A family’s Utah house translates sophisticated European style with rugged Western materials
Bryan Rowland & Susan Bednar Long
Connecticut designer Susan Bednar Long had never worked in Utah. But when her longtime clients Shauna and Eric Varvel asked her to take a look at their summer residence near Deer Valley, she was pleasantly surprised. “The house had a modern quality to it, which I really liked,” says Long, who honed her sophisticated sensibility working for Ralph Lauren before establishing her own firm, S.B. Long Interiors. “I knew I didn’t want to do anything hokey or in-your-face Western.”
The Varvels weren’t interested in that look either, and were hoping instead for an environment that reflected both their family ties to Utah and their years spent living abroad. “We decided we wanted it to feel like the house in the movie A River Runs Through It,” Long says. “The narrator’s Montana home was furnished with elegant English antiques and evidence of a well-traveled life in an otherwise rustic setting. That set the tone.”
That tone proved a good match for the structure itself. The Varvels worked with French-born, Swiss-trained and Park City-based residential designer Jean-Yves Lacroix of Lacroix Design, and they gave him a similar directive. “They didn’t want a traditional mountain home,” Lacroix says. “They wanted something more European with a lot of stone.” To honor that request, Lacroix devised an upside-down floor plan, placing the bedrooms on the first floor and the expansive public spaces above. He vaulted the ceilings for a feeling of loftiness and left the wood-and-metal ceiling assemblies exposed. “I don’t like to hide structural elements,” says Lacroix, who clad the house with a light-colored Utah limestone on the exterior façades and interior walls. “We wanted to give it the feel of a masonry-built home,” he adds. “What you see outside, you see inside.”
The stone backdrop provides a rich counterpoint to the tailored interiors. In the great room, Long divided the large space into intimate sitting areas, which she appointed by walking the line between a formal English aesthetic and textured mountain style. “Though plaid is very indicative of England, you could also imagine a cowboy wearing a plaid shirt,” she says. “Using things that are specific to both aesthetics ties it all together.” A leather Ralph Lauren sofa and armchairs covered with a Holland & Sherry tweed marry both influences, as does the pairing of a turned oak side table with a goatskin bench.
Long chose accessories that strike a similar balance. Leather flanges and buckles on pillows lend a Western touch, while clean-lined oil-rubbed bronze-and-leather lamps cut a modern silhouette. “It’s a push and pull,” Long says of the mix.
The breakfast room’s blue-and-red Navajo woven pillow fabric inspired the palette of the adjacent kitchen. For the kitchen cabinetry, the designer chose a military-blue hue and applied striae and umber techniques to the finish so that “it feels like it’s been around for awhile,” she says. The La Cornue range and copper pots suspended from a ceiling rack make the kitchen feel like “it could be in the south of France,” Long adds. That international motif is picked up again in the media room, where Long painted the wall paneling with Benjamin Moore’s Essex Green for an “English men’s club vibe.” Against the formal backdrop, she grouped a U-shaped leather sofa with an antique Bavarian antler chair and a vintage Ralph Lauren trunk.
Blue paneled walls define Eric Varvel’s office, where Long centered a dramatic antler chandelier above two hunter-green tufted-leather chairs and a zebra-skin ottoman. A painting Eric acquired while working in Singapore creates a striking focal point. “That painting is a departure from the West,” Long says. “And because the room feels kind of exotic, the zebra skin seemed an appropriate addition.”
In the master bedroom, Long’s point of reference turned back to the Continent. “The inspiration for that room was the Hotel Zur Tenne in Austria,” the designer says. “The hotel has a mountain feel, but there’s a softness to it.” Long translated that Tyrolean sensibility with a muted color palette and lots of texture. An embossed-leather headboard is crowned with a canopy of two coordinating wool fabrics, while an antler mirror plays off a Rococo-style bedside table. She arranged elegant nineteenth-century Spanish chargers on a grasscloth-covered wall and chose a leather studded chest of drawers for its “rustic yet refined” look.
