“I can’t get enough light,” says designer Hillary Taylor, who credits this insatiable craving as a driving force behind the design of her family’s vacation home in southern Utah. The scenic desert setting was equally inspiring. “In St. George, everything is about the views,” she explains. Taylor tags this power couple as “site and light” and considers it key to each and every one of her projects. Her family’s extraordinary getaway is no exception.
Set against a stunning backdrop of red cliffs and majestic sandstone mountains, the contemporary house perches above a rugged field of lava rock in the gated Entrada community. The result of a collaboration among Taylor, architect Kim Talbot, Split Rock Custom Homes and a team of talented pros, the dwelling is uniquely wide and shallow. “It runs the width of the lot, and we designed the floor plan so that rooms don’t back up to each other. That way, natural light and spectacular views flood every space,” Taylor explains.
Once through the window-framed front door, guests are immediately drawn through the house by jaw-dropping views framed by floor-to-ceiling windows. To allow the scenery to dominate, Taylor dressed the interior walls and ceilings in white limestone plaster. “Its luminescent irregular finish complements the natural setting, and its imperfection adds soul and authenticity to the interior,” she explains.
Because the surrounding landscape fills the home’s wide-open interior spaces with vibrant scenes of orange-reds and vivid sky blues, Taylor chose “gestures” of non-matching but similarly potent hues to enliven the décor’s predominantly neutral palette. Carefully measured dashes of fresh green, sunny yellow and cornflower blue animate three charming guest suites while an edited mélange of colorful paintings and spirited accents cheer the spaces throughout. “Given the value and strength of the colors outside, I wanted to limit the visual clutter on the inside,” Taylor explains.
In the wide-open great room, the focal point is breathtaking views of Snow Canyon and red-rock mesas framed by a 3-sided wall of expansive picture windows crafted from butted glass. “Their dimension makes you feel like you’re part of the landscape rather than just viewing it,” Taylor says. An impressively large fireplace formed of poured concrete and cerused oak overlooks the inviting living room area. There, low-profile furniture, textured rugs and tranquil hues relax the sophisticated space and visually link it to the outdoors. So, too, does continuous limestone flooring that flows seamlessly throughout the open floor plan and out onto the broad patios and pool area.
The nearby kitchen opens to the dining and living areas and was created to host large family gatherings with ease and comfort. Taylor anchored the engaging space with two waterfall-style islands formed from Calacatta Oro honed marble and texture-rich, cerused oak cabinetry that continues throughout the space. She clad the back walls with shimmering, hand-formed Mexican tiles and fronted them with broad, open shelves on which she stacks everyday dishes and glassware. “Open shelves are great for a second home where storage space isn’t as crucial,” she explains. A soft plaster finish dresses the large range hood as well as a pair of charming Julie Neill lanterns. Accents of black—faucets, oven fronts and window frames—add just enough visual weight to ground the light-as-air décor. Transom and picture windows fill the room with alluring light, with a little help from a skylight above. “There is something magical that natural light delivers,” Taylor says. “I always want it to come from at least two directions in every room, and here, it comes from three.”
The designer’s deft skill for capturing natural light continues in the master bathroom, where an up-close-and-personal view of sculptural agaves and an open patio pour into the space through an expansive floor-to-ceiling wall of butted glass. “Connection to the view and outdoors drove every choice here,” Taylor says. She suspended a pair of ceiling-mounted, lighted mirrors above a floating vanity and cleverly hid all plumbing and electrical elements inside its legs. In the adjoining bedroom, she placed a chic Holly Hunt chaise to overlook a private cantilevered balcony that accesses the spa and pool. A short wall separates these from the lava fields and desert beyond. The designer explains, “The wall is a contemporary gesture that divides where civilization ends and wild beauty begins.”
Through it all, Taylor’s vision of the ideal vacation home drove her compelling design. “A second home should allow you to rejuvenate,” she says. “It should be inspiring and uplifting in its simplicity and personalization.” Thanks to the designer’s talent and the skilled pros who helped her create this St. George getaway, that is exactly what she and her family now enjoy.
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