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Once Upon a Time in the West
A new home, decked out for the holidays, in Utah's sky country
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Molly Morris was sitting on the front porch of the family's Chevy Chase, Maryland, home when her husband, Bill, returned from a hot-yoga class and put this question to her: What would you think if we moved into a condo in Utah for one year?
"I honestly thought he was going through a midlife crisis, so I decided I'd go along with it. I can do anything for a year," Molly says with a laugh. "We both grew up in the D.C. area, and we really had no idea what it was like to live someplace else."
While Molly and Bill and their two sons, Duncan and Christopher (now 15 and 13), had vacationed in Sun Valley, Idaho, they had never been to Utah. But in June 2005, they loaded up a U-Haul and drove more than 2,000 miles to Park City. They chose Park City because the real estate market was favorable to buyers at the time, and it had direct flights from Washington, making it easy for Bill to stay connected with his commercial real estate business.
"We were curious to know what life might be like in another place, and we thought it would be telling for us to slow down and take a step back from our busy lives in D.C.," Bill explains. "We expected the adventure would confirm that we were blissfully happy back East and that we would be looking forward to re-entry in D.C. to pick up where we left off a year before."
But that's not how the story played out. "Once we got out here, it was like a different world. It was life-altering. After four months, we decided we weren't going back," Molly says. "And we hadn't even lived through one winter here!" Bill works from his home office and enjoys dinner with the family every night. "That never happened in D.C.," Molly relates. "Billy was always at the office or board meetings. We hardly ever saw him.
"Having those family dinners is truly a blessing. Communication is so much better with all of us, especially with the kids," she adds. Year-round, there's always some sort of outdoor activity for the family to enjoy-such as skiing, hiking, biking, and snowshoeing, often right outside their back door. The boys catch a public school bus a few blocks from home rather than their mother driving them nearly an hour each way to attend intensely competitive private schools. "Everything here is within a five-mile radius. Before, we were spending at least two hours every day in traffic," Molly says. "This is just a wonderful way to bring up the boys. They can be outside 365 days a year."
After deciding to make Utah their home, the Morrises bought a choice lot with knockout views of Park City and Deer Valley ski resorts. They sold their Chevy Chase house and phoned Bill's life-long friend and D.C.-based architect George Myers and another D.C. friend, interior designer Elizabeth Hague.
Molly and Bill's message to both designers was emphatic: no typical timbered mountain home with a sprawling open floor plan. Instead, they asked for a traditional Eastern aesthetic in keeping with the family antiques, Oriental rugs, and other furnishings that they were moving across the country.
"They really wanted a more East Coast home with defined rooms and traditional spaces," says Myers. After visiting the site, the architect sketched a French country, stone-and-stucco home, lining up main living areas to take advantage of the mountain views. The topography of the site did present challenges. "We had to gradually step this house up a slope," Myers says. "We tried to make it seem seamless so you weren't really aware of that."
Two- and three-step stairs connect rooms in several areas, suggestive of an old house that has been added on to over the years. The multi-paned windows, gables, stair balusters, and door and window casings painted off-white reflect Eastern architecture, while rough-hewn ceiling beams (salvaged from a Utah railroad trestle) are a nod to the West.
Molly worked long-distance with Hague to pull together the family's existing furnishings-coming from both the Chevy Chase home and the Utah condo-into the new house. "Most all the furniture pieces are things we already had," Molly says. Even fabrics were reused. Hague creatively (and economically) re-sized draperies, adapting those from the previous dining room for the master suite's sitting room. "That's where that wonderful color of blue we used in the bedroom came from," Molly says.
The mahogany dining table, chairs, and sideboard were also from the Chevy Chase house. In keeping with the more relaxed living out West, Hague dressed down the chairs with flirty skirted slipcovers for the seats.
Molly's love for rugs is obvious, with richly patterned Orientals warming nearly every room. "Not only are they beautiful, they're very forgiving and don't show dirt or soil," she says. With two teenaged boys, a Tibetan terrier, and outdoor activities playing such a big role in their lives, "forgiving" fabrics and surfaces were required. Hague selected updated chenilles and heavy-duty cotton and cotton-linen blends for upholstery that could withstand the wear and tear.