The home’s artful blend of European influences, Western materials and the client’s own collected pieces creates an atmosphere that speaks to far-flung destinations while honoring its mountain locale. “Though well-traveled, this is a quintessentially American family,” Long says. “Their Utah roots run deep.”
“The goal was really to push the texture,” designer Susan Bednar Long says of her approach to creating the interiors of Eric and Shauna Varvel’s Deer Valley, Utah, house. “I wanted it to feel Western without looking so obvious.”
She accomplished this through a strategic use of materials. Long avoided using traditional hide rugs but covered ottomans in zebra hide or goatskin to hit the same note in a subtle way. She chose woods with character, like the wormy chestnut used in the mudroom, pantry and parts of the kitchen, to lend “a beautiful old feeling,” and worked with classic Western elements in surprisingly tailored ways. In the master bedroom, she topped an antler-base stool with rich cut-velvet and used an embossed leather from Rose Tarlow to upholster the headboard.
“It’s very much about using natural, tactile materials in a way that has a familiarity without being literal,” she says. “You don’t want your guests to say, ‘Oh, look at that saddle!’”
INTERIOR DESIGN Susan Bednar Long, S.B. Long Interiors, Inc., Greenwich, CT, 203-769-1030, sblonginteriors.com ARCHITECT Jean Yves Lacroix, Lacroix Design, Park City, UT, 435-645-7738 BUILDER Midway Construction, Heber City, UT, 435-503-2600, midwayconstruction.com DRAPES & WINDOW TREATMENTS Nellie’s Custom Upholstery, Taylorsville, UT, 801-261-2241 BOYS BEDROOM ARTWORK Horse sepia print, available through Natural Curiosities, Los Angeles, CA, 323-906-1083, naturalcuriosities.com BED Willow Bed by La Lune Collection, Milwaukee, WI, 414-263-5300, lalunecollection.com DESK Ebonized walnut writing desk with nickel hardware by Bausman & Co. Inc., Dallas, 214-744-0868 DESK CHAIR Vintage Dutch Art Deco chair, available through Pat McGann Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, 310-657-8708, patmcganngallery.com LAMP Hudson Column Lamp by Circa Lighting, circalighting.com BLANKET & SHAMS Chief stripe blanket and shams in tan/cream by Pendleton, pendleton.com DUVET Custom duvet in Metephores, Ranch Vieux cuir fabric by Jerry Pair Fine Furnishings, (212) 546-9001, jerrypair.com BREAKFAST ROOM STONE MANTLE FABRICATION Delta Stone, Heber City, UT, 435-654-3336, deltastoneproducts.com CABINETRY Reclaimed chestnut cabinetry by Cottonwood Cabinets, Draper, UT, 801-572-6550, cottonwoodcabinets.com PHOTOGRAPHS “The Last Cowboy” series by Adam Jahiel, Story, WY, 307-683-2862, adamjahiel.com COFFEE TABLE Custom design by Plantation Design, Los Angeles, CA, 310-392-6888, plantationdesign.com LEATHER CHAIRS Custom design by S.B. Long Interiors, sblonginteriors.com RUG Tufted Navajo area rug by New Moon Rugs, Wilmington, DE, 302-654-4095, newmoonrugs.com SOFA Ashmore Sofa by Handcock & Moore, available through Baker Furniture, New York, NY, 212-779-8810, bakerfurniture.com; upholstered in rawhide Java leather with seat cushions in shearling smoke PILLOW FABRIC Espiga blue by Andrew Martin, New York, NY, 212-688-4498, andrewmartin.co.uk GREAT ROOM JAPANESE ANCESTRAL PAINTINGS & OIL PAINTING Clients’ own collection BRONZE MOOSE SCULPTURE “The Lily Pond” by Sherry Salari Sander, Trailside