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Photograph by David Lauer

Colorado Kitchen Confidential

How four homeowners—and the architects and designers they hired—overcame challenges from space flow issues to an actual flood. The upshot? Change isn't good. It's great.


Sleek & Smart

Photograph by David Lauer

When Miranda Cullen of Duet Design Group began work on this newly built modern home in Cherry Hills Village, it was already beautiful—but perhaps a bit earnest. “The entire house was very calm, with warm textures, and the homeowner wanted to get playful with light fixtures and fabrics,” Cullen says. “We were called in to add a warm mix of textures and furnishings to the tonal palette.” To wit: Her team collaborated with the architect, Kansas City’s Hufft Projects, and Denver’s William Ohs cabinet manufacturer to brighten up the space by incorporating walnut cabinets and a light oak finish on the ceiling; smoky glass cabinet doors and a custom stainless-steel hood by Weld-Wright Fabricators reflect the natural light that filters through the windows. Cullen selected Moooi’s Heracleum II pendants with twinkling LED bulbs, which dangle over the island, for their leafy look, and Bretano leather—“basically, kid-friendly vinyl”—for the banquette seats. But perhaps the most showstopping element is the fireplace, designed by the architect as a decorative screen. Form and function and a little fun? That’s perfect design alchemy.

Design Detail

“We added back-painted glass—which has a smoky, non-reflective quality—to the tall cabinets to the right of the sink,” Cullen says of the space that contains the toaster, juicing station, and other tools. “The owner initially talked about using clear glass, but that was giving her anxiety. She didn’t want to have to keep everything
in the cabinets organized.”

Design Pros

Architecture: Hufft
Interior design: Miranda Cullen, Duet Design Group
Cabinet design: Linda McLean and Mary Lynn Rockwell, William Ohs

A Tudor for Today

Photograph by Emily Minton Redfield

Interior designer Christine Hunter gave architect Sarah Sexton of Sexton Lawton Architecture an unusual directive when they teamed up to renovate Hunter’s home: Make this Tudor feel a little less like, well, a Tudor. “The main floor was really cooped up: You walked in the front door and there was a dark living room, dark seating area, dark kitchen, and small family room,” Sexton says. “Our whole plan was to open it.” In the kitchen, that meant adding new windows and installing a showstopping 12-by-4-foot island. “It’s the first thing people notice now,” Hunter says. “There’s no sink or cooktop on it; I wanted it to be this blank slate where we could do anything we wanted. We’ve hosted 120-plus people for a Christmas charity benefit and put all the food there! And I work there, laying architectural plans all over.” Clear, seeded-glass pendant lights above the island provide just a hint of sparkle and jibe with the brushed-satin-nickel knobs; a white marble backsplash and Coastal Gray PentalQuartz countertops add to the look. “Unlike marble or granite, quartz doesn’t need to be sealed,” Sexton says, “and like natural stone, it looks so good now.” Just like the reimagined Tudor itself.

Design Detail

Homeowner and interior designer Christine Hunter selected a Jonathan Adler Sputnik chandelier for the adjacent dining room. “I like mixing traditional with new, and I think of lighting as jewelry,” she says. “It’s fairly easy to replace and such a fun surprise, especially in a traditional home like ours.”

Design Pros

Architecture: Sarah Sexton, Sexton Lawton Architecture
Interior design: Christine Hunter, Christine Hunter Designs
Cabinet design: Mary Jenkins, BKC Kitchen and Bath

Farmhouse Fabulous

Photograph by Emily Minton Redfield

“In the summer of 2015, my clients returned from vacation to their home in Golden and found that a crucial valve on the upstairs toilet had failed; water had been gushing out of the pipe for three days,” says designer Laura Medicus of Laura Medicus Interiors. But occasionally, a low point—in this case, a water-ruined kitchen, a client in tears—is a perfect catalyst for reinvention. Because the homeowner has always adored farmhouses but lives in a comparatively plain suburban home, Medicus blew out the walls for a more open living area, then upgraded the space with a slightly olde-tyme-Colorado feel—adding rustic wooden planks to the walls and covering an existing arch with distressed wood beams. Hand-hewn iron brackets support shelves and impart an artisanal quality; burnished barn sconces from Restoration Hardware and timeless white ceramic square backsplash tiles add charm. “Incorporating rustic things, like a wooden beam over the stove, gave the whole room texture and oomph,” Medicus says. Joanna Gaines would totally approve.

Design Detail

“Taking out the upper cabinets is a super-easy upgrade that lightens up a kitchen in a dramatic way, and gives you an opportunity to have fun styling your dinnerware,” interior designer Laura Medicus says. “People worry it will get dusty, but if you display things you use every day, it won’t.”

Design Pros

Interior design: Laura Medicus, Laura Medicus Interiors
Cabinet design: Oak Tree Classic Woodworks

Pattern Perfection

Photograph by Susie Brenner

Katie Schroder’s clients didn’t have any problems with the way their kitchen functioned, but the design was simply blah. “The ‘builder special’ had maple cabinets and a two-level island in a triangular shape—and just bad design,” says the designer, principal of Atelier Interior Design. “They wanted to get more clean-lined with their aesthetic, but didn’t want to blow the budget.” So Schroder turned to a surprising cabinet surface to get them a streamlined look on the cheap: melamine. Usually the stuff of backyard picnic ware, “melamine holds up really well,” she says—and was ideal for this highly trafficked space. “Cabinetmaker Aspen Leaf Kitchens was showing it in places like the mudroom, but I thought we could make it look amazing in the kitchen,” she says. Hanging an Arteriors pendant light over the kitchen sink added a captivating detail that matches the oil-rubbed-bronze hardware. Because the cabinets were a neutral gray color, Schroder selected blue glazed ceramic tiles from Pratt & Larson for the backsplash. “If you’re going to have muted cabinets,” she says, “you need to get a little crazy elsewhere to show your personality in some way.” We couldn’t agree more.

Design Details

“My clients saw my Instagram post about local artist Madeleine O’Connell and loved it, so we selected her wallpaper to place on the ceiling over the island,” interior designer Katie Schroder says. “It adds interesting texture, but it’s not a huge commitment.”

Design Pros

Interior design: Katie Schroder, Atelier Interior Design
Cabinet design: Aspen Leaf Kitchens

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