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The intrepid crusader is liberating shelter animals one adoption at a time.
PHOTOS BY George Kamper
Like so many of our EQ Living home visits, we were instructed to turn off the main road, pass through the security gate, and follow the long drive until we reached the house or barn. There is always a degree of anticipation about what we will discover at the end of the drive, and it was no different as we navigated our way towards the home of TV journalist, author, and renowned animal advocate Jill Rappaport. We had dipped and pitched our way along an undulating gravel drive into the dense woods of the Town of Southampton, New York. The forested property didn’t resemble anything like the Hamptons we knew, and upon sighting the cluster of Western-themed buildings at the top of the drive, it felt decidedly more like an authentic Western-cowboy enclave—in a tasteful, Ralph Lauren kind of way. It turns out Jill Rappaport is a frustrated cowgirl—a cowgirl with a vision and the skill set to creatively transform imagination into reality. All she needed was a pen and a paper napkin. Jill says, “I’ve always been obsessed with the West. I grew up in Michigan, but as a small child my family would always go to Tucson, Arizona, for all of our vacations, and we would stay on dude ranches.” She loves the whole Western lifestyle, extolling the appeal of Western riding, Navaho jewelry, cowboy hats, and boots. “I just love that whole feeling, and I tried to accomplish the authentic West with my house.”

The main house, known as Last Buck Ranch, was actually built in Montana by Pioneer Log Homes, but, Jill explains, “I actually drew it on a napkin. I had different pictures of country houses, and then I would elaborate with additional drawings on notepad paper. I would send the builder all these pieces of paper, and they would just laugh at me because I said, ‘You do thousands of log cabins; I don’t want this to look like a ski lodge. I want it to look like a country log home.’ I think I achieved it, and I’m very proud of it. I was involved in every element and did everything from designing to decorating,” Jill beams.The sprawling main house possesses a welcoming roundup of Ralph Lauren’s nod-to-the-West furnishings, rich layers of Western art and iconography, and a light touch of tongue-in-cheek cowboy kitsch. It’s inviting, beautifully crafted—right down to the intricate twig and branch railings—and boldly unique. Jill appreciates the Ralph Lauren aesthetic. She says, “He’s the one designer that has always stayed true to the authentic Americana image. So yes, of course, the house has a lot of Ralph Lauren influence and Ralph Lauren Home furniture, combined with Pendleton, which also does authentic West with beautiful fabrics.” Two particularly unique rooms include a guest room designed to be a cabin within a cabin, which might have been hokey but instead was dreamily inviting, and a home theater with origi-nally designed Western leather chairs. “I’m very proud of the house,” Jill smiles, “right down to the napkins.”

Read the whole story here: Jill Rappaport