Aging Backward

By Heather Shoning

Photography by Kimberly Gavin

Local designers turn an older home into A YOUNG FAMILY’S DREAM

There’s a decided trend—not just in Denver but in cities across the country—toward tearing down a home in an established neighborhood with a distinct aesthetic and building something wildly different. You’ve certainly seen it: You’re driving down a street lined with quaint Victorian-style homes, and—wham!—right in the middle of the block is a shiny new contemporary home. The movement has its place,
and people want what they want regarding the most personal of spaces.

However, when a couple with young children bought an aging home in Greenwood Village, they took a different approach. While they longed for an updated interior designed for modern living, they opted to retain the traditional exterior charm befitting the well-established neighborhood. They engaged designer Beth Armijo, of Armijo Design Group, who recommended that Patrick Cashen do the architectural drawings and Exquisite Kitchen Design to assist with the project. The result is a family-friendly design with even greater exterior salutes to the suburban locale.

“It was a dream project to take a really great house down to the studs and give it a new life while keeping it within the character of the neighborhood,” Armijo says. “It has all the original angles and shapes—none of that was taken away. If anything, it was added to, and I think the neighbors appreciate it.”

The home already had a second story on the front section, but because of the roof slope and lack of windows, the space couldn’t be used to its maximum potential. The design team opted to add dormers, which increased the usable second-story space, brought in natural light and added to the architectural interest of the front of the home. In the rear part of the home, they added a second story to provide space for a new primary suite. They also upgraded the front door and added a new covered front porch, mimicking the dormers’ rooflines. “That gorgeous front door adds much more light to the foyer,” Armijo says. “The original front door was probably seven feet tall—it was very short, so it was a very dark entry. But now all the light shines in.”

To create a seamless look was important. “The roof slopes all need to be consistent with what was originally there,” Cashen says. “The other important scenario was the window proportions. There were tall, medium-width windows on the first floor, and we certainly extended those, using the context of the original structure in the new work.”

The wife had one primary directive for the home’s design: no gray. She wanted warmth and coziness at every turn; Armijo delivered, starting right inside the front door. The dreamy, creamy wall color is accented with a grid wall treatment to add interest and an element cohesive to the home’s architectural style. The area rugs and carpet runner on the stairs embrace the warm palette, adding touches of ochre, camel and rust, while the rich wood flooring and stair railing blend with other wood tones for an eloquent aesthetic. “They wanted a great handmade rug, and this one has all these gorgeous neutrals, which adds a little color to the palette,” Armijo says. “It has a little bit of that California casual, but it’s warm, and that’s why it works in Colorado.”

Goldenrod, with hints of brass and more delectable wood tones, creates a beautiful blanket of eye-pleasing coloration in the kitchen. The minimal Shaker–style oak cabinetry provides a sleek, clean appearance, contrasting the heavily veined countertop and backsplash, plus the vivid grain of the wood flooring and the dark walnut island countertop. “We wanted something different than a shaker—a little bit cleaner, more minimal to align with the couple’s style,” Armijo says. A hint of ribbed wood on the counter stools harkens to the contemporary design without going over-the-top trendy, ensuring a timeless style that will endure. 

As part of her design efforts, Armijo thinks about multifunction. So, for the formal dining room, which doesn’t see everyday use, she selected two upholstered armchairs that can be moved into another space, such as the family room, for additional seating. The custom buffet offers ample storage for serving wear, and locking doors keep small hands from finding their way into the breakables.

Armijo selected a large rectangular table from Ryan Schlaefer Fine Furniture, Inc., and Crate & Barrel cane-backed chairs with delicate silhouettes for everyday family meals. She says the homeowners wanted a classic, timeless design while offering a nod to a youthful, fresh aesthetic.

The family room is the epitome of the family-forward design Armijo created. Throughout the home, wood floors look warm and inviting and will withstand wear and tear from traffic and children playing. All the fabrics, from the rugs to sofas, are either performance fabric or wool to ensure everything is easy to clean and retains a near-new appearance for years to come. Since the family room is open to the kitchen, Armijo repeated the camel-color leather from the barstool on the upholstered ottoman for color and material continuity.

A speakeasy-style game room is adjacent to the formal living area with facing sofas and a fireplace with its mossy green mantel. Plush upholstered chairs and a bench in varying shades of dark green, plus wood accents, lend to the moody feel of the space. Heavy beams, iron chandeliers and near floor-to-ceiling draperies add to the cozy ambiance of the large room. 

The primary suite is part of the second-story addition to the home, and it gave the homeowners the square footage they needed, plus the perfect parental retreat. The neutral palette is punctuated by the foliage-patterned artwork with sunny yellow undertones and the Cisco iron light fixture from CAI Designs that, although slim and delicate, provides a captivating centerpiece to the space. “They fell in love with that light even before they even had their plan,” Armijo says, noting that the high ceiling with the accent beam provided the perfect placement. The primary bathroom cabinetry is the same style as that in the kitchen, with a darker stain color, providing continuity in the details. The ample space includes an oversized shower, a graceful soaking tub, double vanities, and a makeup area.


Armijo Design Group

Patrick Cashen

Exquisite Kitchen Design

Stair runner carpet: CPA Carpets by Stark

Everyday dining table: Ryan Schlaefer Fine Furniture, Inc. 

Formal dining table and chairs: CAI Showroom Denver

Sectional: Hoff Miller

Window coverings: Genesis Custom Drapery

Primary bedroom light fixture: CAI Designs

Tile flooring: Decorative Materials