This Utah Home Coexists Naturally With The Environment

For over a decade the Reddish family – Gwen is an artist and Patrick is a ski instructor – made a century old, rambling farmhouse nestled in the base of Park City’s beautiful Thaynes Canyon their home, but the structure just wouldn’t cooperate. However, the family was adamant that any transformations in store for the house did not look like new construction.

“It’s a fine line between making something look old, or to make it feel like it’s been there forever,” explained Sparano, who is principal at Sparano + Mooney Architecture. He opted to use earth-tone stack stone, with a lot of iron ore in it, for the first floor of the home’s exterior, while Corten steel, which weathers with a colorful patina and rust, surrounds the second floor. The combination creates a naturally aging façade. The other non-negotiable item for the Reddish family was to preserve the property’s mature trees.

“So many homes these days are built without thought to the environment,” contends Gwen. “We built the house around these five big, 90-year-old trees. It had to be narrow and long so we could keep those trees and make it sit with confidence in that landscape.” Their vision of earthly respect dominates every feature of this home.

Take Sparano’s focus on the tree canopy, evident throughout the home. A media room on the second floor has an almost treehouse feel, with huge corner windows that open to the trees. A daybed in a reading nook is positioned to look over the front yard’s spruce and cottonwood trees.

“We oriented the house, and the spaces in the house, to take advantage of those existing spaces under the mature trees,” shares Sparano. “Tying that existing natural space to that interior space is key to making it flow.” In so doing, the home’s interior structure was intentionally left muted, he explains. “We wanted the palette of the interior to be recessive, gray, black and white. It works because of the character of their collection.”

Gwen purchases most of her eclectic, colorful pieces while traveling around the world, as well as in the galleries that are becoming more prevalent in both Salt Lake City and Park City.

She buys what she likes and then decorates each area in the house as if it were its own vignette. Rugs from Turkey, glass lanterns from Mexico, an owl made from collage newspaper clippings and an oversized crystal to bring good karma, all meld together in peaceful harmony. And, she is always quick to change a design or rearrange a display.

“I try to find things that are organic, in terms of ceramic, sculpture and paintings. The fact [that] they’re all handmade, and some quite primitive, earthly and organic, ties it all together and makes it work,” notes Gwen. “I wanted to make sure the house was as artful as it could be, because that’s what makes me very happy.”

A self-proclaimed pattern freak, there are stripes, arrangements and colorful art and accessories throughout the home. However, the lone architectural pattern is one Gwen developed for railings. The stairs, an outside patio and a second-story walkway come to life with the design, inspired by snowflakes, flowers and an old Moroccan pattern.

In addition to the dominating art, it was important to Gwen that the house also be very livable for their active outdoor lifestyle. The concrete floors easily withstand the bikes that are constantly rolling in and out, as well as the boots and downhill and cross-country skis, not to mention the dogs who, on occasion, decide to gnaw on some furniture.

“Nothing’s precious,” concludes Gwen. “We are living here.”

Photography by Scot Zimmerman.

For more like this Utah home, be sure to check out this townhouse filled with flea market finds, design classics and personal treasures.

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