On paper, this new house in Cherry Creek North had it all: a coveted location just steps from the shopping district’s restaurants and boutiques; a cool, contemporary design with open living spaces and floor-to-ceiling walls of glass; and a party-ready, third-floor roof deck with spectacular views.

But to its new owners, a husband and wife moving to Denver from the East Coast, the house didn’t quite feel like home, which was the quality they valued most. And while the furnishings and artwork they would bring with them carried meaning and memories, those pieces wouldn’t be enough, they felt, to make this blank canvas their own.

To give the space the aesthetic and feel they wanted, the owners partnered with Caroline Wilding, whose expertise encompasses architecture and interior design, and Paul Wrona and Aubrey Ansah of landscape architecture firm Elevate by Design, whose task was to extend the living spaces out to inviting al fresco rooms.

Wilding’s first order of business was to warm up the home’s austere palette of dark wood floors and white walls. “They like that clean, modern look, but not in the stark, cold sense,” she says of her clients’ tastes. “What we envisioned was an organic-modern aesthetic that feels really comfortable and livable.”

Wilding’s most sweeping change was to lighten the home’s wood floors to a natural white-oak tone, which she complemented with rich wood finishes that warm up the home. In the main bedroom, she commissioned local woodworker David Kremer to panel an entire wall in walnut; in the third-floor living space, called the “sky lounge” for its bird’s-eye views, a wood-veneer wallcovering creates a similar cozying effect. Wrona and Ansah followed these cues, devising a steel-and-raw-cedar pergola to shade the outdoor dining room, and a slatted ipe-wood-and-steel privacy screen for the third-floor deck.

Equally transformative are new steel accents inspired by the structural I beam spanning the living room. Wilding’s reconfiguration of the kitchen included the addition of an island wrapped in blackened steel, as well as custom glass-and-steel built-ins that flank a new dining banquette. “They’re very simple, but there’s a beautiful organic quality to these real materials,” she says.

Slatted white-oak cabinetry, textured quartz countertops, and handmade backsplash tiles bring that same hand to the kitchen workspace, which Wilding illuminated with a pair of domed pendants that marry blackened-steel and brass finishes with leather straps. “We needed great lighting here for tasks,” the designer says, “but we really carefully selected all the decorative fixtures throughout the house, incorporating lots of authentic materials, from glass globes to real leather strapping to patinaed metals. They’re just so subtle; nothing is trying too hard.”

The same goes for Wilding’s furniture selections. “We were looking for craft,” she explains. “I gravitate toward really clean, modern pieces, but not in the sense of lacquered finishes. It’s just simple and timeless. You’ll see a lot of wood, with a mix of walnuts and white oaks so it’s not too matchy, and I love incorporating some leather and steel to create a dynamic layered effect.”

Many of the pieces are Wilding’s designs, brought to life in Kremer’s shop. “When we couldn’t find the exact right thing, we’d ask, ‘David, can you do that for us?’” Wilding recalls. For the dining room, he crafted a walnut tabletop that’s paired with a locally fabricated steel base. For the living room and sky lounge, he made coffee tables in ebonized wood and white oak. And to create the main bedroom’s bedside bench, he showed off his sewing skills, hand-stitching a leather top to pair with the wood base.

Though Wilding found ways to incorporate some furnishings from her clients’ previous—and far more traditional—home, it was their artwork that fit in best. “It was really fun to go through this collection, which was everything from things their kids had made to a painting by a Seattle artist they discovered at the beginning of their relationship,” Wilding says. “Everything had a meaning and a story, and it was cool to give it a new life in a new place.” Which is what this renovation has done for her clients, as well. They may still be new in town, but they finally feel right at home.

Design Pros

Renovation Architecture and Interior Design: Caroline Wilding, Construct Design/Architecture
Renovation Construction: Josh Weren, Greenwood Builders
Landscape Architecture: Paul Wrona and Aubrey Ansah, Elevate by Design