After raising their three children in a large home in the Denver suburbs, a pair of empty nesters were ready for a change. For the couple’s fresh start, a corner lot in the Washington Park neighborhood offered the perfect opportunity. “One day I was standing in my last home, and I felt totally overwhelmed by the amount of stuff we’d accumulated,” the wife recalls about the former site of sleepovers, prom parties and countless team dinners. “This time, we wanted something casual and comfortable, because that’s who we are, but also beautiful and sophisticated.” So they turned to designers Conni Newsome and Ashley Larson Eitemiller to help them bring those qualities to life in their new home.
“One of the first things we do with a new client is share design books and magazines to get a feel for which styles they gravitate toward and what colors they like and don’t like,” Eitemiller says. “Next, we explore how they want to live in a house—are they casual or more formal? Then we craft rooms that respond accordingly.” Their initial meetings with this couple revealed a desire to lean traditional but, in the wife’s words, “with flair and sass.”
That conventional slant is reflected in the architecture as well. Thoughtfully designed by architect Richard Whetsel, the structure, encircled by a wraparound porch, nods to the couple’s East Coast roots as well as their new neighborhood. “It was very important to the owners that the house fit in with the surrounding architecture,” says builder Jeremy Larson, who worked on the project with his father and partner in the firm, Rick Larson. “The husband wanted a totally brick home—no stucco, no siding.” To get the look they were after, Larson created on-site mock-ups of several options before settling on a tumbled-brick mixture with the right combination of colors. Hand-cut Pennsylvania bluestone caps and door thresholds completed the look.
For continuity, landscape architect Phil Steinhauer selected the same brick along with wrought-iron pickets for the front fencing and Pennsylvania bluestone pavers for the walkways and patio. “In keeping with the traditional design, we used boxwood hedges to skirt the house and plants like hydrangeas for that East Coast look,” says Steinhauer, who also introduced outdoor living areas. “It was a typical tight city lot, so I pushed everything as close to the setbacks as possible to maximize space and make room for a covered living space, a fire pit and an open dining area.”
Having met the neighborhood integration criteria on the exterior, the traditional theme shifts to a more relaxed transitional look inside, starting with the entryway, a bright space with a curved staircase and a Paul Ferrante chandelier. “The paneling is formal, but instead of using an expected dark wood, we painted everything white,” Newsome says. “And the light fixture is classic, but it’s not a crystal chandelier.” From there, the plan leads to an intimate library before reaching the main public spaces. These areas— including the living and dining rooms as well as the kitchen— are more open to one another, and the designers brought a contemporary flavor to the spaces through a curated palette and discerning fabric choices. “The wife wanted things light and fresh,” Eitemiller says. “So each space has a level of formality but is comfortable for everyday use.”
Taking cues from the wife, who likes both patterns and muted colors, the designers thoughtfully mixed the two. “You can introduce a lot of patterns, so long as they are proportionate with each other and everything is in the same palette,” Newsome explains. In the living room, the fabrics represent a carefully calculated hierarchy of pattern that starts small, with a barely discernible tweed on the sofas, and crescendos to a large graphic print on the chairs and ottoman. Stripes on the pillows and a medium-scale tribal pattern on the draperies complete the mix.
When it came to functionality, the designers made selections with the couple’s entertaining lifestyle in mind. “Easy-to-clean indoor-outdoor fabrics and a dog-friendly wool rug in the living room are perfect for relaxed family life, but they also look polished and together,” Eitemiller says. The same can be said for the nearby kitchen, which is smartly dressed with recessed paneled cabinets, small-scale subway tiles and counters made with a marble-like durable quartzite marked by subtle green veining.
A large cased opening connects the living room with the dining room, where the designers picked up the same tribal-pattern draperies and anchored the space with another large Paul Ferrante light fixture. “The formal living and dining rooms are the main focal points,” Newsome says. “We designed these spaces to be stylish and layered while maintaining a sense of comfort.” For a collected look, they paired an antique dining table with captain chairs covered with a glazed linen and skirted side chairs upholstered with a charcoal-and-chocolate tweed.
Thanks to a thoughtful team who never lost sight of the spirit of the occupants or the soul of the spaces, the result couldn’t be better. “My husband and I have lived in beautiful homes all over the country, but none of them have been perfect,” the wife says. “I knew one day we would have the opportunity to build and have everything we wanted. Now, with this house, we do.”