A New Build Home That Is So Charming It Feels Like It’s Been Around for Decades
A lesson in how to create a lived-in, elevated space.
A new construction home has its pros and cons. A pro? Well, first, everything is probably brand-new, up-to-date, and modern (including the appliances and amenities). A con? The design can sometimes lack that “homey,” lived-in feel. But that was definitely not the case in this 4-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom Utah house for a young family of four. CEO Aymee Kuhlman and Principal Designer Molly Kidd of Oregon-based interior design studio Light and Dwell recognized the drawbacks of a new build, but knew what to do so their clients felt like the space was their own. “The biggest challenge was designing a brand-new home that still had the character and charm of a home that has been around for generations,” Kidd explains. “That meant adding intentional details like vintage-inspired wallpaper, bespoke craftsmanship, and local antiques.”
Kidd’s clients (a doctor and entrepreneur) wanted their home to feel warm, inviting, serene, family-friendly—and with a nod to traditional aesthetics. “They were open to pattern play and loved the idea of natural light with lots of windows highlighting the mountain range,” she says. “To make the space more elevated, we took a lot of inspiration from European culture. From the cobblestone porch and handmade tiles to limestone flooring and textural stones throughout, we wanted texture to have a big part in the holistic design.”
The use of warmer tones, contrasting light and dark paint colors, vintage pieces, and botanical wallpaper really give the home its character. “We believe in taking risks! In order to convey personality and charmful heritage in a new home, we had to incorporate warm hues and patterns,” Kidd says. “The wallpaper in the kids’ spaces was a playful nod to traditional homes and embodies each of their personalities. Each textile, wallpaper, pattern, and paint color was specifically chosen for a timeless effect.” One example of that is the botanical-inspired pattern in the powder room that reminded Kidd and her team of the French Riviera. “To juxtapose its feminine glamour, a custom floating arabesque marble vanity was created. It’s these pairings that create elevated ease and the idea that two materials belong together.”
And in this project, like all of their other ones, the Light and Dwell designers made sure to stay true their 50/50 initiative that focuses on sensibility and sustainability. “We make it our mission to source 50% antique pieces and even go vintage shopping in the homeland of the project for added localism,” Kidd says. “Certain pieces just feel ‘meant to be,’ like the set of doors from France in the piano room.”
Walking through the house, a sense of warmth and light permeates in every room. The living room (the first photo above) has tons of natural light thanks to grand windows. The Light and Dwell team designed the room with function in mind—lots of storage, built-ins, and furniture that can be lived in. “The fireplace is a custom limestone mantle that we worked with a local fabricator to create,” Kidd says. “But the real showstopper is the drapery which softens and warms up the space, giving the room a layered and lived-in feel.”
In the kitchen, the plaster hood is the focal point, and it also sets the European aesthetic for the whole home. Kidd calls the French range “the jewelry to the space.” Adding to the beauty of the room, the unlacquered brass finishes will develop a gorgeous patina over time, while the beige hues warm up the space. But don’t write if off as just a “pretty” kitchen—it’s made for serious cooking and entertaining. There is floor-to-ceiling cabinetry for extra storage. And the pantry area beyond the kitchen has plenty of open shelving.
Heading into the dining room, you’ll see a space that’s well-equipped for hosting—it’s grand and welcoming at the same time. Since the client has a large family and entertains on a regular basis, Kidd and her team designed the kitchen, dining room, and even outdoor area with gatherings in mind. “The dining table extends and seats up to 12 people and the kitchen island can comfortably seat five to six people,” she explains. “Right off the dining room is their covered back porch and swimming pool, making it a high traffic area with lots of life and memories to come! We designed these spaces with intention, giving the family room to walk around the dining room table, both inside and outside, and created wider walkways in the kitchen.”
In the primary wing, the designers did their best to make the bathroom feel warm and lived-in. Kidd says soft finishes such as furniture and styling are so important because they warm up every space when designed with intention in mind. The bathroom is layered with vintage pieces (like the rug, Danish chair, and wooden stool), plus cafe curtains for privacy and personality. “The unlacquered brass fixtures and hardware paired with these romantic light fixtures gives the bathroom a timeless feel,” Kidd says. “The mix of textures in the honed marble, warm white oak cabinetry, contrast trim, and handmade tile are all intentional. We could stay a while in this bathroom and we know our clients plan on it!”
Also in the primary wing is the bedroom, of course, which has the best view of the house with the mountains outside. Kidd and her team placed the bed strategically so their clients could wake up to the view. “This bedroom is one you’d want to wake up in and stay in bed all day,” she adds.
Needless to say, Kidd’s clients are in love with the home. “The family reveal was the most rewarding part of completing this home because they could finally exhale,” she explains. “Three years in the making with blood, sweat, and tears and they finally got to walk into their home and become overjoyed with emotion. They immediately started tearing up because of how much this home reflected their family and is now a symbol of their forever home.”