Department

Lofty Ideals

A move from the city to Cherry Hills inspires a thoughtful renovation for a tired '70s ranch.

June 2009

Janis Frame and husband Sandy Zisman absolutely loved their old Golden Triangle loft—a contemporary, cool space that reflected their modern tastes and matched their busy business lifestyles. But the couple, both in their mid-60s, knew they couldn't live there forever: The small space and fishbowl floor plan weren't going to be practical as the couple's lifestyle changed. So last year Frame and Zisman sold their beloved loft and, like so many other Boomers, made the transition to a more retirement-friendly house—a 3,600-square-foot 1970s ranch in Cherry Hills Village.

Just because they transitioned into a ranch, however, didn't mean they wanted to compromise their style. And so they began a major renovation to make the house feel more like the contemporary digs they'd called home in the city.

The house needed some serious love. Its original dark oak cabinets, linoleum floors, and wet bar were throwbacks to the '70s; the black marble tile on the fireplace a relic from the '80s. But more than just making the house feel dated, the finishes made it feel dark and cramped—and that was exactly what needed to be changed. After living in a loft for 11 years, the couple had grown accustomed to an atmosphere of openness.

To tackle their new home's issues, Frame hired interior designer Joni Albers of Thurston Kitchen and Bath to spearhead the yearlong remodel, focusing initially on opening and brightening the home's kitchen and two bathrooms. Albers started with a new floor plan: The pantry became wall ovens, making way for cabinet space under the range; the master bath became a walk-in closet; the new master bath got a modern layout, including steam shower and freestanding tub; and the wet bar was torn out entirely to open up the great room.

When it came to choosing the finishes, Frame and Albers decided on a simple theme: Colorado contemporary. "Janis wanted the home to be contemporary and modern," says Albers. "But she also loved the idea of using Colorado style, organic materials like slate, limestone, and pebbles." The solution was to pair natural materials with contemporary lines. In the kitchen, the modern custom cabinets are made with a warm, traditional maple and white oak, rather than the bamboo or teak often seen in modern homes. For the backsplash, Albers used a trendy rectangular cut for the tiles, but chose an inviting, natural slate. The concrete countertops feel sleek, with an integrated sink, but the moss-green color keeps them from feeling cold.

The result is a sublime and airy retreat that feels current, but also livable. "There is an openness—a quiet calm—that we love about this new space," says Frame. And though the house seemed like it might not ever truly feel like home for this couple, it's been reinvented as the perfect place for the next phase of their life together.

Cheryl Meyers is a contributing editor for 5280. Email here at [email protected].