An HGTV Host’s Mountaintop Fixer-Upper
Jennifer Farrell transformed this Wolf Peak aerie
Like an eagle perched atop the rocky crest of the mountain, Jennifer Farrell’s bespoke modern A-frame appears iconic in its majestic setting.
Farrell donned many hats as the architect, designer, landscape architect and engineer for the project, which includes a magnificent floating, curved glass staircase.
Named Wolf Peak for the shape of the rocky outcropping behind the home, the nature-inspired residence combines elegant modern design with European charm, resulting in a one-of-a kind mountain hideaway.
Wolf Peak Hideaway
Size: Home is 3,000 sq. ft. 4 bedrooms, 4 acres
Architecture & Interior Design: Jennifer Farrell
“Great design requires ingenuity,” remarks Jennifer Farrell, HGTV host, Lamps Plus ambassador and owner of Jennifer Farrell Designs. While the dismal state of this California mountaintop fixer-upper deterred others, Farrell envisioned a dramatic, graceful space utilizing the roofline as a sculptural focal point. She knew the home’s disjointed floor plan and rickety staircase had to go. “Nothing made sense,” Farrell recalls. “After opening the front door, visitors walked straight into a wall!”
The designer managed to add over 800 square feet of living space without moving any exterior walls. “I often tell my clients to embrace what they are working with and enhance it. Doing that for myself made me open my brain a bit more. I told myself, ‘Don’t fight the architecture; make it dramatic!’” explains Farrell.
Now, the secluded A-frame, remade in glass and steel, mirrors its spectacular alpine setting.
The home’s interior transformation required invention to open the space and add natural light. Rather than demolishing the ceiling of the A-frame, Farrell enhanced it by removing the popcorn texture and adding faux beams. Large sculptural glass pendants draw the eye up to the 20-foot peak while walls of glass on both ends enlarge the scope of view.
“Less is more. But make the less bigger,” she remarks. Her preference for clean and open design—“always with a touch of whimsy”—was pushed to new heights when building the staircase. “I wanted something light and airy, like you were flying as a bird,” she explains of the free-floating, curved structure.
“This is the hardest design I’ve ever done, but the one I am most proud of,” — Jennifer Farrell
To make it work she enlisted the help of engineers and mathematicians across six continents. “I needed to be particular in the design: It needed to not obstruct the exterior front-to-back view, change the pitch of the roof, alter the entry side or front walls or raise the catwalks.”
The result, albeit not without a refresher in calculus, is the interior focal point of the home.
To complement the Swiss chalet-style vibe, Jennifer opted for a European aesthetic by switching out dark woods with lighter shades and layering in rustic accents and items with a homespun look, including fabrics with woven texture. Her cozy, modern lodge feel is achieved by using stark white walls to reflect natural light, causing the whole space to glow.
In addition, she turned to mirrors and unique fixtures to create multiple tiers of light. “Mirrors are a designer’s best friend,” she offers. “Mirrors capture something, so make it something that glows—either the smile on your face or light from a window.”
Farrell is drawn to “amorphic” accent pieces, especially mirrors and light fixtures, because their organic shapes hold the eye.
“Strip things down, and use oversized shapes and bold choices,” she encourages. To add dramatic interest, for example, she hung 24-inch pendants above the kitchen island. And, for a whimsical touch, she opted for cube-shaped pendants above bedside tables rather than lamps in the main bedroom.
The nature-inspired palette of white, gray and black throughout the home is accented with pops of gold and hunter green. Repeating the bold hue creates a cohesive feel.
The wood-look tile flooring laid throughout is “bulletproof” for real-life living. “Whether you are bringing veggies in from the garden or the dog back from a hike, you don’t want a surface which is pretty but doesn’t appreciate the use,” advises Farrell of the practical choice. “A house shouldn’t be taken too seriously,” she adds.
The rugged setting proved the catalyst from the very beginning. “The view from this house is everything; it’s magical,” exclaims Farrell of the aptly coined Wolf Peak residence.
Her overhaul required her to call on her design instincts and years of experience to turn the dated house into a pinnacle of modern mountain design.
“We took something which had very little hope and made it into something that feels so appropriate for its site. It feels like the mountain was built around it. It feels special and majestic.”