It turns 100 this year,” says designer Allie McMunn of her family home in Denver’s Cheesman Park neighborhood. Built by renowned firm Fisher & Fisher in 1921, the house came with something of its own archive, including original floor plans and press clippings, much to the delight of McMunn and her history-loving husband, Ryan. “It’s fun to see how other families decorated the home,” she says. The designer worked with general contractor Bill Kalin to honor the original architecture, still largely intact thanks to previous, appreciative owners. But McMunn’s fresh vision was a “beautiful but livable” abode that embraced traditional Georgian style while still feeling modern. “I wanted a place I was proud of—but also not worried about,” she adds, noting the presence of their beloved English bulldog, Hanley, and the mid-renovation arrival of their first child, Jack.
Having launched her design firm, One Bleecker Interiors, in Manhattan in 2016, the Boston-native was already well-versed in historic renovations. “I did a lot of pre-war homes in New York City and I really appreciate the things that make old homes unique,” she says. “But I knew I had to redo the kitchen. It had seen every style incarnation over the years—from French Country to Tuscan—and I wanted to bring it back to something that felt Georgian.” Now, floor-to-ceiling cabinets and period features like an old-fashioned plate rack define the space, made contemporary with a clean wash of white paint and gold accents. “I originally wanted to go bolder in kitchen—using a bright blue or green— but as other parts of house got more colorful, I decided to pull back here,” she explains. And by opening a wall to the sun room, it became an eat-in kitchen, where the cozy banquette is her favorite peaceful spot for morning coffee. In fact, the whole house is comprised of McMunn favorites, from Kelly Wearstler’s Graffito wallpaper at the front door (“I knew I had to use it,” she says of the teal colorway. “We’re a young family—this house should feel fun and cheery!”) to the large Kristin Blakeney painting in the foyer that inspired the home’s palette.
Because the couple was moving from a 1,500-square-foot residence in New York City to this much larger home, “Not much worked,” says McMunn of their original furnishings. While she did keep a few favorite pieces, namely the living room sofas, most of the elements are new, or new to McMunn, who called on old friends at New York showrooms and “shopped” her mother-in- law’s collection. “Most of the Oriental rugs are from her,” she says, explaining how she layered them on woven outdoor rugs for fit and durability. “My mother-in-law has a really unique eye, and it was fun to blend our styles,” she continues. She also sourced from her own maternal side for inspiration, selecting heirlooms from her grandmother (who owned an antiques shop near Palm Springs, California) and her mother (an interior designer in the Boston area). “My mom really showed me how to blend antiques with modern pieces for a timeless look,” she says.
Another upside of the move are proper offices for McMunn and her husband. “I’ve always worked out of my home, but this is the first actual home office I’ve ever had,” she says happily. “There’s seating for clients, baskets to hide all my samples and I have great pin boards where I can play around with ideas. For this space I went feminine and fun—it’s perfect.” For her husband’s study, she created a masculine, library-like feel, darkening the original paneling and bringing in antique chairs and an 1880s singerie painting by Charles Verlat from his mother’s collection. The increase in wall space has also allowed the couple to grow their art collection. There are works by Alexis Walter and Wes Hempel, and McMunn gave a painting by Brad Robertson pride of place in their bedroom, where it enhances the room’s “calm and cloud-like feel.”
Looking back on the project, “I had only myself to answer to,” she says. “I could go wherever the wind took me—but that also made me my most time-consuming client!” And while she admits the house will probably never truly be finished (there are just too many fun ideas to explore on those pin boards), when the couple retires to the media room at the end of the day, they couldn’t be happier with what they have done, and that they get to usher this grand house into its next century.