Designer Jenny Samuelson gives modern mountain style an eclectic edge, mixing elements of past and present in her family’s new Park City home.
By Natalie Taylor, Photos by Scot Zimmerman
In a town where über-modern digs have become the rage, it’s rare to see new homes integrating elements of times past. But that’s exactly what Jenny Samuelson’s new family home in Park City does.
“Our goal for the entire house was to make it look timeless,” says Samuelson. “So, literally no one would be able to tell when it was built.” Jenny and her design partner, Julie Chahine, both principal designers for J Squared Interiors, worked hard to create an eclectic design that mixes traditional, contemporary and everything in between.
And that meant taking an unconventional approach to the new build. “We added a brick fireplace and then painted over it,” Samuelson explains, “Imagining that it had been there for decades and at one point, a previous owner decided they were sick of red brick, took out a can of paint, and went to town.” The Samuelsons hired architect Scott Jaffa, CEO of Jaffa Group Design Build, to design the home.
“I knew he would understand me,” she says. Jaffa not only understood, he appreciated her unique vision.“Jenny is both a friend and a client,” says Jaffa. “She has a great aesthetic and brings fresh ideas to the table. She doesn’t want to do what her neighbors are doing or what she sees in a magazine. She let me be creative, which is what I do best. It’s so nice to have a client put so much trust in an architect.”
One of the hardest things to express, however, was that she didn’t want things to look perfect—it was okay if paint dripped a bit or didn’t go on totally even. “All of Jaffa Group’s subs were such professionals, accustomed to doing everything perfectly, that this came as a strange and uncomfortable directive,” she says. “I didn’t want a perfect home; I wanted an interesting home with character.”
Although it’s a ski-in home located slopeside on Park City Mountain Resort, the house doesn’t translate as a typical Park City mountain home thanks to wide-paned windows, wood paneling, and accessories including Swiss army blankets that look as though they could be 100 years old.
The breakfast room was deliberately designed to appear as though it was an addition, and finishes, such as the reclaimed wood that adorns the fireplace in the master bedroom, can’t be defined by one specific era. “We used a lot of industrial lighting fixtures,” explains Samuelson. “So it looks as though the fictitious previous owner went through an industrial phase.”
But the most important element of history in this 8,500-square-foot home with six bathrooms and seven bedrooms is art. Jenny and her husband Kevin have been collecting art since they met in college. “After we graduated (she earned a bachelor’s degree in art history from UC Berkeley), we lived in Europe,” she says. “We had no money, but what we did have, we spent on art.”
Jenny has served on the board of directors at the Kimball Art Center for the past three years so when the drafting began, art took center stage. “Modern builds with great rooms have very little wall space,” she explains. “So the challenge was creating the wall space and color palette that we needed to display our collection. That meant designing specific spaces for our favorite pieces.”
For example, a painting by Brady Gunnell hangs prominently on the brick fireplace and serves as a focal point in the great room. And they opted for a wall instead of a window in the breakfast room.“I wanted to showcase one of our most beloved pieces, Ghost Station, by Ed Ruscha,” says Jenny. So they painted the wood paneling dark gray to make the painting pop.
The new home is designed for comfort and family. It mixes new with the old: materials used a long time ago, actual reclaimed materials and custom-built contemporary furniture. It employs traditional forms, shapes and architectural details to create its own rules.
In the backyard, six chickens peck in the grass and the dog chases butterflies. For this Park City family, it’s a place where history begins.
Jenny Samuelson, principal designer, J Squared Interiors