Having bats in the belfry is one thing. Having actual bats in your Utah vacation house is another story entirely. “It’s super wild there,” says designer Hillary Taylor of this 100-acre ranch near Deer Valley, which her firm, Hillary W Taylor Interiors, revamped for her Salt Lake City–based clients. “Any kind of critter known to man makes its way into civilized dwellings.” Among the finds in her clients’ house and guest house? Birds, a plethora of bugs, and, yes, bats. “You want to spray for insects and things like that, but you can’t around a fly fishing river or you’re ruining the whole point,” Taylor says. One of their solutions was environmentally sustainable, but unequivocally hair-raising: “They had all of these mechanical mechanisms that would drop down and scare the crap out of me with fake tarantulas on them,” she recalls. “It was supposed to scare the birds away, but it really scared their designer away!”
In the end, it was nothing Taylor and the team couldn’t handle. They replaced the roof, windows, and damaged exterior wood and areas under eaves with reclaimed Wyoming cedar fencing; upgraded the former “1990s faux texture” walls, which the designer felt was “trying to be Tuscan”; and then quickly set about cozying up the interior. One of the biggest issues in the primary vacation home was outsized ceiling heights. They’re jaw-dropping, to be sure, but can read a little cold. Take the client’s home office, which was tucked in a skinny hallway towards the front of the house. “I think it has 19-foot ceilings!” Taylor recalls. “Our goal was to warm it up and make it usable.” A rolling ladder allows the homeowner access to her books on upper shelves; while a duchesse en bateau daybed from Atlanta’s William Word Fine Antiques provides an indelible perch for tucking into page-turners.
Taylor brought the similar grandeur of the primary living room down to earth a bit by employing a classic Ralph Lauren antler chandelier, which hauls the aesthetic of a tromp through mountain hiking trails indoors. “There are antlers all over the property,” she says. “Yes, it’s a little clichéd to have that, but it really has warmed things up, especially with our own custom [Fermoie] shades on it.” Underfoot, a graphic and geometric hand-woven rug from King’s House Rugs seems to reference the indigenous tribal blankets found in the region, providing storied eye candy. Also nodding to Utah’s historic roots: a painting, “Relief Society Sisters,” by Utah painter Gary Earnest Smith.
The formerly lackluster media room also got a sumptuous ski lodge treatment. “Again, it was a weird room with a strangely high ceiling,” she says. “So I upholstered the walls with Jasper’s Indian Flower fabric and we added more reclaimed fencing to the ceiling.” (Bonus: a layer of soundproofing!) A duo of sheep ottomans from Scully and Scully do double duty as playthings for the homeowners’ grandkids, and are a homestead version of Utah’s own native bighorn sheep.
The client was clear with Taylor when it came to decorating the guest house: “She said, ‘We can still keep a guest room, but really make this a place that I want to be when we’re up here,’” Taylor recalls. To that end, the entry hall is an unabashedly feminine space, with a coral door and matching striped walls; the cheekily named “locker room” is outfitted in charming treillage.
But perhaps no space has a friendlier feel than the dining room. It’s surrounded by windows on three sides that overlook a rushing river, each dressed in Pierre Frey’s Tyrol pattern. Rendered on cotton, the motif captures 18th-century thrills of alpine life that we still love two centuries later, including sledding through powdery snow and fairytale-worthy rides via horse drawn sleigh. “That Tyrolean landscape is very much what this ranch is located in—it really does look very Tyrolean to me!” Taylor says. She paired a Paul Ferrante iron chandelier (sans shades, all the better to see the view by) with a happy striped rug below for a barefoot and breezy touch. The wicker chairs, too, “are just really, really comfortable—and frankly, we don’t really have that formality here.” Translation: This home has a warm, welcoming feeling for all—except, of course, certain beasts of the wild who shall remain nameless.