Written by Charlotte Safavi | Photos by Michael J. Lee
When it comes to palette and pattern, this vibrant mountain residence will never suffer a case of the winter doldrums. The 6,000-square-foot second home was built not only as a seasonal ski lodge, but also as a year-round perch for a pair of East Coast empty nesters increasingly drawn to the mountainous region’s charms.
“Knowing they wanted to spend more time in Utah, the homeowners wanted a home that truly reflected their personality,” says Boston-based interior designer Ana Donohue, who collaborated on the ambitious project with architect T. Scott Kyle from Ohio and Utah-based Loomis Construction, Peppertree Kitchen & Bath and The Iron & Alloy Co., who did most of the steelwork.
“The homeowners hired me because I’m known for using lots of pattern, color and fabric, but it was very important to them that the unique setting was also incorporated into the overall design,” Donohue explains. “They didn’t want a typical ski lodge that’s all beige and brown.”
The foyer of the house, completed in 2016, sets the dramatic, yet rustic, design tone with its antique-mirrored and floral-wallpapered concealed doors trimmed in reclaimed oak with a “barn wood” finish. Ebony-stained floors and warm-white walls beyond the entry serve as a neutral envelope to highlight the architecture’s linear wood beams and columns, which run throughout and help define the main level’s open floor plan.
From the foyer, a long hall, furnished with a sculptural turquoise banquette, leads to the master suite and a media room, where the homeowners spend time when not entertaining family and friends. Additional guest bedrooms and quarters occupy the lower level.
“We did a lot of larger-scaled floral patterns, with a European sensibility, in fabrics, rugs and wallpapers,” says Donohue. “The furniture is largely tailored, but we made sure to add enough weighty materials, like wood, stone and iron, to make the design fit the environment,” she adds.
While consulting on the kitchen design, which combines lavender-painted upper cabinets with reclaimed oak lower ones, Donohue chose an embroidered fabric to upholster the backs of curved bar chairs. The unique textile became the starting point for the home’s palette.
“The design is really driven by color. Color helps define, sets the tone and creates rhythm throughout the spaces,” says Donohue. “We went with saturated fuchsias, emerald greens, lavenders and purples and assorted turquoise blues. Once we had the palette in place, we went room-by-room, finding pieces that were a little quirky, interesting and unexpected.”
In spaces where the furniture is more “ski lodge” traditional, like the dining room where the table and chairs were brought from the homeowners’ prior Utah home, Donohue created whimsy by upholstering each dining chair in a different color, texture and pattern; they are unified by their existing form and nail-head trim. “I love tactile fabrics like leather, velvet, cowhide, faux fur. There’s an instant richness to them,” says Donohue of the hand-feel.
For patterns, Donohue often plays with floral forms on carpets or in upholstery. Sometimes she integrates stripes, geometrics or even plaids, which read typical “ski lodge” until the designer transforms them using saturated colors, like apple-green and turquoise.
“But for every vibrant color, we balanced it with an earthier element, whether stone, metal or wood,” she adds. For example, in the living room, there is a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace, or in the media room, a feature wall with a reclaimed oak finish. The neutral elements allow the wildly colorful furnishings to stand out.
Downstairs, the locker room and après-ski areas have a decidedly more rustic industrial vibe, with poured concrete floors, wood trim and some mid-century modern pieces mixed in. For materials, there is a lot of steel, leather, stone and hide.
“The lower level is intended for their guests, especially during the busy ski season,” says Donohue, adding, “but the intent of the overall design was to create a fun and colorful house for use in the spring and summer, too.”
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