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In With the Old

Take notes from this Park Hill Denver Square on how to update a historic home for today without losing any yesteryear charm—or your life's savings.

—Photography by Emily Minton Redfield

From the sidewalk outside this classic 1910 Denver Square, you’d never suspect the eruption of contemporary color and pattern within. The design—which beautifully blends original details like leaded glass windows with modern elements, such as a custom breakfast-nook banquette—came courtesy of Katie Schroder of Atelier Interior Design, with help from her partner and co-principal Erika Rundiks. Here’s how they turned this Park Hill home’s 6,000 square feet into a functional, vibrant space for a family with twin boys while leveraging existing showpieces to preserve its history—and save the budget.

Office (left): Begonia by Benjamin Moore on the walls sets a feminine mood in the homeowner’s office. Entry (right): The patio was already painted turquoise when the homeowners moved in. “The color makes the original wood door and brick look even prettier,” designer Erika Rundiks says. The leaded glass is another original detail that nods to the home’s history.

5280 Home: What was your starting point for this home?

Katie Schroder: The dining room, the kitchen, and the family room needed full remodels, but the homeowners wanted to keep the integrity of the main formal living room. They wanted to stay true to the house. The fireplace is original; the entry woodwork is original. We went crazy over the Greek key pattern inlay that went around the perimeter of the wood floor.

Erika Rundiks: The client wanted to take out that wood floor. We said, “Absolutely not!”

Schroder: After all, what’s the point of buying a 100-year-old house if you’re not going to keep some character to it?

But you’re balancing preservation with some improved function, right?

Schroder: Sure. For example, the kitchen was tiny for the size of the house. We didn’t change the footprint, but we did move walls; the dining room actually used to be the kitchen. The big island was important; they’re a really tall family! With the growing twin boys, they needed a substantial kitchen. We also added the banquette, which is really livable for families.

Rundiks: One of the ways it comes together is through the casework. When you do a built-in like the banquette, it’s important to make sure the paneling kind of looks Old World, that it follows the integrity of all the original window case and base.

Dining Room: “We put in a killer light, a Surya rug, and Pindler drapery, and that changed the homeowner’s feeling about her ‘boring’ dining table she’s had forever,” designer Katie Schroder says.
Living Room: The brass light, ceiling, and fireplace—all original—work nicely with the Vanguard chairs (covered in Arnette in Radish by Pindler).

What other design details did you keep?

Schroder: The wainscoting in the powder room and the leaded glass in a few places in the house [including the front entry]. I think people can get a little paralyzed by the fact that, well, the glass has red and green in it. They get really freaked out that if there are some interesting details of the home, they have to match everything to them. You don’t have to match them.

Family Room: Rundiks and Schroder jazzed up this Crate & Barrel sectional with a Lexington chair in Lila from Pindler and a Company C Mirage rug.

It’s pretty clear these homeowners weren’t afraid of mixing things up!

Schroder: This client loved patterned drapes, so that was a focus, which is fun because 90 percent of the time our clients are telling us they want the drapes to be subdued. The homeowner and I had a joke in the dining room because there were pineapples in the fabric. She was so tripped up on them, but then she just decided to pull the trigger. You can mix the Old World and the new; there are no rules anymore. We just feel you have to keep in mind scales of pattern that work together—small, medium, and large—as well as curvy, organic patterns with more linear patterns.

Kitchen (left): The backsplash, soapstone countertops, and purple Arborline stools add color to the all-white kitchen, which stars flush-face cabinetry by Denver’s Whitehall Kitchen Studio. The pendant lights are from Currey & Company. Kitchen Nook (right): The banquette seats, covered in easy-to-clean faux leather from Duralee, have become a favorite spot for the family to enjoy cozy meals.

What would you say is the biggest takeaway from this project?

Rundiks: One thing that’s good advice for homeowners dealing with older homes—and this family followed it on their own accord—is to be very smart about what you’re going to tackle. Even painting can get expensive, and by the time you’re done with a project, you’re kind of tapped out
emotionally too.

Schroder: The master bath and bedroom and living room colors are unchanged from when the owners bought the house. We walked in and we all liked them, so why change them? It’s nice to make the homeowner feel good about liking those things that are original to the home. We say: Let’s keep them and use our money elsewhere.

Master Bedroom and Bathroom: The designers and homeowners alike loved the existing palette in the master bedroom and bath, so they kept the paint colors and simply added touches like the chair covered in a suzani pattern (by Pindler).

Pro Tips

Embrace an old home’s quirks (and save a buck) in these three places.

  1. Hardware: “You can invest a lot of money—and we’ve done it, for sure—replacing every hinge, every doorknob. But at the end of the day, most people don’t notice if the hardware matches,” says designer Erika Rundiks.
  2. Plaster Walls: “People get really worried about, Oh, there’s a crack here, a bump there,” Rundiks says. “But in our opinion, it’s really all the layers in a home that create a great feel, and once you embellish everything—the drapes and the furniture and the lighting—those things do not become eyesores. They almost meld into the character of the house.”
  3. Countertops: “If the kitchen has already been remodeled, homeowners often don’t like the look of shiny granite,” Rundiks says. “But [instead of replacing it], you can leather granite to make it look a little more earthy.”

Try traditional pieces with organic touches.
The Feiss chandelier in the dining room is a meeting point for the home’s history and modernity. “It’s kind of an Old World shape, really traditional,” Schroder says. “But it uses an organic element. Here, it’s pebbles, but it could be shells.

