A Remote Wyoming Log Cabin Becomes a Dreamy Work-from-Home Hub
From her log cabin in rural Wyoming, Brooklyn transplant Stephanie Housley creates her woodland-themed pillow and textile collection, and relishes all that life on the range has to offer.
Embroidery and home textile artist Stephanie Housley made her first trip to Wyoming to visit Yellowstone National Park and the Teton mountains on a family vacation from her native Ohio when she was 5. She has only a couple of photos to mark the journey. But her eyes were opened to the possibility of living in an awe-inspiring landscape, and the impression the mountains left on her young mind was as big as the state itself. It was huge.
“You know when you have certain photos from your past that you love, and looking at them makes the memory feel more tangible?” says Housley. “You see them and you can remember how the sun felt. That’s how I felt about those Wyoming pictures.”
Later in life, after graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design, Housley worked for textile companies in New York, developing patterns and weaves for silk fabric mills. On a whim in 2008, she bought a professional embroidery machine—for $10,000—to experiment with at home in her Brooklyn apartment. Her goal was to make enough items to sell at Brooklyn Flea and small children’s shops like Acorn so she could recoup her investment.
“At the time, a lot of my friends were having babies,” says Housley. “And I would make these embroidered fabric-matching and memory games as a shower gift. It took hours and hours.”
When she sat down to sketch what she would stitch onto smooth, undyed linen, it was life in nature that inspired her. She drew feathers, canoes, bears, tents, and foxes in various anthropomorphized states, wearing overalls or a fishing cap. From her urban world, she channeled the woodland theme of birds, nests, and trees, and her work quickly transcended the children’s market because of its uniquely artistic aesthetic. If Wes Anderson were a pillow he’d be one of Housley’s pillows.
“Nature has always been the main inspiration behind our designs, whether that’s a depiction of an animal, its habitat, or general botanical themes,” she says.
High-end home goods icon John Derian caught wind of her creations. He placed a wholesale order, and Coral & Tusk, a line of intricately stitched pillows and home accessories, was born.
“I was working at my regular job during the day, and coming home and working on Coral & Tusk all night,” she says. “It was an 18-to-20 hour day.”
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On a work trip to India, she asked a friend to help her find a small factory with a machine that could handle the intricate work.
“We found one guy who had the right machine at the end of a dirt road, in an open garage. And that’s who I work with to this day,” she says.
Housley and her husband, Chris, who owns a small digital archival media business, loved their New York lives—to a point. They knew they didn’t want to have a family and move to the suburbs like so many of their friends, but something was missing: nature. The West was calling.
“Chris I have been together since we were teenagers, and we took a road trip out to Idaho and Wyoming when we were first together, at 17 and 18, that was really magical,” she says. “Years later, we were still curious about life there, and thought we’d look for a summer place.”
The hunt began for a home within an hour’s drive of the Jackson airport, so they could both hop on a plane and get back to their offices in New York without too much effort. They made a few unsuccessful trips over holidays and vacations, and then, in 2016, their real estate agent called them about a 30-year-old log cabin on 20 acres of rolling meadows, dotted with trees, that bordered forestland. There were views of three mountain ranges.
“We’re 45 minutes from the closest jug of milk,” says Housley. “And once we got here, we knew we would do whatever it took to stay there full-time. People said the winters were so hard, and we were like, ‘What does that look like? What does that mean?’”
They found out soon enough.
“Our first winter here there was record snowfall and tundra temperatures, the worst in 40 years,” she says. “It was more snow than I’d ever seen. We didn’t have a tractor or a backup generator, or a secondary heat source, but we figured it out.”
What they did have was the exact right aesthetic to make a rustic log cabin interior come to life. Housley’s textiles cover many of the surfaces, on upholstered chairs, in layers on warm, soft beds, and tacked onto the wall. It’s like the Three Bears’ cabin Goldilocks stumbles into and finds a “just right” place to rest.
The furniture is spare and rustic, a mix of new and vintage with simple, Shaker lines. The high ceilings and wall of windows looking out to their deck and the mountains beyond are the real stars of the show. Housley’s studio is filled with treasures she finds on her daily walks and trail runs: red-tailed hawk feathers, stones, shed antlers, and fallen leaves. She has become an avid birder, and spends her off-days exploring scenic drives and hikes, and all of the increasingly cosmopolitan restaurants and shops that nearby Jackson Hole has to offer.
“I love the wide open spaces,” she says. “There’s more sky than you have ever seen. Mountains suddenly emerge from the valley floor and the air smells of sagebrush and pine.”
The Housleys have become such figures in the local community that they joined the local volunteer fire brigade and get regular calls as first responders.
“The closest hospital that’s small and not very well-equipped is an hour away, and every vehicle accident that happens here is handled by firefighters. They’re the ones who do the extrication and stabilize the scene,” she says. “I had no idea what I signed up for when we started training. It’s been a very enriching thing, and a real challenge. We’re trained for wildfires and structure fires, but the majority of our calls are accidents, whether it’s heavy equipment, an ATV, or a car.”
Even with frigid, lonely winters and long days spent on the scene of accidents, the Housleys know that they’ve landed where they’re supposed to be.
“There’s so much to enjoy that’s right in front of you all the time,” says Housley, who credits her mother for showing her how to see “the magic in the really, really simple stuff.”
“I love finding something in nature that’s just sitting there waiting for you to enjoy it,” she says.