by Cassidy Mantor
Interior design is an ethereal and complex art. At the most basic level, an interior designer produces the end-product of a room accessorized with tastefully appointed furnishings. A more sophisticated aspect of interior design involves the intentional mood-setting of a space. Designers frequently reference the idea that good design is not a particular style or object, but it is instead identified when one enters a room or building and it feels good. There isn’t one specific element that can be pinpointed but in its totality, the vibe is right. The space flows with joy.
That intangible essence of “just feeling good” was too elusive for WHJ. We wanted to get a better understanding of what exactly makes for good interior design. As such, we interviewed four designers who work throughout the West to get a closer look at how they approach their projects. From fashion to the natural environment, learn more about these designers’ methodologies and how they craft unique spaces for their clients:
1- The Picket Fence Interior Design, Ketchum, Idaho
“Our area is geared toward experiences, and whether it’s outdoor adventures, concerts, or art exhibits, we have a little bit for everyone to enjoy, and we allow our interior design to reflect that, coordinating with local galleries to source art, and providing materials and stain-resistant fabrics that allow our clients to live as hard as they play.”
2- Colton Martini, Camp Martini, Whitefish & Missoula, Montana
“Growing up, I always appreciated coming home to a space that reflected my family’s ideal of comfort.”
3- Anne Buresh, Anne Buresh Interior Design, Jackson, Wyoming, & Charlotte, North Carolina
“Design is about the mood and how a room makes you feel. We seek a duality between soft and bold, between yin and yang. We strive to design spaces where people feel comfortable and relaxed – where you can kick your feet up, enjoy each other’s company, and share a toast to the beauty of life.”
4- Elizabeth Ellis, Elizabeth Ellis Interior Design, Ketchum, Idaho
“My client’s happiness is of the utmost importance to me, so I interpret their style and use my expertise and experience to deliver a solution that accentuates their intentions.”
5- Hunter Dominick, Hunter & Company, Whitefish, Montana
“Your environment has an effect on how you function and feel. It’s deeply rewarding to help people accomplish their goals by making their spaces function in a manner that best reflects their lifestyles”.
6- Sarah Latham, Latham Interiors, Ketchum, Idaho
“Interior design is like adding color to a black and white drawing. Or picking the ingredients in a delicious cake. You may not like carrot cake but when we add the fig jam and sprinkle walnuts with the cream cheese frosting you may not have ever realized how enjoyable it is.”
1- The Picket Fence
The Picket Fence Interior Design Studio, located in the Galleria Building in downtown Ketchum, is an extension of The Picket Fence home décor and furniture store nestled in northeast Ketchum. The firm is known for its ability to couple mountain modern design with transitional elements to bring a home to life. The team takes the project from the construction and planning stages to selections, procurement, and installation.
The Design Studio is made up of three talented designers and a project manager with diverse design backgrounds and experiences. Designer Erika Blank says, “We love working with clients, whether they are designing a dream home that they will live in year-round and be inspired by on an ongoing basis, or creating a second home that will become a mountain retreat.”
Together, the team works with clients to explore their individual tastes and lifestyle needs to create tailored designs for beautiful and functional spaces. They routinely design fresh and modern homes with classic elements that never go out of style. Through their interior design training in Utah, New York City, Idaho, and Dallas, they have become masters at introducing new vendors and styles to the mountain community. Every project is unique while still feeling like home. In the last couple of years, their projects have been taken to a new level through 3D renderings and visualization.
Many of The Picket Fence Interior Design Studio’s clients rely on remote design to complete their projects. Accordingly, they offer creative presentations that give their clients the same understanding as they would have with an in-person experience. When Designer Lexy Jones joined the team in 2020, she began doing 3D renderings for the firm. “The 3D visualization really helps our clients see the materials and finishes on a larger scale, not just on tiny sample,” she says. In the past year, her talents have been utilized beyond remote design. Many local clients are using the 3D renderings to feel more confident when making decisions on flooring, tile, kitchen layout, and furniture.
Not all of the studio’s projects are new construction or remodels. Project Manager Killarney Loufek explains, “Many clients are looking to update their homes with livable yet welcoming furnishings. A typical day in Sun Valley includes an outdoor activity such as skiing, hiking, mountain biking, or fly fishing along with an evening entertaining friends or having a glass of wine with the family. Creating a home that feels comfortable enough to relax in after a day in the outdoors and polished enough to entertain is top of mind for us.”
“Creating a home that feels comfortable enough to relax in after a day in the outdoors and polished enough to entertain is top of mind for us.”
