Not Your Typical DIY Home
A master woodworker and his designer wife take do-it-yourself to a whole new level with this striking Evergreen renovation
Photography by David Lauer; Styling by Eliza Karlson
This beautiful Evergreen renovation doesn’t look anything like the typical do-it-yourself project—but then the owners are not your typical DIYers. Katharine Landmeier and Omar Perez are a creative couple with uniquely compatible talents. Landmeier, a VP of experience design with Unbridled in Denver, “is great at seeing what a space can be,” says Perez. “She understands spatial relationships and the flow and ergonomics of a space. She can dream it. And I can kinda build it.”
Kinda. Nine to five, Perez works as a broadcast designer/animator for STARZ Network, but his avocation has always been working with wood, creating everything from the exquisite sculptural furniture seen here to wooden platform shoes for Lady Gaga. (“That was a fun little side trip,” says Perez.) Landmeier laughs. “I don’t know how he does it. He can build anything; he doesn’t care if he’s never done it before. He’s an artist, and every project is a creation project for him. I say, ‘We can hire someone to do it,’ but he says, ‘Oh, no.’ He never stops.”
The couple landed in Evergreen after years in Houston, Texas. “Colorado brought us to Colorado,” says Landmeier. “In Texas, we were living for our vacations. We’re big outdoors people, and we love nature. Houston was great, but it’s not a place to go find nature.” Evergreen won them over with its green open spaces and proximity to their work in Denver. “Here, we have elk and foxes in our backyard; even a mountain lion ran through our yard once. We live on a mountain, but we’re also next to a golf course, and our streets are plowed, and we don’t lose our power in snowstorms, so it’s a lovely balance.”
The couple have been steadily working on the renovation of their 4,000-plus-square-foot home since they moved in three years ago, tackling big projects like adding the sun-filled dining room and deck space and small projects like piecing honey-colored hemlock veneer over the ceiling beams so that the wood tones of floors, ceilings, railings and beams are consistent. “That’s how Omar designs,” says Landmeier. “He uses wood as his palette, choosing by color and contrast and burl and texture. It’s very much how we tackle the house as well—what do we have to work with, and how can we make it beautiful?”
Perez credits Landmeier with the vision that transformed a small dining area and a cramped, closed-off sunporch into this spacious room with views in three directions. Perez did the tearing out and the rebuilding with an occasional assist from their sons, but he says, “This room is all Katharine. She envisioned the open space and the tall windows that allow you to see all those vistas from the house. Every morning it’s a sunrise inside that room. It’s spectacular.”
"The two-story fireplace was the selling point for me,” says Landmeier. “The views of the water are great, but the fireplace—I felt we could build our whole home around it.” Initially, she was a bit worried about the compact kitchen layout. “But it’s a true cook’s kitchen, and I didn’t realize until I started cooking in it how practical it is. I really like the scale of it now.”
The elegant pedestal table at the base of the staircase is another piece by Perez. “Again, there aren’t a lot of straight lines. I try to bring movement and flow to my pieces, and that’s done with a grinder, chisels, whatever I can find, and then a ton of sanding. I want people to touch my work, to caress the curves. Furniture is meant to be used; it’s very tactile, and I like it when people are drawn to touch it and ask questions,” he says.
The striking painting against the wall of the upstairs loft is actually the top of one of Perez’s workbenches. “It’s a 4-by-8 piece of wood, and when you get close to it you can see years of projects, glue stains, hammer blows, drilled holes, epoxy—all of the elements form this texture and pattern over the table. It’s memories of building our first house, memories of sweat and planning. And then you take this object and lean it against a wall, and you are looking at it in a new way. It becomes a story, visually and texturally,” he says.
The striking collage on son Mateo’s walls is “not a glamour story. I hesitate to tell you—it’s just framed fabric from IKEA of all places,” says Landmeier. “I enjoyed the strong graphics and thought it would be fun to frame them to make a collage.” The bookshelves are another IKEA find. Says Perez: “It’s how you use what you have. You can take inexpensive things and turn them into art.”
Perez made the couple’s curving four-poster bed more than 20 years ago. “It’s mahogany, a pleasure to sleep in and rock solid. It’s not going anywhere,” he says. The curvilinear design of the bed and of the tiger-maple and 1,000-year-old redwood side table are typical of his work. “I don’t treat a block of wood as a block. There is a sculpture within the block, and my task is to bring the sculpture to life.”
The striking rosewood wheel in the master bedroom previously served as the family’s dining table. “The edges are tiger maple, and the inlay is rosewood veneer,” says Perez. “I book-matched every piece and set them in this radial pattern. I made another table for the dining room in this house, so why not take an object and use it in a different way? Why not use this as art?”
Landmeier, Perez, and sons Nate, 22, and Mateo, 11, relax with dog Zoe on their deck overlooking lake and mountains. They found the little gas fire pit at Target. “It’s your perfect s’mores fireplace, and that’s exactly what it’s used for,” says Landmeier.
“Originally, we planned a small deck,” recalls homeowner Katharine Landmeier. “But then I said, ‘I think we need more,’ and Omar said, ‘I don’t want to have to build that,’ and I said, ‘Stay with me. What I’m thinking is...’ We’re pretty good at coming up with compromises. I think the only big fight we’ve ever had over a project was before we were married, and it was about a paint color."