Designer David Hintgen was selecting furnishings and worked with the color tone, not against it,” says the for a project when he received unexpected news from his client. “I had been helping him with pieces for his current residence, as well as his new office, when one day I received a call,” he explains. “He said, ‘Forget the sofa we’ve been working on, I just bought a new house!’ ” The home, it turned out, was an imposing 1980s estate in Cherry Hills Village, and the client, who lived in the neighborhood, had been eyeing it for some time. “I adored the house,” says the owner. “It was one of the most unique I’d ever seen. I knew that so much could be done with it.”
Designed by Barber Architecture and built by Al Cohen Construction Company—both firms are known for their large-scale corporate and public projects—the home featured commanding stone walls, slate-tiled hip roofs and a generous ridge skylight. Except for the installation of a new gate and some touch-ups here and there, little work was needed on the structure itself. The same could not be said, however, for the existing interior design. “It was quintessential 1980s, almost like walking into a time machine,” says Hintgen. “I wanted to transform the interiors into something no one had ever seen before. This couldn’t become another typical contemporary home; it had to be an extraordinary one.”
Hintgen, together with architect Martin Goldstein and builders Mark Teets and Cindy Lizarraga, set out to make that happen. First, key elements were updated. Polished-brass hardware around door trims and jambs was refinished or refabricated, and Hintgen replaced the worn-out fabric upholstering the entry’s scalloped ceiling and walls with a neutral faux suede. The kitchen, with its yellow-painted metal cabinetry was also given an overhaul. Kitchen designer Sabine Buechner, of Minteriors, created a contemporary look with streamlined Leicht cabinetry, and Hintgen selected sleek rosewood and lacquer finishes. Outdated audio, lighting and other systems were all upgraded and integrated within a Crestron master control system with the help of Bill Rollin at ListenUp.
When it came to the original hand-scraped, inlaid oak- parquet floors that marked the entry, “we cleaned them up and worked with the color tone, not against it,” says the designer. The rich golden hue of the floor also picks up in other areas of the house, including the skylight’s wood frame, as well as the great room’s vaulted ceiling and fireplace surround. “I knew as soon as I saw the scale of the great room that the fireplace needed to be the focal point,” says Hintgen. “But it was engulfed in oak cabinets.” The designer took down the cabinets and created a tall surround of highly patterned marble accented with angular bevels. “It’s the star of the show,” he adds. Hintgen also removed built-in sofas from the space and devised two seating areas, which he appointed with streamlined Holly Hunt furnishings and sleek pieces of his own design.
Because the owner often entertains several hundred people at a time for fund-raisers and other events, Hintgen paid special attention to customizing key rooms for accommodating large groups. In the dining room, for instance, he pushed together two long glass-topped tables that can seat 22 guests and then encircled them with chairs upholstered in white vinyl. Guests can also gather around a player piano in the large formal living room, where Hintgen designed built-in sofas and covered them with the same chenille he used to upholster the walls. In the attached pool house, where the owner holds lunch meetings, Hintgen went for a bright, white look with pieces including a sectional sofa upholstered with an outdoor fabric. “I think it’s important that a pool house should not only look clean but be easy to clean, as well,” he notes.
In addition to putting in new floor-to-ceiling pocket doors in the pool house, Goldstein collaborated with Hintgen on the structural redesign for a new gym in the main house and the reconfiguration of the master bathroom. As part of the reworked space, a steam room was added and designed to house a Kohler DTV shower system and a freestanding bathtub. “It was tricky balancing the design with functional elements, such as the slope of the floor and slot drains,” says Goldstein, who also supplied 3D images of the new space as well as other areas of the house.
Commanding contemporary artwork found throughout the house, including a Gavin Rain piece in the living room, adds a final layer. “The owner already had a significant collection,” says Hintgen. “But as we were nearing completion on this house, he made a trip to Art Basel in Miami Beach and came back with a lot of great new pieces. It was perfect timing.” Art dealer Carol Abrams, of Abrams Art Consulting, worked with the owner on the selection and placement of his collection. “Art is an important focus of my client’s life,” says Abrams, “and, consequently, of his home.”
As all of the details came together, the residence revealed a striking transformation. “It went from a dated house to something that’s contemporary, beautiful and relevant to 2015,” says Teets. Hintgen agrees, attributing the successful outcome to “a combination of elegant finishes, incredible artwork, formidable architecture and uncommon furnishings. I always knew how this house would look when it was completed,” he continues, “but it turned out better than I could have ever imagined.”