Taking It Personally
When you live in a house that has seen its share of Colorado history—such as a home once owned by members of the Coors family—it’s important to put your own imprint upon it. Susan and John Gowen did just that when they renovated this 1940s Denver home in classic style. But that was just the beginning.
What makes the two-story brick Georgian home truly theirs is the way the couple furnished it with rich, storied items, from the drop-leaf cherry table that Susan traded a dress for years ago, to the first pieces of furniture the couple bought together while living in Hong Kong, to artwork discovered at the Paris Flea Market. “I’m not an interior designer,” says Susan Gowen, although her experience as a photo editor and her degree in art history inform her decorating decisions. “I just buy the things I love and hope they work together. My home is all about simple furniture and great art.”
The décor features eclectic furniture collected when the couple lived overseas and later when Gowen had a business importing antiques from southern France. They also shop Denver’s multitude of antiques shops, and are not afraid to mix styles and types of wood. Gowen is drawn to old, worn furniture—more interested in shape and texture than provenance. “I like strong pieces that have a lot of character, that show their age,” Gowen says. With three little boys and pets running through the house, the furniture must be livable as well. “Nothing is off limits or too precious,” she says.
A neutral palette of beige, white, cream and gray sets a serene backdrop for the interesting lines of the furniture. It also allows the artwork to enjoy a starring role. Passionate about art, Gowen will exclaim, “That’s my favorite painting,” in almost every room of the house. She collects primarily contemporary art, although she also favors mid-century European paintings. “I love beautiful shapes and forms and certain colors,” she says. “I bring color into my home with art. There is a little red in every room.”
The Gowens seek out art galleries and antiques markets whenever they travel: “It makes a home more interesting and personal to showcase pieces that you’ve fallen in love with on a trip, whether a table from New Orleans or a painting from the Chelsea Flea Market in New York,” Gowen explains. The couple also enjoys the flourishing Denver art scene in the Santa Fe arts district, the Student Art League of Denver, the Golden Triangle and the Highlands. “We have a house full of character because of our history and travels. We chose things we love and want to live with. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to find great art and furniture, either locally or internationally,” advises Gowen. “If you buy with your heart, it will always work in your home.”