A renovation—be it a single room or a whole house—is no small undertaking. The finished product may be well worth the time and expense, but it’s important to go in with realistic expectations and a good sense of what you want—and don’t want. On the following pages, we offer inspiration, advice, ideas, and encouragement for your happy home.
A redesigned foyer and living room make the most of every bit of space with European flair.
Designer Meg Jonsen finds projects in a variety of ways, but even she was surprised when an employee at her daughter’s school crossed the parking lot and asked, “You’re an interior designer. Do you want to work on our space?” Jonsen had worked with Beck Building Company before and knew that they would be the perfect partners on this Cherry Creek North townhome.
Dominating the main living area was a circular staircase that took up much-needed space for this recently downsized couple. Jonsen determined the best way to utilize every inch of available room was to take everything down to the studs and start over. Having traveled extensively in Italy, the couple directed the team to focus on both Old World and modern Italian styles throughout.
So Jonsen set out to recreate the nature of Italian interiors, which layer cool and current fixtures and furnishings within centuries- old buildings. “The walls are all Venetian plaster,” Jonsen says. “And then, a really contemporary, beautiful floating credenza.” Jonsen adds that the piece is as useful as it is good-looking; it holds a vast collection of sheet music belonging to the wife, who is a singer and musician.
Jonsen says storage was a big concern, so she created more in the living room cabinets underneath the open shelves alongside the fireplace.
Because this is a townhome with common walls to the north and south, another concern was how to get enough lighting. Above the nowremoved staircase was a massive skylight; Jonsen changed its shape and focused the light over the piano. To offset that loss, she added some big sliding doors, and the eastern and western sunlight has been more than adequate.
In the end, the clients put all their trust in Jonsen and Beck Building, which turned out to be well placed. “Because of the way I work and contractors like Beck who are so good at communication and keeping one step ahead of the game,” says Jonsen, “there were not many surprises.” She adds that Beck is delightful to work with. “I love them. They are so communicative. The site superintendent that I had was just above-and-beyond fabulous, so there wasn’t any sort of an ‘a-ha’ moment when we had to change something big.”
She says planning and communication are crucial because the real world is not HGTV “where you just go in and wave your arms and it gets done.” Comfort is also at the top of her list. “I never want a room to be uncomfortable,” she says. “I never want anybody to enter a room going, “Ooh, can I sit here?” You feel like you’re welcome everywhere.”
MEG JONSEN INTERIORS
BECK BUILDING COMPANY
780 Nottingham Rd, Avon
Custom cabinetry, millwork, shelving, cabinets and columns:
4190 Madison St.
Doors and trim:
CASTLEWOOD DOORS & MILLWORK
5040 E. 41st Ave.
European white oak plank and herringbone flooring, reclaimed timber beams:
601 S. Broadway
Terra Viva tile in Florentia Cotto Anticato:
595 S. Broadway
Chopped thin veneer stone walls and hand-carved cream limestone fireplace surround in “French Quarter”:
601 S. Broadway
Venetian plaster walls in Benjamin Moore Creamy White:
129 Cherrywood Lane, Louisville
Mulitple layers and shades of gray bring this light-filled kitchen to life and create a comfortable gathering spot.
Often, the work of Exquisite Kitchen Design (EKD) speaks for itself, but sometimes it helps if happy clients speak for it as well. It was the latter that led the owner of this spacious kitchen to EKD after she received a referral from a friend. “She was told, by her dear friend, you’ll love them and they make the process simple and enjoyable,” says EKD designer Marcus Otten. “A onestop design shop that pulls it all together. They fell in love with our designs, specifically the layers of details and unique materials.”
The planned renovation was extensive, encompassing the entire first floor (and more), reaching beyond the kitchen to the entryway, great room, both main and formal dining rooms, and the powder room.
Step one, says Otten, was finding the perfect designminded general contractor who Otten felt confident had the expertise to meet his high expectations while still working within the project’s budget and timeline. “We turned to our friends at Elton R. Construction,” he says. “Their willingness to listen, understand, help, and execute wonderfully molded into supporting our needs and desires from the clients.”
Otten adds that they were working with an original space that had been broken into “multiple small segments that hindered the entertainment needs of our client.” The solution was to create a central gathering location for family and friends around the grand island. “Naturally,” Otten says, “this also added abundant cooking areas that all kitchen remodelers dream of, exactly where needed.”
