Soul Survivor

A Denver couple captures the heart of a grand old neighborhood in a brand-new home.

November 2005

Bill and Maya Trinen have a thing for old houses-painted Victorians, snug bungalows, Arts and Crafts-style homes. They believe those houses have character and, more important, soul. So last year when the opportunity arose to buy a dated ranch-style home on a rare triple lot in Observatory Park, they bought the place with the idea of creating a new-old home-one that was large and comfortable enough for a family, but that still had style elements that would fit the 100-plus-year-old sub-neighborhood of University Park.

Initially they considered updating the existing home but quickly realized that not only were the rooms too small, giving the house a chopped-up feel, but also the electrical and plumbing systems needed far too much work; it would be easier to start from scratch. So, while bulldozers cleared the lot, the couple set out on a quest to find all the elements for their perfect home. They knew that if they wanted to get everything they hoped for they would have to go into this project well prepared. They wandered through some 80 newly built homes and bought stacks of books and magazines, tearing out pages of fixtures, tiles, rooflines, porches, and anything else they liked until they'd compiled their own architectural guidebook. They even wrote a 10-page essay about their perfect home, which they shared with general contractor Alex Rogl and home designer Dennis Schlachter. "They had a decided idea of what they wanted-they really did their homework," Schlachter says, adding, "They had some big ideas."