Cody Derrick had long been on the lookout for the perfect escape. At first he thought a remote mountain cabin would be the ideal retreat from his whirlwind city life as the owner of cityhomeCOLLECTIVE, a boutique real estate brokerage and design firm based in Salt Lake City. “I wanted it to feel like a vacation,” he remembers. During his search, he visited Park City and took a run up Main Street. Near the top, where the buildings transition from commercial to residential, he stopped in his tracks. There in front of him was “the coolest little house ever” with a For Sale sign out front. “I realized it was better than any cabin,” he recalls. “It was the best of both worlds—located within walking distance of the mountains and trails and coffee shops and spas where I could go to get a deep-tissue massage after said trail runs.” In other words, the perfect escape.

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Cody Derrick with his dog, Pearl

Image: Paul Richer

Thought to be built in 1882 by John Harris, the tiny house originally had only two rooms with a shed kitchen out back and a porch across the front. It first appears on insurance maps in 1889, then in a photo of upper Main Street in the 1890s, looking much as it does today. Miners, mill workers, and carpenters lived there through the years and City Treasurer Margaret Matheson owned it during the 1920s. By the 1930s, the rear shed had been extended along the back of the house, making it two rooms deep, and the roof was popped up to give standing room in the attic for bedrooms.

By the late 1990s, the house was more than a hundred years old and in terrible condition. It had no foundation, internal framing, or insulation, and the rear of the home was giving way to the sliding hillside. It was purchased in the knick of time by well-known local restoration designers Doug Stephens and Ellie Sonntag, who ambitiously completed a full rehabilitation to the home. Stripped down to its outer shell, the house was raised up with car jacks to allow construction of a foundation. They then built a new square structure inside the old one. The original Douglas fir floor planks were reinstalled. A second-floor bath and deck were added, and the back of the house was extended a few feet to accommodate a remodeled and enlarged bathroom, laundry, and mechanical room. All the wood and doors were salvaged locally from historic homes for authenticity. In front, the original stone wall that appeared in the 1890s photo was repaired and capped. When the remodel of this little house was complete, the living space spanned all of 1,186 square feet.

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This 1880s-era miner's home was restored by Doug Stephens and Ellie Sonntag in the late 1990s. Cody Derrick purchased the home to use as a local getaway last year.

Image: Paul Richer

Enter Derrick, a visionary who transforms every space he touches. “I wanted to honor the integrity of the historic structure but bring in a modern aesthetic,” he explains. “At the first walk-through, I dreamed up creating the vibe of an opium den. The design concept was sold before the house was.” Known for his magical mix of time periods, cultures, and well-curated quirky accents, often in rooms with dark, moody palettes, Derrick never fails to make interiors more hip and more interesting. “I love to mix eras, genres, styles,” he admits. “I strive to be multidimensional and I like to create spaces that reflect that, too.”

The front door’s deep forest-green hue (a custom-mixed color Derrick calls Mountain Wizard Green) queues up what’s immediately inside: a very adult living room capturing the ambience 

of elegant parlors of times past while maintaining an eclectically  modern tone. “Rather than chopping this space up with furniture, I wanted it to function as one big space,” says Derrick, who affectionately refers to the color-soaked space as the den. “I wanted this room to accomplish everything. Space for yoga and meditation. A sitting room with sofas in all four corners for friends to eat and drink and converse with one other. A spot to house extra guests overnight when needed.”

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A pair of statement-making floor lamps draw attention to the home's symmetrical doorways.

Image: Paul Richer

As he’d envisioned when he first saw the home, Derrick placed wide and low sectional sofas around the room’s perimeter. “These couches are huge,” he exclaims, “and yet, somehow, they make the tiny room look larger.” The luxe-yet-casual seating is upholstered with a sumptuous velvet the rich color of the front door and custom-mixed matching paint for the walls and ceiling. “I’ve always wanted my homes to feel comforting,” he maintains. “The deep blue-green feels like the earth. It’s grounding for me in a world that is often hectic and the opposite.”