Mix high-end and DIY art.

Schroder and Rundiks recommend investing in two to three heirloom pieces to showcase, such as the acrylic painting by local artist Madeleine O’Connell above the fireplace in the living room. For the rest of your walls, try framing postcards, travel photos, or even pretty images from botany books. “The art doesn’t all have to be expensive,” Rundiks says. “But frame it nicely and make sure you have a mix of different mediums—painting, photography, and print.”

Go all out on the backsplash.

“We really don’t want people to wimp out when it comes to the backsplash,” Schroder says. “That’s a moment to have a lot of fun and show personality”—as the homeowners did here with mesmerizing Lunada Bay agate tile. And, Schroder adds, with just 20 or 30 square feet to cover, you can splurge without making a huge dent in your budget.

Price out built-ins.

Going with a custom paint-grade built-in—such as the kitchen banquette—can actually be comparable in cost to buying finished furniture, but it will fit your space perfectly. “You could even cap it off with stained wood if you want that wood feel, or stone,” Rundiks says.

Buyer’s Guide

Interior Designers: Katie Schroder and Erika Rundiks, Atelier Interior Design, 142 W. 11th Ave., 303-332-8423,

Office: Naveen in Punch fabric (cornice curtain), Pindler & Pindler,; Begonia wall paint, Benjamin Moore,

Entry: Company C Porcelain Mocha area rug, Ivystone, 4111 S. Natches Court, Suite C, Englewood, 303-295-1283,; Jacquard fabric (bench cushion), Kravet/Lee Jofa, Denver Design District, 595 S. Broadway, 303-773-1891,

Dining Room: Summerhill in Lacquer fabric (drapes), Pindler & Pindler; Boardwalk rug, Surya,; Maarid chandelier in Rustic Iron, Feiss,

Living Room: Vanguard chairs, ottoman, and sofa, all Highlands Design Resource, 3930 Tennyson St., 720-327-8570,; Arnette in Radish fabric (chairs and ottoman) and Anson in Flame fabric (drapes), both Pindler & Pindler; Bernhardt Dunhaven composite-stone-top cocktail table, Columbine Showroom, Denver Design District, 303-722-4400,; painting (over fireplace) by Madeleine O’Connell,

Family Room: Sectional sofa, Crate & Barrel, 101 Clayton Lane, 303-331-9300,; Maarten chair, Lexington Home Brands, Denver Design District, 303-733-5888,; Lila in Teal fabric (chair), Pindler & Pindler; Company C Mirage rug, Ivystone; Duralee Overton Prints Collection fabric in Tangerine, Chuck Wells & Associates.

Kitchen: Regatta pendants, Currey & Company,; J. Persing Arborline counter stools, Charles Eisen & Associates; Stone & Pewter Accents Agate backsplash tile, Decorative Materials, Denver Design District, 303-722-1333,; flush-face cabinetry, Whitehall Kitchen Studio, 1225 S. Pearl St., 303-898-6549,

Kitchen Nook: Stonegate Designs Audrey pendant light, Charles Eisen & Associates, Denver Design District, 303-744-3200,; Duralee Edgewater Faux Leather Collection fabric in Aqua (banquette seat), Chuck Wells & Associates, Denver Design District, 303-744-8584,; Pollack Kingdom of Kuba fabric (banquette back), Egg & Dart, Denver Design District, 303-744-1676,

Master Bedroom: Blossom in Azure fabric (chair and ottoman), Pindler & Pindler.

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In with the Old

Traditional Chinese food finds a home at Boulder’s Zoe Ma Ma.

I grew up in a town that had just two Chinese restaurants. The one my family frequented was swathed in dragon paintings, red plastic tablecloths, and zodiac-sign placemats. The cuisine was Americanized—but it’s where I had my first tastes of won ton soup and chicken lo mein. Then, in high school, I found myself at a friend’s dinner table, surrounded by dishes cooked by her Taiwanese mother. It only took one bite to discover that Chinese cuisine didn’t have to be one-dimensional.

Fast-forward to 2011 and a counter in the tiny, 20-seat Zoe Ma Ma. Owner Edwin Zoe opened the Boulder eatery in May 2010, hired his Taiwanese mother as executive chef (hence the name), and promised all-natural, home-style cooking. These were the foods Edwin had grown up with in Taiwan before moving to the states almost 40 years ago—all made from family recipes his mother had cooked for decades.

The menu board offers just six mains (plus daily specials and sides). Order and before you know it, Ma Ma is at the counter calling out your dish. Then sit down and tuck into the roast duck and won ton soup, a heady blend of roasted duck, baby bok choy, and egg noodles, all bathed in a stock made from the duck bones. It’s mouthwatering in its simplicity, each ingredient building off the others.

Before long, Ma Ma is back with the next dish: CPR, a Chinese take on meat and potatoes. It’s a comforting mix of chicken, spuds, and white rice in a meaty broth.

Even if your comfort zone is sesame chicken (which you won’t find here), it’s impossible not to feel at ease in a place where regulars say breezy hellos to Ma Ma. And with food as homespun as the atmosphere, I’ve finally found the balance of flavor and authenticity I’ve been looking for here on the Front Range. Zoe Ma Ma, 2010 10th St., Boulder, 303-545-6262,

This article was originally published in 5280 June 2011.
Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer is an award-winning writer and editor based in Denver. You can find more of her work at