When a freelance television producer set out in search of a fresh start for her and her two children, she didn’t have to travel very far. Because she had grown fond of her Denver locale and owned the property adjacent to her residence, she decided to raze both homes and have one house brimming with character built on the double lot. “I envisioned something traditional without being formal that I could live in forever,” says the homeowner. “I also wanted to build responsibly and include as many green elements as possible.”
Architect Elizabeth Metz responded with a design that features gables on both ends of the home, reminiscent of Edwin Lutyens’ style from the Arts and Crafts movement. The house also looks to the future, as the largely brick structure incorporates a plethora of green features. “We married 21st-century technology with traditional design by including geothermal energy, solar panels and energy- efficient windows,” she says.
Inside, a classic entry with a switchback stair—tricked out with turned spindles, a mahogany rail and windows at the top—establishes the traditional tone. To one side, the library, designed as a sanctuary for the homeowner, is encased in warm wood paneling and bookcases, while across the hall the dining room answers the owner’s request for one truly formal space. “I wanted a separate place for special occasions where we could build good memories as a family,” she says, remembering affectionately her own childhood and growing up with a formal dining room. In authentic fashion, both spaces feature coffered ceilings and white oak floors with a hand-rubbed waxed finish.
To complement the warmth of the architecture, designer Peggy Robbins Bender imbued the interiors with a serene palette of beiges and blues on the walls punctuated by bolder shades of reds and blues in the fabrics. “We agreed early on to make the interiors all about color and texture while leaving places for the owner’s personality to come through with books and artwork,” says Bender, who chose mohair, raw silk and a variety of linens for the upholstered pieces. “The textural quality of the fabrics is intentionally a little less refined, in keeping with the client’s desire for informality.”
As another cohesive thread, the architect-designed millwork throughout the residence establishes a sense of scale and intimacy that prevents the rooms in the large home from feeling cavernous. “Trim work plays a huge role in the house,” says Metz. “It’s the connective tissue that carries you through.” And as builder Christopher Cella will attest, it required a team in collaboration with the architect to carry out the detailed vision. “We worked out things like how to size the staircase paneling to blend with the crowns and wainscoting,” says Cella, who credits superintendent Tom Cowhick with figuring out the sometimes- complex implementation plans.
With a homeowner who loves to entertain, it’s no surprise that the expansive kitchen, great room and breakfast nook make up the hub of the house. “Everything in this high-action space is about comfort,” says Bender, pointing to the linen-covered chair and ottoman in the sun-filled corner of the great room as the best seat in the house. But since the interior layout correlates to the placement of outdoor living spaces, one could argue that the best seats are actually outside the house; the great room and library open onto a covered patio with an adjacent pergola and fire pit, fountain and barbecue area. “Designed for all seasons, the garden rooms extend the home’s elegance outdoors,” says landscape architect Laurel S. Raines, who collaborated closely with fellow landscape architect Gretchen Wilson.
Equally inviting is the upstairs master suite, where everything including an upholstered Moroccan bench—“the perfect lounging spot,” says Bender—sports calming tones of blue and white. “I love to come up here to watch the sunset,” says the homeowner, who also enjoys lowering the blackout shades so that the family can pile onto the bed for movie night. “It’s a hot chocolate, glass of wine, steaming cup of coffee kind of house that reflects who I am perfectly.”