Written by: Brad Mee | Photos by: Scot Zimmerman
If the interior of this Heber home is any indication, mountain style has ditched its dark side. Credit this casting-off to its designers Sue Harman and Jason Wilde, who drew inspiration from century-old paintings by Swedish artist Carl Larsson.
At the request of their Heber clients, Harman and Wilde shunned the bulky forms, dim colors and rustic finishes typical in many of Utah’s hillside homes. Instead, brightly painted surfaces, colorful treatments and refined woodwork define the home’s light-filled interior. While the look is fresh, it’s anything but new. It was, in fact, inspired by the work of renowned artist Carl Larsson, whose paintings the homeowners admire. More than a hundred years ago, Larsson used watercolors to capture the delightful spaces he and his wife Karin decorated inside their family’s countryside cottage in Sundborn, Sweden. Larsson’s images epitomize the informal, livable side of Swedish design and, in spirit and style, characterize many of today’s most charming family homes, including this Heber retreat.
“Our clients wanted to create a gathering place for their family—their kids and their grandchildren,” Harman says. The weekend home, located in Heber’s Red Ledges community, boasts 6,000 square-feet, five bedrooms and, at its core, a commanding great room comprised of a kitchen, living room and a sizable dining area. “The husband wanted a dining table that could comfortably seat 16 people,” Wilde says. He and Harman designed a 12-foot-long, trestle-style table and commissioned local furniture maker Ty Loyola to craft it. The duo surrounded the table with custom wingchairs and covered them in a patterned Rose Tarlow fabric. “We designed the wings to resemble the end of a Swedish bench turned upside down,” Wilde says. The chairs’ whimsical profiles, contrasting welt and back-mounted door knockers exemplify the level of detail that Harman and Wilde bestowed upon the interior at every turn.
Room to room, finished carpentry and custom woodwork including paneling, moldings, wainscot and friezes are painted much like they would have been in Larsson’s Swedish home. “The painted finishes temper the expansive use of wood throughout the home,” Harmon says. Notable exceptions include stained furnishings that help prevent the interior from looking “too sweet,” and several poplar ceilings the designers treated with a transparent gray finish to help ground the overhead surfaces and link their rooms to the house’s mountain locale. “We still needed the interior to feel a touch rustic,” Harman says. The widespread painted elements also provided a soft backdrop for the designers’ masterful mix of pattern and color throughout.
In the great room, Harman and Wilde animated the linen draperies with a wide border created from a colorful S. Harris embroidered fabric. “The large room needed this oversized detail,” says Wilde. In the nearby study, a solid gold mohair-covered sofa counters the room’s lively patterned rug, draperies and pillows. Bolder visual statements thrive in the casual lower level where a custom honeycomb rug anchors the family room’s mix of plaid, striped and herringbone upholstered seating pieces staged below a green paneled ceiling. “It’s a fun, whimsical look and the green ceiling makes the space feel cozier,” says Harman.
The theater room surprises with a riotous mix of patterns in beige, bright greens and blues. “Our client told us she did not want the ubiquitous red theater room, and we were like ‘Hallelujah!’” says Wilde with a laugh. An assortment of outdoor fabrics promotes carefree use while unfussy trims and tapes, as well as fine tailoring, avert a juvenile look for the space. “When you use more whimsical colors, you need to dress them up to make them feel more grown up,” he says.
In the end, the interior boasts a charming décor that reflects the talents of its designers and the spirit of the art that inspired them. “We had so much fun working on this project and with our clients,” says Harman. Wilde agrees. But what the duo finds most rewarding is that this family retreat is one its owners love and enjoy.
1. The dining area opens to the kitchen where painted plate racks and a hood covered in Walker Zanger tile create a strong focal point.
2. Harman and Wilde designed the master bedroom’s large, Swedish-style bed. Crafted by Ty Loyola, the bed features insets upholstered in Kerry Joyce damask fabric and a C & C Milano matelasse coverlet.
3. Carl Larsson-inspired moldings surround the study’s marble-faced fireplace.
4. A soft white finish prevents the kitchen’s intricate terra-cotta tile backsplash from appearing chaotic.
5. A comfortable trundle bed hides beneath a sleeping compartment built into the wall of a lower level bedroom.
6. Bright colors and a bold mix of patterned fabrics give the theater room undeniable panache. Schumacher’s Luberon Plaid upholsters the walls.