Getting Cozy in the Highlands
A Denver designer transforms a cool interior with warm colors, bold patterns and redefined spaces
Emily Minton Redfield
The real estate world is rife with botched remodeling jobs, but when Rebecca Cobo bought her Victorian home in Denver’s lower Highlands neighborhood she was largely satisfied with the former homeowners’ renovations. The kitchen and bathrooms were brand new and tastefully done, several walls had been removed to open up the space, and the original exterior juxtaposed nicely with interiors that were sleek and contemporary.
The only problem? The rooms felt a little too modern. “Everything was gray and white, and it just didn’t feel like home to me,” Cobo says. So she enlisted the help of Jodi Cook, a senior designer with Ashley Campbell, Inc., to liven up the space.
“Rebecca is young, fun and vibrant, and she loves to cook and entertain,” Cook says. “I wanted to translate her style into interiors that reflect her taste and personality,” a transformation that began with a new color palette. “We warmed things up right away by painting every wall and ceiling in the house.”
In the open kitchen, the splash of teal in the patterned rug contrasts with the mink-gray countertops and white cabinets. Metal patchwork barstools made from reclaimed cans provide seating when Cobo is cooking for friends, and a cozy dining nook tucked in the corner is a perfect spot for sipping morning coffee.
Inspiration for the home’s main floor hues came from the living room’s original bright green fireplace surround, which Cook offset with accents of coral and chartreuse. To complement the modern ‘bones’ of the interiors and to add some edge, Cook specified several accessories with a vintage, industrial look like the metal overhead light fixture with exposed Edison bulbs.
She also suggested repurposing some of the rooms to better suit Cobo’s lifestyle. “We let go of the formal dining room and turned it into a cool lounge area where Rebecca and her friends can hang out,” Cook says. “The orange glass chandelier gives the room what I call the ‘wow’ factor.” The guest room was also converted into a music room where Cobo can play her instruments and listen to the collection of vintage records she received from her dad. A pullout sofa provides extra sleeping space for guests.
Cool colors dominate in the upstairs level. “Rebecca grew up in Key West, and she loves blues and watery colors,” Cook explains. Under the eaves, the master suite is a peaceful retreat with walls of pale seafoam green, and an adjacent master bathroom in pale blue features a deep soaking tub.
Like any renovation well done, the interior is just right for its new owner: neither too modern nor too stuffy, but cozy and stylish in all the right ways. “The house feels like my home now, and I throw dinner parties for my friends nearly every week,” says Cobo, a graduate of Johnson & Wales University’s culinary arts program. “I use every room, and the space fits my lifestyle perfectly.”
Sparkling Smaller Spaces
Interior designer Jodi Cook brought big style to this modest 1,200-square-foot home. Here, her tips for maximizing style and livability, even when space is limited:
Strategically-placed mirrors can add depth to a small room. The key? “Use mirrors with skinny frames; big, heavy frames can overwhelm the space,” Cook says.
Make the furnishings count. “When your space is limited, every piece should be as exceptional as possible for maximum impact.”
Look for furniture that can multitask, like an ottoman with built-in storage, and seek creative space solutions. Cook squeezed a desk into an unused alcove for a compact home office, and a cozy breakfast nook in the kitchen provides additional seating when the homeowner entertains.
Pay attention to scale and proportion. “Don’t over-furnish smaller rooms with pieces that are too big, and don’t fill the room with a lot of little pieces, either,” says Cook. “Strive for balance.”
High ceilings can add volume to a space, so highlight them with extra-tall draperies or vertically striped curtains.
Don’t be afraid to reinvent spaces to work for your lifestyle. In this home, the guest room was converted to a music room and the formal dining room was eliminated to create a comfortable living space.
Jodi Cook, Ashley Campbell Interior Design