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Photo by Kimberly Gavin.

Home Tour: A Historic Boulder Victorian Reimagined for Today

Design-forward, family friendly, and sensitive to the neighborhood's history, this home is renovation perfection.

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How do you add a bedroom, family room, laundry room, mudroom, and two bathrooms to an old house—without adding a single square foot? That was the arithmetic required of the daring souls who bought this circa-1875 Gothic Revival Victorian in Boulder’s Whittier neighborhood, a historic district where rigorous building regulations (meant to preserve the area’s charm) make altering a home’s exterior nearly impossible.

The back door serves as the home’s main entrance. “Hopefully, this is the home we will live in always,” the homeowner says. (Thus, the monogrammed floor.) Photo by Kimberly Gavin.

“We knew we wanted something old, with character,” the homeowner says of her house search. “When we found this Victorian, we thought, Wellll…there’s no master bedroom.” But, propelled by a can-do attitude, she and her husband bought the house anyway and hired Boulder’s Elton R. Construction and Denver-based JM Kitchen & Bath to embark upon an innovative, yearlong renovation that added loads of functionality (and yes, a whole new master suite and kitchen) for their young family of four—without pushing an inch over the existing 3,000-square-foot footprint.

The patterns and textures of carefully selected textiles define the master bedroom. The slatted Windsor headboard by CB2 lends a classic yet modern feel to a tricky space while not obstructing the window and light. Photo by Kimberly Gavin.

The design eye that brought it together belongs to Lindy Williams, principal and creative director of Boulder’s Westward Foundry design firm. Says Williams of the project: “[The homeowners] were excited about being in the historic district, and they wanted to do it right and honor the history of the house.”

The painted brick and beams in a kid’s bedroom—the only place in the entire house where the original brick was painted—brighten the space, making it “functional, whimsical, happy, and playful,” the homeowner says. Photo by Kimberly Gavin.

The renovation came together in phases, starting with the second floor, which was reconfigured to include the master suite, laundry room, and two kids’ bedrooms—changes that required approval from the City of Boulder’s Landmarks Board. Next, it was on to the ground floor, where the team borrowed some underused square footage from the existing attached garage. Converting the slab-foundation garage on sandy soil into livable space required creative problem-solving (and excavation) when it came to necessities like plumbing and a gas line, but the resulting kitchen and family room have since become the hub of the house.

The master bathroom is airy and (bonus!) lined with ample storage. Its sleek simplicity is offset by eye-catching concrete floor tile (Conche by Arto) and a custom-painted clawfoot tub by Signature Hardware. Photo by Kimberly Gavin.

Driving the design of each reimagined space was the family’s need for storage. With two young kids and no basement or playroom to accommodate their stuff, built-ins (see: family room and kitchen) were essential—and carefully designed. “We did not want a huge house; it’s moderately sized,” the homeowner says, “but we managed some great storage. That wall of cabinets [in the kitchen] is like a built-in hutch; we love it because we can hide everything. It makes the house feel so much more efficient.”

Sleek marble countertops blend beautifully with custom blue cabinetry (by JM Kitchen & Bath) in the super-functional kitchen that’s one part Victorian, one part modern. Barstools, Thos. Moser Photo by Kimberly Gavin.

For all its practicality, the house exudes warmth and a polished eclecticism that’s rooted in the homeowner’s nuanced tastes—and was executed with Williams’ help. “I like to take a lot of risks; Lindy was great support for that,” the homeowner says. “‘Yes, paint your kitchen blue!’ she said.”

Disparate elements come together in a chic dining vignette that blends rustic brick walls, a 10-person dining table from Anthropologie, and a dazzlingly glam chandelier. Photo by Kimberly Gavin.

Combined with red brick, white marble countertops, and brass fixtures, that daring blue cabinetry lands somewhere between modern farmhouse and classic Victorian on the style spectrum. But, as risks go, the floor-to-ceiling mural that enlivens the dining room was perhaps the biggest—and yielded a huge payoff. Created by artist and Colorado native Naomi Clark, the bold floral motif provides a whimsical focal point that riffs on the warm brick tones and pops of blue that make appearances throughout the home.

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The bold floral mural by artist and Colorado native Naomi Clark is a showstopping alternative to wallpaper. Photo by Kimberly Gavin.

The whole design scheme, in fact, feels inspired and imaginative. “With old homes, you don’t just put in brand-new furniture,” Williams says. “The homeowner has an eye for vintage furnishings, and she had some great family pieces.” Heirloom rugs anchor both living spaces with warm, rich color, for example, while cooler hues and mixed patterns (see: the striped ottoman and herringbone-tile fireplace surround in the family room) add a style that’s smart, but never precious. “They wanted it to have a collected look,” Williams says of the design. “They didn’t want anything to look too perfect and pretentious.” The result: an old home polished up for a new century.

An heirloom rug anchors the family room (formerly the garage), which is outfitted with a well-edited blend of textures and patterns: a leather Restoration Hardware sofa, striped Kim Salmela ottoman, and, around the fireplace, Nero Marquina marble tile from Ann Sacks. Photo by Kimberly Gavin.
Design Pros

Interior design: Lindy Williams, principal and creative director, Westward Foundry
Kitchen design: Mike Thulson, JM Kitchen & Bath
Construction: Matt Ostler, project manager, Elton R. Construction

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