For some, the desire for escape is fierce — like the call of a soul. Robert Redford, the actor and founder of the Sundance Institute in Park City, once described his own longing for a place of retreat as a child growing up in Los Angeles: “I’d think about being someplace else, living a different life. You need to create your own solitude.”
California couple Don and Mary Mealing shared a similar desire — to create a place of refuge and renewal — a home they would build on over four private acres in the gated ski-in/ski-out community, The Colony, in the heart of Park City Mountain Ski Resort — not far from where Redford’s Sundance Film Festival is now underway (and where one can easily ski from the house to the festival).
In a fitting tribute to their longtime reverence for Utah’s amazing backcountry and their passion for rock climbing, they named the 12,000-square-foot house “Clouds Rest.” Their inspiration for the moniker came from a majestic granite peak in Yosemite National Park, named in 1851 by a Mariposa Battalion soldier who saw “clouds rapidly settling down to rest upon that mountain.” The couple had also fallen in love in Yosemite while on their very first climbing trip together almost 40 years ago.
“The name fit the vision for our home,” shares Don. “It’s a place of rest. It’s our own private resort.”
The couple commissioned Michael Upwall, a Salt Lake City-based architect known for creating what he deems “high art” — buildings that blend seamlessly into the natural landscape yet can withstand extreme mountain conditions. For the Mealings, he envisioned a modern mountain residence that took advantage of the site’s elevation at 9,000 feet with commanding panoramas overlooking the Snyderville Basin. In harmony with its alpine surroundings, the house seemingly rises from the mountain top and spans out to reveal wide-open vistas from every angle and almost every room.
“We really connected with the grand sweeping views of the Uintah Mountain Range, and the wild 10,000-foot ridge lines just above our property,” says Don. “These peaks became our year-round playground. Some of the world’s best powder skiing and boarding lie right outside our backdoor, and amazing hikes and mountain biking when the snow disappears.”
The portrait of nature unfolding from their home became the inspiration for many of their design decisions. Originally envisioning the residence as a vacation house, they worked closely with Upwall to turn their picture of mountain living into reality. They collected images of features and materials they liked. They studied elements that make a house visually appealing, such as color contrasts and ratios of dark to light stone. They eventually settled on a style that felt authentic to them and fit into the landscape and their family’s need to find a sense of place among Utah’s breathtaking wilderness: Contemporary Mountain Craftsman.
“Our house absolutely delights us and our visitors,” says Mary. “We can’t tell you how many people tell us it seems this home seems to grow right out of the ground; with so many colors and textures that blend perfectly into the surrounding rocks and forest.”
Paying homage to the Craftsman style, they honed in on the details: hand-crafted elements, tapered wood columns and a wide-open layout. Upwall designed clear sight lines spanning the length of the house — so “ you have a sense of destination as you move throughout the house,” notes Mary.
This spirit of openness permeates the residence, yet each living space manages to feel intimate, warm and inviting. A sense of coziness passes through the home via seven fireplaces and a warm color palette mimicking the rich hues of autumn. The interiors are a canvas of intricate stone, wood and metal work as seen in the Brazilian cherry floors, copper and acid-washed steel and sandstone from Montana, Wyoming and Utah.
Nature never feels far away as the indoors seamlessly connect to a deck extending the length of the house on the main level and a stone terrace below.
Walls of light-filled windows and two dramatic spiral staircases — which give the illusion of floating in space and took a year to craft — add touches of modernity to the house.
The kitchen features thick honed granite countertops, alder cabinets with hammered copper panels set in hand-chipped wood trim and a barrel-vaulted, paneled ceiling that forms a canopy over the space.
The lower level of the home — which includes a theater, bar and dedicated areas for games, music, exercise, television, billiards and a one of the tallest residential climbing walls in the world — was designed as the ultimate entertainment center for family and friends.
The Mealings also added a ski access room, with a mini-kitchen for hot beverages, an island bench for taking off ski boots in front of a fireplace, a group boot dryer, equipment storage, and a door that opens to a flat launching pad to Canyon Resort’s Daybreak Ski Run and many days of “First Powder.”
In all, their exacting vision for their dream home was realized after three years: six bedroom suites, 10 bathrooms, a hearth room and den, and a display area for their expanding art collection. They quickly realized that their ambitious endeavor to create a place of rest on a mountain peak above Park City resulted not in the creation of a part-time retreat, but a permanent residence.
“This house was a sheer pleasure for us to design and build,” they both proclaim. “There is an amazing devotion to detail in our architecture and materials that people just fall in love with. It has taught us to appreciate our natural surroundings even more, and all the efforts of balancing and respecting our forest surroundings has provided great joy.”
Clouds Rest is listed by Bing Zhang of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Park City for $7,995,000 USD, and marketed by the Coldwell Banker Previews International program. For more information, call (801)-455-1922.