, townhouses, and condominiums. There is an extensive bike path system that connects all fingers of the subdivision to playgrounds, and walking trails, which also in turn are groomed cross-country skiing trails in the winter.

Dubbe Moulder Architects-Jackson Hole Kitchen, Living Room and Entry

The abundance of water and careful planning has kept Rafter J from feeling suburban and wholly wild. Birdwatchers can enjoy everything from ducks and geese, bald eagles, owls and osprey, herons and swans, to the smaller tanagers, swallows, orioles, and mountain bluebirds as well as a variety of hummingbirds, all of which reside in the area during the summer months. The occasional black bear and large cat make passes through the neighborhood, too.

“With Flat Creek meandering throughout Rafter J, feeding a number of ponds where people can fish for Cutthroat trout or float on a tube from one end of the subdivision to the other on hot summer days, it really is a wonderful, safe place for kids to grow up,” says principal and co-founder of Dubbe Moulder Architects (DMA), Chris Moulder.

The King Eider community is located in the northwest corner of the Rafter J subdivision. The original developer of King Eider was Too Buds Partners, comprised of Kasey Mateosky and Scott Shepherd. Creating sites for single family homes made the properties more valuable but also made it necessary to custom-design homes for each lot to maximize the square footage allowed on those lots and to take advantage of view potentials while shielding near scenes of neighboring properties.

Dubbe Moulder Architects-Jackson Hole Living Room

“The first home we designed was in 2013 and we have continued to design and complete another 14 homes in King Eider. DMA has had a successful relationship with both KM Construction and Summit Crest for a long time. They asked us to be involved with this development and we obliged. Together, we have worked effectively to create a wonderful, thriving neighborhood,” says Moulder.

The development group created a package for prospective owners that included the developer, a realtor, an architect, and a builder for a stipulated sum. Owners worked with the architect to design a custom home while receiving the efficiencies of working with one contractor who is subsequently building other custom homes on the neighboring lots, along with suppliers and subcontractors lined up and a firm idea of square footage costs.

“The developer’s business model was simple. They wanted to create a “one-stop shop” kind of experience for folks, and this model worked very well,” describes Moulder. Each project in King Eider has been specifically designed for the owner of the property as well as designed for the specific amenities of each lot, enabling every home design to be different and lending some unique character to the neighborhood. Moulder sees this as a big advantage for King Eider. “It would be unfortunate to only have two or three “ideas” from which to choose from and then march them up and down the street, mirroring and flip-flopping them in a weak attempt at creating an illusion of unique individuality,” he explains.

Dubbe Moulder Architects-Jackson Hole House Exterior 2

The sizes of the homes vary from 1,500 square feet to 2,400 square feet +/- of living plus a two-car garage. Each home has a 20-foot-wide driveway so parking for the most part, short of a party, is totally off the street. Most of the homes are 3 bedrooms, 2½ baths, although one of the houses is a 2-bedroom, 2-bath home and others have an added office area.

The inside of the homes’ designs have prioritized living in the mountains and living with a few people under one roof, especially the little ones. Moulder understands that designing any home in an environment such as Jackson Hole has certain basic requirements: protected entries and storage, to name a few.

Thus, the entries and mudrooms take into consideration these entry points into the home and where the basic outdoor items are either put on or taken off. Snowy boots are left to melt, wet hats and gloves are left to air out.

“But then comes storage for the fun stuff—ski hats, gloves, goggles, helmets, ski boots, skis and poles, fishing gear, hiking gear, bikes, kayaks, life vests…the list goes on. If children also inhabit the house, multiply by 100. Storage is key,” says Moulder. But storage also costs money to house all those toys. If proper storage isn’t thought about during design, a two-car garage quickly gets filled up and your cars will forever be parked in the driveway, he explains.

Dubbe Moulder Architects-Jackson Hole House Exterior 3

“The first home we designed was in 2013 and we have continued to design and complete another 14 homes in King Eider. DMA has had a successful relationship with both KM Construction and Summit Crest for a long time. They asked us to be involved with this development and we obliged. Together, we have worked effectively to create a wonderful, thriving neighborhood.”
–Chris Moulder, Principal, Dubbe Moulder Architects

Despite being one of the more populated neighborhoods in town, the call of the wild is never far away, according to Moulder. Surrounded by such amenities, wildlife in and around Rafter J is abundant. “Moose have made their homes in the willows and waterways of Flat Creek, which meanders through Rafter J. Coyotes and foxes can be heard yipping all night long in and among the cattle who also bellow during calving season.”

