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Design is in the Details




Clari Davis has achieved the dream that has eluded many a homeowner: a sense of peace in her home. Built in the 1950s and remodeled several times through the last 30 years, this Hilltop-neighborhood gem is a quiet sanctuary. From the contemporary gardens to the cool and sophisticated interior, the home is a work of balance both inside and out. We sat down with Ms. Davis to find out just how she created this timeless, Zen-like abode.

CH&L: You are a garden designer by profession. Tell us how designing for the outdoors inspired your design choices for your own home. 
Clari Davis: My primary rule is that the exterior should be indicative of the interior; there should be a good balance between the two. When we first considered remodeling 30 years ago, we were supposed to be just adding one room to the back of the house, a studio for me. Then one thing led to another and we were redoing the whole house. My son is an architect and designed the contemporary space, which turned out to be a great feat of engineering. I designed the garden with lots of woody
materials, lots of green, to bring to the garden the same serene feel as the interior. I get a great sense of peace when looking out into the garden.

Your use of a neutral palette with pops of color here and there is so crisp and modern, with just the right touch of playfulness. What inspired your color choices?
It’s peaceful. It’s basic. With the neutral palette I can introduce any color. Right now I’m into lime green.  I’ve tried a more vivid overall color palette over the years, but because I work with color all day, I need to come home to peace. It’s important to keep a sense of cohesiveness in a small house, and a neutral palette makes it easy to move things from room to room.

Tell us about your art collection. It’s such an eclectic mix. I have spent a lifetime collecting.  Most of the pieces are regional, although I do have a Russian piece I purchased from a gallery in downtown Denver, as well as a Japanese piece. I also own six botanicals, which I love; they were painted by my daughter-in-law, Marian Davis, who is actually a cardiopulmonary nurse by profession. The ceramic sculpture in the living room is by Bob Smith; it was produced using the Raku firing process and comes apart in at least a dozen pieces.

There are lots of nooks around the house that store various treasures. How did you arrive at this architectural detail? 
I have a collection of Danish stainless steel sculptures and a collection of tea services—each of my six granddaughters will one day get a [tea service]—so I had shelves added to showcase them. I love stainless steel and silver.

Looking around your home, we’re taken by the unusual details you’ve integrated into the house—especially the rocks that line the sunroom window.
Three years ago, out of the blue, I pulled up six rows of the wood flooring [to fill the space with river rock that matched a similar detail on the outdoor patio]. [My husband] Bob came home one day and found me doing it. He nearly went crazy, but I just felt like I had to do it. The concept is Asian; I have lots of Asian furniture, so I felt like adding the rock tied the theme together and also helped link the outdoor space to the interior.

Tell us what you love most about your garden.
It is lovely and shady, and especially pretty at night. I also have a water feature, which is very peaceful.  Because it’s a shade garden, it is ninety-five percent green texture. I have lots of woody materials, ferns, boxwoods and other green materials. It is so peaceful, and just really nice to come home to.

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