When the well-traveled homeowners of this Denver new build moved in, they brought along some major baggage. Not the emotional type, that is, but a treasure trove of meaningful pieces they’d fallen in love with across the world. The pair alighted in Colorado after five years overseas, living most recently in Venezuela and Japan. “We were coming from Tokyo, where we rented everything and didn’t own any furniture,” the husband says. “But we like to buy things everywhere we go, so we did have art and rugs, plus a few family heirlooms.”
Their transition to the Mile High City led the couple to purchase a teardown near the University of Denver. After asking a London-based architect friend to sketch out plans inspired by the husband’s parents’ Miami home, they tapped architect Jim Mitchell to develop the layout and adapt it to the location. The latter added a mudroom, pantry and bar among other reconfigurations, and designed the site plan and three of the façades. And as the framing went up under the eye of general contractor Thomas Becher, the homeowners knew they’d need help to realize interiors capable of highlighting their beloved pieces. “We planned to interview four interior designers,” the wife recalls. “But after speaking with Cassy, that was it—she was the one.”
Interior designer Cassy Kicklighter Poole felt similarly. “We just hit it off,” she says. “I like when my clients share my passion and love for design, which they both did.” With that, the project was quickly underway, and the couple’s collections from their travels provided the baseline narrative. “We had to blend a lot of eclectic styles, but we wanted to create a calm, bright and fresh setting that didn’t feel cluttered,” she explains.
Kicklighter Poole was careful to craft spaces that complemented but didn’t compete with the couple’s existing collectibles. For example, the entryway features a dramatic sculpture inherited from the husband’s grandparents’ home in Venezuela. The interior designer tapped a local woodworker to craft an accent wall using shou sugi ban—a technique that preserves wood by charring it—alongside a striking backlit slab of veined onyx. “It’s a beautiful backdrop that doesn’t overshadow the art,” she notes of the vignette.
The wife first saw shou sugi ban used in Japan and, much like her collection of art and furnishings, she held onto the idea. Her husband, however, felt unsure about featuring it so prominently. “I wasn’t sold on seeing black wood right as you enter the house,” he explains. “But I decided to trust Cassy and her team. Now, every single guest comments on it when they walk in.”
Designing a layout that encourages entertaining and indoor-outdoor living was another must for the homeowners. “The weather is so nice here in Denver, we wanted to take advantage of that,” the wife says, pointing to an expansive 30-foot retractable glass wall in the living-dining room that opens seamlessly out to the deck and garden. They worked with landscape architects Paul Wrona and Aubrey Smith of Elevate By Design for the front and back of the residence, then turned to Paula Ward of Nature Design Studios to create a Japanese garden in a side yard.
Kicklighter Poole acknowledged her clients’ love of the great outdoors through a generous use of natural materials. “We offset the home’s linear shapes and hard elements, like stone and metal, with pieces that were more organic and curved,” she explains. “In the dining room, for instance, the chandelier’s organic shape drove the design.”
The interior designer also planned for the abode to work well for the couple’s three fur babies. And a happy surprise occurred halfway through the project: the duo learned they were expecting their first child. “This house was designed without any thought of a kid,” the wife admits with a laugh. “Glass staircases, a fireplace with no screen… but we didn’t really change much.” Their son, who is now two, and trio of canines manage the layout quite well. The mudroom—complete with a dog bath—makes washing muddy paws (and little hands) easier, while facilitating gear storage. “They’re a very active family,” Kicklighter Poole observes. “We knew it would be a good idea to get that dog bath in there.”
Now that they’ve settled in, the husband shares that they plan on staying for a while—but that doesn’t mean they’re done traveling or collecting unique objets. For her part, Kicklighter Poole loves that the house feels finished, but can always evolve. “We want to create interiors that reflect the people who live there, and spaces that are beautiful, elegant and functional,” she says. “Here, we were able to do just that, thanks to what our clients brought to the table and the trust they put in us.” Mitchell concurs, adding, “This was a team effort with a stunningly beautiful result.”