–Erika Blank, The Picket Fence Interior Design
The Picket Fence Interior Design Studio accomplishes this balance by partnering with high-quality furniture designers and constantly sourcing the newest fabrics. Most of the furniture pieces in their projects are made in the United States from real, sustainable, and handmade materials, customized with performance fabrics. Performance fabric technology has come a long way in the past few years, and they have curated selections of fabrics that can withstand the Sun Valley lifestyle while still having the welcoming look and feel of a mountain home.
Erika adds, “Our area is geared toward experiences, and whether it’s outdoor adventures, concerts, or art exhibits, we have a little bit for everyone to enjoy, and we allow our interior design to reflect that, coordinating with local galleries to source art, and providing materials and stain-resistant fabrics that allow our clients to live as hard as they play. After all, it’s not just about a beautiful space, it’s how you live in it.”
2- Colton Martini
Colton Martini still has two blue and white davenports that his grandmother upholstered in the ‘70s. They have a delicate bird print and he says that they remind him of feeling serene in his childhood home in eastern Montana. Colton grew up on a ranch in an artistically-inclined family. His parents were creative and his sister is a jewelry designer. When it was time for him to go to school, he chose architecture as a discipline that allowed for form to be equally as important as function. Colton’s goal, then and now, was to study and celebrate the art of self-expression through personal style.
Originally founded as a Whitefish, Montana, business, Camp Martini now has offices in Lakeside and Missoula, Montana, and currently works on projects throughout western Montana. Colton leads his team to design spaces that are gorgeous and yet luxuriously functional. Camp Martini draws from a combination of history, travel, nature, and experiences unique to owners and their visions.
“Growing up, I always appreciated coming home to a space that reflected my family’s ideal of comfort,” Colton shares. “That energy resonated with me immediately, and I also was receptive to when I was at someone else’s house and the space didn’t work. Things would be in disarray and it didn’t feel comfortable to me. My thought was always, ‘If you made this change, it would feel so much better.’” Martini is always conscious to include timeless elements, however, so the designs can endure.
Camp Martini engages a streamlined project management system that enables efficiency on the back end, while communicating with willing clients who want to see the processes in real time. Sometimes the end result for the client is smart, stylish, and fun. Sometimes it’s all about the comfort and coziness of the homesite’s Montana environment.
“People always ask me, ‘What’s your style?’” Colton says. “I offer more of an insight into personality than one particular style. Our clients trust that we’ll bring a well-researched and organized perspective on trends and design, but they work with us for the way we capture their personalities and align them to the energy of the spaces.”
“A particular piece of clothing may be flattering on you but not on the next person. Similarly, you can transform a room that is a gray box into something stunning with the right furniture like a butterfly chair, a cowhide rug, and a great piece of art”.
–Colton Martini, Camp Martini
A fashion lover, Colton likens interior design to sartorial self-expression. He inspires his team to see the world through their clients’ eyes, asking questions such as, “What does our client’s clothing say about how they present themselves and how they want to be interacted with?” or, “Are they a lululemon and Patagonia-wearing type who wants to be comfortable, or are they more of an Iris Apfel layered worldly-chic type?”
In addition to obtaining a degree in architecture from Montana State University, Colton also studied psychology, anthropology, and Native American studies at the University of Montana. His formal education helps him integrate into the minds of his clients and develop an organic and holistic understanding of who they are and what their spaces need to be authentic and aligned with their purpose. “We infuse our taste and expertise into the project and then let them guide the process,” Colton says, “We want to make spaces meaningful for the owners.”
A space designed by Camp Martini offers the experience of stepping into a world of functional art. Style and creativity are celebrated in everyday life. “Your home or office is where you spend all of your time,” Colton says. “It should be comfortable and reflect you, whether you’re an extrovert or someone who needs a starker environment to thrive. It’s about what makes that space personal to you.” Drawing upon his inspiration from fashion, Colton explains why Camp Martini’s designs are so intimate. “A particular piece of clothing may be flattering on you but not on the next person. Similarly, you can transform a room that is a gray box into something stunning with the right furniture like a butterfly chair, a cowhide rug, and a great piece of art. Like getting dressed well, the key is tapping into one’s personal expectations of the space and knowing what will make it look good.”
Many clients request timeless design from Camp Martini, something Colton is well-versed in creating. He says, “Timeless design means incorporating trends in a way that can be appreciated because they’re what everyone is inspired by on Pinterest boards now, but that will also stand the test of time. It’s about using classic materials in a contemporary way.”
