A Home Designed Around its Large-Scale Art
Photos by Emily Minton Redfield
The must-have checklist for this Boulder-based businessman and his wife proved a challenge. First, they needed enough space to integrate their collection of large-scale art, which includes a 15-by-9-foot oil painting and life-sized bronze sculptures. They are also drawn to warm woods and feel a deep connection to nature but prefer the clean lines of classic modern architecture and furniture. Finally, after renting a house in the foothills north of Boulder, they were set on staying in the same neighborhood, which has a glacier-fed lake for swimming and easy access to the mountains.
Although the 4,000-square-foot, 1970s house was dark, dated and chopped up when they found it, the clients, along with architect John Woodward Mink and interior designer Donna Pocci, readily recognized its potential. “There were so many ways to go with opening the house to the light and to the outdoors,” says Pocci. “The challenge was to rein ourselves in and make decisions.”
The house was gutted and the roofline was raised to allow natural light to flood every space. “We gained a tremendous amount of cubic feet in changing the ceiling height throughout the house,” the wife says. Pocci redefined the space plan using most of the existing footprint, lengthening walls to accommodate artworks and eliminating stairs for a smoother flow. She designed all-new windows and doors, including an expanse of edgeless NanaWall glass doors that fold open to embrace the outdoors.
Serving the dual aesthetics of sleek modernism and Colorado lodge influences, Pocci designed an environment of layers and textures throughout the home. Hickory floors, filled with color and movement, unify all the rooms and serve as a warm counterpart to the modern furniture. “It is a mix of styles and woods and character,” Pocci says, “an example of how to incorporate your vacation house into an everyday home.”
The living room displays the perfect balance of nature and art. Hickory floors lead the eye from the entry all the way through to the backyard and lake, where the homeowners have their own dock. An extensive art collection, including the grand oil painting The Wine Cellar by Russian artist Mihail Chemiakin, both challenged and inspired the renovations. “This piece was so huge we had to raise the roof lines,” Pocci says. A new window and accent lights highlight the Hanging Man bronze sculpture by Leonard Baskin.
Glass NanaWall doors fold flat and disappear into the wall of the living room, allowing indoors and outdoors to flow as one space. “We chose furniture [classic modern Le Corbusier Petit Modele leather furniture and a Poul Kjaerholm bench from Fritz Hansen] with modern, clean lines that blends well with the unique artwork in the living room,” the homeowner says. A bluestone patio and Ghost Wood siding contribute to a rustic, lodge-like exterior.
A large oil-on-canvas, The Lemons by Chemiakin, fills the entry with color, while a varied selection of woods warms the space. A dark walnut door contrasts with hickory floors, Douglas-fir structural beams and rift-sawn white oak-and-glass office doors. A bronze sculpture, The Holocaust by Baskin, sits atop a pedestal.
The dining room is a more intimate space, with the focus on a grouping of Picasso lithographs. Pocci gives the homeowners much credit for selecting materials and finishes that blend cool and warm tones and modern and rustic elements. Here, a concrete table and blue upholstered chairs are juxtaposed against the warmth of wood floors and window casings.
Bright, colorful accessories pop against smooth leather chairs and textural fabrics in the family room. Artwork by Picasso hangs above the fireplace, which is wrapped in slabs of travertine stone cut into pieces to create a pattern. The fireplace extends around the corner toward a glass-enclosed walkway that imparts the feeling of being outdoors as it leads to the guest suite. Light also flows in from another glass NanaWall that connects this room and kitchen nook to the patio.
Pocci designed some elements to recede and others to stand out, such as the custom carved doors of rift-sawn white oak and walnut crafted by Schacht Mill Works in Lafayette.
A Richard Avedon portrait hangs above the comfy oversized chaise in the corner of the master bedroom.
In the master bathroom, a sculptural freestanding bathtub by Wetstyle is “like a piece of art set on the floor,” says Pocci, who enhanced the clean lines of the space with an antique Murano glass chandelier from Chantique in Boulder. “The colorful fixture is unexpected but very personal for the homeowners. As you look through the house, there are both masculine and feminine aspects. The master bath is more feminine.”