Long before there was a chartreuse velvet banquette to play off a textured Venetian plaster wall, or linen-silk draperies to soften graphic black subway tiles in a Boulder condo, there was beige, and lots of it. “Everything from the living room walls to the kitchen floor was one color,” says architect E.J. Meade. “For an adventurous single mother who wanted a home that reflected her zest for life, this wasn’t it.”
To handle the transformation of her condo, Jill Safari turned to Meade and interior designer Petra Richards to create spaces better suited to her decidedly un-beige personality. Honoring Safari’s request that Meade bring the grit and Richards supply the sparkle, the duo did just that. “With E.J.’s more masculine approach for the shell, I aimed to bring a feminine aspect to her new nest,” says Richards. “I wanted her surroundings to feel like a jewelry box.”
What began as a simple appeal to shoehorn a shower into the existing powder room and add in a library space quickly escalated into the demolition and rebirth of the entire residence. To tackle the functional requests, Meade adjusted the floor plan by claiming a hallway and walk-in closet to create a much needed library/guest room. To enhance the multi-functionality of the space, Richards installed a Murphy bed with a purple-hued headboard. When the bed is up, it supplies additional space for entertaining and sports a hidden workstation, notes Richards. When it’s down, it’s the perfect place for the owner’s visiting daughters and friends to crash. A solid-glass barn door designed by Meade slides in place for privacy.
The master bedroom presents another clever use of space, this time creating an ingenious storage solution for the owner’s shoe collection. In another demonstration of team spirit, Meade designed a wood headboard with slide out cabinets (LED lights make it easy to tell boots from stilettos) and Richards upholstered the piece with a rich brown silk velvet. “The fabric keeps everything a little more feminine,” she says.
The logistics of getting precise measurements for things like the headboard and discerning how to wrestle the weighty solid-glass barn door up to the third floor fell to builder Chris Duggan, who worked with site superintendent Bob Logsdon. “There was no service elevator so one of the hardest parts of the job was hauling materials up three flights of steps,” he says noting the barn door was simply too large to fit in the staircase. “We ended up raising it up from the sidewalk and bringing it in through the terrace.”
Following Safari’s request to contrast industrial elements with softer furnishings, the architect set steel panels into the living area’s fireplace surround of rough cut stone. “I played with the vertical and horizontal grains to make it more interesting and used selenium oxide to create the dark and light gradations,” he says. To balance the metal, Richards added adjoining panels of shagreen leather in a horizontal stripe, and then proceeded to appoint the space with pieces in a neutral palette of luxurious materials. She chose a brown cashmere for the sofa, black and white cowhide poufs with tray tops that serve as coffee tables, and forged steel lamps with a gilded finish. Orange lampshades act as subtle punctuation marks of color.
“A happy home needs color,” says Richards. “Even though the orange and chartreuse look adventurous, they are muted enough not to take over the entire space.” The designer carried the hushed hues of the space into the master bedroom, where one wall wears a custom hand-painted, hand-embroidered silk covering. “The greenish silver dots on the wallcovering led to the upholstery on the closet doors, and the subtle terra-cotta ties back to the living room,” she explains. “They are all linked in a very settled way.”
Meanwhile, the room’s Italian mirrored glass dresser provides a touch of glamour and the duck-shaped lamp with its bronze webbed feet always brings a smile. “Everything suits her personality,” says Richards. “It’s feminine, warm and playful, with a hint of sparkle.”