Take a look inside the 14 oh-so-beautiful winners of 5280 Home's first Top Denver Design contest.
Photo by David Lauer
The results of 5280 Home’s first Top Denver Design contest are in, and we’ve got a serious case of house envy. Our editors sifted through image after image of breathtaking rooms, yards, and exteriors to find the most beautiful spaces across a spectrum of styles, and it wasn’t easy: Colorado design pros and homeowners are bringing new levels of style to the Mile High City. Here, we’ve curated the top 14 nooks, facades, and sanctuaries we’re lusting after. Take a peek and take notes—it just might be time for your own long-awaited redesign.
Color Win: The rich emerald walls (Cat’s Eye Green by Benjamin Moore) in this small breakfast area are a bold choice inspired by the patterned, jewel-tone fabric on swivel chairs in the adjacent living room. “The color story in the whole house is definitely bold,” says interior designer Andrea Schumacher. “The owners, who moved to Cherry Creek North from New York City, wanted a home that feels both elegant and really fun.”
Forever Young: The breakfast nook is kid-friendly for the owners’ daughters (hence the wipeable Lucite chairs) and sophisticated enough to satisfy grown-up tastes. “The interior reflects their nature,” Schumacher says, pointing to the Saarinen Tulip table, ghost chairs, and sculptural pendant light. “They’re a young, vibrant family.”
Study in Contrasts: On a light or neutral wall, the oversized abstract painting from John-Richard might look washed out. Against the brilliant green, it draws the eye away from the solid plane and brings light and balance to the room.
Historic Vision: This midcentury modern gem, built in 1955, is part of Englewood’s Arapahoe Acres neighborhood, which was the brainchild of late, renowned Denver developer Edward Hawkins. The prolific builder took design cues from Frank Lloyd Wright and helped create the first post–World War II subdivision to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. When Tom and Darice Henritze bought the home—known as the Sitterman House, after its original owners—in 2003, they opted to leave the front facade largely intact out of respect for the historic value of the structure and the integrity of the neighborhood. (The inside? Updated and fully modernized from top to bottom.)
Subtle Change: The only update the Henritzes made to the front exterior was to change the color of the panels to a primary palette—a nod to the geometric aesthetics of famous Dutch modernist painter Piet Mondrian. “We cleaned it up and added a little color,” Tom says. “We wanted to jazz it up a little.”
Curb Appeal: The Henritzes brought on landscape architect Ariel Gelman of Connect One Design to help them spruce up the front yard with ornamental grasses to soften the angularity of the house. Gelman’s work extends to the backyard, where he sparked an epic yard transformation, turning the area into an outdoor lounge and entertaining space.
Pros: Original builder: Edward Hawkins; Landscape architect: Ariel Gelman, Connect One Design
Lighten Up: “This kitchen is modern and minimal with clean lines,” says architect Caroline Wilding, currently a principal at Construct Design and Architecture, who completed this Hilltop kitchen renovation in 2014 for Design Platform. The owners asked for a unified color scheme that would evoke a cool Hollywood glam (played up by the edgy larger-than-life portraits). Wilding delivered with dark-stained oak cabinets, glossy white surfaces, and gray ceramic floor tiles—a color story that’s carried throughout the house.
Hidden Solution: “This kitchen is modern and minimal with clean lines,” says architect Caroline Wilding, currently a principal at Construct Design and Architecture, who completed this Hilltop kitchen renovation in 2014 for Design Platform. The owners asked for a unified color scheme that would evoke a cool Hollywood glam (played up by the edgy larger-than-life portraits). Wilding delivered with dark-stained oak cabinets, glossy white surfaces, and gray ceramic floor tiles—a color story that’s carried throughout the house.
Site Specific: The master bath in this Aspen ski house is nothing if not fitting for its setting in all seasons. The airy, light-filled interior gives way to French doors that open to a pool and Jacuzzi in the spirit of balmy summer days. And the caribou rugs, wood walls, and cozy fireplace evoke a Nordic mountain vibe that matches the alpine view just outside the glass doors. “Aspen is a winter and a summer resort,” says New York City–based designer Frank de Biasi, “and [this bathroom] lends itself to both.”
Visual Trick: The 10-foot ceilings in the 400-square-foot space are tall, and de Biasi saw an opportunity. By pulling the ceiling out from the wall, dropping it down about eight inches, and adding the contrasting reclaimed wood planks, he created the visual illusion that the wooden walls continue above the ceiling: “We wanted something that’s going to raise your eye up. The wooden planks added that verticality.” Bonus: The configuration hides all the bathroom’s mechanics, like plumbing and pipes.
Pro: Interior designer: Frank de Biasi, Frank de Biasi Interiors
Exotic Escape: As an art historian, the homeowner wanted the master bedroom in this Washington Park bungalow to reflect her love of far-flung cultures and world-inspired artwork. The intricately carved wooden doors, an exquisite example of Mexican folk art, complement the rich decor influenced by the homeowner’s mid-project trip to Morocco. “The light gray walls let the art and details of the home shine,” says designer Katie Schroder, co-principal of Atelier Interior Design.
