Written by Tessa Woolf | Photos by Carla Boecklin
In many ways, designing a dream home is similar to designing a dream wedding: There are budgets to calculate, timelines to plan and inspiration boards to create. So when it came time for Emily White to design her own dream abode, the Park City event planner and owner of Wish Boutique rolled up her stylish sleeves and took a hands-on approach.
“When I’m working for a client, I try to bring their style to life,” explains White. “But for this project, I didn’t have to please anyone but myself.”
Her project was remodeling a 1904 historic home in Old Town Park City, a hidden gem discovered by her realtor, Heidi Gatch. The house wasn’t for sale at the time, but, when White laid eyes on the property, she immediately recognized its potential.
“I had just gone through a divorce and was starting over,” she explains. “I wanted to make a new home for us.”
White’s daughter, Maggie, 13, and her son, Barett, 10, wanted a house with a yard, and White wanted to live in Old Town. Their wishes were soon granted. After some negotiating, White found herself the new owner of the antique abode plus a detached garage with a mother-in-law apartment, both perched on a chunk of prime real estate occupying a total of four city lots.
Like so many old, historic properties in Park City, White’s dwelling was choppy, with small rooms and low ceilings. She decided to embark on a full remodel to create more space.
White had a clear vision of how she wanted the home to look and feel, inspired by her travels through Sweden, Denmark and Norway. White fell in love with the area’s simple, clean, all-white aesthetic. She returned with the desire to recreate the same Scandinavian-inspired design and a sense of hygge, the Danish concept of living simply, in her own home.
“The neutral and minimalistic Scandi design appealed to me because of the stylish, clean lifestyle it promotes,” she explains. White also wanted to take a timeless approach to remodeling. She knew all too well from years of coordinating events that, just like chocolate fountains and chartreuse bridesmaid dresses, trends are fun but they come and go.
“I wanted to be able to live in this house for 10 or 15 years and love the feel of it then as much as I do now,” she says.
With her vision in place, she assembled a talented team to make her dream home a reality. She called upon her friend, Angie Mitcham, for input on design ideas. The two spent many a late-night tearing out pages from magazines and assembling Pinterest boards.
“This is the house that Pinterest built,” says White, laughing. She hired Park City architect Jonathan DeGray, known for his expertise in historic renovation, and Park City general contractor Dave Gardner of Gardner & Boswell Construction. When White first explained her Scandi-inspired desires to Gardner, he asked her to take a walk with him, and lead her up the street to the recently remodeled Washington School House Hotel. Gardener was part of the team that gave the hotel its contemporary blanc makeover.
It was love at first sight for White: “I said, ‘Yes, this is what I want. Put this hotel into my home.’ It was so serendipitous,” she recalls.
But before the team could move forward, they had a few big tasks to tackle. Remodeling a historic home in Park City is no easy feat; the team spent months acquiring the necessary permits and petitioning the planning commission and city council for a plat amendment and design approval to bring together two separate structures in one cohesive home.
Their biggest challenge was figuring out how to connect the mother-in-law space above the garage, slated to be White’s new master suite, to the original home—and doing so with tight restrictions.
“Connecting the upper level garage was necessary to make the house successful,” explains DeGray.
Their solution? Build an addition behind the home that connected the original structure and the mother-in-law apartment via a shared staircase. The addition features a mudroom/hallway that leads to a new bedroom and bathroom for Maggie on the ground floor and the staircase, which leads to a loft-like family room and White’s private quarters above the garage.
Overall, the team transformed the property from a 1,350-square foot, 2-bedroom, 1 bathroom home and an 800-square-foot, mother-in-law apartment, to a singular 2,900-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom home. The project took about two and a half years to complete.
White says the remodel was a true labor of love—it was all worth it to create her cozy-chic “white house” in the heart of Park City.
“Even on the coldest of snowy days, the house still feels warm,” she says. “It’s so serene and comfortable. It makes me happy to be home.”
For more inspiration, see: White Done Right