Kassandra and Lincoln Steele love rocks. She’s a geologist, he’s a geophysicist, and their home at the base of Table Mountain in Golden is in just about as perfect a location as two earth scientists could hope for. But the ’70s-era split-level had a choppy layout that lacked function and good looks—that is, until Julee Wray of Truss Interiors got her hands on it. “Julee gave the house a unique aesthetic that we couldn’t have come up with on our own,” Lincoln says. She sweated the details (wait until you see the ceiling treatments!) and delivered a mix of earthy materials perfect for the rockhounds and their family. Take a look inside.

Double the Function

Designer Julee Wray expanded the new kitchen into the former dining room, which more than doubled the cookspace’s size. To boost its functionality, she opted for two smaller islands instead of one giant expanse. “Two islands allow better flow through and around the kitchen,” Wray says. “It’s a simple idea with huge impact.”

Look Up

Another bright idea is the ceiling treatment, crafted from extra flooring material (Vanier engineered hardwood in wire-brushed oak). Built into a drywall soffit, the design draws the eye up—making the 8-foot ceilings look taller than they are. The warm wood also complements the maple Medallion cabinets from BKC Kitchen and Bath, giving the space a “polished but organic feel,” Wray says.

Hard Choices

“We were more than happy to hand the reins to someone else,” Kassandra says of the remodel of her home’s kitchen, dining, and living areas. But the Steeles did care deeply about one design detail: the stone finishes. They accompanied Wray to the Stone Collection, where they discovered this dolomite slab in a leathered finish for the backsplash and countertops. “We chose the leathered finish so you can feel the textures of the minerals, and—this is probably no surprise—we love that,” Kassandra says.

Scaled-Down Dining

The Steeles traded some dining-room square footage for their larger kitchen, but luckily, a table that the couple received as a wedding gift and mango-wood Jeffan chairs fit perfectly in the space. Guests can park themselves at the islands and chat with the owners while they cook, or pull up a chair at the dining table and still be within conversation range.

Custom Charm

The small sitting area across from the kitchen is defined, in part, by a custom ash-wood slatted wall. The Cisco Brothers sofa—upholstered in a performance fabric—and pair of green armchairs in a modern silhouette from Fairfield make a casual-but-elevated space to lounge. The Steeles’ favorite element is the artwork above the sofa. “I inherited the painting from my grand-parents,” Kassandra says, “but it was in this gaudy, gold, museum-type frame.” Wray had it reframed in a simpler style to match the home’s aesthetic. “Now,” Kassandra adds, “it’s got a new life with us.”

Defining Details

In the living room, located a half-flight of stairs down from the kitchen, Wray did away with a dropped popcorn ceiling and faux-brick fireplace surround. She designed the ceiling treatment—a Thibaut wallpaper made of compressed wood paired with painted wood beams—and opted for a firebox with arched doors for a subtle but surprising detail. The floor-to-ceiling cabinets give the room a sense of height and provide storage space. “Even well-styled open shelves tend to look cluttered,” Wray says. “I say, give yourself a break from having to maintain them.”

Smart Art

Lincoln’s mom, a biology professor, had given the couple a series of antique scientific diagrams of plants and fungi, which Wray arranged on this gallery wall. The center image is a watercolor painted by Lincoln’s great-grandfather and reframed for the wall. “Julee did a great job of incorporating things we already had,” Lincoln says, “so our house feels like us, only a lot better.”

Design Pros

Interior Architecture and Design: Julee Wray, Truss Interiors
Construction: Josh Rose, Rose Renovations; Joe Woods, Woods Remodeling

This article was originally published in 5280 Home August/September 2021.
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.