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Husband and wife Jason Rovak and Erin Flynn-Rovak had no intention of leaving their Congress Park neighborhood when they asked their real-estate agent to help them find a larger home to accommodate their growing family. So, when she told them there was a Greenwood Village house they just had to see, their response was, “Nope! Not moving to the ’burbs,” Rovak says. But when they (hesitantly) agreed to at least see the house, it took about a minute for the couple to change their minds. “As soon as we pulled in the driveway, we said, ‘OK, we can look at this one,’” Rovak says. “We’ve always liked a classic French-country or industrial-meets-farmhouse kind of look, and this house, with its stone and stucco exterior, looked like an Old-World building.”
What took the couple far longer was determining how to make their new home’s plain-Jane interiors match that charming exterior and the classic aesthetic they both love. “Erin and I are terrible at shopping,” Rovak says. “We both have an idea of what we like, but we’re really bad at implementing it. So, for four years, [the house] looked like we had just moved in.”
Finally, the couple called Devon Tobin and Miranda Cullen, principals of Littleton-based Duet Design Group, for help—initially just with fresh paint colors and some built-ins and perhaps the master bedroom and bath. “And then Devon comes in and says, ‘Your kitchen is too small, your dining room is too big. Let’s knock out this wall,’” Rovak says. “After Erin and I recovered from the shock, we said, ‘Well, she’s kind of right about everything.’”
“The spaces really didn’t function in their original format,” Cullen explains. “When you walked in the front door, you were dumped into this really big room that the clients weren’t sure how to use. ‘Is it an entry foyer, a family room?’ they wondered.” The designers decided that both functions were possible, and employed some smart space-planning to delineate the “rooms” within the room.
First, they strategically placed a round, distressed-wood table—formerly the family’s dining table—beneath a cluster of blown-glass pendant lights hung just inside the front door, “allowing for a moment of pause when you walk in the house,” Cullen says. “You’re greeted by this really warm gathering of collected accessories, and then you can walk [around the table] to the left or right to get into the family room.”
Next, the design team divided that too-big family room into three distinct spaces: a lounging spot next to a dry bar, a tailored sectional sofa for watching television—which can be hidden within a new, custom built-in cabinet—and a cozy armchair by the fireplace, which the designers highlighted with a bold blue mantel.
In the adjacent kitchen, Cullen and Tobin opened up walls, relocated appliances, and reconfigured the island—which now features an attached dining table—to create a functional space. “The drop-down table was a fun way to add additional seating without having a 50-inch round table in the center of the space, which would have created confusion about how to circulate around the room,” Cullen says. That streamlined approach complements the room’s airy new vibe, set by light quartz countertops, soft-white Shaker-style cabinets, and pale-blue backsplash tiles. “We very specifically placed these pops of blue throughout the house to create a sense of movement,” Cullen says, “but you’ll notice that everything else is neutral—because too much of a good thing is not a good thing anymore.”
The design team struck the same careful balance when adding moments of eye-catching texture. In the family room, a distressed-wood ceiling and custom iron Juliet balcony stand out against simple plaster walls. In the kitchen, a rustic stone archway contrasts with the crisp-white cabinets and countertops. And in the redesigned master suite, a tongue-and-groove wood paneled ceiling accented with wood beams and decorative iron braces makes a bold statement.
Though nearly every piece of furniture in the house is new, the assortment has the look of a collection that has been gathered—and well-loved—over the years. “With an aesthetic like this, it doesn’t really matter if things don’t match, because everything goes together,” Cullen says. Take the dining room, for example, where the homeowners’ old bistro chairs and a new batik-upholstered bench pull up to the table, and black, high-back Windsor chairs preside at each end. That same dark finish makes an appearance on the kitchen’s turned-wood dining chairs, and again in the living room, where an antique workbench—once used in Rovak’s grandfather’s St. Louis cabinetry factory—has a new use as a sofa table.
The mix is an ideal match for the home’s “Hansel and Gretel” exterior, Cullen says, but also for the homeowners’ taste. “We didn’t want to make it look like just another luxury house,” Rovak says. “We wanted it to look unique, and the designers chose things that truly did that. It looks like this is what should always have been here.” Or, in other words, like a new(ish) house with an old soul.
Interior design: Miranda Cullen and Devon Tobin, Duet Design Group