Rich jewel tones and eclectic treasures invigorate this once-neglected, chateau-style Hilltop home—proving, once again, the boundless power of paint and playfulness.
—Photography by Emily Minton Redfield
You can almost see 20th-century New York City interior decorator Dorothy Draper nodding her approval at this Hilltop home’s exuberant design. The mother of the anti-minimalist Hollywood Regency style was at the height of her popularity when the home was first built in 1938—so it’s fitting that Denver designer and real estate agent Becky Miller, who bought the historic gem in 2014, decided to infuse it with bold prints, saturated hues, and a glamorous aesthetic inspired by Draper.
Miller calls her style “a modern take on Hollywood Regency,” informed by a simple strategy: See it, love it, use it. “I want to walk in and feel happy,” says Miller, who owns Denver-based Modern Nomad Design. “I’m not going to take design or myself too seriously.”
The original facade, in a traditional chateau style, remains largely intact with one small change: a salvaged vintage front door, painted rich blue (Peacock Blue by Benjamin Moore). “I thought, This is what this house needs,” interior designer and homeowner Becky Miller says. “A little pop of color that’s happy and inviting.”
Tropical Zebra Palm wallpaper (by F. Schumacher) helps this otherwise conventional powder room make a statement. “Because it’s so small and every guest sees it, I wanted to make a big impact,” the designer says. “It was a big risk, but it paid off. It’s like a party in the powder room.”
The living room is located in the middle of the house, so Miller made it a focal point. The near-black (Benjamin Moore's Wrought Iron) walls offset the vivid accents and serve as a buffer between two rooms with stark white walls. "That change in mood is very important," Miller says. An acrylic coffee table by Ballard Design; a Dora Maar bowl by Jonathan Adler; a vintage tufted sofa by Retro House Love; and an Eyes Needlepoint pillow, also by Jonathan Adler, add to the glamour.
Interior Design: Becky Miller, Modern Nomad Design
Architecture: Mark Harris, S-Arch
Kitchen Cabinetry: Livia
Rustic elements like butcher-block countertops and wooden barstools bring warmth to the marbled space, while an elegant black La Cornue oven with brass fixtures is the “jewel of the kitchen,” Miller says. But for all its style, the room is playful enough to work for Miller’s five-year-old son, who loves to “park himself in the middle of the kitchen to eat, cook with my husband and me, and do crafts.” (Art: DIY glass-framed blackboard)
Tearing out the kitchen’s original cabinets left a swath of exposed brick that Miller chose to leave as-is, rendering the kitchen one part old-school, two parts modern. (Light: Newbury Surface Mount Fixture by Schoolhouse Electric)
In the back of the house, architect Mark Harris of S-Arch helped design a sleek addition that includes the master bath on the second story. The modern patio serves as an outdoor living room, complete with a fireplace, hanging chair, and kitchen.
Designer Becky Miller’s top tips for decorating with color.
1. Showcase smartly. Will the color come from furniture and art or from bold paint? Here, Miller went with the former approach: “Color has more of an impact if you ground it with black and white.” Neutral finishes allow pieces like the cobalt blue sofa and chartreuse curtains to pop without looking over the top.
2. Seek muses. “Find the jumping-off points,” Miller says. “Pick up on a lone color and amplify it by repeating it in the room.” Miller used this technique in the living room: The chartreuse in the curtains can also be spied in the accent pillows and artwork.
3. Lighten up. Have fun, take risks, and don’t be afraid to go with your gut. “Fear comes up all the time,” Miller says. “Just do it—and if you don’t like it, change it. The initial effect a room has on you means everything.”
Miller’s bedroom gives off a mildly bohemian vibe thanks to details like the art above the bed. The AfricamDesigns piece (via Etsy) is a large juju hat, a traditional feather headdress from Cameroon, that “you typically see in bright, funky colors,” Miller says. “I chose this chocolate hue for the bedroom as the texture is soothing, and the color plays well with the velvet headboard and bone-inlay chests.”
Miller designed the master bathroom around the pendant light, which serves as an elegant centerpiece in an airy space full of sumptuous but subtle touches like velvet curtains and a brass vanity seat. “Brass is back,” she says. “It’s beautiful; it’s classic.” (Pendant: metal hanging lamp by Lolo)
—Photography by Emily Minton Redfield