Sorry, Charles Dickens. That’s a terrible rip-off of a lovely book title, but it’s a good headline for the two Denver homes that share the spotlight as winners of our third-annual Top Denver Design contest: both historical architectural styles, both in established city neighborhoods, both purchased by owners who loved them despite many, shall we say, unfortunate aesthetic choices made by previous inhabitants. One is a Victorian whose renovations preserved its genteel lines outside and led to a modern aesthetic on the interior (“So Fresh, So Clean” ); the other is a century-old home with architecture inspired by the Italian Renaissance style that got a true-to-its-roots update, complete with faithfully recreated millwork (“The Rest Is History”).

For design geeks like me, the fastidious, thoughtful work that gives old buildings new life is compelling. But if you aren’t spending your days thinking about home design in Denver, you might be wondering: What makes these homes stand out?

I’m so glad you asked.

These homes—and the other award-winning spaces that make up our Top Denver Design story—check all the great-design boxes: They reflect their owners’ tastes and lifestyles, pay homage to the Mile High City’s architectural history while functioning for modern life, and celebrate our unique Colorado light and the feel of this place. The professionals who dreamed them up see their work as responding to the eras-long conversation about design—globally, yes, but also (importantly) in our city. And while they certainly have found inspiration in far-off places (see the modern teahouse), they’ve done a brilliant job of reinterpreting their ideas so the spaces they create are tied to this place and time.

It sounds like magic, right? That’s why they won.

This article was originally published in 5280 Home December 2018/January 2019.
Hilary Masell Oswald
Hilary Masell Oswald
As the former editor for two of 5280’s ancillary publications, Hilary Masell Oswald split her time between the vibrant design-and-architecture scene in the metro area for 5280 Home and the always-changing field of health for the annual 5280 Health.