The fabrics and rugs inspired the designer's paint choices, which numbered more than 30-most in subtle variations on blues and corals. "Beth's taste in colors is exquisite, and the way they transition from one room to the next is really awesome," Bill says.
"I selected wall and ceiling colors that would most complement the various textiles that I specified for the space," Hague says. "I frequently choose a less dominant color from a textile and use that on the wall so the color is pulled out of the fabric and made to pop."
In the kitchen, the designer finished white cabinets with a gray glaze that echoes the weathered hues of the ceiling beams. Fabrics on the seating pieces in the dining nook are grayed-down greens plucked from the room's rugs. Molly, who loves to bake (especially during the holidays when she goes into pie- and cookie-baking mode), made sure there was plenty of room in the kitchen to gather. "The kitchen is my happy place," she says.
While Park City is their home now, the Morrises haven't lost touch with their D.C. friends, many of whom visit. "The quality of the time we have with them is so much better than if we were back East. They're on vacation and relaxed," Molly says, sheepishly adding, "We're lucky. We always feel like we're on vacation."
Photography: John Granen
Produced by Barbara Mundall
Architect: George T. Myers, GTM Architects, 7735 Old Georgetown Rd., Suite 700, Bethesda, MD 20814; 240/333-2000, gtmarchitects.com
Interior designer: Elizabeth Hague, associate designer, project manager: Chris Wohlgemuth, Elizabeth Hague Inc. Interiors, 1804 45th St. N.W., Washington, DC 20007; 202/333-0039, elizabethhagueinteriors.com
Builder: Rob Schumacher, Schumacher Construction Inc., P.O. Box 4078, Park City, UT 84060; 435/901-0728.
Florist: Amanda Hansen, Decoration Inc., 444 South 500 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84101; 877/534-1126, decorationinc.com
A two-sided fireplace flanked by steps connects the living and dining rooms. The mirror above the mantel is a 19th-century French antique from Marston Luce.
Wall paint ("Sea Salt" #SW6204): Sherwin-Williams, 800/474-3794.
Ceiling paint ("Honey Harbour" #920): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667, benjaminmoore.com
Sofa ("Lawson"): Charles Stewart Co., 828/322-9464, charlesstewartcompany.com
Sofa leather ("Nubuck Bison"): Moore & Giles, 434/846-5281, mooreandgiles.com Pillows: Barclay Butera, Park City showroom, 435/649-5549, barclaybutera.com
Side pine table: Kim Faison Antiques, 804/282-3736, kimfaisonantiques.com
Tole green can on table: Tone on Tone, 240/497-0800, tone-on-tone.com
Chairs (custom): Marita Bradley Designs, 703/944-9922. Chair fabric (discontinued): Lee Jofa, 800/453-3563, leejofa.com
Coffee table: owner's collection.
Orange tray on table: Right at Home, 435/658-2111.
Rug (antique, Heriz): Mark Keshishian & Sons Inc., 301/654-4044, orientalcarpets.net
Drapery and window shades ("Seaglass"/Butterscotch #DL-1008-02); pillows on window seat ("Surf"/Butterscotch #DL-1011-05): DeLany & Long Ltd., 203/532-0010, delanyandlong.com
Pillows on windowseat ("Piedmont Stripe"): Lee Jofa, 800/453-3563, leejofa.com
Lamp on table behind sofa (Victorian tea cannister lamp): Tone on Tone, 240/497-0800, tone-on-tone.com
Mantel: Tartaruga Design Inc., 877/762-0418, tartarugadesign.com
Mirror: Marston Luce Antiques, 202/333-6800, marstonluce.com
Sconces: owner's collection.
Corner wood-armed chair: antique.
Hues in the antique Heriz rug from Mark Keshishian & Sons inspired color choices for furniture and paint.
A locally grown Fraser fir is laden with favorite ornaments. Decorating the tree "is always a very emotional event and tradition at Christmastime," Molly says.
"We have details such as the exposed ceiling beams that make the house feel more relaxed, like a French country house," Molly says.
Wall paint ("Pale Smoke" #1584); ceiling paint ("Ivory White" #925): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667.