Where to Start: Working closely with the homeowner, Schroder settled on an anchor piece from which to draw colors and textures to fill the room. “The embroidered pattern on the headboard [Handari fabric from Zimmer & Rohde] kind of sets the tone for the entire space,” Schroder says, pointing out the jewel tones and rich prints of the other room accents. “Find something you love and build from there.”
All The Feels: “Texture—that’s something we paid close attention to,” says Schroder, who worked in layers: A silk embroidered coverlet over a woven duvet beside a fur bench (with acrylic legs) plays foil to the frosted crystal beads and silver banding of the Chanteuse chandelier from Currey & Company.
Pro: Interior designer: Katie Schroder, Atelier Interior Design
The Reclaimed Room: The top-floor landing area of this two-story LoHi penthouse condo was once an empty no-man’s land, the sole purpose of which was to house an oddly placed door to the boiler room. Once designer Megan Moore consulted with the homeowner—a musical producer who works from home—she re-envisioned the forgotten space as an office that would meet his needs and work within structural constraints like concrete floors and walls. The dark walls and simple furnishings (the desk is a repurposed Crate & Barrel table the client already owned) play nicely off the patterned area rug from Ligne Roset, which adds just the right infusion of sophisticated color atop the gray carpet. “The big thing was making it functional,” says Moore, principal of Dadō interior architecture and design firm. “It was completely wasted space before.”
A Big Cover-Up: The custom bookcase is innovatively designed to camouflage the unsightly—and unmovable—door to the boiler room. The built-ins allow a little color and personality to shine through in the book collection.
Pro: Interior architect and designer: Megan Moore, Dadō
What’s Old Is New: Designer Nadia Watts of Nadia Watts Interior Design calls this Cherry Hills dining room an “updated classic.” Watts points to the room’s lively blend of traditional anchor pieces the clients already owned and bold new accents (like the hanging lantern and look-at-me drapes), which give the space a little zest. The preexisting chairs, for instance, took on a new life when painted and glazed with a lighter shade and upholstered in bold leather from John Brooks.
Embrace Eclecticism: The starting point for the dining room’s bold color scheme was the Pagoda wallpaper from Katie Ridder, which the homeowners loved from the very start of the full-home renovation. Though the playful print wasn’t the easiest to place, Watts saw potential in the unexpected mocha-and-red color combination. “I thought, let’s throw it in the dining room and go from there,” she says. Watts carried the fiery persimmon shade from the wallpaper through the rest of the room with eye-catching drapes for the French doors and bay window and more subtly in the trim atop the lampshades.
Living Room (Traditional)
Spice It Up: Even though designer Ramey Caulkins’ home south of Country Club has classic bones, she didn’t shy away from statement-making elements in the living room. Raspberry club chairs and bright Moroccan pouf accents bring a touch of playfulness, while prints in the same color family—including curtains, a sofa, and a rug—layer on character. “The millwork and cabinetry lends itself to a traditional East Coast feel,” Caulkins says. “But I live for pattern on pattern. It makes a room come alive. There’s nothing sterile about this space. Nothing in it is too precious.”
Take A Chance: Dark wall colors on the brown-black spectrum are tricky to pull off, but Caulkins does it with panache. C2’s French Roast hue is the perfect accent to break up a wall dominated by white built-ins, showcasing both the room’s art and the floral curtains, which might fall flat against a lighter color. “I’m a huge fan of dark walls,” Caulkins says. “People play it very safe, but truthfully, if you have artwork or collectibles, they don’t look as good against a beige wall.”
“I live for pattern on pattern. It makes a room come alive.” –Ramey Caulkins
Ambience Matters: Interior designer Deidre Oliver of Oliver Designs wanted her personal home office in Niwot to be a welcoming sanctuary that played up the light that pours in from outside. The combo of gilded accents—in the delicate cocktail tables and framed paintings—and warm wooden tones, in the desk and antique chairs, make it an inspiring spot for a creative pro. “There’s a strong, feminine vibe,” Oliver says. “It’s a great place to get work done and feel like I’m relaxing. I spend long days in my office, and I wanted it to be warm, cozy, and inviting, but also sophisticated.”
Blended Style: Oliver doesn’t confine herself to one style as long as the decor reflects her personality. Her advice: If you love two pieces from different genres—a funky contemporary task chair (here, by Cherner) and an ornate gilded frame, for instance—don’t be afraid to use them both in the same space. Why? “It’s an unexpected pairing of modern and classical,” Oliver says. “Not all furniture has to have integrity in a space. Once in a while, it’s OK to throw in something that’s just fun and modern.”