Colton’s authenticity and creative instinct can be summed up by his well-loved Lindsey Thornburg Pendleton coat. A Montana-born and New York-based fashion designer, Lindsey Thornburg was the first brand that was granted permission to cut into the iconic Pendleton blankets that represent northwestern Native American history and are part of the region’s aesthetic. He adds, “I appreciate the refined look of Ralph Lauren and high-end designers, but growing up on a ranch, I also lean toward a more rugged western identity and functional style.”
3- Anne Buresh
Anne Buresh, owner of Anne Buresh Interior Design, transforms spaces into well-appointed retreats for gathering. Anne’s signature style blends a sophisticated color palette influenced by the environment with a global aesthetic sensibility. With decades of experience designing from coast to coast, Anne’s designs are functional, warm, and elegant.
“Design is about the mood and how a room makes you feel,” she says. That mood was something she was introduced to at an early age. Design runs in her family – her grandmother was a decorator who grew up and lived in a historical home that once belonged to William R. Davie, North Carolina’s 10th governor and one of the founders of the University of North Carolina. As a child, Buresh remembers visiting her grandmother and flipping through her design books of wallpaper and fabrics.
“My grandmother would travel to New York or Paris and bring pieces back for her home at a time when people didn’t do that. I grew up with antiques. When my father built my childhood home, he repurposed mantels, floors, brick. I grew up knowing the fine foundations and the importance of architectural ‘good bones’ of a home. I always knew we could add moulding or a beautiful paint color to make a space elegant and inviting, giving it new life.”
Anne’s point of view as a designer today is rooted in the fond family memories and comfort of her childhood home. She creates spaces fit for both daily life and also special occasions. They are sophisticated and elegant and are authentic to her legacy of celebrating the relationship between the environment and the people who use the space.
Anne is a seasoned designer, and her spaces encourage guests to relax, escape, and connect with the beauty of the outdoors. Her design takes a different approach than what’s traditionally seen in Jackson but embodies touches that the locals here have.
She has a sophisticated eye for detail that results in a thoughtfully curated and refined look. She uses elements including hand-painted wallpaper and contrasting textures and traces of colors and tonality to tell the story of a well-traveled life.
“We seek a duality between soft and bold, between yin and yang,” Buresh says of her work. That perspective makes for a worldly and organic design statement. She blends artisanal handcrafted woven wood chairs with custom sofas with linear silhouettes upholstered in crisp, white silk-linen blends. Dark metal accents and accessories serve as a more rugged counterpoint to the softer elements and give a balance to the materials and textures. “We strive to design spaces where people feel comfortable and relaxed – where you can kick your feet up, enjoy each other’s company, and share a toast to the beauty of life,” she adds.
“One person’s life has so many layers. Travel opens doors and allows us to understand new ideas and become receptive to new inspiration. Designing from a worldly perspective is so important because it honors a person’s history, preferences, and influences.”
–Anne Buresh, Anne Buresh Interior Design
Celebrating authentic relationships and creating community is critical to Buresh’s work. “The relationships we’ve formed working from the East Coast to Jackson have opened our eyes to many new perspectives that we incorporate into our designs,” she reflects. “We work with local artists and artisans, such as Kauffman Company in Charlotte, North Carolina. Being able to expand our radius exponentially grows our frame of reference and lets us work, in a sense, outside the box. We’re grateful for the support we’ve received and value our relationships as we expand and continue to bring our vision to life.”
Buresh’s global design perspective reflects a greater awareness that our lives are not linear. “One person’s life has so many layers,” she articulates. “Travel opens doors and allows us to understand new ideas and become receptive to new inspiration. Designing from a worldly perspective is so important because it honors a person’s history, preferences, and influences.”
Accordingly, Buresh’s interior design celebrates the disparate parts and pieces that make up an individual’s life and ties them together for a unified and authentic story. Her spaces cultivate emotions and feelings that resonate when one’s life experiences are expressed through design.
ABID has studios in both Jackson and Charlotte, North Carolina. The firm designs for a lifestyle that celebrates a global perspective, community, and the outdoor environment.
4- Elizabeth Ellis
Creating amazing designs is one feat, but producing them in a timely and effective manner is another. Elizabeth Ellis Interior Design uses the best technology available to bring pleasing designs to its clients in Sun Valley and throughout the West. “My client’s happiness is of the utmost importance to me, so I interpret their style and use my expertise and experience to deliver a solution that accentuates their intentions,” Ellis says of her firm’s approach.
Ellis thinks outside the box and produces unexpected and exciting designs. Her perspective is informed by her experience living and working abroad. Australian beach style with open, clean spaces and lots of white influences her personally. Professionally, she prefers not to pigeon-hole her designs into a particular style, instead working with each client to provide a perfect look and feel for them.
