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A rendering of Sunset magazine's 2015 Idea House in Hilltop. Tour the real thing starting August 7. —Courtesy of Sunset Idea House

Sunset Magazine’s 2015 Idea House Comes to Denver

With the help of local design pros, the venerable publication popped the top on a mid-mod ranch in Hilltop.

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When it comes to choosing a site for Sunset magazine’s annual Idea House, the team searches for the city and property that best capture the current “spirit of the West”—and it’s undeniably Denver’s moment.

“Denver is booming,” says Joanna Linberg, Sunset’s home editor. While our white-hot housing market caught her attention, it was the grassroots feel of the Mile High City’s design scene that won her heart. “The burgeoning design community here is very exciting,” she says.

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The Sunset team partnered with Denver-based Jonas DiCaprio of Design Platform and Megan Hudacky of Cky Designs to turn a 1950s ranch home into a stellar showcase of midcentury modern design. Situated on a coveted corner lot in Denver’s Hilltop neighborhood, the single-level abode was completely transformed; it’s now a two-story, five-bedroom stunner, complete with an outdoor kitchen, basement theater room, and vast rooftop patio.

The original structure was a classic example of a midcentury ranch, a style much beloved by Sunset’s readership, says Linberg. DiCaprio happened upon the home during a gem of an estate sale. The 93-year-old original owner—himself a design aficionado who owned a furniture shop—had a treasure trove of furnishings. The sale directors hinted that the owner was preparing to sell the home. “It was a custom-built home,” says DiCaprio, “and the original owners had an amazing sense of design.”

(Check out 5280‘s picks for Denver’s most livable neighborhoods)

In neighborhoods like Hilltop, “pop-top” is often considered a dirty word, whispered among longterm residents. But Linberg and DiCaprio don’t shy away from the term. “We want people to walk by and wonder, Is that original? Or is it a pop-top?” DiCaprio says.

As the renovation got under way, neighbors didn’t hesitate to voice their concerns about the brick exterior. “We probably had a dozen neighbors walk by and say, ‘You aren’t going to paint the brick, are you?’ ” DiCaprio says.

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They didn’t. In fact, matching brick was painstakingly tracked down, and expert masons copied the original tuck/point work. Ultimately, DiCaprio shared his plans with the original owner, who approved of the remodel.

“In Denver, old housing stock is now being purchased and turned over as new generations are moving in,” says Lindberg. “Some of these are being done with great care to the neighborhood. And some are not.”

Key exterior design choices—including a low-slung trellis, matched brick, and custom windows—show how a classic home can be updated without distracting from the neighborhood. Once inside, custom hickory cabinets from Design Platform connect the living spaces of the open first floor. Additionally, all mechanicals were replaced, along with windows and doors from Western Window Systems.

Finally, Jessica Lummus of Environmental Designs created a drought-tolerant landscape that links the vegetable garden, outdoor kitchen, and fire pit to the home.

“It’s an update for a new generation, but the home takes the cues and style of the original era and enhances them,” says Lindberg. “You just have to see it.”

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Beginning August 7, the 2015 Sunset Idea House will be open to the public for six consecutive weekends. (Get your tickets in advance.) The property will also be featured with six other homes on the Denver Modern Home & Garden Tour on August 22.

(Take a look at this green (and gorgeous) home makeover in Boulder)

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