A 1977 Cherry Hills Village Residence Gets a Stylish Update


When designer Nadia Watts first saw her clients’ 1977 house in Cherry Hills Village, its history was clear. “It was a mishmash of different styles from previous remodels that dated the home,” she says. The owners, a couple who had lived in New York, liked it for its East Coast feel, but a past renovation and other modifications made to it through the years left it without a singular sensibility. “Every change reflected a different form and style,” architect Stephen P. Ekman says.

To remedy the situation, the homeowners brought in Ekman and Watts to unify and update the spaces. Ekman’s first job was to clean up the floor plan, which was left stilted and jumbled thanks to the prior additions of a great room and master bedroom wing. “We wanted to establish a more natural flow and a sense of cohesion between the original house and the additions,” the architect says. The kitchen and breakfast room had each been closed off into small spaces with 8-foot-tall ceilings and then awkwardly released into a great room with 19-foot-tall ceilings. Ekman took down the separating walls to dramatic effect. “Opening up those rooms created multiple wow factors,” builder Dan Fuller says.

“By opening up the kitchen and breakfast area to the great room and rebuilding a back staircase, we were able to expose the windows and allow natural light back into the owners’ everyday living space,” Ekman says. That newly open great room proved the biggest challenge. “It really had no character at all,” the homeowner says. “It has extremely high ceilings, and the walls were long expanses of nothingness.” The solution arrived with hand-hewn wood beams on the ceiling, decorative wrought iron railings on the stairs and custom-milled wood paneling on the walls. In addition to this room, custom millwork—base, case and crown moldings—was added throughout the house to further tie the spaces together, and Ekman re-established the center lines from the study to align with the living room, entry, dining room and kitchen.

Stylistically, Watts wanted to give the interiors a look that matched the now unified feel of the home and related to its whitewashed brick façade. “My goal was to update the home with a clean, classic look that complemented the owners’ taste, while keeping in mind the traditional exterior,” she says. Watts took her cues from the client’s favorite wallpaper, Katie Ridder’s Pagoda, and wrapped the dining room with the whimsical design. “We decided to run with the color,” she says of the bright persimmon hue that pops off the gray and taupe background. The owner wasn’t afraid.” Watts used saturated tones inspired by the paper for the dining room’s draperies and the living room’s terra-cotta walls.

In the kitchen, the designer turned to subtler shades that complement the values of the colors in the living and dining rooms. “We wanted to stay away from the typical white,” Watts says of the William Ohs cabinetry, which she painted a deep gray-blue on the island and pale blue-green on the surrounding cabinets.

Pulling on those tones and touches of the bright hues established earlier, Watts appointed the central great room with a mindful eye on proportion and circulation. “Because of the ceiling height and multifunctionality of the room, the scale of furniture was very important,” explains Watts, who hung an imposing iron chandelier to complement the room’s generous size and then designed a large upholstered ottoman to anchor a tailored sofa, two wing chairs and two smaller antique chairs.

“And I used lamps on the side tables to bring your eye down.” Fabrics, including a rich linen herringbone, a cotton twill plaid and even touches of mohair and velvet, lend a textural layer.

Watts picked up the colorful thread again in the master suite, where she chose a green botanical fabric to play off another Katie Ridder wallpaper, this time Wave in navy, in the sitting room. “The cohesive color palette creates natural transitions between spaces,” says Watts. “As someone walks through the house, I want them to be able to relate one space to another and feel comfortable.” Indeed, everything does relate, and now the interiors flow just as easily as the architecture. As the homeowner says, “It finally feels like one beautiful home.”