Clients can expect a refreshing process that is streamlined in large part with technology. Some of the software and hardware Elizabeth Ellis Interior Design uses include a Matterport camera for scanning existing spaces to produce point clouds, BIM authoring tools that allow the team to work collaboratively on a central digital model, 3D viewing apps that enable the client and contractor to walk through the building on their mobile devices and view all the construction documents, virtual reality headsets for the ultimate immersive experience, and augmented reality for clients to see furniture pieces in their spaces before they’re built. End-to-end, the studio has carefully curated its systems and resources to create an efficient experience that wows clients as a standard part of their service. Ellis says, “It’s fun when clients say they don’t need all the technology, but their jaws hit the ground when they see their new home in virtual reality. It helps us do our best work, and their amazement at seeing these visuals never gets old!”
“It’s fun when clients say they don’t need all the technology, but their jaws hit the ground when they see their new home in virtual reality. It helps us do our best work, and their amazement at seeing these visuals never gets old!”
–Elizabeth Ellis, Elizabeth Ellis Interior Design
The studio has received national recognition. They’ve hosted noteworthy webinars highlighting how they push the boundaries of their processes and use of technology. “Building relationships with local architects and contractors makes for a strong sense of community,” Ellis says. “I relish the opportunity to work with such talented and driven professionals.”
Elizabeth Ellis Interior Design was founded in January 2021 and has grown quickly. The team is globally distributed, with a few working in the office and the rest working remotely, some in other countries. “We operate like a well-oiled machine,” Ellis says. She adds, “The team is a joy to work with, and it’s so rewarding to see them embrace the bleeding-edge processes of the business.”
Clients can expect Ellis’ global business perspective and life experience to factor into their designs. Ketchum, Sun Valley, and the Wood River Valley are near and dear to her heart. Still, her portfolio also includes a variety of residential and commercial projects in Montana, California, and Nevada. “I love working on projects anywhere,” she says. “There are a lot of design opportunities in Bend and the Flathead Valley that I’d like to be involved in as those towns continue to grow.”
Elizabeth Ellis Interior Design was recently honored with a Best in the Valley award. “It was a wonderful surprise, having only been in business for a little over a year,” Ellis says. Of course, ecstatic clients are the biggest reward of all. “My favorite part of work, in general, is building my team and making clients happy,” she continues. The firm’s services include space planning and furniture packages, some of Ellis’s favorite offerings. She adds, “I also love to design furniture, so watch this space!” Visit their new office located at 220 N East Avenue in downtown Ketchum, directly above the UPS store for more information.
5- Hunter Dominick
Hunter Dominick, owner and principal designer of Whitefish, Montana-based Hunter & Company, grew up in an extremely creative environment in southwestern Virginia. Her father was an interior designer and her mother was a painter. From a young age, Hunter was encouraged to interpret her surroundings and finds it exciting to translate that into a home’s design. “Nature’s palettes – like a particular green from tamarack trees – transfer well into homes,” she says.
Hunter loves to incorporate antiques, color, and texture into her work and gravitates toward high-texture fabrics like boucles and layers of tactile materials. Often clients will start with a particular piece of furniture that the team builds upon. Hunter highlights one of her team’s recent projects that started with a lime green heirloom Knoll sofa destined to be placed in a rustic timber frame guesthouse. Hunter & Company wove in fuschia amid more traditional plaid chairs. With its chrome feet, the sofa became an unexpected art deco element that offered a cozy sense of nostalgia.
Hunter & Company addresses their clients’ needs and wants through the lens of interior architecture, millwork, appliances, colors, cabinets, and lighting. The firm takes time to understand its clients’ visions and translate them into design selections. Once that initial concept is created, clients explore furniture, lighting, fabrics, bedding, drapery, and treatments to further define their home’s story.
Clients can expect an interactive design journey when working with Hunter & Company, regardless of whether they are local and can meet in person or whether they live out of town and are building remotely. “It can be extremely intimidating to build a home of this caliber from a distance,” Hunter says. “Clients find we can be their feet on the ground and that we can alleviate a certain amount of stress in the building process.”
“People gather, forge relationships, and create memories in the kitchen. It’s still the heart of the home even if you’re not actively cooking.”
–Hunter Dominick, Hunter & Company
Space planning and function are key to Hunter & Company’s interior design ethos. Hunter studied interior design at Virginia Commonwealth University at a time when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) had just been enacted. Hunter reflects that the ADA proved to be influential in her career as a designer, both commercially and also personally. She is highly attuned to comfort and accessibility.
