It has a hidden panic room with security feeds, a state-of-the-art rotunda and basically a bunch of stuff that will make you feel your life has been misspent. And it's all because one guy wanted his own basketball court.
Home & Garden Television will feature an $11 million Utah mansion on its "Top 10 Outrageous Homes" this fall, according to custom homebuilder Upland Development. The completely automated "smart house" sits at 13106 S. Riverbendview Cove in Riverton, a blend of elegance and creative customizing that caught the eye of TV producers visiting the property to film for an episode of "Cool Pools."
Owner Mark Ewell who helped found multi-level marketing company MonaVie (and, in his words, "brought the acai berry out of obscurity") "got goosebumps" 20 years ago during a Parade of Homes in which he gawked at a property's built-in basketball court. One day, he decided, he would have his own.
What would be a ludicrous ambition for most people turned out to be a low bar for Ewell. About five years ago, he and his wife, Jill, teamed with designer Julie Stuehser, Upland president Ryan Taylor and 65 to 70 subcontractors to create a shrine to extravagant living that would leave his family with no regrets. "When we made the home, I created a 'wisha, shoulda, coulda' list," Ewell said. "I swore I would have no 'wisha, shoulda, couldas.'"
During the 14-month design process, Stuehser interviewed the Ewell's six children at the time to get a feel for their personalities and strove to blend Mark's taste for dark, ornate things and Jill's simple elegance. "Julie was the psychology," Ewell says. "She was the referee trying to find that medium space between husband and wife."
Balance struck, Upland then spent another 14 months building the palatial, 12,000-square-foot residence. Features include (but are not limited to) a 22-by-44-foot pool, two hot tubs (one with a movie screen that hangs down from the house), a splash pad, a guest room that has its own exercise room, a bar with a billiards table, a ball pit room, and children's bedrooms fashioned after a pirate ship and a miniature beachside town.
Ewell says HGTV producers were impressed by the automation "It's one of the smartest homes in America" with lights, locks and entertainment features controllable by cellphone. The master bedroom has a "romance" setting, or the owners can opt for "sleep" and all the house's lights turn off and the doors lock.
The Ewells think it's perfect … almost. They don't need to entertain as often now, and they have had another child since the build with no customized room to call its own. For the right price which "just went up, due to the national exposure," Ewell says they'll pack up and build again.
"We're open-minded to the idea," Ewell said. "We can do this again and scale back a little. If it sells, it sells. If it doesn't, it doesn't."