Clifford and Judith Miller’s interest in Park City came naturally.
Clifford’s family members were early Park City settlers, arriving in the 1880s. His great-grandfather, Welshman James Hooper, worked at the Silver King Mine Company; his grandfather, Sigvart Jensen, immigrated from Norway and opened a barbershop next to what is now the Egyptian Theatre on Main Street; and his mother, LaVeryl Jensen, was born in Park City in 1903. Clifford himself grew up in Salt Lake City before moving to Los Angeles in 1955, but he often visited Park City and was proud of his Utah heritage.
Still, the couple’s life in Los Angeles was a far cry from the Wasatch. Clifford prospered at a business-consulting firm, where he was drawn into Republican politics working with presidents from Eisenhower to Ford. He found time to be a trustee and chairman of the board of Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California, and his career also included serving as an officer and director of Great Western Financial before he joined Shamrock Holdings, the investment vehicle for the Roy Disney family. Judith also had a full plate of interests and responsibilities as a board member of ARCS Foundation (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists), a national nonprofit that supports the best and brightest scholars in science at the top universities across the country. The Millers’ work regularly took them to New York City and Washington, DC, leaving them precious little time for a Three Kings condo they had owned since the early 1970s.
Yet as the years went on, the Millers felt an increasing desire for a home that would be a refuge from their hectic life in Los Angeles—and the call of the Wasatch grew stronger. “Friends such as Rob Morris
[a local real estate agent] and Hal Taylor [a former Park City mayor] convinced me that Park City would be a thriving mountain resort town where I would be happy to put down roots,” Clifford says.
Those who remember Park City in the 1970s and ’80s can attest that the neighborhood that most resonated with stylish, comfortable living was Thaynes Canyon. This intimate group of lots and homes, nestled against Park City’s mountains with streams running through pastures and aspen groves, boasts breathtaking views of horse ranches and the Park City Golf Course. The Millers fell in love with a one-acre lot near Herb Armstrong’s Snow Summit Ranch and bought the lot in 1989.
“Being near that beautiful Armstrong barn sold me,” Judith reminisces. “We were entranced by the many large trees on the property and determined to nestle our house among them, making our home part of the landscape. We hired Mark Walker of Otto Walker Architects and Steve Morgan as our contractor to translate our dream into reality.”
To accomplish this goal, the Millers requested a large deck that wrapped around the entire house, ensuring a view of the woods and the mountains from every angle. “There is nothing more soothing,” Clifford says, “than to enjoy a drink in the evening on the deck, while listening to the stream and watching squirrels and birds fly or scamper through the trees.” Indeed, the Millers probably spend as much time on their deck, from breakfast in the morning to their cherished evening cocktail hour and dinner during the summer, as they do inside their home.
Judith took on the task of designing the interior herself—because she knew exactly what she wanted. “I envisioned a French country home in the style of Pierre Deux that would have the feeling of Provence,” she muses, “but would also fit into our mountain landscape.” To that end, Judith selected an eclectic mix of antiques with lots of copper accents and paintings by noted wildlife artists such as Richard Murray and impressionist artists including Kent Wallis (who exhibits at Park City’s Meyer Gallery). Judith’s emphasis on creating a welcoming atmosphere where “one could just plop down onto a couch and not worry about his or her feet” led her to choose chairs and couches designed by Avery Boardman, known for his substantial yet comfortable custom upholstered furniture.
When planning what Judith likes to call her “kitchen in the trees,” with light filtering through surrounding pines and aspens through large windows, she chose an amply proportioned counter where guests could join her while she cooked. Her love for copper prompted her to choose an Abbaka hood over the stove with a copper backsplash and trim. “Cliff loves all of the various copper touches, which remind him of Utah’s famed copper mine heritage in the Salt Lake Valley,” Judith says.
As the Miller family grows and matures (three grandchildren and extended family love to gather here and enjoy quiet respites), the couple’s home changes with them. Last summer, the Millers decided to redesign their garden, enhancing a circular perennial bed in front of the house that had featured a variety of peonies and wildflowers. Landscape designer Catarina Blais created a panoply of flowers that bloom at different times, from spring through fall. It makes a new and striking entrance to an elegantly seasoned and much beloved family home in the trees.