It’s not always the case that designers’ personal aesthetics and passions align precisely with those of their clients, but when Joe McGuire and Matthew Tenzin began interviewing a couple who were building a new home in Boulder, Colorado, both parties quickly realized they were of one mind. “We wanted the rooms to be quite modern, and in describing what we liked, it became obvious that what we were talking about was a look that could be called ‘Milan Modern,’” says homeowner Terry Rodrigue, who, with his fiance Pamela Yugar, hired the designers to oversee the home’s interior design. “They’re big fans of Italy,” Tenzin says, noting the couple’s affinity for the country’s cycling terrain and regional varieties of wine and coffee. “Their love of Italy was a real fit with us because we go there a lot, and we collaborate with Italian furniture and lighting designers. We wanted to bring that international taste and cosmopolitan style to a Colorado home.”
Architects Dale Hubbard and Chad Willis were designing the house in a new development at the base of Mount Sanitas. Known for their organic, modern approach, the architects created plans that gave McGuire and Tenzin the parameters they needed to wrap around their chic, minimalist design. They turned to Studio Como in Denver for clean-lined European furnishings, and worked directly with Milan artisans such as Alberto Biagetti, who created custom lighting for the dining room and stairwell. “We’d been going to Milan a lot–and it’s such an inspiration for us,” McGuire says. “Terry and Pamela weren’t previously immersed in the world of Italian design, but they were receptive.” The designers sent them to Studio Como initially to learn about different furniture lines and, while the couple was on vacation in Italy, they visited stylish Milan shops to continue their education. In the process, Terry and Pamela were discovering new design sources and texting pictures back to McGuire and Tenzin. “We don’t always have this relationship where it’s a learning curve for both of us,” McGuire says. “But while they were on vacation, they made wonderful discoveries.”
The architects also found ways to incorporate the Colorado landscape into the home’s palette and finishes–most significantly on the exterior, which is clad in stone and wood. “We worked with the client to create a home that blends with both the neighborhood and mountains,” Hubbard says. The house is shaped like an H, with parallel wings embracing outdoor seating areas in front and back. “It creates this alpine courtyard in the rear,” the architect adds, with the main level nestled at the base of terraced landscaping designed by landscape architect Matthew Underly. “The sunken area was created to establish a hardscape level that allows for an easier transition to the outdoor living space,” Underly says.
Inside, McGuire and Tenzin looked toward the mountains for color cues. “We always like to get a sense of the natural context,” McGuire says, while Tenzin ticked off hues inspired by nearby grasses, sage and wildflowers. The designers also used Pamela’s favorite shades of red and raspberry–a theme she and Terry invoke every time they travel. “Whenever we go to Italy, we find something red to bring back,” Terry says. The designers used colors judiciously, however, against a largely quiet, neutral background. Tenzin, a former Buddhist monk, and McGuire, who once studied massage in Santa Fe, believe that interiors need to foremost offer sanctuary. “We see design as a healing art,” Tenzin says. Sleek, built-in cabinetry and storage systems by The Artisan Shop in Boulder ensure that all the couple’s non-essential belongings are put away, so their focus can remain on the objects they love.
“What brings energy and life force to a space are things that are scared, personal and filled with positive intention,” Tenzin explains. That’s why the lower-level wine room pays homage to each individual bottle via suspension cables against glass walls; the kitchen has a niche carved out for a statement-making Breville espresso maker; and the garage includes a bump-out for Terry’s large collection of bikes and cycling equipment. The home’s second level includes a meditation room with an indoor water fountain for Pamela, who shares the designers’ desire for a space for quiet reflection. The couple’s two dogs get a special place as well with a window seat in the dining room sized so they can easily hop up and gaze outside.
It’s those kinds of details, Tenzin says, that define real luxury: “All these little moments of daily life where you just feel tended to and cared for.”