Utah Style and Design

Photo Friday: Upstairs-Downstairs

August 2, 2019

Everyone seems just too busy these days and looking for ways to have the additional time: more time to be on demanding jobs and additional time to spend with family and those close. One solution is living upstairs from the office, a concept common in the early decades of the twentieth century that allows people to retrieve the hours of the day others spend on commuting. By dedicating a floor to business and another for living, the distinction can seem much clearer than for many home offices, but it still allows for easily shifting between home and work responsibilities. 

The location is the shade-covered Westminster neighborhood of Salt Lake City. The home references the year the original and neighboring homes were built with some of the detailing like the transom and lettering style above the door and brickwork. The brick is salvaged from the home previously on the property. [Design and construction by J Ford Construction, Salt Lake City]

The downstairs functions as the office for a busy design and construction firm. The cabinets along the wall to the right contain material samples. There is some crossover use, as the family can use the client conversation area in the evenings.

Similarly, with the addition of a net and pulling back the chairs, the conference table doubles as a Ping-Pong table. 

The rear entrance leads from the garage in the back. It’s the one the family uses to access the upstairs. The extra deep lockers keep personal things organized both for family members and workers. 

The open-planned living, kitchen and dining space perch like a tree house in the backyard foliage away from street noise. An urban trail, one of neighborhood’s charming secrets, runs behind the property in the back. 

Wire mesh surrounds the shelves of the kitchen island. The family likes clear countertops and minimal clutter, so the screened island and pantry storage allows for a place for everything. 

The bedrooms are along the street side, meaning that the quieter home uses are directly above the business. The open ductwork introduced on the lower floor continues throughout the upstairs.  

The big patio and outdoor living off the kitchen doubles the entertainment space for the home. 

The large modern steel windows with traditional brick framing are just one aspect of how the builder melds modern with traditional in order to blend into the neighborhood but enjoy modern efficiency and material performance. 


I felt the space called for daytime photographs since all offices are, of course, daytime spaces. The ample windows provided plenty of natural light, so I supplemented very little. The home and office are both designed for efficiency and serve as hubs for a lot of activity, so we kept surfaces clean and didn’t style it with flowers or decorative props.

Want more Photo Friday? Browse our archives. 

Follow along with Scot’s latest projects: @scot.zimmerman

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Scot Zimmerman
Architectural photographer Scot Zimmerman has been photographing exteriors and interiors of homes, and commercial and public buildings across the United States for over 37 years. He is the principal photographer of eight books; over 40 periodicals have featured his work; and 11 museums have exhibited his photos. He’s fond of adventuring in the Southern Utah desert. Follow his work on Instagram: @scot.zimmerman



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