Galleries, Jackson Hole, WY, 307-733-3186, trailsidegalleries.com SOFAS Aran Isles Sofa and Shelburne Sofa by Ralph Lauren, ralphlaurenhome.com HUNTER GREEN LEATHER/BRONZE LAMPS Custom design by York Street Studio, Woodbury, CT, 203-266-9000, yorkstreet.com ORIENTAL RUG Clients’ own collection SIDE TABLES Oak Cricket Table and Bobbin Side Table by Holland & Co., available through Lee Jofa, leejofa.com ARMCHAIRS Oliver Armchair by Ralph Lauren, ralphlaurenhome.com; upholstered in Holland & Sherry, Country Tweed, Angus COFFEE TABLE Custom round lacquered raffia coffee table by Harrison Van Horn, Los Angeles, CA, 323-263-7495, h-vh.com BENCH Goat Skin Neta Bench by Oly Studio, Berkeley, CA, 775-336-2100, olystudio.com KITCHEN CABINETRY Reclaimed chestnut and painted blue cabinetry, Cottonwood Cabinets, Draper, UT, 801-572-6550, cottonwoodcabinets.com BARSTOOLS Louis XIII Barstools by Formations, available through Holly Hunt, New York, NY, 212-891-2555, formationsusa.com; upholstered in Greylock and Paprika by Twill Textiles, Chicago, 312-828-0088, twilltextiles.com COUNTERTOPS & BACKSPLASH Brushed Petit granite, Midway Construction, midwayconstruction.com ROMAN SHADES Hopscotch and Vermillion fabric, Rogers & Goffigon, Greenwich, CT, 203-532-8068 RANGE HOOD La Cornue Range and Hood, black with stainless steel, lacornueusa.com SINKS Hammered copper farmhouse and undermount sinks, Nantucket Sinks, nantucketsinksusa.com WALL LIGHT French ceramic wall light by Hector Finch, available through Zoffany, New York, NY, 201-399-0500, hectorfinch.com MASTER BEDROOM CANOPY Custom design by S.B. Long Interiors, upholstered in Holland & Sherry Shetland beige and herringbone wool, and Andrew Martin Bruneau ivory wool LEATHER AND OAK HEADBOARD Custom design by S.B. Long Interiors, Rose Tarlow Diamond caramel, Holly Hunt Showroom, New York, NY, 212-755-6555 CHEST OF DRAWERS Dutch leather studded chest of drawers by Formations, Holly Hunt Showroom, New York, NY, 212-755-6555, formationsusa.com ANTLER MIRROR Manufactured by Crystal Farm, Redstone, CO, 970-963-2350, crystalfarm.com BEDSIDE TABLES Swedish Rococo bedside tables by Jasper Furniture, available through John Rosselli & Associates, New York, NY, 212-593-2060, johnrosselliassociates.com LAMPS Large Indian Baluster Lamps by John Rosselli, John Rosselli & Associates, New York, NY, 212-593-2060, johnrosselliassociates.com CABINET Olympia Cabinet by Formations, Holly Hunt Showroom, New York, NY, 212-755-6555, formationsusa.com ARMCHAIR Henley Oak and Rush Seat Armchair, Rose Tarlow Melrose House, Holly Hunt Showroom, New York, NY, 212-755-6555, rosetarlow.com WALLPAPER Ionian Sea Linen grass cloth wallpaper by Ralph Lauren, Ralph Lauren Home Collection, New York, NY, 212-583-2200, ralphlaurenhome.com OFFICE ASIAN OIL PAINTING Clients’ own collection LIGHT ABOVE PICTURE Urban Archaeology, New York, NY, 212-813-6863, urbanarchaeology.com RUG Clients’ own collection ANTLER CHANDELIER Crystal Farm, Redstone, CO, 970-963 2350, crystalfarm.com DESK Custom English executive desk by Bausman & Co. Inc., Dallas, TX, 214-744-0868 DESK LAMP Tall Longacre Desk Lamp by Aero Studios, New York, NY, 212-966-4700 CHAIRS Irish Coast Tub Chairs by Ralph Lauren, Ralph Lauren trade showroom, New York, NY, 212-583-2200, ralphlaurenhome.com OTTOMAN Zebra skin ottoman by Galart International, New York, NY, 212-213-3288, galartintl.com