A tired Holladay property gets a spectacular awakening by Northland Design, complete with lushly layered gardens, sun-dappled lawns and an oasis of outdoor living spaces. Cue the pool party.

There are those whose idea of a dream home starts and stops with the building. Kim and Jay Heglar are not among them. This garden-loving couple knew that when they decided to purchase and remodel a stately red brick house in Holladay, overhauling its lackluster landscape would naturally be part of the plan.

Kim had a clear vision of what she wanted. “Flowers and color were my springboards,” says the homeowner, who adores The Butchart Gardens in British Columbia—a spot she loved visiting when the Heglars lived in Seattle. Kim knew that she wanted something similarly lush and vibrant for her young family’s new Utah home, but she didn’t know how to create it. For that, she and Jay turned to landscape architects Northland Design who worked closely with the Heglars to make their vision a reality. “They wanted to change everything except the shell of the existing swimming pool,” explains Jeremy Fillmore, principal of Northland Design. 

The Heglars had also signed on Alice Lane Design Interior Design to help transform the stately house, inside and out. “Classically fresh” is how designer Suzanne Hall describes the residence’s new style. As Alice Lane’s VP of Design, Hall and her team painted the red brick house a warm, organic white. “We knew the new landscaping and gardens would stand out beautifully against the color,” says Hall, who also introduced “classic-yet-fashion-forward” details, including eye-catching pool tiles and dark-framed, light-upholstered furniture. “Their contrast adds a crisp, graphic quality and reflects the young nature of the family,” she explains. Hall added shots of blue and white with elements including garden stools and ginger jars that elevate the enchanting scene. “We love how fresh and traveled it all looks,” she adds.

Fillmore—joined by Northland Design team members Ryan Talbot and Brock Saucier—looked to the reimagined house for inspiration. “A landscape should follow the lead of the architecture,” he explains. To that end, Fillmore and his squad mimicked the house’s sporadic, popped-out brick pattern on new brick masonry columns and raised planters positioned throughout the new gardens. They matched these elements’ Indiana limestone caps to rectangular quoins that detail the home’s exterior corners. Northland Design also repeated limestone on the pool’s coping and in a classic diamond pattern on patio floors to help reinforce the updated home’s fresh, classic style. Fillmore explains, “A landscape can help architecture reach its fullest potential.” 

The new landscape envelops the home with lush gardens, inviting patios and open, sun-dappled lawns. A quote by renowned architect Bobby McAlpine inspires Fillmore and his team: “When our world does not look the way it should to our hearts, we need to create one that does.” To make the most of this property, Northland Design installed a curvaceous run of iron fencing and 7-foot-tall schip laurels that stretch from the front of the house to the forward corner of the property. This barrier cut away a large section of the front yard, enclosing it to become a private, park-like overture for the pool-anchored oasis behind the house. “We turned our back to the street to capture a more usable backyard retreat for this family,” Fillmore explains. Guests enter near the front driveway through a custom garden gate set between brick pillars. The stylized opening performs like a portal into the Heglars’ secret garden.

Inside the gate, a sculpture-like bench and mountain views create a ta-da moment as visitors enter the broad informally shaped lawn. “It’s a whimsical folly in the landscape that pulls you into the yard,” Fillmore explains. Here, and across the property, the design team redefined and edited thickly wooded perimeter gardens, removing failing and dilapidated trees while retaining and adding tall, healthy specimens. “These give the landscape a hug and the privacy our client was dreaming of,” says Fillmore, who also changed all forms and shapes inside of the perimeter. The large grassy area, for example, is cut in with deep, layered beds of columnar oaks, schip laurels, yews and hydrangeas to create an irregularly shaped lawn that fosters a sense of catch-and-release that paces movement across the yard. 

In the back, the landscape becomes decidedly resort-like with outdoor spaces that open unobstructed to each other. “The clients wanted to see easily from one end of the backyard to the other,” Fillmore explains. The renewed swimming pool links the white-brick house with the densely planted gardens, reflecting them on its mirror-like surface. Northland Design added raised brick planters, brick pillars and curated, flower-packed pots selected and designed by Saucier. These create a vertical rhythm of ups and downs across the open landscape. Shapes also play an important part in the design here. Talbot and Fillmore used curved lines and rounded forms to counter the rectilinearity of the pool and architecture, promoting a comforting informality. 

Some of the design evolved during the project’s transformation, and Fillmore is fine with that. “Often this is how great design happens—solutions reveal themselves over time,” he explains. Today, a sense of lightness and brightness permeates every corner of the lush landscape, just as the Heglars had envisioned from the start.  

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