Design professionals are problem-solvers whose solutions embrace both beauty and function. And sometimes, those pros act like mind-readers, too. In the case of this new home in Denver’s charming Bonnie Brae neighborhood, the owners wanted a more traditional and tailored aesthetic that would feel comfortable, inviting and fresh, and work well for their young family. But just how to achieve that—or even accurately formulate these desires—eluded them.
The pieces started coming together once residential designer John Mattingly began to draw the space. “John sold us when he started talking about finding the soul of the home,” the husband recalls. “My wife loved the poetry of that idea.” Mattingly also understood which elements would achieve this goal in what was to become “an English country Revival house.” This style is an ideal fit for the abode’s neighborhood, which has winding roads and mature trees among a slew of residences with Neoclassical Revival features. But it was in the design details that the homeowners noticed an almost telepathic connection between their expectations and Mattingly’s ideas. Take, for instance, the millwork. “The carpentry is all John’s vision,” says the wife. “How would I have even begun to tell him, to put into words, that I wanted all that? From our weekly design meetings, he somehow sorted out what we’d love.”
For Mattingly, the little moments are as important as the broad strokes. He started by conceiving a main floor plan with the formal dining and living rooms flanking the entryway, creating an inviting path to more casual spaces like a highly functional kitchen, breakfast nook and family room area. The residential designer then focused in on details from his earliest sketches. “I always draw the kitchen cabinets and mantels because they’re such a sensitive part of the house. And I never do the same thing twice,” he explains. “Newels, balusters, millwork—it all has a deep impact on how a home feels.”
As for the interiors, designer Miranda Cullen already had a head start in discerning the couple’s style preferences. She’d designed the husband’s previous home and helped decorate this same residence’s nursery when the couple had their first child. “They like a lot of texture, a lot of depth, and they’re not afraid of pattern and color applied in sophisticated ways,” she notes.
Consider the entry: Cullen painted its paneled walls Benjamin Moore’s Blue Fescue—a hue that’s both dramatic and plays well with other shades. “It sets the tone for the rest of the house,” the designer explains. Bold blues make their way into the adjacent formal dining room, where wainscotting meets a floral wallpaper and bespoke draperies to create a layered envelope for classic furnishings and an antique reproduction rug.
Meanwhile, fabrics and playful touches of pattern and color give the family room and kitchen, along with its adjoining breakfast nook, a slightly more pared-down, casual look. In the back kitchen—the area that keeps messy prep work out of the main cooking hub—the owners agreed to “an impactful tile that allowed us to create a fun moment out of a very functional space,” Cullen recalls. The designer chose a green wallpaper for the nook, which she outfitted with a pair of smaller tables allowing for easy exits to the kitchen. “It’s our job to figure out those kinds of solutions,” she adds with a laugh.
And while the team repurposed beige sofas from the couple’s previous house, they paired them with blue floral armchairs for the family room—a selection the wife says she never would have come up with, but that she loves. Then there’s the carefully curated office, where, Cullen notes, aesthetics were given equal play with functionality. “There, we fully embraced our clients’ request for a textural, comfortable and handsome space,” she says.
To this day, the “soul” of the abode continues to reveal itself. “It feels like our home now,” shares the husband. “But I can still walk around and find new details to appreciate.”