This elaborate home incorporates lakes, a stream, and other water features and has been featured in books, TV commercials, magazines, and the Deer Valley Luxury Home Tour.
On August 28 I will begin my fortieth year in business. In some ways it seems like I started my career only yesterday, while in others the start seems like several lifetimes ago. There were difficult times in the beginning, when I didn’t know how I was going to pay the rent or if another design job would ever come my way, but I somehow kept believing that it would all work out. I remember often feeling nervous during those first few years. My fear wasn’t of failing, it was of the possibility that I might have to spend the rest of my life doing something other than what I loved: designing custom homes. Now, 40 years later, I’m enjoying my work even more than I did back then, and I look forward to many more years of it.
The “Aha” Moment
Attention to detail is evident throughout this Mediterranean style home from custom built-in cabinetry to display art collections to the large arched windows to let in the California sun.
I’m often asked if there was a turning point in my career that stands out as being especially pivotal to the successes I’ve enjoyed. As in any successful endeavor, I had many crucial moments that led to the paths I’ve taken, but there is one particular event from early in my career that I’ve never forgotten. An older couple interviewed several people in search of someone to design their home on their beautiful property. They’d purchased the land, which sat on a bluff and overlooked the ocean in southern California, in their early thirties. Despite the fact that I was young and inexperienced, they decided to take a chance with me. When they invited me to their home and told me that they had chosen me, to be honest, the first thing that went through my mind was that I was going to be able to pay the bills and eat. But before I could dwell too much on my selfish celebration, my new client did something that changed my life, my attitude about design, and taught me something that most likely made the difference between my future success and failure. She had a fairly beat-up and large file box sitting on the floor next to her as we talked. Over the course of our conversation she told me that from the day they bought the property she started pulling pictures out of magazines, writing notes about things she saw and liked, and even kept a diary about how she hoped life in their retirement house would be. All of that information was in the file box, which she was about to give me for reference. As I went to leave the meeting she started to cry in anticipation of giving me the file box. She hugged me and said, “This box contains a lifetime of my dreams. I’m now trusting you to take care of those dreams and make them real.”
She hugged me and said, “This box contains a lifetime of my dreams. I’m now trusting you to take care of those dreams and make them real.”
In that moment, and even more so as I designed the house, I realized that this profession is not about me. It’s never about me. It’s about the people who will live in the homes I design. It taught me to listen and truly understand what my clients want. Over time I came to realize that the success of a design can only be determined by the people who live in it. I can look at a design and think it’s beautiful, and maybe other people will tell me that they think it’s beautiful, but if it doesn’t live up to the hopes and dreams of my clients, it’s a complete failure. Ultimately, it doesn’t even matter if I like the house or not, so long as my clients love it. That lesson was the best thing that ever happened to my career and I will always be indebted to those clients for what they instilled in me.
An elegant mountain home blends with the serene landscaping.
The old saying, “half the fun of a vacation is getting there,” can also be said about a career. I’ve been so fortunate to have been able to design in many different styles, in many different parts of the country, even in Japan. I came to Park City from southern California in 1994 to design a vacation home for a very special client who lived in California. Little did I know that when I accepted that project I was changing my entire life. Like so many people who visit Park City, I immediately fell in love with the climate, the clean air, the people, the lifestyle, the mountains, and even the snow. Sort of like sitting under a blanket in front of a roaring fire on a cold winter night, Park City warmed me so that I never wanted to leave. It took a few years to slow down my obligations in California, but as soon as possible I made the move to Park City and have never looked back. The journey will eventually end in Park City, but until that time comes, I intend to enjoy every minute of it.
This home in the Red Ledges community has more contemporary/modern design elements, while still adhering to the mountain traditions of the Red Ledges design guidelines.
Over the last 40 years the road hasn’t always been easy, but it’s never been too bumpy, either. Recessions have come and gone, styles of architecture have come and gone, drafting tables turned into computer screens, blueprints are no longer, and the cost of building a home has gone up more than anyone wants to think about. But there’s one thing that has never changed: the enjoyment I’ve gotten from all of the wonderful clients, contractors, and, yes, even the building department officials I’ve had the privilege of working with through the years. That has been the true reward of my career and the part I will miss the most if I ever decide to stop, though I don’t see that happening anytime soon.
A Kevin Price Designs rendering ready for the right owners.
As this anniversary approaches, I can’t help but wonder what lies ahead. I also reflect on the hundreds of homes I’ve designed and the wonderful people I’ve encountered in the process. Who will be the next client that challenges me with a project I can’t wait to start? What will be the next trend or style of architecture that people are looking for? Where will the next new developments with incredible properties be? When will someone finally let me build the house I designed that has a roof covered with water? And, finally, why does time have to go by so fast when you’re having fun?