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Utah Style and Design

House Tour: A Sanctuary that captures the scenic beauty of Zion National Park.

July 3, 2017

(Featured Image: The dramatic cantilevered roofline features sharp triangles that seem to point at the views and gives the home the impression of floating in the landscape. The acute triangle over the deck serves as a shade system for the living room.)

By Natalie Taylor    Photos by Scot Zimmerman

Every year, more than four million visitors flock to Zion National Park to sightsee, hike, climb and bike. Those who have who have braved the climb to Angels Landing or simply craned their necks to see the Great White Throne know the views are breathtaking. There are a lucky few, though, who actually get to live in Springdale and gaze at the towering vistas every day. Among them are Erik and Sally Ryberg, who decided that there was nowhere else on earth they’d rather retire.

The master bedroom’s windows are angled to showcase views. The Inca Gold limestone fireplace and grasscloth wall covering add texture and warmth. A trapezoid light fixture mounted to papered panels extends angular architectural elements.

They should know. Erik and Sally, a retired Marine and consulting executive respectively, traveled extensively—both professionally and for play. “We’ve been coming to Zion National Park for the past 12 years, at least twice a year,” explains Sally. “One day, we just looked at each other and knew this was where we wanted to be.”

So they bought a lot in the Anasazi Plateau just outside of the park. Then, during the 2015 St. George Parade of Homes, they saw a project by architect Rob McQuay. “We knew we wanted a contemporary home with large rooms and lots of angles,” says Sally. “His work just clicked with us.” McQuay, principal at McQuay Architects, PLLC, suggested they also enlist the help of  builder Markay Johnson, owner of Markay Johnson Construction, and interior designers Gregory Abbott and Ashley Johnson of GAAJ Design.

In the dining room, large retractable glass doors, placed at a perpendicular angle, frame spectacular views of Eagle Crags. The scored concrete floor, poured in place, was stained with a gloss finish. The original painting by Gregory Abbott, informed by the home’s scenic surroundings, served as the inspiration for the home’s desert hue palette.

“Rob draws anything he can imagine—incredible freehand designs,” explains Markay. “It’s up to me to solve the structural challenges. In this case, we used steel to support the cantilevered roofs and steel-reinforced concrete as the foundation, since we were literally building on sand.” This unstoppable team worked together from the first draft. The result is a dynamic home that appears to be floating in the landscape.

The environment inspired every aspect of the design. “The projecting roof lines literally reach into the landscape,” says McQuay. This reflects the horizontal topography accented by the vertical rise of Zion’s geology. “We wanted a modest, one-story home that preserved the integrity of the landscape,” says Erik. So McQuay and his team designed varying ceiling heights to mimic the strata and stacked stones in the surrounding terrain. Each room is designed specifically to frame the views of Johnson Mountain, Eagle Crags, the Vermillion Cliffs and Mount Kinesava to the northwest.

Butt glass windows showcase spectacular views of the Vermillion Cliffs and Mount Kinesava. Clear-story windows add natural light and the varying ceiling heights mimic the layers of strata in the surrounding desert. The floating coffee bean-colored hearth is lit underneath to showcase its unique trapezoid shape.

As avid hikers, Erik and Sally volunteer at the park. Erik works to determine trail calibrations and visitor counts and Sally educates visitors about the California condor and challenges in reestablishing the bird. To accommodate their lifestyle, McQuay designed the patios so that the couple can walk out their front door and trek onto the Chinle Trail which runs on the south edge of the park.

The 3,500-square-foot home features three bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms. Sally’s mom, Arline Kolberg, lives with the couple and so an important element of the design included a living space that provided ample privacy without isolation. “The rooms are at either end of the house,” explains Sally. “We weren’t interested in a separate casita.”

The kitchen window faces southeast to infuse the room with soft, natural light, important because the kitchen is placed in the center of the home.

The Rybergs sold their home in California fully furnished , so aside from personal belongings and art, they were able to make a fresh start with the home’s decor. Gregory and Ashley worked closely with the Rybergs before construction started, designing all of the hard surfaces and lighting. “We went to market and hand-selected every item in the home,” says Ashley. “Sally wanted mid-century modern design elements. So we combined those with some contemporary pieces that blend well.” They also incorporated several trapezoid elements such as lighting fixtures, tables and cabinetry to echo the angular architecture.

The color palette reflects the site’s warm sandstone and glittering sunset colors. Almond-colored walls meld naturally with rich orange upholstery and dark walnut wood. The sparkle of copper accents and glossy cabinetry mimics that of the dazzling desert. A Zen area hosts huge chunks of petrified rock that were excavated from the lot and are artistically arranged to honor the landscape. Room to room, the architecture and décor—like owners Erik and Sally Ryberg—are naturally at home in the spectacular Springdale setting. 

See more inside the Summer 2017 issue.

Utah Style & Design

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