Take a stroll down this charming, historic street in Baker, and it’s hard to miss the new(ish) kid on the block: a bungalow with a monochromatic black facade and immaculately xeriscaped lawn amidst a row of vibrant painted ladies. The 100-year-old home’s otherwise unaltered exterior maintains its original architecture, but hints at the daring style of its owner—and a hidden, ultramodern addition on the back. The bold design choices come courtesy of architect Morgan Law and designer Noah Manos, principals of the envelope-pushing design firm Paper Airplane. We asked the duo about going big with a historic home makeover.
5280 Home: Let’s get right to your boldest design move: that all-black exterior.
Noah Manos: A monochromatic exterior has become one of the hallmarks of contemporary design. We thought that applying it to a historic facade would actually give that concept a little more of a nuanced meaning by poking at the conventions of the brightly colored, highly decorative appearance of more typical “gingerbread” Victorians.
It takes a special kind of client to say, “Yes, let’s go for it!”
NM: Our client has a great sense of style that strikes a balance between funky and adventurous with a crisp, clean, and timeless aesthetic. She’s got an affection for pink hair, black Audis, and white penny tile—and was inspired by the midcentury homes of Palm Springs.
That sounds like a dream client. But how does that vision square with a 100-year-old home—and the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission’s limitations for renovations?
Morgan Law: We were happy to work within the confines of Landmark to ensure that Denver’s historical fabric stays intact. Landmark tends to have a “business in the front, party in the back” mentality. Modifying the street-facing facade is very difficult—except for paint color—but Landmark, I think, understands the general design trend to integrate indoor with outdoor spaces; they have more flexibility around the back of the house.