“What feels good is typically the right thing to do,” Hunter says. “The scale has to be correct for the project to work. The melding of aesthetic and scale makes a project successful.” The team applies that framework to guide clients through the space planning process as they make design decisions that will serve them well. They discuss questions such as whether a home should have wider door frames or possibly zero transition showers.
Hunter & Company defines good design as that which integrates lifestyle elements with functional criteria. Hunter says she loves designing kitchens because they are the most functional area of the home – even for people who don’t cook. “People gather, forge relationships, and create memories in the kitchen. It’s still the heart of the home even if you’re not actively cooking,” she adds.
While Hunter calls her own style very eclectic, it is layered over a keen eye for style and ease. She leads her team to be client-focused and design without a preconceived agenda. They approach each project with an openness that comes from looking at spaces with a fresh set of eyes. “I love working with people and learning about their lives,” Hunter says. “Your environment has an effect on how you function and feel. It’s deeply rewarding to help people accomplish their goals by making their spaces function in a manner that best reflects their lifestyles.”
6- Sarah Latham
A well-designed space is unique to the owner’s needs and addresses the daily and long-term functions that are utilized within it. Sarah Latham, principal at Latham Interiors, artfully embraces the endless possibilities and daily challenges inherent in interior design, and she choreographs immaculately elegant spaces that help clients thrive. “Design isn’t stagnant,” she says. “It’s a creative and fluid process that we are constantly learning from and absorbing.”
Latham leads her passionate team of designers to incorporate quality and customization that is unique to each project. Their work is refined, elegant, natural, and timeless and is featured in homes from Sun Valley to Seattle, Los Angeles to New York. Latham says, “We have a playfulness to our design with the multi-generational families we design for.” As they design for the whole home, Latham says that picking a favorite room to design is like asking if they have a favorite child. “It’s amazing how much fun a laundry room can be when using the right tiles, cabinet colors, or flooring. Or how elegant a kitchen can be with the right fixtures.” Lately, children’s rooms have been particularly enjoyable because they are always playful and creative. Sarah explains, “We stick to a base of natural and clean elements that can be added to or built upon as the owners change and grow.”
Latham and her team glean inspiration from numerous sources. They recently returned from three design events in Paris where they visited with international companies and local craftspeople and scoured unique flea markets. They toured museums and enjoyed food in cafés while they absorbed the architecture and elements around them. Closer to home, they fill their passion for design by attending design events, conducting extensive research, meeting with vendors and local craftspeople, and breathing in the mountain air. Their community is full of talented individuals who make Sun Valley a premier destination for quality design.
“Design isn’t stagnant. It’s a creative & fluid process that we are constantly learning from & absorbing.”
–Sarah Latham, Latham Interiors
Clients hire Latham Interiors to tap into their extensive knowledge and professional experience in interior design. With a mix of backgrounds on their staff, they leverage the diverse individual strengths of their team to benefit each aspect of design. Clients can expect Latham Interiors to guide them through the entire design/build process and to complete it beyond their satisfaction.
As they put together spaces, the firm analyzes the effect their selections will have on the overall design. “We spend a lot of time with homeowners to get to know their living preferences,” Latham says. “Are they art curators or do they want simple everyday living?” That type of information informs their approach and whether they will incorporate certain aesthetics such as curves or thick boucle fabrics. “Those features were considered outdated styles not too long ago, but are now being revived and absorbed into more current designs again,” Latham explains. “When I see glass block on a project in our area I can immediately tell that it was built in the ‘80s, but something that is considered a trend for one viewer could be considered timeless to another.”
Latham explains the power of her firm’s work, saying, “Interior design is like adding color to a black and white drawing. Or picking the ingredients in a delicious cake. You may not like carrot cake but when we add the fig jam and sprinkle walnuts with the cream cheese frosting you may not have ever realized how enjoyable it is. It’s the textures, spatial layouts, finishes, fabrics, lighting, plumbing selections in a space that can make all the difference.”
Design in the American West remains an ever-evolving open palette, where its influences are as eclectic as its people. WHJ has introduced you to four top interior designers who borrow, blend, select, and distill from all that inspires us—from indigenous crafts to Old World prints, from the log cabins built on the frontier to the sleek offices for the remote tech worker, and from the sandy bottoms of fly fishing streams to the jagged tips of the Rocky Mountains. One size doesn’t fit all and each designer creates spaces that, in their totality, result in a feeling, vibe, and mood desired by the people who inhabit them.