Timeless is a word interior designer Cara Fox uses often to describe the houses she and husband Tom—principals of The Fox Group—design and build for clients who crave classic style. The owners of this new residence in Salt Lake’s gracious Harvard Yale neighborhood are among them. “They wanted to live in a walkable, historic Utah neighborhood, but they didn’t want to live in an old house,” Cara says. She and Tom responded by creating an inviting English cottage-style home that complements the neighborhood’s period revival style while providing the space and livability their clients needed for their young, active family. 

Photography by Lindsay Salazar

“We’re big on entrances,” Tom Fox explains. He and his wife Cara dressed the foyer with classic paneling, a herringbone-patterned oak floor and a handsome staircase. “We created tapered balusters and paired them with white-oak newel posts for a simple, elegant feel,” says Cara, standing on the step. 
historic Utah neighborhood
A Dutch door welcomes guests into the home. “Harvard Yale is a gracious walking neighborhood, and this door fosters friendliness while still providing a sense of privacy,” Cara says.

Tailored gardens wrap the two-story house, with its cedar-shingled gambrel roof and multiple dormers conveying stature and age-old character. Meanwhile, white-painted brick—tumbled and set with overflowing mortar—and subtle asymmetry deliver a sense of ease to the traditional facade. “The owners wanted a sense of casual elegance, and that begins at the curb,” Cara explains. 

The exterior provides more than a hint of the character and charm waiting within its brick walls. 

Visual Comfort Dumfries lanterns hang above the entry, where white oak floors deliver a classic pattern to the welcoming space. A peek into the color-saturated music room delivers a shot of drama and signals the beginning of harmonizing blue tones that run throughout the home. 
historic Utah neighborhood

Inside, the home is unmistakably traditional but ardently free of any clichéd décor elements of yesteryear. There are no dark tapestries, heavily carved furnishings or fussy frills. Instead, relaxed textiles, soft colors, natural finishes and spirited details deliver a sense of comfort and freshness throughout. 

historic Utah neighborhood
 A painting by local artist Ryan Cannon hangs in the family room.

Just inside the front Dutch door, brass lanterns hang high above the entry’s herringbone-patterned floor and staircase, both crafted from natural white oak. “They add an airy feeling and tell you right away that while this is a traditional home, it’s light and livable,” Cara says. White paneled walls and a crisply tailored bench suggest the same. A glimpse into the nearby music room, dramatically dressed head-to-toe in dark teal, signals you’re in for a surprise or two. It also reveals a strong penchant for blue. 

historic Utah neighborhood
Art by Paige Anderson inspired the music room’s décor. “The room is super sophisticated and a little overdone,” says Cara, who chose brass accents, silk draperies and a velvet sofa to accentuate the opulence set by the room’s rich navy-teal color. “We wanted this to be a ‘wow’ moment off the foyer.”

Indeed, varied shades of blue perform as a decorative thread that ties the rooms together. Cornflower-hued ginger jars gather in the family room, cobalt glassware fills shelves in the kitchen and a lively mix of pillows, Roman shades and seating pieces running throughout the home are tailored and trimmed in a range of refreshing blues, often teamed with white. “They create such a light, summertime feel,” says Cara, who introduced striped fabrics to do the same. “Our clients wanted the look to be elegant yet casual, and stripes deliver both.” The designer added block-printed florals and plenty of tranquil solids to balance the linear stripes. Nearly all of the fabrics are finished to be no-fuss and family friendly. “They had to be hold up to the active family,” Cara explains. 

historic Utah neighborhood
Open to the kitchen, the family room offers at-ease style and an abundance of custom seating pieces for the active family. The chandelier is by Currey & Company, the lounge chairs’ block-print floral fabric is from Lisa Fine Textiles and the art is by Claire Tollstrup; all available through The Fox Shop.  
The family room opens into the spacious kitchen. Light wood tones and shades of blue and white help decoratively unite the adjoining spaces.

The centrally situated family room—a welcoming space with handsomely paneled walls, an abundance of windows and a finely trimmed fireplace—connects to the open kitchen and back deck, creating a busy and beloved gathering space. “We think the spaces used the most should be the most special,” Tom explains. To create a sense of comfort and conviviality, Cara was deliberate about incorporating lots of seating in the family room and, at her clients’ request, she nixed the ubiquitous TV mounted over the fireplace. “They wanted this space to be all about gathering and bonding,” she explains. Instead, a painting by Claire Tollstrup hangs above the mantle, portraying a dreamy garden scene that furthers the room’s fresh-picked style. 

historic Utah neighborhood
Natural white oak plays against white paint and tile to accentuate the open shelves, cubbies and classic molding of a built-in display wall.
Beadboard, beams and detailed trim work deliver character to the kitchen ceiling. Custom built-in cabinetry and a simple range hood promote the room’s timeless style. The brass-accented lanterns are from Hudson Valley Lighting.

In the adjoining kitchen, striped barstools pull up to the long island top with Calacatta Gold marble. Above, beadboard and beams lend character to the ceiling, while built-in cabinets with glass mullion doors “make everything feel open and more custom than basic shelves would,” Cara says. The range hood is intentionally simple and elegant—”not too fussy,” she adds. 

historic Utah neighborhood
Custom built-in cabinets—designed with glass mullion doors and natural oak interiors—frame the entry into the light-filled dining room. A jaw-dropping lattice-patterned beam ceiling nods to a similar motif gracing the high-back chairs below. The Alberto chandelier is designed by Julie Neill for Visual Comfort.   
Cara hangs a Moravian Star light fixture in nearly every project, as she did here in the powder room. “It reminds me of a 3D compass that always leads you back home,” she says. 

While the design is soothingly cohesive, unexpected elements pepper the décor with color and character. A lattice patterned ceiling—crafted of white oak—crowns the dining room and mimics the chair backs below. An exuberant pairing of striped and floral patterns in shades of red and mint frolic in the girls’ bedroom, where dormers carve out cubbies for benches and storage-rich built-ins. And in the mudroom, large black and white marble squares create an iconic checkerboard patterned floor fronting built-in lockers and an inviting window seat. ”It’s one of may favorite spots in the house,” Cara exclaims. 

historic Utah neighborhood
Vertically shiplapped walls and a checkerboard-patterned floor of honed Carrara and Bardiglio marbles animate the mudroom hall. White-oak cabinets boast a natural matte finish and decorative locker cutouts and brass-mesh drawer fronts. The white light fixture is by Aerin Lauder for Visual Comfort. 
historic Utah neighborhood
A striped Ikat patterned fabric animates the Roman shades, pillows and window seat in the girls’ bedroom. “The Schumacher fabric adds a pop of color and modern flair to the all-floral room,” Cara explains.

Truth be told, details in every room foster the home’s fresh traditional style and invite lingering and lounging. “We knew this would be a house filled with kids and life,” Cara says. “It had to be as fun as it is functional, as lovely as it is livable.”   

Tom and Cara Fox, principals of The Fox Group.

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Brad Mee
Brad Mee is the Editor-in-Chief of Utah Style & Design Magazine.