To Life & Art
The bar area gets a splash of color in vivid lime green. On top, Boprae's hand-painted wood and cement squares are incorporated into the balcony railings. By opening the flowing curtains, the homeowners make the balcony a lounge; closing them turns the space into a private guest room.
A sleek leather bed from Ralph Lauren picks up some of the colors in “Source,” an art piece (above the bed) inspired by water droplets. More warmth comes from the wood burl drawer fronts and a hide rug. The curved wall was added by former owners (when the building was a photography studio).
A strong black-and-white composition defines this seating arrangement. Boprae and Muraglia embellished lion-head masks with Boprae's art techniques and turned them into sconces.
It isn't every house that comes with a stage, loading dock, mailroom and indoor balcony. And it isn't every prospective home buyer who finds these features ideal for the chic living space, art gallery and studio he and his partner envisioned. “We knew we wanted something big and unconventional, a fixer-upper,” says Jordan Muraglia, a Denver commercial real estate developer and co-owner of the house with artist Richard Boprae. With this space, they found it.
Built in 1927, the 4,000-square-foot building near Sloan's Lake has a fascinating history. It started life as a union hall and for years was a neighborhood synagogue. More recently it was converted into a photography studio. The stucco and red-tiled building is tucked into a quiet residential neighborhood with the liveliness of Colfax Avenue just a block away. The property was in disrepair when Muraglia stumbled upon it, but he quickly recognized the potential of the light-filled space, with its high ceilings (16-and-a-half feet tall) and arched windows. A full basement (and that loading dock) afforded the luxury of a workshop/studio for Muraglia's partner Richard Boprae, a fine artist who creates grand-scale works of art.
The homeowners reconfigured the space for their needs, adding a wall and Boprae's artful doors and screens to create a bedroom on the raised section of the room. They repurposed the darkroom, easily converting it into a bar. “A light bulb just went off and we realized everything was there—the plumbing, the sinks, the counters,” Muraglia says. “All we had to do was cut a hole in the wall for access to the great room.”
In the main living area, they painted the existing hardwood floors a rich espresso and highlighted the soaring windows with floor-to-ceiling draperies—cream on one side of the room, grey on the other. “When you only have one big room, you want to express yourself more than once. We have two different rooms within a room. It frees the space a little,” Muraglia explains.
What most distinguishes the space is Boprae's sculpted, textural artwork, which enhances the distinctive architectural elements. “What differentiates me from other artists is my ability to see a space with all its components and create something that will suit the environment,” Boprae says. Most of his work is site-specific; he creates one-of-a-kind installations of wall art, panels, doors and screens.
Boprae—a world traveler, self-taught artist and former model—created a unique, evolving technique that starts with wood sculpture. He adds to that multiple layers of with a brush and paint and it evolved into wood, a natural course. My family in Quebec is known for wood carving,” Boprae says. “It is part of my heritage.”
Interior designer Mikhail Dantes of D+D Interiors features Boprae's artwork in his Denver design showroom, TOWN. He collaborated with the homeowners on their furnishings, allowing the art and architecture to take the lead. “I wanted Richard's art to be the focus, so I chose a monochromatic palette, clean lines and a lot of textures—linens, leathers, silks and hair-on-hides—to complement the organic nature of his work,” Dantes says.
“The furnishings are contemporary, yet a bit opulent,” adds Muraglia. “We like a level of simplicity, but we're not minimalists.” He and Boprae also mixed in some items from their travels, a few antiques and a touch of the Colorado aesthetic with antler sconces and animal-hide rugs.
Boprae and Muraglia find the space perfect for their multi-faceted requirements for living, working, creating and entertaining (both professionally and personally). “A lot of life has gone on here in the past,” Muraglia says. “And it continues.”