“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.

Horizontal lines impart a decidedly contemporary flair to the home’s entry. Walls of Texas Lueders limestone form the welcoming space while a custom white-oak door opens to an interior dominated by commanding desert views. Photo by Nathan Schroder.
In the open kitchen, Taylor focused on bright light, natural materials, clean surfaces and eye-catching views. Vertically planked cerused cabinetry was crafted by Joe Pinegar, Premier Woodwork and Design. Hand-formed Mexican wall tile is from Inside Out Architecturals, the Calacatta Oro honed countertops are from Italia Granite and the plumbing fixtures are by Waterworks. Photo by Nathan Schroder.

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. 

An expansive 3-sided wall of butt glass windows frames breathtaking scenery in the open great room. “It feels like you’re in a huge window seat surrounded by views,” Taylor says. She designed the room’s impressive fireplace that features a concealed TV compartment. She also designed furnishings that include a linen-covered sectional and a marble coffee table fabricated by Intermountain Stone. A blue wool rug from Details tops an apple matting rug by Patterson Flynn Martin. Photo by Nathan Schroder.

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.

A highly textured wall of natural Texas Leuders stone flows from the exterior into the entry, where custom plaster sconces by Julie Neill and an antique empire mirror embellish the space. The striped rug is by Marc Phillips Rugs, and the hair-on-hide bench is from Details Inc. Photo by Nathan Schroder.
In the dining area, a Branching Bubbles fixture by Lindsey Adelman hangs above a Saarinen table from DWR. Large sliding pocket doors open the space to the back patio while a large side window offers views of a small courtyard. The La Croix art is by Phil Durst, and the woven Balboa chairs are from Serena & Lily. Photo by Nathan Schroder.

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.

“Naturally rejuvenating, fresh green is a great choice for a guest room and a perfect foil for the black lava and red Navajo sandstone outside,” says Taylor, describing this room’s charming décor. The cactus lamp is by Hector Finch, the bed is from Serena & Lily and the custom pillows and bedding are from Matouk. Photo by Nathan Schroder.
A neutral palette calms the restful master bedroom. Taylor softened the luxurious room’s sound by adding a custom O. Henry House screen and an upholstered Hickory Chair bed. Ralph Lauren lamps top nightstands by Holly Hunt. Photo by Nathan Schroder.

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.

“I was really stretching with this space,” says Taylor, describing the stunning master bathroom. She concealed plumbing and electrical connections inside the legs of a custom floating vanity masterfully crafted by Premier Woodwork and Design. LED lighted mirrors are suspended from the ceiling and are backed by breathtaking landscape views. The limestone floors are from Arizona Tile, the silver travertine slab countertops are from Italia Granite and the Elena tub is from MTI. Photo by Nathan Schroder.

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 contemporary house runs the full width of the site. A low wall separates the dwelling and outdoor living areas from the natural portion of the property that remains untouched and wildly beautiful. Landscape design by Split Rock and Kappus Landscape. Photo by Nathan Schroder.

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.”

A vanity of white Thassos marble appears to float in a wall clad floor to ceiling in the same stone boasting a raked surface. The stone is from European Marble & Granite. Photo by Nathan Schroder.
The master bathroom and living room space overlook an inviting outdoor sitting area anchored by a raised fire pit. Photo by Nathan Schroder.

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.  

In the mudroom, Soane Britain’s Ripple Console sits below a carved mirror and whimsical rope sconces by Fisher Weisman. “They’re a nod to all of the pony tails that get worn in this home,” Taylor jests. Photo by Nathan Schroder.
A Holly Hunt chaise furnishes a corner in the master bedroom, where quiet tones and magnificent views fill the tranquil space. Photo by Nathan Schroder. 

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