A Modern Home With Rustic Materials
Historical remnants and Old World techniques anchor a contemporary Park City home
The home is perched on a hillside, surrounded by ponds and reflected in infinity pools, but the first thing anyone notices is the massive red marbled steel door, faded like it has been out in the weather for 100 years.
Behind that door, an interior full of color and light. Tall windows frame the Wasatch Mountains, Park City Mountain Resort and the Canyons. The views change minute by minute depending on nature’s many moods.
This is exactly what the homeowner, a long-time Park City resident, envisioned: “Something unique … reminiscent of a structure that could have been on this land for 100-plus years and that is now incorporated into a modern design,” he says.
He particularly liked the homes designed by Paul Bertelli, design principal of Bozeman, Montana-based JLF Architects. “Historically, JLF has done amazing things with reclaimed wood and remnant walls,” says the homeowner, “but I wanted a little more of a contemporary touch.”
Paul Bertelli remembers that first meeting. “He asked me if I could do a ‘Paul Bertelli modern.’”
Serendipitously, this meeting happened just as JLF was considering shifting its design paradigm in a slightly different direction.
After working for many years within classical and regional forms, Bertelli was ready for a change. He was up for the challenge of creating a contemporary work of architecture—lighter, simpler lines—anchored by rich, textured historical materials. “So, when the homeowner asked, we answered with a hearty ‘yes, indeed!’”
And that’s how the “homeowner-instigated adventure” started. Architect Tyler Call, formerly with JLF, was tasked with implementing and supervising the work.
It took a year of planning—schematics, construction documents, permits and the hiring of subcontractors—and two years to build the three-level, four-bedroom, four-bath (plus two powder rooms) house. “We collaborate, engaging subcontractors, craftspeople, engineers, the landscape architect and interior designer early in the process,” says Bertelli.
To honor the spirit of Utah’s early homesteaders, when, as Bertelli says, “one man with an ax and a horse built a home for his family,” the 8,500-square-foot home was designed to look like a cluster of smaller structures. They are connected by glass corridors from which other buildings are visible, reinforcing the contrast between modernistic and rustic forms.
Because Bertelli is one of the pioneers in using reclaimed building materials, he specified reclaimed corral board for the siding. The boards were applied vertically, not only to make the siding more weatherproof but also to preserve the original edges and corners for a more aesthetic finish.
The “ruined” walls were constructed from Montana moss rock. Stone masons built the two-foot-thick walls to look as if they’d been there for a century—and then deconstructed them in the way in which they might have crumbled over time. “Sometimes it took more than once to get it right,” says Russ Davis, of Park City-based Big-D Signature, who was senior project manager during construction.
Verdone Landscape Architects, based in Jackson, Wyoming, is well known for creating sculptural water features. “Rivers, ponds, flowing water … are an important part of the western landscape,” says Verdone. He used water and natural plantings to weave the exterior and interior together. The water starts on the uphill side, goes through a series of drops (reminiscent of mining sluice boxes), passes under the dining-room bridge (a glass bridge with bi-fold doors) and runs to the base of the deck, where it forms an infinity edge.
“From all sides of the house, you can hear it, see it and feel the coolness it provides,” he says.
The lacquered-then-weathered front door provides a sense of arrival—and a promise. Every visitor is curious to see what’s behind that door.
“When you walk through the red door, there’s a spark, an anticipation of something extraordinary,” says interior designer Natasha Wallis, principal of Salt Lake City-based Natasha Wallis Interior Design. She worked closely with the homeowner to create a very personal space.
The client’s desire for bold color is thoughtfully introduced throughout to allow interest and depth while the furnishings’ soft lines emphasize comfortable, modern living.
Contemporary pieces partner with custom and artisan elements. The entry sets the tone. Texturally rich horsehair sconces from Apparatus Studio stand above a burled maple credenza from the homeowner’s family. On the floor: a grid-patterned rug (from The Rug Company) brings vivid and varied color to the space.
Complementing the architectural materials of the home, Wallis kept the interior palette neutral to better spotlight colorful furniture and works from the owner’s collection of Western art.
The bright kitchen, called “a forest of walnut trees” by the design team, is a favorite of the homeowner, who has his morning coffee here while watching the sunrise reflect off the mountains. “The sunrise, the sunset, the sound of the water … every day is different and every day just takes my breath away,” the homeowner says.
From playful pools to grand fountains to still ponds and cascading waterfalls, architecture has carried on an endlessly innovative love affair with water for centuries. And why not? Water adds sound and motion and creates surroundings that are both natural and serene. Verdone Landscape Architects in Jackson, Wyoming, specializes in water features. Mountain Living talked with Jim Verdone about incorporating water into your landscapes, yards and gardens. The size and type of water element will depend on the size of your property and your budget.
“WATER PROVIDES SOUND—relaxing and meditative or invigorating and energetic,” Verdone says. Water pressure combined with the distance the water drops affects the sound levels. Water features increase habitat value and attract natural wildlife—birds, butterflies, dragonflies and more. “WATER HELPS MODERATE TEMPERATURES,” he says. Water features are also a natural humidifier. Evaporation from fountains has a cooling effect on the surrounding area. DON’T MAKE IT SHOWY OR CONTRIVED. Verdone suggests choosing natural materials—native grasses and wildflowers—for landscaping around the water element. “Our philosophy is calculated restraint and using materials honestly,” he says.