The plush sectionals, anchored with an indigo Persian rug, are tempered by the hard-edged gleam of brass accessories. An etched Moroccan tray serves as a coffee table and a brass-framed mirror, placed on one of the sectional footrests, is used as a surface for a stack of books and a patinaed brass lamp. A brass chandelier glitters in the corner overhead. The art plays with scale, combining an oversized portrait with smaller pastoral landscapes. Striking floor lamps, with bulbous wooden bases, stand sentry on either side of the doorway leading to the kitchen.

By way of luxury appliances and sophisticated surfaces, the compact U-shaped kitchen lives much larger than its uncharacteristically small (by Park City standards) footprint. An oversized farmhouse sink is surrounded by pale quartz countertops, white subway tiles, and beautifully crafted custom cabinets the color of putty. Narrow rails display antique German plates. The floor is finished with old-fashioned marine spar varnish for depth of color. With a slanted ceiling and walls covered with drop siding, the adjoining well-appointed bath evokes the historic backyard shed.

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Upper cabinets with glass fronts contribute to the functional, light-filled kitchen.

Image: Paul Richer

Tall beadboard topped with black-and-white toile wallpaper gives the dining area an inviting formality. A midcentury Murano glass feather chandelier glows above a classic Saarinen Tulip table. Milo Baughman brass and wicker high-back chairs are softened with velvet upholstery and throw pillows covered with African Kuba fabric. Underfoot, a cowhide rug defines the space. A steep, narrow stairway winds up to the second-floor bedrooms.

Upstairs, tented by a sharply sloping ceiling painted deep bronze, the larger front bedroom accommodates two gunmetal iron beds and a surprising saffron velvet scroll wing chair. Textural, gray bedding is layered with solid quilts, plaid blankets, and standout Navajo Los Ojos–patterned throws. The planked floor is painted and windows of random shapes and heights pierce the end walls. A projector turns a blank wall into a video screen.

Derrick tinted the light floral wallpaper that existed in the second bedroom with a bronze glaze, giving it a mysteriously shadowed pattern. A carved Louis XV bed from the 1700s, dressed with a mix of gray and green textiles, contrasts with iconic Italian Atollo side lamps and powerful black vintage target art. Overhead, a minimalist, industrial light fixture from Montreal serves as a hanging sculpture. Of the brooding palette, Derrick says, “Dark colors feel like a sanctuary to me. They always have.”

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A vintage wingback chair, covered in golden velvet, provides an unexpected pop of color in the front bedroom.

Image: Paul Richer

The bedroom opens onto a charming elevated deck with a hot tub and an unexpected chandelier hanging over an intimate dining area. A cozy gathering of metal chairs piled with pillows and throws surrounds a marble-topped table.

The house has become Derrick’s oasis, always filled with music, candles, fine food and wine, and a stream of good friends. He says he loves the stillness of his mountain escape. “The house feels like what I hope to be on the inside of myself—calm, vibrant, intelligent, uplifting, content, and nice to be around.”

Sources

Living room

  • Sectional sofas, custom designed by cityhomeCOLLECTIVE, covered with Robert Allen’s Exquisite Velvet fabric in Forest (robertallendesign.com), fabricated by Sharp Upholstery (801.562.9001, Midvale)
  • Wood-base Tulip floor lamps, Horchow (horchow.com)
  • Portrait by Jennifer Suflita-Coon, The Green Ant, (179 E Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801.595.1818, thegreenant.com)
  • Paint, custom mixed to match the sofas by Sherwin-Williams (875 Iron Horse Dr, Park City, 435.649.7310, sherwin-williams.com)

Kitchen and dining room

  • Murano glass chandelier, Italian Delights (etsy.com)
  • Cowhide rug, Tandy Leather (1107 State St, Salt Lake City, 801.531.7625, tandyleather.com)
  • Vintage Saarinen Tulip dining table, Tomorrow’s House (177 E 300 South, Salt Lake City, 385.272.5373, tomorrowshouse.info)
  • Vintage Milo Baughman dining chairs, The Green Ant
  • Wallpaper, Le Temple de Jupiter by Zoffany (zoffany.com)

Bedrooms

Deck

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