Spectacular Park City Home Designed with Nature In Mind
An architect-designed Park City spec house has dramatic outdoor spaces to admire the beauty of nature
Perched high on a mountain ridge in Park City, Utah, this 12,500-square-foot home with its spiral design and unique indoor-outdoor spaces was designed as a spec home by Michael Upwall, principal of Utah-based Upwall Design Architects. “The site is a confluence of forest, slope and ski run, and given that there was not a particular client, we had the freedom to create a structure that was solely about the land,” says Upwall. “The shape of the home responds to the fact that there are no straight lines in nature. This idea evolved organically from the center outward, connecting with the forest and the mountains beyond.”
At that moment, a Los Angeles-based family was looking for a house in the area. “The children and I are avid skiers, and my wife is not,” says the husband, a real estate investor based in California, “so, at first, I was looking at something smaller but didn’t find what we wanted including ski-in, ski-out.” However, once he saw this extraordinary home, he was smitten. On the next trip to Park City, he traveled with his wife, who says, “We are not modern house people, so I would not have expected to like this style.”
As the driveway curves up to the house, the spiral shape of the roof and the oculus at the porte cochere are revealed, providing a dramatic sense of arrival. Captivated, the wife recalls that her very next words were: “Do we really have to look at any other houses?”
The curvilinear shape of the home responds to the topography and comfortably nestles into the mountain. As Upwall envisioned the house in its natural setting, he conceived two separate structures—a public space and a private space—separated by a glass bridge with a (man-made) stream flowing beneath it.
The interior space opens (both visually and literally) to the outdoor covered deck and the summer kitchen. “The ceiling of the great room becomes the roof of the deck,” says Upwall, “offering the continuing sense of shelter whether you are inside or out.”
Next, the homeowners engaged interior designers Mark Cutler and Nichole Schulze, co-founders of Los Angeles-based cutlerschulze, who had worked with the homeowners on other projects. “They wanted quiet and understated elegance,” recalls Cutler.
Adds Schulze, “The house is always full of family and friends— sometimes as many as 20 for a ski weekend—so everything had to be livable, touchable and welcoming.”
One of the primary interior design challenges was dealing with the sheer volume of the rooms. “We decided to divide the main room into a series of distinct and cozy spaces,” says Cutler. And, of course, Cutler and Schulze had to design oversize furniture. “We created paper templates for the custom pieces— like the curved sofa in the library—right there on the floor,” says Cutler. The paper patterns were then shipped to the furniture maker. “When we first saw the finished pieces, they seemed enormous, but we were confident that they would be just right in the space,” Cutler continues.
Another challenge was the curved walls. In the library, for example, Cutler and Schulze designed a 12-foot sofa and ottoman to match the curved bookcase and included slide-under sofa tables. “People come here to read or gather to watch movies, and they need to have a place to put their drinks and snacks,” says Schulze.
Shortly after moving in, the homeowners hosted a family wedding on the expansive back deck with captivating mountain views. “It was a special family moment to have this event on our balcony overlooking the mountains,’” says the husband.
UNDERSTATED ELEGANCE – HOW TO ACHIEVE IT
Understated interiors are not designed to grab your attention but rather to create a comfortable and inviting atmosphere that makes you feel right at home. It’s all about crafting an authentic and confident style that perfectly suits the people who live there. Interior designers Mark Cutler and Nichole Schulze of Los Angeles-based cutlerschulze share some insights.
KEY ELEMENTS Every piece that’s added to the room, be it a sofa, a rug or a photo on a shelf, needs to serve a purpose and look stunning at the same time. Most important is knowing when to hold back and not add too much. FABRICS, FINISHES AND COLOR We have a great appreciation for textures and prefer natural fibers like linen, wool, cotton and mohair. A trick: Choose a fabric you love and use it in many places to create a sense of unity. Create visual interest with a few accent colors and fabrics. KEEP THINGS SIMPLE Showcase a thoughtfully curated collection of exceptional items that are crafted with great care and feature quality materials. WHERE TO SPEND YOUR MONEY Focus your budget on the things you’ll be interacting with the most—like sofas and chairs. Buy the best you can. You’ll really appreciate the quality and craftsmanship of your pieces. WHAT NOT TO DO Stay away from anything that screams “look at me!” When you’re designing a space, you want a cohesive whole, not a bunch of individual pieces that are all competing for the spotlight.
ARCHITECTURE Upwall Design
INTERIOR DESIGN cutlerschulze
PHOTOS Laura Hull