The next priority in design for DMA was creating comfortable spaces. According to Moulder, accounting for every square inch is a priority. Moulder explains how this is done, saying, “The trick is to convince the mind that you are experiencing a space that is greater than what it actually may be. We create each design incorporating high ceilings or vaulted spaces where possible with open floor plans which make the homes feel large. The kitchens all feature counter seating which give the owners optional places to dine or provide buffet space for entertaining.”

Details such as open staircases with metal rails or steel cables that you can see through add to an airy feeling, as do the white walls contrasted with the dark wood floors, which provide a feeling of richness. For DMA, creating an entry space was important to emphasize quality and design over just entering directly into a living room.

“In our smaller projects, we try to use properly-sized windows, particularly if there is any kind of a view to grab. Bringing the outside in and introducing natural light always makes a space feel more expansive,” says Moulder. The King Eider homes also all feature exterior decks and covered porches adjacent to living spaces, which tend to make the interior space feel larger.

Dubbe Moulder Architects-Jackson Hole Living Room 2

For Moulder, every property, regardless of how big or small, has its own very unique qualities which he pays attention to, especially bringing in elements of natural light and inviting the natural world as much as possible into the home.

“Allowing natural light into a space requires careful placement of windows, not just big picture windows but also finding the zen views, which may happen throughout the house, capturing the small distant view between houses of a mountain or a beautiful tree or other feature by way of framing it with a single small window. It’s always fun to account for and a treat to experience,” describes Moulder.

The King Eider subdivision was designed with locals in mind, creating a housing option that is smaller in scale and more cost-sensitive. DMA took into account how some austerity and smarter cost planning could be beneficial for a first-time homeowner. “We try to use readily available, cost-effective, standard materials and apply them in unique ways. Using vertical shiplap siding as well as beveled siding, metal, etc. on the outside along with a careful color palette can help to not only balance the proportion of the house but create an identity as well,” explains Moulder.

Allowing natural light into a space requires careful placement of windows, not just big picture windows but also finding the zen views, which may happen throughout the house, capturing the small distant view between houses of a mountain or a beautiful tree or other feature by way of framing it with a single small window. It’s always fun to account for and a treat to experience.”
–Chris Moulder, Principal, Dubbe Moulder Architects

DMA designed interiors which were initially presented to the owners as a baseline of finishes. Painted window and door trim, painted doors, allowances for carpeting, wood floors, ceramic tile, granite countertops, appliances, plumbing, and electrical fixtures and fittings, etc. were established by the developer. The kitchen and bathroom cabinets are from IKEA. These choices made up-front costs more manageable for the buyer. But by no means do these choices impact long-term design.

Dubbe Moulder Architects-Jackson Hole Bedroom

Unfortunately, there are no more open properties in King Eider. There are only two or three open lots left in all of Rafter J, according to Moulder. “The future of design and construction, not in only Rafter J but in other smaller subdivisions, will be in the constructing of additions and the remodeling of existing homes. There are a great many homes in need of not just updating, but deferred maintenance throughout our community.”

Rafter J is clearly one of the most robust neighborhoods in Jackson. But Moulder says that you’re still in the Tetons despite all the goings-on. He’s been living in Rafter J with his wife for 30 years and has watched the ebb and flow of development, and there’s no denying that people of all economic brackets need a place to live and should be able to build at least a version of their dream home. And though DMA has always been a full-service architectural firm committed to providing the highest level of design for all budgets, their extensive portfolio showcases not only large-scale exclusive homes and high-profile commercial projects but a vast array of more economically minded projects as well.

Moulder explains, “We understand the construction process. We respect budgets. We listen carefully to our clients. The King Eider model is a great one and we are now also involved with designing an entire street for another developer in Cottonwood Park. Stay tuned…Dubbe Moulder Architects doesn’t just work for developers; the vast majority of our work is primarily with private homeowners.”

“We understand the construction process. We respect budgets. We listen carefully to our clients. The King Eider model is a great one and we are now also involved with designing an entire street for another developer in Cottonwood Park. Stay tuned…”
–Chris Moulder, Principal, Dubbe Moulder Architects