Most grand houses come with some kind of history, but rarely does that include an authentic speakeasy and artwork with mysterious origins. Those were just two of the many charms that enticed the owners of a Prohibition-era, Tudor-style home in the Denver Country Club. On the exterior, bricks laid in a diamond pattern, dormer windows with leaded windowpanes, and a steep gable evoke a storybook ambience, while a stone crest engraved with the letter “T” recalls the original owners—a family named Temple.
But the home’s historic relevance meant the design needed to be sensitive. To strike a balance between respecting its past and accommodating a modern family of five, the new owners turned to designer Andrea Schumacher, who had worked on their previous residences.
The focus, Schumacher says, was taking the bones of a traditional Tudor and infusing it with a lighter, modern aesthetic that’s both beautiful and practical. “We wanted the home to have a sense of history, but with a fresh take reflecting a young family,” she says.
Intricate moldings and woodwork throughout set a warm, elegant tone, but the brown wood was a little too dark for the family’s liking. To offset it, Schumacher painted some of the panels white and brightened the space further through lighter upholstery and carpeting. “I think the most nerve-racking part was picking the paneling that we were going to paint versus what we weren’t,” she laughs. “You can’t easily remove the paint, so we were all clenching our teeth and hoping it would work. It came out perfectly!”
Having worked on the interiors of the family’s previous home, the designer knew which of their pieces would work in the new space and which needed to be updated or reupholstered. Schumacher added texture with vibrant, patterned fabrics as well as playful wallpaper and drapery. She also replaced the dark, gothic light fixtures with simple antique brass candle-style chandeliers.
Since the new home was larger than the family’s previous abode, it allowed them to keep the living room as a more formal entertaining space, complete with a fireplace, dramatic ceiling beams, diamond-paned windows and a grand piano. The extra square footage also means that the kids have a designated playroom on the second floor, allowing for an injection of fun—such as an animal print rug and yellow ottomans—to juxtapose with the rest of the house’s more traditional decor.
While the owners are partial to spending time in the living room, Schumacher says she is particularly fond of the dining room, which features elaborate ceiling moldings and paneling. “Sometimes dining rooms can be formal—and this one does have a formality to it,” she says. “But then the softness of the chairs and the fact that the table is round makes it a bit more casual. It is very comfortable, and you can see yourself hanging out here for a long time.”
And then there’s the speakeasy. Part of the original 1928 home—but not included on the house plans that the owners sourced from the Denver Public Library—the clandestine room behind a hidden door features more than just a bar and lounge. Overlooking the space is a mural depicting what the owners suspect is a scene of downtown Denver in the late 1800s. “We’ve worked with the History Colorado Center to try to figure out who the artist is, and they told us that if the painting is on canvas, it’s likely a more noteworthy artist,” says the owner. “But if it was painted on concrete then it was probably just a family friend.” Turns out, it’s on canvas, but the artist’s identity is still a mystery, only serving to add more intrigue to the space. To evoke the dark, moody vibe of a speakeasy—and to complement the exposed brick—Schumacher opted for rich, red textiles for the sofa and rug, creating a cozier, more intimate gathering alternative to the dining or living room.
Of course, the story behind the speakeasy (and the home in general) is all part of what makes it so charming. “I hope people feel all of the stories that came before us in this house, but also sense that a modern family lives in it now,” the owner says. “We love going out to dinner with friends and then walking home to have a drink in our speakeasy. Being able to have that history of the space, but also the proximity of the city, is one of the things that we love about the house.”