Despite the interest in metal, glass, and engineered composites, wood still has an important place in Park City homes.
By Ann Zimmerman
Photo by Scot Zimmerman
There is longevity to people’s relationship with wood in their homes and surroundings. Trees are the oldest of all living things, and wood is available. It’s often the closest and most convenient of all building materials. And, there is a uniqueness to wood, as every tree in the forest lives its own separate life, and the rings, knots, scars, and grains of the wood tell its individual story. The return to modernism, the movement toward more efficient homes, and the commitment to sustainability has spurred interest in other building materials like metal, glass, and new engineered materials, but there is still a strong interest in wood for homes.
The Appeal of Wood
Nikos Sawyer of Sawyer & Church Woodworks answers, “Wood has both a visual and tactile quality shaped by the forest, by storms, and by cycles of drought and rainfall. People touch and interact with furniture. Wood lends itself to this interaction because it was once alive and part of nature, and we as humans are drawn to this. Wood expands and contracts with the seasons, and its knots, whirls, and grains give each board its own chaotic character and imparts it into each piece of furniture.”
Silvia Davis, a Utah artist and wood sculptor who, like Sawyer, displays at Trove Gallery in Park City, adds her thoughts. “Wood is vibrant. It continues to breathe and always feels alive. It carves beautifully and offers strength and flexibility. Time only enriches its natural qualities. When I walk into a home that features wood as an integral part of its design, I experience the warmth of the natural world.”
Brings Warmth of Nature to Interiors
The natural warmth of wood described by Davis is the same quality that appeals to Park City interior designer Suzanne Geibel McCammon of Suzanne Geibel Interiors, who works with wood in design. “Naturally, many people want wood for their mountain homes. My own home was built to look like an old barn with wood floors, walls, and ceilings. For a mountain home with lots of wood, the challenge is to soft en spaces by adding texture and color through fabrics, rugs, and painted furniture, but wood is a perfect palette.”
Contemporary homes benefit from adding wood, McCammon says. “Contemporary homes can look a little institutional and I have found they benefit by adding a relaxed element like wood. Many of my clients want a rustic quality to a contemporary home in the mountains, and rustic wood floors play that part perfectly. I recently added a hand-planed distressed wood floor to a bright contemporary home with white walls to give my clients the relaxed element they were looking for.”
One local business, World Bazaar Outlet in Park City’s Quarry Village, specializes in beautiful natural wood pieces for the home. Mauricio Albornoz, who comes from a family of Italian artists, owns the two-story 5,600-square-foot retail store. “All our wood is from sustainable sources. They are rescued trees and not newly-hewn, and our wood comes from all over the world.” World Bazaar Outlet also has vintage pieces and reclaimed and repurposed wood.
Walking through the showroom, one is greeted with incredible selections of wood dining tables, coffee tables, sofas, chairs, desks, and other furniture. Sculptures, partition screens, accents,
and architectural elements complement the space. Albornoz invites visitors to walk through and to touch and experience the unique grains and patterns formed by nature. “Our artists find a fallen tree and recognize just how and where to cut it to conserve the character of the wood.”
He also offers assurances that the store selections are just the “tip of the iceberg” of his inventory and resources. In addition to the Park City retail store, World Bazaar Outlet operates an e-commerce website that serves clients worldwide with selections from sustainable sources.
Wood Products for the Exterior
Altitude Design Build is emerging as one of the leading forces in the Park City homebuilding community. Larry Feldman and Lane Jacobson find that modern mountain motifs need an organic component to retain a quality compatible with living in the mountains, and for this they look to wood.
The exterior of a home puts special demands on materials to keep maintenance work and costs low, which rules out many wood products. “We did some research to come up with a product with the look we wanted. It’s a line of repurposed Wyoming snow fence that has naturally weathered to a beautiful silver gray color and doesn’t require a stain or maintenance. Its weathered face gives the home an organic look. Others have used it on the interior of the home, and it adds a rugged honest quality when it is used inside or outside, and it is especially compatible with modern and contemporary design,” says Feldman.
Mountain homes have long been built with timber from the surrounding forests, and for many, a log home is still the image of mountain living. But times have changed, and there is a resurging interest in modernism. Now people are building contemporary and modern homes in the mountains; however, many find that the natural surroundings of the mountains call for a touch of organic, natural materials. Here wood fits the bill. In the Park City area, there are experienced professionals and sources of wonderful art, furnishings, and accents to add that special warmth and interest that only wood can offer. And, wood does indeed grow on trees.