Designer Michele Dunker and client Marilyn Kalbach update a Salt Lake City home, infusing it with classic, chic and delightfully posh style.

In the living room, an Arteriors mirror hangs above a mantel original to the home. Skirted swivel – rockers frame the fireplace. Seating also includes two sofas upholstered in a Holly Hunt fabric and a side chair dressed in Dessin Fournir. A custom ottoman and Parisian Pendant by Boyd Lighting add flair.

When Marilyn Kalbach first visited her future home located on a tree-shaded street in Salt Lake’s Federal Heights neighborhood, she was charmed by its tailored gardens, high ceilings and brilliant interior light. The traditional décor, dark colors and crowded furnishings, however, caused her pause. “I could see there were things I really loved and others I wasn’t really sure,” she recalls about the 1980s home. So she turned to interior designer Michele Dunker for a second opinion. The two had collaborated on three of Kalbach’s previous homes and had developed a friendship that extends beyond the projects. “Michele really understands me and I understand her,” Kalbach explains. “When you’re in sync with your designer, it really helps.” Dunker immediately recognized the property’s underlying beauty. “Once we discussed Michele’s vision, I could see it would be a great home for me,” Kalbach says.

In the dining room, Bernhardt chairs and a Lily Jack settee surround a cream-colored Bernhardt table. A Thomas Pheasant chandelier hangs above florals by Conner Nesbit of Lueca Floral in Logan. Tailored draperies in a Holly Hunt fabric and a pair of custom chests frame French doors leading to the gardens. The rug is by Nourison and the art by Julie Dunker.

“We were most drawn to the home’s classic elements,” Dunker recalls. The exterior, she explains, is European-inspired—simple with interesting windows. Lush gardens envelop the cream-colored house with wisteria-covered trellises, manicured hedges, shaped topiaries and mature shade trees. “It takes a long time for gardens to reach this stage—they’re an art form,” she says. Planters of boxwood orbs add to the landscape’s timeless style and frame an impressive front door. “The door is amazing, tall and grand,” says Dunker. “In Europe, doors and ceilings are massive, and this home’s original owner understood that.” Compelling scale and timeless style continue inside.

The foyer’s pendant by Thomas Pheasant hangs above a cowhide-topped table designed by Michelle Dunker. The rug is by Barbara Barry for Tufenkian.

“We decided to take the home from massively traditional to traditional-contemporary,” says Dunker. She added molding and shadow-box details to enhance the existing molding and replaced the dark, red-and-hunter-green color palette with one of warm whites layered with ivories and taupes. “I prefer a calming neutral environment,” Kalbach explains. Dunker choreographed a mix of old and new, clean-lined and ornate elements that dance throughout, adding sophistication and endless surprises. In the foyer, for example, she dressed the barrel ceiling with grasscloth lattice wallpaper from which a single Thomas Pheasant pendant light hangs above a custom cowhide-topped table accented with gold studs.

Dining room doors open to tailored gardens and the peaceful sounds of a trickling fountain.

The foyer affords direct views into a beguiling living room. There, and throughout the home, expansive windows and French doors allow dazzling natural light to flood the interior. The soaring ceiling, more than 12-feet high, draws the eye upward with molding masterfully formed in a classic bordered-ring pattern. A Parisian pendant by Boyd Lighting hangs above the serene room where plush seating fills the space with elegance and ease. A palette of luxurious fabrics unifies the furnishings, and Dunker and Kalbach spent hours making the selections. “I love looking at fabrics. We would go through baskets of them, and I’d practically drool over the wools, tweeds and angoras,” Kalbach recalls.

A large skylight illuminates a large gallery featuring ornate railing by artist Taras Siniagovsky. Dunker and Kalbach commissioned artist Sarinda Jones to create glass art pieces hanging over the stairway. The large space boasts works by other notable artists including Connie Borup, Heather Barron and Brian Kershisnik.
Homeowner Marilyn Kalbach and designer Michele Dunker
Located at the end of the gallery, a Baker table by Thomas Pheasant is paired with whimsical Oly benches and a plush, custom daybed upholstered in a Mark Alexander mohair. Dunker added molding to the end window wall to create dimension and architectural interest.

The entry also opens into the chic dining room. Dunker wrapped it in a Phillip Jeffries wool-herringbone wall covering that contrasts with dark, heavily carved wall panels original to the home. A Thomas Pheasant chandelier hangs above a cream-colored Bernhardt table paired with a luxe, high-back settee. Two custom chests frame a garden-view window dressed in tailored Holly Hunt draperies and Conrad shades. “This is my favorite room, it’s so tranquil and inviting,” Kalbach says.

Wisteria grows over a trellis covering the large outdoor patio.“It’s where I live in the summer,” Kalbach says. The patio is level with the kitchen and family room that overlook it, making the outdoor area seem more a part of the home’s living space, Dunker explains. Outdoor fabrics are by Opuzen.
A cozy sitting area anchors the master bedroom where wing chairs upholstered in a Rogers & Goffigon fabric pair with chairside tables by Keno Brothers for Theodore Alexander. Dunker chose a Mark Alexander textile to cover the custom-designed ottoman. Draperies are tailored in fabric from Zimmer & Rohde.

As it turns out, every space—inside and out—delights Kalbach. The calming master bedroom offers a cherished place to lounge and read in front of the fireplace. The light-filled gallery provides abundant wall space to display art and, at its end, a library table surrounded by whimsical benches, stacks of books, curiosities and a custom daybed anchors a sun-warmed spot where Kalbach retreats in front of windows overlooking the gardens. During the summer months, these gardens—and their trellis-covered patio—become an outdoor living room where she spends time relaxing and entertaining. Indoors and out, Kalbach enjoys every space she and Dunker have created. “This home has the right owner,” Dunker explains. “It deserved somebody like Marilyn to make it so special.”
See more inside the Spring 2017 issue.

by  Brad Mee    Photos by Scot Zimmerman


Interior Designer: Michele Dunker, Dunker Beal Interior Design, SLC

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