When Swedish seafarer John Matson arrived here in 1888, it’s easy to imagine him becoming immediately smitten with the ridge between empire and woodside canyons. Park City’s bustling mining-era Main Street would have dominated the view from that commanding perch—not unlike the perspective from the bow of a ship as it approaches a port—and the mines where Matson worked as a carpenter were located just a stone’s throw farther up the canyon. But Matson couldn’t have known that when he chose to build a sturdy little house on that ridgeline more than 130 years ago and paint it a cheery yellow, it would eventually become one of Park City’s most iconic homes.
Fast-forward to 1996, when former railroad executive Don Wood and his wife, Anne, moved to Park City with an interest in investing in local properties. Looking for on-the-ground information about Old Town real estate, Don Wood approached a neighbor of his wife’s parents and a third-generation Parkite, Rich Martinez. When Martinez pointed out the yellow house, located just above where he’s now lived in Daly Canyon for most of his 78 years, the Woods were instantly hooked by the home’s rare plateau-like location (most homes in Old Town are situated on steep lots carved into hillsides) and its proximity to family.
“It was a happy little house, filled with light,” Anne Wood says. When the Nyman family—the house’s owners since the 1930s—put the home up for sale in 2005, the Woods quickly made an offer. The couple spent time in the home—what they called “camping out”—but didn’t live there for the first few years they owned it, using their periodic visits to mull how best to update the snug house. Finally, in 2009, they decided the time had come to begin the residence’s next chapter and hired local architect Jonathan DeGray to design a renovation and addition.
“We wanted to maintain the appearance of the historic home and let it remain the dominant visual element on the site while achieving the additional square footage the Woods wanted,” DeGray says.
Like most Park City mining-era homes, the yellow house (as it is universally known) was originally built with a simple hall-and-parlor floor plan centered on a brick chimney. Small, jigsaw-cut porch brackets were its only exterior adornment. Dry-stacked stone walls surrounded the house, with its two-story rear extension, as well as two sheds. In accordance with Park City Historic District design guidelines, both the size and the location of windows and exterior doors were required to remain the same as they were in the original structure. Tailoring the redesign around these existing elements, DeGray created a hierarchy between the historic home and a new addition with a stone-sided transition, artfully merging old and new.
The addition houses a brightly appointed modern kitchen presided over by a pressed-tin ceiling and generous windows framing spectacular views of Old Town, Daly Canyon, and Park City Mountain Resort. Fireplaces warm the living room and master bedroom, and floors glow with reclaimed heart of pine throughout. On the exterior, a series of intimate terraces brings the outdoors in to most rooms. The home’s original stone walls were restacked, and additional walls were built with sandstone from nearby Browns Canyon. Even the sheds were restored and repositioned.
Anne Brown of AHB Design was enlisted to help interpret Anne Wood’s European-inspired vision for the interiors. Romantic blues and greens color several walls throughout the home, along with, of course, the signature yellow. Brown sourced French printed fabrics for accessories and upholstery and used stones from an 18th-century farmhouse to floor the foyer and living-room hearth. Fanciful tiles, patterned porcelain sinks, and a carpet patterned with yellow stars in a child’s bedroom add to the Old World charm, encapsulated most succinctly in the lighting. “Anne Wood loved crystal chandeliers,” Brown explains—and indeed, one hangs in every room of the home, including a multicolored antique reproduction that creates a stunning focal point over the staircase.
The yellow house’s most recent chapter began last March. Upon deciding that they wanted to live in a more rural area of Park City, the Woods sold the house to Virginia residents Clay and Anne Perfall, who say Park City’s outdoor culture, history, and character made purchasing a second home here an easy decision.
“We were always reasonably certain that we would be in Old Town,” the Perfalls say. “The yellow house caught our attention the first time we saw it and led us to take the leap. What struck us about it was that it is absolutely unique. We love the openness around the house and the fact that it’s not wedged in like other homes in Old Town.”
The Perfalls hired Brown to adapt the interiors to fit their family’s lifestyle, including entertaining many out-of-town guests. The Perfalls’ daughters wasted no time making the house their own, as well, turning the historic toolshed into a playhouse. “This is such a great family place,” Anne Perfall says. “The kitchen has turned our family into cooks.” And after more than 130 years, the yellow house, shipshape once again, maintains its tranquil watch over Old Town.