When Brandi and Scott Fuller purchased their 1914 Georgian home on one of Denver’s most beautiful boulevards, they knew what they were getting into—sort of. “The very first time we walked through it, Scott said, ‘This house is a money pit,’ ” Brandi says. “But when we bought it anyway, we told ourselves, We’re just going to do these few things.”
Those things included expanding and remodeling the kitchen—which felt far too small for the 8,000-square-foot house and their newly combined family of seven—and also adding an ensuite bathroom to two upstairs bedrooms, a walk-in master bedroom closet, and a basement home gym.
The couple knew from experience—she was the director of business development for Denver-based Oz Architecture; he secures financing for commercial real estate projects all over the country—that a construction project’s scope, budget, and timeline are bound to change a bit. But they never imagined that their seemingly straightforward list of updates would expand to become a near-complete remodel of their home.
It all started with the kitchen floor. A slipshod prior renovation had left it sagging, according to the project’s architect, Toby Branch of Branch Architecture Studio, and lifting it—“a delicate process that required significant interventions on the basement level,” he says—led to a full structural remodel of the kitchen floor and basement ceiling below, not to mention repairs to a new network of cracks that spread along the main level’s plaster walls.
The upstairs updates followed a similar trajectory: Transforming two of the children’s bedroom closets into bathrooms required some unexpected construction—and also inspired Brandi and Scott to overhaul their master bathroom. While they were at it, they remodeled the third-floor bathroom and bedrooms, restored a bedroom suite above the garage, replaced most of the home’s lead pipes, and added a HVAC system for good measure. “It’s like the instance when you get a new sofa and then your drapes look like they need replaced, so you replace the drapes and then you need to paint the walls,” Brandi says of the snowballing project. “We would change elements to make one room more fabulous, and then we’d look at another room and think, ‘Gosh, we should probably make this room more fabulous too.’”
Outside, the list of improvements—initially limited to repairing the original red-brick walls, sanding, and painting—also grew: The architect enclosed the walkway between the garage and house to accommodate a new mudroom, and added a French door and metal staircase to connect the kitchen to the yard, which “works as another living room for 10 months a year,” Brandi says. There, the property’s original brick hardscaping frames manicured new plantings designed by Lifescape Colorado and patches of artificial turf that look like emerald-green rugs. “The previous owner had installed the turf, and, given the shade and the difficulty of maintaining grass, we decided to keep it,” Brandi says.
In the end, the renovations covered 6,000 square feet—but the structural changes were just the beginning. The house retained many of its original architectural details: old windows and millwork, 2-inch-wide wood-plank floors, marble fireplace surrounds, even the call boxes once used to summon “the help.” And the next challenge was marrying those antique details with modern updates.
The kitchen served as a laboratory for the vintage-meets-modern style concoction. “Brandi wanted a traditional kitchen with soft contemporary touches,” says Mikal Otten, owner and lead designer of Exquisite Kitchen Design and the brains behind the new room. “Achieving that was all about incorporating a few traditional details without getting too carried away.” For example, custom cabinets with a simple cove profile and soft white brushstroke finish “have a feel of tradition, but are simplified and cleaner,” Otten says. Ethereal blue glass backsplash tile “nods to the brick style that we often see done, but adds a soft contemporary touch,” he says. And the farmhouse sink, which “back in the day might have been white porcelain,” he notes, is stainless steel—“a cleaner, sexier, edgier choice.” A walnut coffee-bar armoire and chevron-patterned wood flooring incorporate more turn-of-the-century flavor. “In homes from this period, people would often give one room a special floor treatment,” Otten says. “We got away from that, and it’s fun to see it coming back again.”
In every room here, in fact, the floorcovering literally anchors the decor. “We started with the rug in each room and worked up from there,” Brandi says. In the dining room, a modern floral-patterned rug with pops of orange and charcoal gray dictated the silk shantung wallcovering, branch-like brass chandelier, and clear Lucite chairs that preserve the view of the floor. In the living room, a neutral rug inspired the quiet mix of gray crushed-velvet-upholstered sofas, marble-topped coffee table, and ring-shaped crystal chandelier. And in the foyer, a custom stair runner with a cherry-blossom-inspired pattern shares the spotlight with a midcentury-style credenza and bold custom artwork.
“It’s a real mixture of styles,” Brandi says of the furnishings she and Scott selected for this house. “The look is largely transitional, but every once in a while, there are midcentury and contemporary and bohemian pieces. Luckily it all came together in the end.”
According to Branch, the project’s success was less about luck and more about the integrity of a century-old home. “Yes, older buildings tend to sag a bit and have some structural issues, but it seems they’re very forgiving,” he says. “You can repair their structural flaws and make modern updates, and still not lose their character.” Living proof: One total transformation later and this home’s beautiful bones still stand strong.
Architecture and interior finish selections: Toby Branch and Danielle McMahon, Branch Architecture Studio
Interior design: Homeowners Brandi and Scott Fuller
Kitchen design: Mikal Otten, Exquisite Kitchen Design
Construction: Colorado Urban Builders
Landscape design: Lifescape Colorado