Fireplace (honed French limestone): Tartaruga Design Inc., 877/762-0418. Mirror: Details, 801/364-8963.
Dining table (mahogany Regency-style); chairs (carved mahogany neo-classical-style shield-back chairs): Washington Square Antiques, 703/836-3214, washingtonsquareantiques.com
Chair fabric ("Woodcut"/Green, Blue #2007159.513, by Suzanne Rheinstein): Lee Jofa, 800/453-3563, leejofa.com
Rug: Mark Keshishian & Sons Inc., 301/654-4044.
Chandelier ("Innocence," with custom faux finish #9255): Currey & Co., 877/768-6428, curreyco.com
A silvered mirror above the dining-room side of the fireplace is part of the pretty mix of silver, gold and white. A boxwood wreath tops the mirror, and a mix of votive candles and julep cups filled with tulips and amaryllis keep things young and light.
Designer Elizabeth Hague relaxed the formal look of the Regency-style mahogany dining set by covering chair seats with flirty skirts in a Lee Jofa fabric.
Sideboard (George III inlaid mahogany): Washington Square Antiques, 703/836-3214.
Mirror (custom): through Elizabeth Hague Interiors, 202/333-0039.
The sideboard is a George III inlaid mahogany bowfront that the Morrises purchased at an antiques shop in Alexandria, Virginia. Molly filled the silver-footed urns with hydrangeas, her favorite flower. The silver coffee server is an heirloom from her mother.
Paperwhites emerge from containers on the dining table.
China ("Chinese Bouquet"/Green): Herend, 800/643-7363, herendusa.com Flatware ("Strasbourg"): Gorham Silver, 877/482-6515, gorham1831silver.com Placemats: owner's collection.
Linen napkins: Libeco Home, libeco.com
Glasses with dots; green stemware: owner's collecton.
Swags of local greenery and pinecones both huge and tiny trim out the stair railing-to which florist Amanda Hansen added magnolia and a lovely tangerine ribbon.
Family room walls are painted "Bryce Canyon," a warm coral hue from Benjamin Moore.
Wall paint ("Bryce Canyon" #098): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667.
Sofa ("Charles of London"): Charles Stewart Co., 828/322-9464, charlesstewartcompany.com
Sofa fabric ("Solace"/Aspen #7960, discontinued): Pindler & Pindler, 805/531-9090, pindler.com
Window-seat fabric ("Market Check"/Sage #JW2909, by Jasper): Michael S Smith Inc., 310/315-3018, michaelsmithinc.com. Available through John Rosselli & Assoc., 212/593-2060, johnrosselliassociates.com
Pillows on window seat; chair: owner's collection.
Chair fabric ("Moghul Paisley"/Champagne #LCF 18362F): Ralph Lauren Home, 888/475-7674, ralphlaurenhome.com
Rug (antique, Heriz): Mark Keshishian & Sons Inc., 301/654-4044.
Coffee table: Random Harvest Antiques & Home Furnishings, 301/280-2777.
A window seat with checked fabric in sand, red, and gold offers a cozy reading niche.
The kitchen is the home's center and has ample space for Molly and Bill to cook side by side.
Wall paint ("Country White" #898): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667. Floors: 8-inch oak.
Cabinetry: Craftsman Kitchens, 801/293-8001, craftsmankitchen.com
Cabinetry paint ("Mountain Peak White" #OC-121, with custom gray glaze): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667.
Hanging pendants over island ("Gwenwood Hanging Pendant" #DC-2100, by Darryl Carter): Urban Electric Co., 843/723-8140, urbanelectricco.com
Paint on hanging pendants (custom, "Blue Lace" #1625, with bronze accents): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667.
Countertops (Crema Marfil honed marble): Dal-Tile, 801/487-3590, dal-tile.com
Cabinetry hardware (distressed antique nickel finish): Baldwin Hardware, 800/566-1986, baldwinhardware.com
Rangetop: Wolf, 800/222-7820, subzero-wolf.com
Backsplash (biscuit-colored subway tile, 3x6-inch brick pattern #MT-11 3x6 Biscuit): Contempo Tile, 888/468-8453.
Stools: owner's collection.