Another request from the client was an additional area to set food out buffet-style when hosting larger functions. So Otten set some specific goals: “Don’t recreate their original, maze-like kitchen layout. Maintain an open feel for the space between the kitchen, living room, piano room, and formal dining room. It needs to breathe, be light, and feel like artwork.” Using stone allowed the space to serve its original intent as well as providing additional seating. “It’s become our client’s favorite spot to sip her morning coffee and browse social media.”
As with any renovation project, there were some surprises. They discovered a main drain pipe hidden in a wall that was scheduled to be omitted in the design. However, it couldn’t be moved unless the remodel was extended into the basement bathroom. Rather than that, Otten says, “We modified the surrounding cabinetry and soffit to encase the pipe—a beautiful detail no one would pick up on as it is now seamlessly integrated.”
When it comes to the finished project, Otten says, “I love the marriage between our major surfaces. There’s great drama, providing unexpected and bold contrast. It starts with and grows from the original reclaimed flooring. Keeping the walls soft created the stage for endless possibilities. The brilliant finish of our texture-painted cabinetry complements the rich, custom-stained, almost midnight-finished cabinets.” He adds, “The stone countertops support and complete the design’s personality as fine art.”
EXQUISITE KITCHEN DESIGN
601 S. Broadway
ELTON R CONSTRUCTION
1740 38th St., Boulder
A major makeover of even a small space can be daunting. We asked Trish Bonney of TAB Interior Designs for some advice on what to do—and what pitfalls to avoid.
- Do hire an interior designer who is experienced.
Educated interior designers are well versed on codes required to do a job right as well as how to create something esthetically pleasing for each client’s taste and functional requirements. Another benefit is that you will likely get an “out of the box” design with elements you never thought of. Last and most important, a designer should minimize an owner’s stress dramatically, which tends to be the hardest part of a remodel project.
- Do have a realistic budget and timeline in mind.
All too often, we see remodeling and interior design shows on TV on which a kitchen is done in two days for $12,000. Can it be done? Maybe, but it will not be done well or with quality products. Kitchens are the heart of our homes and bring in the most money for resale, so if you have to save up to do it right, patience is a virtue!
- Do what feels good to you and makes your heart sing.
Your home is just that, it is yours, so it should be designed for you and the loved ones you share it with. Don’t be concerned with what your in-laws or neighbors like as it is the space that you return to every day, and it should bring joy to you.
- Do interview multiple contractors and designers for your project.
You want to make sure that you feel comfortable with whomever you decide to hire as you will be working closely with this individual and, sometimes, for a considerable amount of time. It also makes for much easier lines of open communication as you need to be up-front and honest with all involved to have a much smoother outcome.
- Do allow the professionals to do what they do best.
Yes, it is your space and, more than likely, your biggest investment, but if you hire the right people to do the job, there shouldn’t be a need to hover over them and question their every move. All too often when we have projects on which this happens, people get easily irritated with the lack of trust in their skills and desire to create a well-done space for clients. Mistakes happen and that is just the nature of the world, but generally they will double and timelines will slow down tremendously when this happens.
- Don’t ever allow an interior designer or contractor to bully you into something you don’t truly love.
Both individuals should be working for you! Also make sure that all individuals involved in your project are licensed, insured, and have the proper education to ensure proper results.
- Don’t overdo or go super trendy on a remodeling project if it is not your forever home.
If you know you will be moving, even if it is 10 years down the road, don’t do something so out of the box and specific that you will not be able to resell. For example, if your favorite color is pink, don’t do a bathroom in pink tile as this can potentially be what stops people from even coming to look at your home in person. Trends come and go, and in a not-forever home, it is best to think of what is timeless and appealing to the masses. Also, make sure not to spend too much on something that is permanent as you may not get your return. Now, if it is your forever home and pink is your thing, then refer back to #3 in the “do” list!
- Don’t second-guess your decisions after your project has begun.
This can make your project go from “hero to zero” fast. Change orders increase timelines and budgets and, all too often, we see clients wishing they had gone with the original intent.
- Don’t over-research and spend the majority of your day, every day, looking for the latest and greatest or newest trends.
The more you are looking at sites for the perfect item, the more you change your mind. The more you change your mind, the more you increase your timeline and, all too often, your budget. When working with a designer, they also shouldn’t overwhelm you with hundreds of options but show you what is best for your particular project and budget. This also is a huge timesuck for life in general. Hire the professionals to do the legwork for you, remove the stress, allow you to spend more time with family, and offer you the best options.
