Like buried treasure, the glass-and-steel International Style home featured in our story “True to the Past” lay hidden for decades behind overgrown woods and a weather-worn fence, nestled in the shadows of Salt Lake’s Mount Olympus. That was before a team of professionals revived this time-worn modernist gem, bringing it back to life sixty years after renowned architect John Sugden first designed it. With its flat roof and expansive planes of glass, the steel box structure hovers over the landscape, captivating onlookers with its inspired design, both inside and out. The following images by photographer Scot Zimmerman complement those in our printed feature, reinforcing architect Jack Smith’s assertion that “It takes you—like music does—to a higher realm of happiness. It’s pure joy.”

In the lower level, the team removed walls and outdated window coverings to create a spacious, open-concept entertaining area with walkout access to the patio, facilitating seamless indoor-outdoor living. The existing drop ceiling was cleaned and updated to ensure continued access to electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and lighting systems. Designers Doug Smith and Danny Setjo sourced furnishings from CB2, Crate and Barrel, Keeksdesign, and Eternity Modern.

Eighteen I-beam columns elevate the hovering structure of the 1964 glass-and-steel modernist home over the lush East bench mountainside. “The Siegel House is an advanced technical structural innovation, every bit as important as the Farnsworth House,” says Jack Smith, original architect draftsman and contractor of the 1964 home.  Like the Farnsworth House in Illinois, the Utah home bucked the traditional notion of residential living at the time. 

Modernist design introduced new principles for residential living, emphasizing an open layout. Guided by original 1964 photos, the crew restored the main living room by removing the fluorescent lighting, window coverings and the dropped acoustical ceiling that had been added post-construction. The increased ceiling height and new LED track lighting now highlight the clean lines and maximize natural light, revealing the white steel skeleton of the structure.

“Glass allows you to live in nature. It can rain. It can snow. The wind can blow. It can do all kinds of things and here you are with just this little thin piece of glass between you and nature. Talking about a connection to nature; it’s just one step below being in it,” says Jack Smith. 

Secondary sitting area faces the fireplace, with its original walnut casing and smoked-black glass. It was updated with a new gas-burning stove and concrete fireballs.

A sculpture by artist David Holz, prominently centered at the entry doors, is designed to be visible from the street, day and night. Given the linear architecture of the house, Doug Smith selected this curvaceous sculpture to provide a complementary juxtaposition. Its vivid red color stands out strikingly against the stark white backdrop.

The architecture is all about authenticity. If a beam is made of steel, it is visible as such. The exposed steel frame of the ceiling exemplifies this principle, embodying a sense of honesty and truth. It’s a philosophical stance that underscores the integrity of the home’s design.

A new, state-of-the-art entertaining kitchen emerges. “St. Charles was the Rolls Royce of cabinets in the 1960s,” says Doug Smith of two rows of upper cabinets the team preserved. “Stainless steel was initially used in commercial restaurant applications before becoming a premier, durable work surface in residences as well.”

The original vintage circular steel staircase—now with fresh paint and new carpet treads—leads guests to a fresh indoor-outdoor entertainment space. “This area was imagined to be a vertical gallery to feature artwork reminiscent of the 60s; largely white with pops of color,” says interior designer Doug Smith. 

In the primary bedroom, the renovation preserves Sugden’s original walnut closet modules while removing the outdated curtains and shag carpeting. New furnishings reflect midcentury principles of simplicity, enhancing the room’s aesthetic and offering unobstructed views of the mountainside and the dry creek bed below.

The reimagined primary bathroom boasts a walnut-and-Carrara Marble vanity, 60s-style Lumen lighting and Brizo hardware. Porcelain flooring and a new wall of vertically-stacked, high-gloss handmade elevate the room’s style.

Design Team:

Photographer: Scot Zimmerman

Interior designer/GM: Doug Smith, Smith Setjo Group

Restoration contractor: Cottle Home & Construction

Original 1964 architect draftsman and contractor: Jack Smith

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