If clothes make the man, then in Christopher Henderson’s case, so does the home. His is an urban loft space in downtown Denver that was recently revamped by designer colin griffith. “When I met Chris,” Griffith explains, “I asked him to tell me a little bit about what he was looking for, but he couldn’t really explain it.” So the designer took a different approach, which proved successful. “He’s an attorney and a great dresser,” Griffith says, “So I asked what his favorite brand of suit was, and he said, ‘Ralph Lauren Black Label.’ ” That was all the direction the designer needed to create a stylish yet classic space.
“The basics are black, gray and blue,” says Griffith, describing some of the predominant furnishings he selected for Christopher. “But I also added pops of color. One of the first suits you buy, for example, is a charcoal wool suit—it’s timeless. You can put it with any number of colored or patterned shirts. Then you add accents like a tie, a pocket square, a watch or some cuff links.” Griffith wanted his client to be as sure about his home as he was about his favorite suit, so he upholstered the living area sofa with blue-toned charcoal mohair and accessorized it with pillows in an orange Romo plaid. When Griffith first showed Christopher the bright fabric, “he was a little hesitant,” the designer says. “He was overwhelmed by color. But I told him the pillows would be comfortable and so much fun, and that if he decided he hated them, I’d buy them back.”
The homeowner was much less hesitant when it came to striking finishes. “He’d been living in a luxury apartment,” Griffith says, “and the loft didn’t have the same finishes he’d become accustomed to.” Christopher bought the loft about 20 years ago and had been renting it to someone else. But when he decided to move in, he wanted to make the space his own. He collaborated with kitchen designer Anna Gustason of William Ohs on outfitting the walnut-and-granite kitchen, and Griffith worked with builder Steve Jordan of D Enterprise to refine some of the other interior elements, including refinishing the original oak flooring with a custom stain. “All of the finishes in this place are phenomenal,” says Jordan. Sliding barn doors were also added to separate the bedroom from the master bathroom, where walls and floors are sheathed with polished Carrara marble. “Chris is an amazing guy,” Griffith says. “He works long hours for a nonprofit firm and represents abused and neglected children. That really influenced my design. I wanted to create a Zen-like atmosphere for him.”
The new fine finishes are a striking counterpoint to the structure’s original features, which include exposed brick, steel-grid factory windows, 14-foot-tall concrete ceilings and structural columns. Housed in a building completed in 1931, the loft has a floor plan that is almost entirely open. “These things are part of the identity or dna of a loft,” says Griffith, who used Hunter Douglas honeycomb shades on the windows for the least amount of visual distraction. When retracted, “they’re practically invisible,” the designer explains. “The home gets strong sunlight, but Chris was adamant about not having separation between the main rooms. The bedroom, for instance, is tucked back in a niche where he can look through the living area and out the windows and see the urban landscape from his bed.” A balcony off the open living area also creates an immediate connection with the city.
All of the sunlight that pours in through those factory windows makes the lush textures of the furnishings Griffith chose shimmer and shine. Wool-and-silk rugs have a subtle sheen and are soft underfoot, while the brushed- nickel frame of a leather armchair by Milo Baughman glistens, as does the 7 1/2-foot-tall steel sculpture by Jonathan W. Hils. A sizable brushed-bronze low table centers an open den area next to the dining space, where Hans J. Wegner wishbone chairs with a black-lacquer finish pull up to a sturdy black acacia table. The pieces are dramatic and individualistic. “I wanted to create a look that felt collected over time instead of something that was too composed,” Griffith says. Pendants fashioned with coconut shell strips in the kitchen and a spherical chandelier made up of tiny metal figures in the bedroom are particularly noteworthy and undeniably whimsical.
“When I did the installation, I even stocked his wine refrigerator so everything was there for him, and he literally just had to show up with his clothes,” Griffith says. “I wish I still had the text messages he sent to me during that time. He was so excited and wrote that the orange sofa pillows were among his most favorite things.” The pillows together with the carefully curated selection of classic furniture pieces, bold contemporary art and unexpected lighting create a singular style reflective of the loft’s owner. “I love creating spaces where you don’t know whether the pieces are new or old,” the designer says. “It gives it a relaxed, unpretentious feeling that’s timeless and luxurious”—just like Christopher’s favorite suit.