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Happy Place

Interior designer Deidre Oliver talks whimsical glamour, wood beams, and easy style in her Niwot home.

Interior designer and homeowner Deidre Oliver added elegance to the great room with the Delano console by Currey & Company and the Orleans side table by Arteriors, both with custom marble tops. —Photography by Emily Minton Redfield

Deidre Oliver and her husband left Chicago in 1998 to raise their three children in a more outdoorsy locale. Their destination: Niwot, a bucolic town with about 4,000 residents just north of Boulder. They bought an acre upon which to build a home (designed by Boulder’s MQ Architecture & Design), and Oliver founded her interior design firm, Oliver Designs, that same year. The classic house has changed with the family and the designer’s tastes. Here’s the latest rendition—and how she achieved it.

5280 Home: Walk us through the style you’ve cultivated.

Deidre Oliver: For this home, I’d say it’s “relaxed sophistication.” We have two young grandsons now, so things couldn’t be too fussy or formal. Our formula was to mix a bit of rustic with some modern furnishings. We did neutrals but treated the fabrics with nanotechnology—so basically, the fabrics are bulletproof.

What’s the secret to making each room stand out?

In every room, I like to have one or two pieces to define the space. In the great room, the Bling chandelier by Robert Abbey really sets the tone. It’s fun and glamorous—not your traditional chandelier in what was a really traditional room. It freshens it up.

You’ve struck the right balance of accessories and accents. It’s never too much.

The key to seamlessness is to edit regularly and wisely. It’s so easy. Take a look at a photo of the room; what you need to edit jumps out pretty quickly. If I don’t end up editing, even a well-thought-out room doesn’t look quite right.

So less is more?

I’m saying you should allow for negative space. Sometimes in a great room with a good focal point, like a fireplace, it’s really nice to have a quiet place to let your eye rest.

Yet you’ve got some interesting extras in all the right places.

If you want to get the details right, find accessories you absolutely love. Like the candlesticks on the mantel: I saw them in New York at an antique shop, and I had to have them. They don’t really match anything, but they’re not supposed to. They’re in a place where they’re getting the attention they deserve.

The wood beams are gorgeous. How did that inform your design?

The wood beams are a must-have for us. The beams in the great room and the pine kitchen cabinets are kind of a nod to the fact that my husband lives here, too. This home has seen its share of updates, but we’ve kept those cabinets and original beams for character; I love the look with the modern furniture.

Redecorating can add up; when is it important to splurge?

If you’re remodeling entirely, invest your money into good bones. Beef up your architecture. Good flooring, great paint…everything else will follow. If you’re just redecorating, splurge on lighting, sofas, and chairs. If you’re going to sit on it, buy the best you can afford. You can always reupholster it later. With lighting, great fixtures have the ability to transform a space.

How do you go about choosing light fixtures?

I tell clients that lighting is the jewelry. You need to think about function first: Will you need ambient light or reading light? Then consider: What style do you want to achieve? Some people want a touch of modern in a traditional space. Lighting is a great place to inject a bit of whimsy.

Like the coral chandelier in the entryway: It’s striking against the unexpected black ceiling.

When you want to call attention to something, use an accent wall. In this case, I wanted the eyes to be drawn up. Dark paint makes the space more fun, but also more intimate. I painted the ceiling black, and all of a sudden things just came alive. The entryway took on a dramatic life of its own.

Any advice for those of us who want to redecorate but don’t know where to start?

We are the sum of our experiences, and if our style reflects that, it makes for a much more interesting design. The goal is not to feel like your house looks like something out of a magazine or coffee-table book. Rather, if you like a particular style, add your own stamp to it and make it truly yours.

Great Room (Above Left)

“This is where we hang out,” interior designer and homeowner Deidre Oliver says. “The driving force was furniture that’s functional and comfortable.” The sofas by Thomas Pheasant for Baker are upholstered in Schumacher linen, which is a perfect textural contrast to the leather ottoman by Baker. “But I love to add in glamour, too,” she says.

Entryway (Above Right)

Oliver fell in love with this Charles Pollock Spanish side table from Egg & Dart nine months before she finally bought it for the entryway. Together with the textured grasscloth (Phillip Jeffries Extra Fine Arrowroot paper in Tobacco), black ceiling, coral-inspired Diallo chandelier by Arteriors, and leather-trimmed hide rug by Edelman Leather, it creates an inviting—and fun—first impression.


