The Local newsletter is your free, daily guide to life in Colorado. For locals, by locals. Sign up today!
Los Angeles transplants Amy Pigliacampo and Corey Szopinski knew they had their work cut out for them when they bought this Front Range home at auction six years ago. “I wanted a project that was going to be a massive transformation,” says Pigliacampo, a former fashion stylist who had recently shifted to a career in interior design. But had the couple known that every problem they thought the house might have would turn out to be the worst possible version of that problem, would they still have forged ahead?
Perhaps not. The original house “was kind of a science experiment,” says architect Ian Read, a college friend of Pigliacampo’s who—along with his wife and co-principal, Gretchen Krebs, and project architect Andy Pittman—helped address the home’s failing systems while bringing a sense of simplicity to its cluttered facades and disjointed floor plan. “The person who built it was super into sustainability and created his own versions of systems that could, when designed and built properly, result in a net-zero home,” Read explains. “But when those systems don’t work, they can create big problems.” Such as the extreme heat a faulty fan system created in the solarium, resulting in a delaminated glass door. Or the radon issue caused by defective homemade geothermal tubes. Or the moisture that crept behind improperly installed EIFS stucco, damaging the exterior walls.
But those troubles paled in comparison to the fire that broke out mid-renovation. Sparked by a lightning strike, it quietly smoldered in the attic for 24 hours before making its way down the side of the house late one night, while the homeowners and their two young children slept in their temporary basement bedrooms. The family escaped, but the second story and attic required a complete rebuild.
In some ways, Pigliacampo reflects, “the fire was the best thing that could have happened.” For one, it allowed the couple to vault the second-floor ceilings—a move that hadn’t been in the original renovation budget. “Now, the peak is 14 feet, so there’s some drama that wasn’t there before,” she says. It also gave the design team the opportunity to tackle more of the home’s aesthetic oddities—such as its “ridiculous number of windows, only three of which were the same size,” Pigliacampo notes. “We eliminated about 13 windows and unified the spacing between the others,” which—along with the addition of dark wood siding and a metal roof—“transformed the exterior.”
The windows that remain are plentiful enough to fill the home with light while also inviting interaction with the half-acre property, which includes ample turf for yard games and a spacious terrace. “The main thing that strikes me [about the renovation] is that the rooms feel much more connected to the outdoors in a way that makes sense,” says Read, who reoriented the living room toward the backyard with the addition of a woodstove and glass door. And with its fans functioning properly, the solarium—now filled with happy houseplants—is “like a little oasis” no matter the time of year, he adds. “It’s nice to sit in there and feel kind of hot while looking out at the snow.”
To amplify the interior’s sense of spaciousness, Pigliacampo stripped away every unnecessary wall, door, cabinet, and color. “I think the person who designed this place had forward-thinking ideas, so I felt like I could go more modern without taking away the spirit of the house,” she explains. After painting every room white, she added oak and black tile floors, then custom, grain-matched walnut cabinetry. Next came a collection of vintage Moroccan rugs. “I love starting a space with the rug because it provides an opportunity to tell a story with colors I might never have considered otherwise,” she says. “Because of the plane the rug is on—it’s not hitting you in the face—you can live with more color and pattern there, and everything else can be quieter and cleaner.”
Like the family room’s low-slung sofa upholstered in a faded gray-green velvet. Or the mid-mod credenzas—selected for their versatility—that Pigliacampo placed throughout the house. “At one point, they held Legos, then they held my [fabric] samples,” she says. “I like for furniture to have multiple lives and functions, because life changes.”
A set of 12 modern, fiberglass shell chairs in a muted rainbow of colors also moves around the house as needs and moods shift. “I can change the configuration around the dining table and create a whole new palette,” Pigliacampo says. “I’ll have those chairs forever, and I’ll always find ways to use them differently.”
Which seems to be this designer’s superpower. “I’m able to visualize what something can be in a very immediate way,” she says. “Like this place: [Before I even saw it in person], I knew it was the house. And the way it looks now is exactly how I believed it could be.”