Remember the story about the three little pigs? One built his house with straw, another with sticks, and the smart one built his house with bricks. Ever wondered what kind of home a builder builds for himself? For John Ford, founder and owner of J. Ford Construction, it’s made of concrete and steel with a modern aesthetic. Earthquakes, pandemics, epic windstorms—even the big, bad wolf of 2020 couldn’t blow this house down.
Ford and his wife, Mattie, built their new home in Jeremy Ranch based on its location. “We’re in an established neighborhood with mature trees,” Ford says. “It’s very private; it feels like we’re in the mountains but still close to both Park City and Salt Lake City.” And because their two sons are on competitive ski teams, they’re close to world-class training facilities at the Utah Olympic Park.
This active family skis, bikes, hikes, and more, so access to trailheads just outside their yard was an extra bonus—and feeling connected to the outdoors was key. “The majority of rooms have multiple window walls that showcase the beautiful mountain surroundings,” Ford says. Outdoor living spaces on every level, including a private deck off the master bedroom, expand the house so that it feels much larger.
The 3,700-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bathroom home uses every square inch to the max. “My building philosophy is to focus on function and right-size spaces,” Ford explains. “What really excites me is making sure every inch has a purpose that matters.” In this home, a hallway doubles as a library, a staircase landing serves as an office, and the children’s game room transforms into a guest room when needed.
The H-shaped home, designed by architect Steven A. Swanson, separates living spaces such as the kitchen and dining room from private quarters. And it creates two secluded outside courtyards in the front and back, both with multiple access points. “It’s not your typical suburban home,” says Swanson. “Separate bedroom and living wings are connected by a bright and open entry hall. This allows access to great natural light, sun, and views and helps mitigate traffic noise.” It also creates a seamless inside/outside experience.
One of the main challenges was siting the home to determine views and orientation, all while navigating the 30-foot slope to the entry. But challenges are nothing new to Swanson and Ford, who have worked together on many homes over the past decade. Their collaborative process develops sketch ideas that are refined through 3D computer modeling unique to each project. The solution in this case was to place the home up and back on the lot and create a main floor that works as a landing platform. “We created a set of stairs and raised terraces like an atrium with three walls,” says Swanson. “People take in the expanse of the home on their way to the front door.”
While John Ford focused on appropriate and practical space built with sustainable materials, his wife focused on the interior design. “I didn’t want to add too much that would distract from the simple lines,” says Mattie. “Texture goes a long way, so I added elements such as smooth leather, fur pillows, and ornate wood chairs. All the textures and colors layer over each other to add depth.”
Sun-drenched rooms combined with a black-and-white color palette invite the mutability of the seasons indoors. “We didn’t want to be pigeonholed by a wall color. When it’s snowing, everything is white; in fall, the spaces fill with golden light; in spring, everything is green,” says Ford. “So the environment constantly changes how the home feels. Nothing feels permanent.”
Put another way, expansive windows frame views of the landscape to create ever-changing art that will stand the test of time. “John’s superior workmanship is obvious; he brings a level of skill and art to the building process that is really rare,” says Swanson. This home’s attention to materials, ambience, and natural lighting combine to create a space that transforms with its surroundings.
Steven A. Swanson
J. Ford Construction
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