Oliver designed her gold-accented office—with a Parisian chandelier by Visual Comfort and a gilded-metal floor lamp by Aerin Lauder—around what she considers one of the home’s best features: the windows. “I spend a lot of time in my office. It’s a woman’s space,” says Oliver, who chose a sofa in Brunschwig & Fils silk velvet and a Cherner leather and walnut task chair. “The gild and brass make me happy. It’s warm. Psychologically, I think it’s a great color palette for a space you need to work in.”

 Dining Area

Light spills into the less formal dining space, which is anchored by a custom Nuevo table and leather chairs by Tonin Casa and accented by Barbara Barry French Cuff drum pendant lighting. A giclée print—“Biba,” by the artist Elige—adds drama and color to the otherwise neutral room.


Industrial Gale pendant lights by Thomas O’Brien bring a chic, edgy feel to a kitchen with rustic pine cabinets. Barstools by Cherner Chair Company and a glass tile backsplash (Ann Sacks Profile glass mosaic) round out the updated, modern vibe.

Master Bedroom

Oliver’s light, airy scheme in the master bedroom includes well-placed accents (mirror by Arteriors, lamps by Aerin Lauder) and soothing furnishings (bed by Poltrona Frau, chair upholstered in Stroheim fabric). “The warm gilded metals, creamy palette, and sandy-colored walls [Farrow & Ball paint in Archive] add to the cozy feel of the space,” Oliver says. “It’s exactly what we need at the end of the day.”


In the lush backyard, Oliver made good use of the property’s natural slope by installing a water feature and stone pathway. The concept—which includes a pond and bubbling waterfall—was executed by Randy Brady of Creative Landscape Artists and adds visual interest to the patio.
—Garden photo courtesy of Deidre Oliver

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Happy Place

Design icon Jonathan Adler brings his feel-good decor to Denver.

“Too many opinions can spoil your loft. Trust your gut and your gay BFF.” Amen to those words of wisdom, painted on the walls of the new Jonathan Adler store in Cherry Creek North. The shop, one of more than 20 around the world, is the namesake of New York–based celebrity designer Jonathan Adler, former judge on Bravo TV’s Top Design and lover of all things unexpected.

The airy, industrial space houses display after display of what we might describe as happy eclecticism. His bold collection of irreverent luxury housewares emits sheer fun without being garish: Embroidered throw pillows with cheeky pop-culture references and zigzag patterns complement retro-mod furniture in rich turquoises and tangerines; elaborate glittering chandeliers contrast the cement floors; and animal accent pieces (like turtles and giraffes made of ceramic and felt) line the shelves beside the simple yet sophisticated pottery that gave Adler his start in the design business.

That’s right—before the international expansion, before the adoration of interior designers everywhere, and before partners such as Starbucks, Lacoste, and Mattel, Adler sat at a potter’s wheel for the simple love of the craft. He would eventually sell a line of pots to Barneys in New York in the mid-’90s, which led to a first store in SoHo and the enduring philosophy that you must surround yourself, unapologetically, with things that you love. And at Denver’s Jonathan Adler outpost, it’s not difficult to find something you love. The problem is finding something you don’t.

Jonathan Adler talks Denver style, color schemes, and the beauty of brass.

5280: A lot of people would say Denver doesn’t have the sophistication of New York or Los Angeles. So how did we reel you in?

Jonathan Adler: In Denver, the outdoors inspires the indoors. It’s the perfect place to play with scale, natural materials, and groovy silhouettes. We’ve brought in a specially curated mix of products for the Denver store: lots of walnut finishes and nubby linen fabrics that are influenced by the terrain.

Let’s say you’re decorating a room from scratch. Where do you start?

Start at the top. Get a chandelier that is both bigger than you think you need and more expensive than you think you can afford. Then go to the other extreme and get a bold rug to anchor your space.

Your entire design philosophy is about things that make you happy. Just curious: What makes you unhappy?

Mean people, opening the kiln to find a bunch of exploded pots, and capers.

What color schemes are you digging right now?

The combo of gray, orange, and white is making my chakras tingle.

Tell us about the must-haves in your spring line.

I’m mad for anything brass, from our Brass Peacock table to our brass boxes. Brass objects are like jewelry for your home, and the color warms up and gets even richer as it patinas.

158 Fillmore St., 303-377-1742,
Read Up

In Adler’s latest book, 100 Ways to Happy Chic Your Life (Sterling Signature, November 2012), find decor and life tips from the designer who wants you to love what you love.