- Don’t skimp on quality for the sake of budget if you are going to make a further investment into your home.
If your dream kitchen, for example, is not financially in reach at the moment, wait a little bit longer to save and do it right.
Splendor in the Bath
A major renovation took this condo bath from its original 1970s-era look and brought it into the 21st century.
Designer Margarita Bravo knew she liked this client from the moment they met. “These clients,” she says, “they have great taste. They are sophisticated. They are modern. They really enjoy everything that has to do with design and art.” A European sensibility didn’t hurt either. “My client said, ‘Maybe I was Italian in a past life.’ Every single little thing in the bathroom, all the materials, were brought from Italy.” That included even the grout for the tile.
Of course, working in a high-rise building comes with restrictions. “There are so many limitations for what you can do,” says Bravo, “because all these floors are made with concrete poured in place. Wherever the plumbing is, the plumbing needs to stay.” The space was long and narrow, and Bravo undertook making it look lighter, larger, more spacious.
“The mirrors are floating, and they have all this light that kind of goes behind the mirror and brings the illusion of openness,” she says. In the shower, for example, the existing tub was removed and a window into the bedroom was enlarged. “It also brings more light and makes the shower seem bigger.”
The client had hoped for a water closet, but space limitations, as well as the aforementioned inability to move plumbing, created an obstacle. “We had to compromise,” says Bravo, “so we came up with idea of having frosted glass panels from floor to ceiling to make that separation and provide a bit of privacy.”
A single-sink vanity was replaced with two sinks that were poured directly into the vanity and then imported from Italy. The lower cabinets enclose towel warmers, and the upper one, perched between the sinks, keep the electrical outlets hidden. “It’s there, but it’s not there,” Bravo says.
High-end finishes abound: natural stone and, in the case of the micro mosaic tile behind the vanity and on the shower floor, recycled materials. “It is actually made in Sicily out of TV screens.” The shower walls are Bianco Carrara marble, and the “grout” joining the slabs is actually metal strips. “That’s a very nice detail and why it’s very hard to install. One of a kind,” Bravo says.
Art is extremely important to these clients, as evidenced by the museum-quality pieces that hang even in the bathroom. “Art is something that they’re both passionate about,” says Bravo, “and we keep adding and adding and adding. Every single space in the house is just splashed with many fine art pieces. At this point, they need more walls.”
90 Madison St.
Lava, sandblasted finish
Bianco Carrara, Tratti, Cotone finish with midnight black metal rods
Fixtures and Lotus back-lit
Vanity wall and shower floor:
Micro 6 in Cemento—mosaic made with recycled glass from discarded PC monitors and TVs that is crushed, ground, and pigmented
New Year, New Hue
Every January, experts in fields including interiors and graphic design—even fashion and food—declare the colors that will be the most coveted in the coming year. To help you select the perfect pigment for your home renovation, we checked in with some of the top paint brands.
Back to Nature
Biophilic design involves taking an innovative approach to harnessing humans’ innate affinity for greenery and including nature and the outdoors in interior or architectural design. Behr understands this tendency and, with its Color of the Year, Back to Nature, assists in reconnecting, bringing the great outdoors into our constructed world. This fresh, uplifting, and ever so slightly yellowish shade of green suggests dense wilderness and tame indoor gardens, yet is subtle enough to not overpower a room.
Available at Home Depot, behr.com.
This pale, rosy hue is the picture of health and vitality. It’s a fresh take on white, cream, eggshell, or beige—close enough to neutral to complement other colors, but imbued with a buoyancy and vivaciousness that comes from an invigorating wash of pink. Benjamin Moore’s Color of the Year reflects the company’s hope for the future of interior design and a sense of idealism, authenticity, and optimism.
Available at Ace Hardware, Guiry’s and specialty hardware stores, benjaminmoore.com.
This intense navy blue strikes a balance between tranquility and confidence. Blue evokes peace and serenity, appealing to those seeking to create a mindful personal retreat in a bedroom or a cozy kitchen. Sherwin-Williams’ Color of the Year can also go bold, pairing particularly well with luxe finishes, such as leather, marble, and bright metallics. It’s both neutral and versatile, with depth and warmth.
Available at Sherwin-Williams, sherwin-williams.com.