Faucet: Rohl, 800/777-9762, rohlhome.com
Red mixer: KitchenAid, 800/422-1230, kitchenaid.com
The circa-1720 oak dresser used as a kitchen hutch was found at the same Alexandria, Virginia, antiques shop that sold the Morrises the dining-room sideboard. Molly uses the hutch to display antique Imari plates and silver pieces.
Since their move to Park City, the Morris family nearly always eat dinner together, gathered around an antique French table.
Chandelier: Random Harvest Antiques & Home Furnishings, 301/280-2777, randomharvesthome.com.
Table; chairs: The Gables Antiques, 404/231-0734, thegablesantiques.com Slipcovered chair (#189-41); chair fabric ("Destin"/Rain): Lee Industries, 800/892-7150, leeindustries.com
Window-seat fabric, blue pillows on window seat (custom, "Tapa"/Lapis #TP3): Peter Fasano Ltd., 413/528-6872, peterfasano.com
Plates and mugs ("Petit Singe"): Juliska, 888/414-8448, juliska.com
Blue-fluted bowls ("Latte Bowls"): Anthropologie, 800/309-2500, anthropologie.com
Candlesticks: Cactus & Tropicals, 801/485-2542, cactusandtropicals.com
Chair-seat cushions (by Hodsell McKenzie): discontinued.
Shades ("Middleton Linen"): Schumacher, 800/523-1200, fschumacher.com
Evergreen wreaths hang at the windows, which offer stunning views of Park City's ski resorts.
In the serene master bedroom, the white matelassé coverlet from Peacock Alley looks crisp and dreamy with bed skirt, shams, and a slipper chair covered in a floral from Colefax and Fowler. All the furnishings were brought from the Morrises' previous home in Maryland.
Wall paint ("Buttermilk" #919): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667. Headboard; slipper chair: owner's collection.
Headboard fabric (custom, aqua linen): Peter Fasano Ltd., 413/528-6872.
Bed-skirt, pillow, and slipper-chair fabric ("Fairburn"/Aqua #F3214-02, by Colefax and Fowler): Cowtan & Tout, 212/647-6900.
Matelassé coverlet: Peacock Alley, 800/496-2880, peacockalley.com
Wall lights (double swing-arm wall lamps, gunmetal finish, by Hinson & Co.): Donghia, 914/662-2377, donghia.com
Plaid fabric on lampshade ("Milton Check"/Aqua #J0505-710, by GP&J Baker): Lee Jofa, 800/453-3563, leejofa.com
Drapery; wooden settee: owner's collection.
Settee fabric ("Milton Check"/Aqua, by GP&J Baker): Lee Jofa, 800/453-3563, leejofa.com
Bedside table: Scott Antique Market, scottantiquemarket.com
The headboard is upholstered in a soft aqua linen from Peter Fasano. The pine bedside table is topped with family photos and a vase of cut amaryllis mixed with tulips and eucalyptus berries.
Bedside table: Scott Antique Market, scottantiquemarket.com
Headboard; slipper chair: owner's collection.
Headboard fabric (custom, aqua linen): Peter Fasano Ltd., 413/528-6872. Matelassé coverlet: Peacock Alley, 800/496-2880, peacockalley.com
Bedside table: Scott Antique Market, scottantiquemarket.com
Wall light (double swing-arm wall lamp, gunmetal finish, by Hinson & Co.): Donghia, 914/662-2377, donghia.com
The master sitting room's walls are painted Benjamin Moore "Serene Breeze." Armchairs covered in an aqua-and-cream fabric from Vervain invite relaxation.
Wall paint ("Serene Breeze" #449): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667.
Upholstered sofa; pillows on sofa: owner's collection.
Drapery ("Boxwood"/Grey, Green #10506-04, by Colefax and Fowler): Cowtan & Tout, 212/647-6900.
Lounge chairs: owner's collection.
Chair fabric ("Chapelle"/Aqua #0513806): Vervain, 800/611-8686, vervain.com Coffee table (pine chest); mirror: owner's collection.
Mantel (custom): George T. Myers, GTM Architects, 240/333-2000, gtmarchitects.com
Fireplace surround: slate.
Molly and Bill Morris and sons Duncan (standing) and Christopher, with Tibetan terrier Sammy.