How a Classic Mountain Vernacular and Modern Interiors Inspired These Utah Homeowners

Built as a family home on the Weber River in northern Utah, this country house embraces the land’s storied past
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Each piece of furniture was custom designed, including metal panels crafted and individually set in place as a fireplace surround, a 13-foot Holly Hunt walnut-and-metal dining table, and a coffee table designed for this room by Unscripted. | Photos by David Patterson

It’s not unusual to see a cattle drive down the road in front of the Forsum family home in Peoa, Utah. It’s this comfortable country pace of life that drew homeowners Sheila and Mike Forsum to trade in their resort lot near Park City for former farmland on the banks of the Weber River. While overlooking the rickety old farmstead and overgrown vegetation on the acreage, Mike Forsum saw potential. “The existing house wasn’t oriented toward the water, but the view was not the focus of a farmer,” he says. “We fell in love with the site and the neighbors. It’s an authentic, organic place where people care about each other.”

“The land has close-in views. It’s this coziness we wanted to reinforce with the house, as the homeowners wanted the home to feel comfortable inside and out,”says architect Michael Woodley of Colorado-based Woodley Architectural Group. “We designed a new home to mimic the land; it wraps its arms around you.”

“We didn’t want heavy mountain architecture but a lighter contemporary feel,”adds Mike Forsum. “We were looking for a classic mountain vernacular on the exterior with the surprise of modern interiors when you enter the house.”

Unscripted Porch

The homeowners created comfortable seating areas both inside and out.

Because Forsum works in the residential construction industry, he already had strong relationships with everyone he and his wife chose for the design team to turn this piece of land into a forever dream home: Colorado-based Unscripted Interior Design and Utah-based Keim Construction along with architect Woodley. “My father and grandfather were in the home building industry, too, so I have access to a lot of talented professionals,” Forsum says.

Contrary to his high-volume homebuilding business, Forsum wanted to take his time in building his family’s custom home, using artisans who pay close attention to craftsmanship—a hallmark of Americana style. The interior is all about storytelling and artisanship. “Every furnishing and piece of furniture we selected with the homeowners was unique and special,” says Unscripted principal and CEO Kari Armstrong. Her design team sourced vintage blankets that were transformed into pillows for the guest rooms.

Unscripted Ext

Built initially as a resort-like refuge, this home quickly became the homeowners’ primary residence, where every room speaks of artisan-level craftsmanship and has access to the outdoors and views of surrounding farmland.

A tasteful take on a built-in bar was customized by Tanner’s Craft cabinet hardware for knobs and pulls, and Edelman leather cabinetry and nailhead trim. The living room fireplace is another element that speaks heavily of craftsmanship with its handmade 200-pound metal panels that are individually patinated and set in place. “It’s like a massive piece of art built into our home that is very tactile and takes on different hues throughout the day,” says Forsum.

There are so many tales of the materials and furnishings used in the home’s design that Unscripted actually created a written storybook for the Forsum family as a keepsake. “This is a way they can share the stories behind each found object with their friends,” Armstrong says.

Built in a family-forward design, the completely open layout of the main floor flows the kitchen, living room and dining room into one massive space suitable for hosting grown children and grandchildren. “The kitchen is the heart and soul of this house; it’s our gathering spot,” says Forsum. “Sheila is a phenomenal chef, and the truth is, we don’t get a lot of takeout food in the country. We’re all just hanging out, waiting to see what the
chef’s next creation is going to be.”

Unscripted Lucite

Most of the artwork was collected by the family over the years.

Unscripted Kit

The kitchen is Sheila Forsum’s favorite room because she loves to cook. A mix of finishes lives well together, including walnut-stained and painted cabinetry, a leathered Naica quartzite countertop, a Bianco Dolomite marble mosaic backsplash, and a vent hood finished in a warm gray Roman clay. Striking pendants over the island were sourced from Urban Electric Company.

Family functionality continues upstairs in the guest rooms and bunk room, which are joined by a second-floor wet bar that serves as an early morning coffee and breakfast station. The duality of open living downstairs and separate private quarters upstairs works well for multigenerational visitors from multiple families in a modestly sized footprint.  “It’s effortless to live in that house,” says Woodley. “It’s a simple design that is calm and comfortable.”

Adding Subtle Spice

Unscripted Outdoor Dining

The Forsums can open the 25-foot sliding door between the great room and the patio, stacking it flush into the wall, for an incomparable indoor-outdoor flow. Gloster teak dining chairs complement an expansive table, while six lounge chairs facing the river enable the Forsums to enjoy afternoon naps.

Subdued touches of Americana incorporated through a muted red, white and blue color palette and a focus on story­telling by using artisan-level materials and finishes create a comforting, simple and calm vibe in the Forsums’ home.

COLOR At first glance, this home is not a blaring example of bold Americana color. Unscripted added reds woven into vintage Turkish carpets and blue on pillows such as the midnight alpaca ombre pillow sourced from Holly Hunt in the primary bedroom. White paneled hallways and custom tile installations such as a Bianco Dolomite marble mosaic backsplash in the kitchen and Calacatta dimensional tile by Walker Zanger as the primary bathroom’s backsplash complete the palette.

STORYTELLING Each carefully chosen item has a backstory, some of them hailing from decades in the past. In the first-floor guest quarters, for example, pillows on the built-in window seat were custom designed and sewn from a Pendleton blanket and vintage wool Army blankets. The downstairs powder bathroom features a vintage console table, once used as a kitchen side table and sourced from the Gansu Province in north-central China, as a repurposed vanity. The accompanying vessel sink was custom carved from a solid block of stone.“The house doesn’t shout at you,” says architect Woodley. “It’s quite a change from the homeowners’ native hustle and bustle of Southern California.”

Unscripted Powder

A vintage console table upfitted with a vessel sink is the focal point of the powder room.

Unscripted Bed

Unscripted worked the Forsums’ antler chandelier into the primary bedroom design, where Phillip Jeffries wallcoverings, lacquered blue grasscloth nightstands and a velvet upholstered ottoman from the Great Plains collection by Holly Hunt add texture.

Unscripted Bar

The custom leather bar in the study is eye-catching and the room is filled with artisan-level details like custom wood paneled walls and metal cabinetry built specifically for the space and sourced by Keim Construction.

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“We purposefully chose differing warm finishes on the walnut wood to add depth and variety,” says Unscripted designer Nicole O’Neil.

ARCHITECTURE: Woodley Architectural Group 

INTERIOR DESIGN: Unscripted Interior Design

CONSTRUCTION: Keim Construction

As featured in our July/August 2023 Issue

Categories: Contemporary Homes