A Contemporary Boulder Home with Historic Surroundings


Contemporary Neutral Exterior with Fire Pit

A pair of outdoor enthusiasts with two young daughters, owners John and Lisa Canova had searched for five years when they finally found a partially built site.

Contemporary Neutral Living Room with Limestone Fireplace

The hunt for comfortable seating for the living room resulted in a natural linen Restoration Hardware sofa and a pair of Fritz Hansen wicker chairs arranged in front of a Kansas limestone fireplace. McCord Wood & Steel fabricated the coffee table from steel and repurposed wood salvaged from a neighborhood school.

Contemporary Neutral Exterior with Attached Garage

Architect Dale Hubbard integrated an existing garage into the new architectural design.

Contemporary Neutral Staircase with White-Oak Floors

The switchback wood-and-metal staircase connects the three-level home. the 7-inch solid white-oak floors wear an oil finish, and the door is by Schacht Mill Works.

Contemporary Neutral Exterior with Walk-out Basement Patio

Thanks to a combination of vertical stained-wood siding, divided light aluminum-clad windows and blued-steel paneling, the rear exterior of the house has a decidedly contemporary look. The walk-out basement patio includes chairs from Restoration Hardware.

Contemporary Neutral Kitchen with Marble Countertops and Backsplash

Brompton swivel stools belly up to the kitchen island topped with Statuario marble from Galleria of Stone. The same material continues on the perimeter countertop and backsplash; the custom walnut cabinets are by Bruce Jaffe design.

Contemporary Neutral Dining Area with Custom Walnut Table

In the dining area, Moooi’s Raimond suspension light fixture casts a glow on a black walnut-and-steel table custom made by McCord Wood & Steel and chairs from the Ralph Lauren Home Desert Modern Collection. The painting on the living room wall is by Los Angeles artist Lee Clarke.

Contemporary Neutral Deck with Dining Table

The lavish deck punctuates the indoor-outdoor nature of the house with seating that includes views of the creek, where all manner of wildlife routinely gather. The chaise lounges by the fire pit are from Smith & Hawken, and the dining table and chairs are from Crate & Barrel.

Contemporary Neutral Bedroom with Chair and Ottoman Set

A well-placed Eames chair and ottoman from Design Within Reach make a statement in the master bedroom next to a side table from HW Home. The Ralph Lauren Home bed is from the brand’s Desert Modern collection; Briggs Draperies & Design fabricated the white linen draperies.

Contemporary Neutral Bathroom with Tub

The master bathroom Napoli tub is by Victoria + Albert, with a tub filler from Kohler. The statuary marble bath and shower tiles are from Waterworks.

Contemporary Neutral Dog Shower with 18th-century Dutch Tiles

The Wally Wash, named for the family pet, features both wall and floor tiles from Decorative Materials; the border tiles are 18th-century Dutch.

As architect Dale Hubbard can attest, building a modern home in a historic district is never easy. There are local review boards to contend with, not to mention concerned neighbors who feel that the new house will somehow contradict the local vernacular. So when Hubbard’s clients purchased a property in boulder’s coveted Mapleton Historic District with plans to go contemporary, he knew he had to tread lightly. “This area is considered the jewel in Boulder’s historic crown, so there were lots of eyes on this project as we moved forward,” he says.

A pair of outdoor enthusiasts with two young daughters, owners John and Lisa Canova had searched for five years when they finally found a partially built site. “The previous owners had scrapped an existing house and built the foundation, but eventually chose to discontinue the project,” says John, noting the past owners had also managed to receive approval for a Bauhaus-inspired building. Even though it was a far cry from the stately Victorians and grand brick estates that dominate the area, and despite an expiration date on those already approved plans, the way had been paved for the new owners’ desired modern structure.

“We decided to take a slightly different approach this time around,” says Hubbard, whose inclusion of a gable roof in his initial drawings must have had the entire neighborhood breathing a collective sigh of relief. “We wanted to pay reverence to a certain typology, but rather than a high Victorian we opted for an interpretation of the more demure mining structures that were prevalent in this area years ago.”

That resolve translated into simple single windows and a deep front porch on the street side and more complex fenestration, including a wall of sliding doors that opens to the creek, on the rear exterior. “The house almost deconstructs from front to back,” says Hubbard, who incorporated the foundation and an original freestanding garage they were required to keep into the new design. “It’s always a challenge to work with an established footprint but this one made sense, and the garage, a leftover from the 1970s, was fairly modern.”

Complementing the more classical roof and porch elements is a materials palette that works with the 
mixed architectural message. Wide flange steel columns support the welcoming entry, and the overall structure is a combination of stained-wood siding and limestone. “We were very specific about the way we implemented the stone, and I worked closely with the masons to make it look more like something you’d see in an old structure,” says Hubbard about the nod to the surrounding homes.

Inside, the open floor plan and a sculptural wood- steel-and-glass staircase are pure 21st century. “We treat every new staircase as an exciting design element and distinct vertical space,” says Hubbard. “It’s not just about how you go up and down; it’s what you see along the way that’s important.”

Among the sights is a tongue-and-groove ceiling that connects the living room, dining area and kitchen— which contractor Kevin Morningstar says illustrates the architect’s keen eye for subtle detail. “We were trying
to figure out how to deal with the seam between the ceiling and wall, and it was Dale’s idea to tuck in a piece of steel trim all the way around, almost like a reveal,” says Morningstar. “It’s one of those things most people wouldn’t notice, but if it wasn’t there, they would.”

Throughout the entire project, John, who runs an advertising consulting firm, and Lisa, a teacher, weighed
 in on finishes, furnishings and artwork. By their own admission, they spent hours on the Internet to find the
 right linen sofas for the living room and the perfect Ralph Lauren chairs to surround the custom black walnut dining table, the latter fashioned from wood salvaged from a tree cut down by the city near their previous home. “Lisa likes color, but I’m more into neutrals and clean lines,” says John, explaining the quiet hues that define the open space.

In direct contrast, the artwork tends toward the bold and colorful, and much of it shares one common theme. “Most of the pieces were painted by Los Angeles-based surfers,” says John, who along with his wife also runs luxury surf and yoga retreats in Costa Rica and Mexico. “This is a family home, so it was important to have some elements of warmth.”

Nowhere is that more obvious than in the kitchen, where the rich walnut cabinetry and expansive marble- topped island firmly beckon all who enter to come in and hang out. From there, it’s just steps to the outdoor living area, where the deck provides ample room for lounging, eating and watching the elk, bears, foxes and even the occasional mountain lion that wander into their creekside locale. “We love the floor plan and the connection to the outdoors,” says John. “It’s amazing that we are just four blocks to Boulder’s busy downtown, but when we’re out here it’s like we live in a wildlife preserve.”