A Tall Tale
In design, as in storytelling, a master blends elements to create a compelling—and satisfying—conclusion, and this head-to-toe remodel in southeast Denver tells just such a tale. The story is about finding the right-sized furniture for a tall family. The moral is about contrasts: combining furniture that is warm and inviting with design elements that sparkle and shimmer—creating a whole that is greater than its parts.
Like all good stories, this one reveals a dramatic conversion. The couple bought the house in 2007. Two years later, they launched a complete remodel, with the help of Denver-based designer Brenda Thompson. From the home’s façade to its interior footprint, everything changed except one room in the front (the study). Even the couple’s taste shifted: previous fans of traditional décor, they moved to embrace a more contemporary style. “Their major concerns were straightforward,” says Thompson of Brenda Thompson Interior Design. “She wanted the interior colors light and soft. He wanted the integrated feeling that each room was an extension of the one next to it. They both wanted plenty of comfortable seating when the whole gang came home for a visit.”
Picking out the wall colors was easy. Almost every room has a base color of Benjamin Moore’s Fossil, a soft gray. White oak floors connect the rooms, and specific work or leisure areas are defined by rugs—most in shades of gray. A bit of sparkle in every room adds extra elegance: a shimmery thread woven into the furniture or a tiny crystal sewn into the pleats of a silk curtain. You might call it “intuitive glam”: there’s a sense of something special, but you can’t immediately put your finger on the source.
From the custom 9-by-5-foot mahogany door (the only seriously tall statement in the house), visitors walk into a beautiful entry space with a barrel ceiling overhead and a custom inlay of shimmering tiles underfoot. The dining room, right off the entry, is a thoroughly elegant room with a subtly metallic Schumacher wallpaper and a polished nickel chandelier with tear-drop crystals. The lead actors in this vignette are the custom-designed Century table, topped with antique foil silver leaf on a walnut base, and contemporary Omni chairs, also by Century, covered in spruce silk. The chairs are about two inches deeper than the standard version, to accommodate Thompson’s long-legged clients. “We had to have the seats custom made for depth,” Thompson says, “and while you can’t see it, the family notices the comfort every time they sit down to a meal.”
The living room’s design pays homage to family and comfort. Framed by floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the pool, an angled 168-inch Burton James wing sofa accommodates five or more without looking boxy. The family calls the room’s two Burton James mohair chairs its “Papa” chairs, because the homeowner sat in a number of models until he found one that was “just right,” at 38 inches deep. No custom design needed. “There are plenty of pieces of furniture out there that accommodate tall people without being customized,” Thompson says. “The key to comfort is not only the depth of the seat but also the angle of the back.” The touch of glam: A 96-inch capiz-shell-and-crystal chandelier hanging from the center of the room.
A brown Recamier loveseat helps distinguish the living room from the kitchen, as well as creating an opening between the two spaces. “The grandkids love climbing through the open back,” says Thompson. The custom-made metallic suede 54-inch ottoman offers extra seating and doubles as a coffee table.
Not surprisingly, the counters in the kitchen are two inches taller than standard, and the couple requested no upper cabinets—all of the espresso-stained cabinetry sits below the Calcutta Gold marble counters. Where’s the glitz in this clean-lined, straightforward room? The mosaic tile-work behind the stove, which recalls the tile inlay in the front entry.
The tile may be elaborate, but there’s a distinct lack of patterns on upholstered furniture throughout the house. In fact, most pieces are monochromatic. “We added patterns in pillows,” says Thompson, “but with furniture, we cared about texture, how it felt next to the body.”
Every room offers sheer comfort in perfect scale, with an elegant hint of shimmer throughout. The family can sit, lie, lean and snuggle in glamorous rooms on comfy furniture. And that’s hardly a tall tale.
Interior design: Brenda Thompson Interior Design, (720) 480-3708
Architecture: Jim Mitchell, Mitchell Architecture, mitchellarchitecture.com