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New England Style Meets Mountain Cool
An East Coast family relaxes the traditional style they love to suit a new home in the Utah mountains
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A heartfelt hello changes with the territory, whether the greeting comes from a family or the home they live in. The entry of the Colonial house that Bruce and Gayle Larson left behind in Connecticut, for example, greeted guests with an inviting staircase, as traditional New England homes tend to do. Their new place in Salt Lake City, on the other hand, welcomes with an entirely different approach. An epic -panorama of mountains, gardens, and expansive sky makes the statement. Moldings, a vaulted ceiling, and an all-white shell are simply the foil for a flood of stunning natural light that pours through French doors and windows.
“It was important that we didn’t disrupt the breathtaking views,” Gayle says. “We wanted classic details like we lived with before, but the house needed to be influenced by the culture here and what is going on outside.”
Salt Lake City interior designer Anne-Marie Barton had a clear vision of how to achieve those design goals. Raised in Connecticut, she understands the architectural hallmarks that have made historical houses relevant for generations. Her assignment for the Larsons was to translate the sometimes rigid and rule-bound New England style into the relaxed aesthetic of the West, all while maintaining classic bones and creating a sense of history where there wasn’t one.
The windows and French doors of the 25-foot-tall foyer invite natural light to illuminate the space. A traditional iron-and-crystal chandelier establishes elegance while pairs of benches and artwork enhance the space’s symmetry.
The living room of the newly built house is a prime example. Barton’s furniture selections include comfortable upholstered pieces, a spool chair, and a chinoiserie cocktail table that imply the past but aren’t technically old. True age comes from a mahogany breakfront cabinet, a flea market find that resonates history and balances the visual weight of the family’s grand piano. Visible immediately upon entering the house, the room reads as collected rather than new.
“As a photographer would study black-and-white film and a modern dancer is always grounded in ballet, the classic architectural undertones give a sense of balance and authenticity,” Barton says. “Taking traditional elements out of their roots and translating them in a different aesthetic excites me more than doing something completely different like modern design. It forces me to think even harder.”
A bleached-oak coffered ceiling crowns a refined mix of furniture including a tufted sofa, a floral armchair, and a spool chair.
An arched entrance and tray ceiling embellished with graceful curves make the dining room a lesson in time-honored beauty. The tone-on-tone damask wallpaper melds with coordinating fabric used on window panels and host chairs. At the same time, the wallpaper delightfully contrasts furniture that seems almost inadvertent in its unmatched finishes. The assembly suggests each piece was individually introduced to the Larsons as they formed a well-loved collection over time.
A curvy dual-pedestal dining table from Hickory Chair pairs with angular velvet chairs from the same source. Floral wallpaper from Thibaut and a coordinating fabric mimic the delicacy of the ceiling design. A Niermann Weeks paint-over-iron chandelier offers gold without too much glam. Informal stacks of dishes in the cabinet imply casual self-serve dining.
Because history proves that rules are meant to be broken, Barton was quite comfortable changing her own scheme in the family room, the space where the Larsons and their two sons spend most of their time. Instead of continuing the white moldings seen in the home’s formal spaces, she highlighted the room’s bones with trim that echoes the tones of the wood ceiling beams. Windows are left without casings or fabric treatments that would interfere with outdoor sight lines. Oversize furniture references rather than -repeats the palette of the living and dining rooms, adding darker shades that convey coziness and comfort.
Windows were left without casings and draperies, allowing uninterrupted views of outdoor areas.
Throughout the house, craftsmanship is clear in ceiling beams, window mullions, and wood paneling. But details such as pullout shelves that cleverly hide in the arch of the breakfast area and the beds and storage niches that tuck under the eaves of the bunk room also ensure this house will be enjoyed for generations.
“I love the breath of light and softness that I feel when I enter this home,” Barton says. “It has begun to wear, but in a way that makes the design look better and real with patina. I used restraint with the trendy and new-fashioned for timelessness, and it worked. I’m grateful for the sense of history that this design conveys.
A wood-clad pitched ceiling draws attention to the breakfast room. Floral drapery panels, an iron-and-crystal chandelier, and bleached-wood furnishings lift the lightness of the space.
The kitchen accommodates two islands—one warm vanilla and the other a contrasting walnut.
Loden green moldings around the window pop in a touch of color.
Walnut paneling establishes masculinity in Bruce’s office. A tufted leather sofa framed by modern paisley window panels offers a handsome place to sit.
Enhancing the architecture of the master bedroom was top priority. A modern floral fabric that hangs at the windows emphasizes the curves of the arched French doors. A floral duvet cover continues the softness.
The master bathroom, done in all white, has a breathy elegance.
Both bunk beds and single beds outfit the Larsons’ bonus room for a multitude of overnight guests.
The Salt Lake City home evokes history, yet it was built in 2015.