A stylish new boutique hotel is popping up around every corner in town, it seems. There’s the Maven and Moxy, the Source and Born, the Jacquard and Ramble, to name just a few. This new generation of Denver hotels shows off interiors that feel more residential than commercial, with fashion-forward finishes and furnishings, and spectacular collections of fine art.
One of the most inspiring of the bunch is the Maven, a new hotel at the Dairy Block, a completely reimagined city block—hemmed in by Blake, Wazee, 18th, and 19th streets—on the former site of the Windsor Farm Dairy Company. The new micro-neighborhood merges historical and new buildings that house retail shops, restaurants, and a six-story office tower, in addition to the 172-room hotel. Brooklyn-based Crème/Jun Aizaki Architecture and Design, and Denver-based Johnson Nathan Strohe (JNS), collaborated to create the Maven’s palette of industrial materials—stone, raw rolled steel, beetle-kill wood, and concrete—paired with bold bursts of color and pattern, and sculptural furnishings. Denver’s NINE dot ARTS curated the hotel’s collection of more than 400 original art pieces created by emerging and established Colorado artists, from a massive, suspended lobby sculpture by Andrew Ramiro Tirado to intricately stenciled floors by Robert Weidmann.
We couldn’t help noticing that many of the Maven’s unique design details would look pretty great in our own living spaces, so we asked Nicole Nathan, a partner and design architect at JNS, for tips to help us get the look at home.
Swap rugs for tile.
Rugs are great for delineating a space while adding color and pattern, but they also trap dirt and can bunch and slide, making them less than ideal for an entryway. That’s why in each suite at the Maven, the design team covered the entry floors with cork planks, individually laid to create a bold chevron pattern.
“This type of pattern can be achieved with tile, wood, cork, or any modular material,” Nathan says. “It can even be achieved with paint,” though it’s important to choose the right paint for your floor surface.
Expert Tip: “We did not want the pattern to overwhelm the space, so we kept it as an entry feature extending one-third of the way into the room,” Nathan says. “Thirds are a good proportion to use when dividing a space.”
Give wallpaper another chance.
Modern wallpapers are a far cry from your mother’s floral borders. New technologies make today’s choices as innovative as they are fashion-forward—think high-quality digital printing, inks with reflective qualities, new textures created by carbon powder, scented scratch-and-sniff or waterproof finishes, embedded LED bulbs, and large-format photographic murals. That last trend inspired the Maven’s design team to feature a custom, mural-style wallcovering in the Diamond Suite. Curated by NINE dot ARTS, it’s a historical ballpark photograph that’s been printed on a vinyl wallcovering.
Expert Tip: “A feature like this should be used to a limited extent on walls that are uninterrupted by doors and windows,” Nathan says.
Rethink the gallery wall.
The traditional art gallery wall is an eclectic mix of framed photographs, prints, paintings, and other artwork, typically set off by unique frames and hung with an equal amount of space—anywhere from an inch to a foot—around each piece. But if you tighten that space, choose just one medium for your featured art, and stick to a consistent color and finish for each frame, the collection becomes one dramatic art installation. That’s exactly what artist Travis Hetman did to create “Dark Matter Gathering,” a collage of 300 found black-and-white photographs installed in the Maven’s elevator lobby.
Expert Tip: Uniformity is key. Here, Hetman used only black-and-white photographs, and though the frames vary slightly in style, each is painted the same shade of white.
Or skip the frame altogether.
Want to make an impact with large-scale art? “A direct installation on the wall creates an authentic and original piece that is unique to the space,” Nathan says. (Not to mention that framing at this scale can be difficult—and expensive—to achieve.) Nathan’s team chose this treatment for several of the Maven’s suites to complement their loft concept. “Many of the early loft conversions in LoDo were the work of artists and creatives looking for large open spaces in which create their work,” she says.
Expert Tip: A large-scale mural “works well in an open area of a home, where the floor-to-ceiling application can be viewed from a distance,” Nathan says. “Lighting plays an important role in such features, so be sure to install effective lighting to bring the piece to life.”
Get The Look: NINE dot ARTS curated the Maven’s murals, including “Mod Maude” by Karen Fisher and “Untitled” by Molly Bounds. We also love the work of Boulder artist Stephanie Lange.
Create a hanging garden.
Plants add life and lush texture to a room in an instant, but what if you don’t have counter or tabletop space to spare? For the hotel’s restaurant, Kachina Southwestern Grill, the architects at Crème designed custom suspended shelves (fabricated by local millworker Freelance) that preserve an open line of sight while accentuating the height of the room—and a collection of succulents in Native American pots.
Expert Tip: “This application would work well in a kitchen above a breakfast bar or over a seating area,” Nathan suggests.
Get The Look: DIY-ers: An open shelving unit made with industrial pipe and wooden planks is a relatively easy project you can pull off in a weekend. Not that handy? Ornamental blacksmithing studios like Dragon Forge Ltd. can help you create custom shelves with a similar style.
Swap a wing chair for a swing chair.
Hanging chairs, which the design team suspended in front of guest room windows and in elevator lobbies, “bring a bit of levity into the space and are a unique and memorable experience for guests,” Nathan says. They’ll be equally popular at home—try one in place of an easy chair.
Expert Tip: “Choose a location where the hanging chair has room to swing,” Nathan advises. “Next to a window is a good choice, as it looks inviting in silhouette and allows you to gently swing while looking out.”
Get The Look: We love Kettal’s Maia Egg Swing, which comes with a stand, so you don’t have to hire a pro to attach it to the ceiling.
Nod to the past.
Inspired by old-fashioned American soda fountains, Crème adorned the bar at the Poka Lola Social Club with custom stained-glass panels that feel fashion-forward. What’s the trick to making this old medium seem new? “A geometric, modern pattern—with a lot of varying light values—will keep it fresh,” Nathan says.
Expert Tip: Hang a stained-glass panel in front of a bathroom window, Nathan advises. “It makes a great visual screen.”
See for yourself: The Maven Hotel, 1850 Wazee Street, 720-460-2727, themavenhotel.com