Pro: Interior designer: Deidre Oliver, Oliver Designs
Patio Magic: When designer Ashley Campbell decided to create the perfect pool party setting in her own Greenwood Village backyard, she knew that comfort was key for the space to transition from daytime splash pad to evening Zen zone—especially since the cottage “evolved into full-blown private guest quarters…[from which] guests can come and go as they please while not feeling too removed from the main house.” Pool-goers can kick back on lounge chairs with umbrellas on sunny afternoons then curl up on the cushy outdoor swivel chairs with sunset cocktails after dips in the hot tub. Bonus: The dual-sided fireplace extends the usability of the outdoor space into chillier Colorado weather.
Across Genres: With a metal roof, rustic barn doors, and crisp white patio furniture, the 900-square-foot guesthouse doesn’t fit neatly into a single style category. The mix blends wine-country charm and industrial chic with a nautical tinge—and it totally works.
First Impression: Badly in need of an update, the exterior of this young couple’s North Boulder home underwent a complete makeover to spruce up the curb appeal after they bought it. “It had a really tired-looking facade with a rickety old canopy above the entry,” says ASONE architect Paul Hunnicutt. New siding, windows, and doors helped, but Hunnicutt wanted more than a run-of-the-mill facelift. “My solution was to sort of drape a screen across the whole facade and then create a porch structure.” The entryway is now a distinctive space with a built-in bench to add functionality.
Au Naturel: To give the house an earthy feel while still creating a modern vibe, Hunnicutt chose cedar for the sculptural porch element, which he angled to open in the direction of the setting sun and to accommodate the traffic flow of people arriving home, who approach the entry from the driveway on the left. The combination of minimalist landscaping and new concrete-slab front steps lends itself to the clean look.
Living Room (Contemporary)
Modern Family: The owners of this luxury condo in the Pinnacle at City Park South are a European couple who travel frequently and wanted a main residence that balances ultramodern style with a kid-friendly feel for their young children. While white may seem a daring choice, the modular sofa and chairs—with ouchless rounded edges—are leather, which makes wiping up spills (relatively) easy. The bright foam Mini Togo chairs add the perfect splash of fun to the kid-approved living space.
Design Challenge: One of the defining elements of this condo is the view: a near-perfect panorama of Denver’s skyline and the mountains beyond. “Our inspiration was to make a beautiful room without disturbing the view,” says designer Kristina Sterling, owner of Seek Interior Design. “That’s why everything is sort of low.” Using white furnishings was also a way to make sure the room didn’t distract from the view, but Sterling needed something to liven up the starkness. The abstract rug pulls in just enough color to warm up the space and sets the palette for the pillows and kids’ chairs, and the meshlike curtains soften the room’s geometry while preserving transparency and the spectacular vista.
Pro: Interior designer: Kristina Sterling, Seek Interior Design
Break From Tradition: The owners of this Hilltop home—both wine aficionados—knew they wanted a distinctive wine-storage feature in their new home. The typical choice for a collection would have been a wine cellar, but the homeowners weren’t into a dark space that required a trip downstairs every time a good pairing was in order. So architect Scott Parker of Nest Architectural Design dreamed up this fresh, updated take—a modern version of a butler’s pantry—between the dining room and kitchen. “It’s got proximity to everything, and it turned into an architectural feature everyone sees when they walk in the front door,” says interior designer Beth Armijo of Armijo Design Group.
Problem Solved: The main benefit of a traditional cellar is that it maintains a consistently cool temperature, so the design team engineered a creative solution: The cooling system runs up from the floor, through the bases of the cabinets, and into the wall. Cheers!
Learning Curve: For the kitchen in this Bow Mar new build, designer Nabeel Faizi began with a basic footprint—which gave him room to create. He took architectural inspiration from the barrel-vaulted ceiling with curved wood beams to dream up the handsome arched armoire.
Warm Infusion: The homeowner wanted a white kitchen, but Faizi knew that wood elements would not only coordinate with the butler’s pantry across the hall, but also serve “to add some warmth and to hide smaller appliances for a cleaner look,” he says. (The armoire houses the refrigerator and freezer.) “I didn’t want the appliances to be the focal point.”
In Contrast: The warm browns and cool grays are juxtaposed to “give the minimalist palette extra life,” Faizi says. “The dark natural walnut on the island complements the glass-and-mosaic backsplash.” The key to pulling it off? “Use tones that relate to either cool or warm families, then use a strong contrast so the mismatch is clearly intentional and beautiful, like the gray on the stone hood.”
Emily Minton Redfield: Breakfast Nook, Master Bedroom, Dining Room, Living Room, Office (Traditional), Pool House, Kitchen (Traditional)
David Lauer: Exterior, Modern Kitchen, Office (Modern), Front Porch, Wine Storage
John Ellis: Master Bathroom
Shauna Intelisano: Living Room (Contemporary)
Erica McNeish: Breakfast Nook, Living Room (Contemporary)