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Get inspired with these trade secrets, from powder rooms to entryways. Photo by Raul Garcia

Design Secrets From the Pros

We pressed for specifics; the designers dished. Here, learn the key style rules behind three fabulously decorated Front Range rooms.

Design is kind of like craft beer or first dates or ski conditions: When it’s good, you just know. But these instincts don’t always guide us to the right paint color or tell us how high to hang the chandelier. In other words: It’s best to consult the pros. So, to get to the bottom of what makes these four irresistible spaces tick, we asked the designers behind them to share their winning ideas. (You’ll be surprised by how quickly the gallery wall came together and what makes the kitchen feel oh-so Colorado.)

1. Master Bathroom

Design Secret: Celebrate your home’s history (with a nod to the present, of course!).
Design Pro: Anna Smith, Annabode & Co.

Sleek bathroom accents complete the look. Photo by Raul Garcia.

Designer Anna Smith of Annabode & Co. is part design historian. “Whatever your home’s original time period,” she says, “you want to echo that in your spaces.” In this chic, neutral bathroom, Smith honored the Wash Park home’s Victorian roots—repurposing the original door, matching the existing hardware and trim, and opting for classic white subway tile. To keep it current, she chose a modern glass shower surround (creating a perfect spot for bathing Isaac, the owner’s giant bullmastiff) and edgy matte-black floor tile (Manhattan Hexagon Mosaic by South Cypress) that extends into the shower, making the space look bigger. And, almost too cool to be true, the vanity is a retrofitted midcentury credenza. Would you believe us if we told you the space used to be a 1980s marvel—wooden toilet seat, bright pink walls, and all?

TIP! Follow Annabode & Co.’s wildly popular Instagram feed for more gorgeous ideas.

2. Entry

Design Secret: Great style starts with the right scale.
Design Pro: Devon Tobin, Duet Design Group

Everything in designer Devon Tobin’s entryway—a Chesterfield Leather cowhide rug, vintage Denver photograph, laser-cut-plywood console—fits the narrow space to a T. Photo by David Lauer

This smart entryway, which sets the scene for designer (and Duet Design Group co-owner) Devon Tobin’s Virginia Village home, centers on a basic—but important—design idea: Every object must be just the right size. The curvaceous console, which Tobin’s husband built at architecture school, is just six inches deep: broad enough to be a stop-and-drop zone for keys and daily essentials and slender enough to fit the narrow space. The mid-sized vintage photo of Union Station, a wedding gift from Tobin’s brother, leaves “breathing room” on the wall, she says. The two small “lipstick mirrors” (perfect for last-minute touch-ups on the way out the door) don’t distract from the main vignette. And the very-Western cowhide rug—Tobin’s go-to for entryways of all kinds—stands up to mucky snow boots and kids’ shoes. “I don’t want people to walk in and feel like they have to take their shoes off,” she says—no-fuss Colorado style at its finest.

TIP! For smaller renovation projects (with tighter budgets), check out Duet Design Group’s new à-la-carte design service, Inside Stories.

3. Kitchen

Design Secret: Keep it casual and organic—perfect for Colorado.
Design Pros: Interior design: Lovedy Barbatelli, Barbatelli Signature Interiors; Kitchen design: Marcus Otten, Exquisite Kitchen Design; Construction: Nick Muller, Nehemiah General Contractors

This transitional kitchen celebrates Colorado style through easy functionality and natural finishes, including backsplash tile by Oceanside Glasstile, granite from the Stone Collection, and cabinets by Quality Custom Cabinetry. The industrial pendant lights are from Rejuvenation. Photo by Raul Garcia. Styling by Nicole Dominic.

Though our beloved state is something of a melting pot of design (with style—and residents—hailing from all over the world), there’s one rule we can all agree on: We don’t like fussy spaces. That idea reigns supreme in this Golden ranch-house kitchen, which interior designer Lovedy Barbatelli of Barbatelli Signature Interiors and kitchen designer Marcus Otten of Exquisite Kitchen Design describe as “grand transitional,” meaning “not too traditional, not too sleek.” Otten structured the layout to separate food prep, cooking, cleaning, and lingering—all the “real life” stuff—and worked with Barbatelli to dress the space with plenty of warm, natural finishes: a glass-and-stone backsplash, furniture-like oak cabinets, and a mahogany island. “It’s a totally practical space,” Barbatelli says. People in Colorado like to be comfortable; they want to just live life.” Can we get an amen?

4. Gallery Wall

Design Secret: Start with stylish (and budget-friendly) stand-ins you can swap out later.
Design Pro: Emily Tucker, Emily Tucker Design Inc. 

The gallery wall’s lively array of prints and objects is meant to be replaced over time by more personal memorabilia. Tucker specified the Room & Board-inspired dresser to fit the dimensions of the space. The Lulu & Georgia rug ties it all together. Photo by Emily Minton Redfield

For their first home, a Boulder couple envisioned a gallery wall in their master bedroom that would showcase photos of future travels. But they didn’t want to stare at a blank wall until they’d checked off the destinations on their bucket list. So designer Emily Tucker of Emily Tucker Design Inc. curated this punchy array of prints and objects to serve as a “cheap and cheerful” placeholder. The trick to making such eclectic elements look like a collection, she says, is to “make sure every piece works with at least one other piece.” See: pops of gold
and blue throughout. Yet perhaps Tucker’s greatest secret is that she purchased everything on the wall for about $300. That means more moolah for the adventure budget.

Golden Rules

We asked 12 local interior design firms to share their go-to style advice.

A powder room, designed by Studio Thomas, goes glam with textured wallpaper. Photo by Kristopher Lewis.

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