Sometimes a fresh start is exactly what’s needed. That was the conclusion of a young Denver couple after years of maintaining an older dwelling in the Washington Park neighborhood left them desiring more ease at home. By sheer coincidence, a new house was being built nearby and the idea of a move that didn’t mean saying goodbye to friends and neighbors was too good to refuse. The couple took the leap and relocated, bringing their longtime designer, Katie Schroder, along for the ride.
The home that caught their eye was designed as a contemporary take on the traditional Craftsman style. Working with architect Kathy Eichelberger Jones, Schroder was able to tailor the under-construction home to the clients with custom finishes and the addition of a playroom between the sons’ bedrooms, but the overriding mandate was to make the space warm and inviting. “The main goal was that this house be livable,” says Schroder. “They wanted a kid- friendly, dog-friendly house that looks beautiful, but where you aren’t afraid to sit down and relax.”
This was not the first interiors rodeo for Schroder and the couple. The husband (a software engineer) and the wife (a social worker) had also hired her to redesign their previous home. “By this time, I knew them very well, so working together was second nature,” says the designer. But that didn’t mean Schroder didn’t have surprises in store. “Katie can envision how best to use a space and, like us, she has two boys and she understands the needs of a family,” says the wife. “But she also knows how to nudge you out of your comfort zone.”
In this case, those style nudges mainly dealt with the color palette. The designer (whose firm’s motto is “color, pattern, culture”) notes that “this couple has a very British sense of color but viewed through a Colorado lens.” With that in mind, Schroder decided that although the house they left behind was done in shades of green, a new blue hue was required. “She practically fired green,” jokes the wife, who is now a blue convert. But this is far from a monochromatic interior. “You can’t have only blue in a house,” says Schroder, who encouraged the couple to consider a lively palette. That design philosophy is on display in the dining room, where a burnished-yellow ceiling floats above a gray wallpaper with a yellow branch pattern, and in the master bedroom done in many shades of purple and green.
But it was the living room rug that ultimately charted the color course, bringing in purple, green and orange to join blue. “I was chicken about some things,” admits the wife. “When I said I thought the rug had too much coral, Katie showed me how it would work. That’s why a designer is important.” For Schroder, it’s those votes of confidence that are key to a successful design. “In fashion, people have been given permission to mix patterns to create a boho look, and I think they’re starting to want that more in their homes now, too,” she says. “These clients trusted me, and that kind of trust is important if you want to create an extraordinary interior.”
The designer says that whimsy also played a role here as well, especially in the light fixtures. Rather than choosing a traditional chandelier for the dining room, for example, she opted for a pair of “cool, spidery lights that add a modern twist.” And in the powder room, she skipped typical sconces for the surprise of a curvaceous brass library light over the vanity. “This is a house where the fun little details add up to something great,” Schroder says.
It turns out the new home was a fit in unexpected ways. “At first we thought the house might be too big, but we use every inch,” says the wife. With everyone working and attending school at home, the husband uses the office, the older son uses the bonus room, the youngest son sits at the dining table and the wife is stationed in the breakfast nook. Even the dogs have their go-to spaces, one claiming the back of the sofa and the other a cozy niche below the stairs. The home’s basement level was intended to do double duty as a play and study area for the kids, but the pandemic has changed everyone’s needs and it now serves handily as an entertainment space for the whole family. “With all of us at home, including the boys and dogs, our home has to be livable. But Katie has also made it special,” says the wife. “We are very happy here.” Proof that change can be for the better.