Interior designer Julie Brayton began with a simple task: sourcing a beautiful fixture to replace the out-of-scale chandelier that once hid the architectural beauty of this neoclassical Italian home’s entry. She soon found an airy orb from Jamb that her clients loved—“And I felt like I passed the test,” she laughs. Thus began a series of small improvements that culminated with the owners’ decision to tackle the house’s real issues: a dark, visually chaotic kitchen offering no connection to an expansive backyard that went unused, a family room often left empty now that the couple’s children are grown, and a palette of materials that no longer appealed to anyone.
Architect Paul Mahony at KGA Studio Architects PC and builder Steve Diamond of Diamond Homes joined the project and began exploring how to fix the floor plan. “We ultimately swapped the locations of the family room and kitchen,” the architect says, a change that moved the latter to a spot adjacent to the lush backyard. And then another opportunity presented itself: What if the renovation included the addition of a small solarium tucked in the back corner of the home, but still connected to the kitchen and patio? “The owners loved the idea of a place where they could start their day, read, have a cup of coffee and a conversation,” Mahony shares. So, with Brayton’s input, he designed an intimate, light-filled conservatory. Two doors connect the kitchen to the sun room, while another pair opens from the kitchen directly to the patio and two more link the sun room to the backyard, infusing the space with light and warmth.
With this glowing backdrop, Brayton and her clients leaned into a palette of bespoke materials that provide richness while conferring a sense of calm. Venetian plaster on the ceiling and walls adds “atmospheric coziness without being overly pronounced,” the designer notes. A Calacatta Bettogli marble island and backsplash are paired with custom cabinetry by Marcus Otten at Exquisite Kitchen Design which features subtle layers of metallic sheen and deep-green tones that shift as the light changes. A blackened-stainless-steel hood and countertop in the bar area are complemented by steel-framed walnut cabinets and tie beautifully to the solarium’s steel doors and metal-clad exterior.
“Blending the new and the old is always a great challenge,” Diamond reflects, “especially when you have architecture as gorgeous as this home’s.” The team considered for a moment whether selecting different materials for the addition would be the right move, but eventually, Mahony says, they chose “to let the conservatory be its own thing.” To give the room the patina of time—and in keeping with the owners’ desire for beautiful materiality—Brayton sourced black-and-white checkered marble floors reclaimed from an 18th-century church in Spain. A plaster application covers the walls to give the space an “outdoor feel,” the designer says, while the owners’ artwork and thoughtfully sourced furnishings give the room the same sophisticated charm that the rest of the home possesses.
Upstairs, the clients decided to expand the renovation and transform the media room into a new home office. “I laid out Holland & Sherry silk-and-wool rugs and one of the owners walked over, pointed to this beautiful green one and said, ‘This. I love it,’ ” Brayton recalls. The verdant accent became the anchor for the office, which she outfitted with a mahogany Rose Tarlow Melrose House desk and Jiun Ho filing cabinets inlaid with red lacquer. “Like the areas downstairs, we took this space that was fairly unused and transformed it into a room they now love,” the designer notes.
If you ask her to characterize the project in one phrase, Brayton opts for “personal Zen spaces.” The feeling of serenity in this renovated home is matched only by the practical usefulness of its rooms. “We took the elements we had—historic architecture, Colorado’s natural sunlight, our clients’ love for beautiful materials and finishes—and created environments they enjoy and use every day. That’s good design.”