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Photo by Emily Minton Redfield

Behind the Design of a Drab-to-Fab Home Makeover in Boulder

A late-aughts, beige-everything home gets a steeped-in-color renovation that’s perfect for a family of five.

The owners of this Craftsman-inspired home in Boulder’s Newlands neighborhood aren’t afraid of a bold design, but when interior designer Susan Hall first met them, she had to do some creative sleuthing to figure this out. “The owners had just moved here from California, and I showed up at the house to take a tour,” recalls the principal of Susan Hall Studio. “I was looking all around for clues—anything that would help me get a sense of their taste. But you know how it is here in Boulder, everyone was wearing exercise clothes.” Not helping matters, the house, built in 2007, was top-to-bottom, builder-grade beige. The tour wasn’t offering any inspiration.

Until they went into the main bedroom, that is. “I saw all these unpacked boxes on the floor and knew I should ask about them,” Hall says. It turns out they were filled with clothes and handbags from the homeowner’s days working in the fashion industry in London and California for designers including Stella McCartney—items for which she had yet to find a use for in Boulder. “I asked if I could open a box and I pulled out this gorgeous, leopard-print coat,” Hall says. In that instant, she knew they were going to have lots of fun with the house.

The homeowners’ love of design continued to reveal itself during their initial meetings, Hall says: “She wanted more of a moody feel and loves rich colors—no pastels. He collects vinyl records and has a great eye for art. The style we landed on is a sumptuous, modern-yet-classic, English-influenced feel. Definitely a twist on traditional.” The look is heavy on eye-catching art and well-curated vignettes. And, because this house is home to three young children and an 11-year-old dog, it works for real life, too.

The home’s bones were strong enough that the renovation didn’t require a total down-to-the-studs gut; a few interior walls went up and a few came down. The biggest transformation occurred in the combined kitchen and great room, which had an awkward layout that inhibited casual gatherings and dated finishes that made the space feel uninviting. “The original kitchen was industrial and cold feeling with cheap, shallow white cabinets,” Hall says. “An oversized, sterile restaurant-style kitchen island flanked by ’90s-era columns dominated the room on one side, and a crazy, laid-on-the-diagonal living room dominated the other.”

Doing “another giant island” didn’t make sense, says the designer, who opted instead for two narrow, parallel islands that efficiently utilize every bit of space. The homeowner elaborates: “I can make dinner at the first island while the baby plays on the floor. Bernie the dog perches on the couch so he can get a better view of the yard. And on the second island, my husband and the kids can do Lego sets or puzzles.” Benjamin Moore’s Gentleman’s Gray paint on the new cabinets, scalloped backsplash tile from Fireclay Tile, and geometric accent tile on the island give the room a fresh vibe.

Throughout the home, Hall added elements of surprise and intrigue with bold wallpapers and saturated hues. In the powder room, Schumacher’s Chiang Mai Dragon wallpaper satisfied the homeowner’s craving for eye-catching pattern. “Susan found this paper and I fell in love; it allowed us to make a statement without looking crazy,” she says. In the main bedroom, burgundy linen bedding and an accent wall clad in gray-and-gold Hygge & West wallpaper set a cozy tone. And in the reimagined office, a coat of gray paint and a pink-upholstered Carl Hansen & Son lounge chair create the perfect spot for next-best-idea brainstorming.

“What we ended up with is a family-friendly home where adults can also entertain,” the homeowner says. And thanks to Hall’s eye for just-right maximalist moments, you can still find loads of design surprises—without all the detective work.

Design Pros

Interior design: Susan Hall, Susan Hall Studio
Construction: Melton Design Build

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