Bold and Bright
Susan and Paul Valas bought their Greenwood Village ranch house 13 years ago, expecting it to meet their needs for a long time. But just a few years later, the small family of three doubled in size with the arrival of triplets.
Susan and Paul Valas bought their Greenwood Village ranch house 13 years ago, expecting it to meet their needs for a long time. But just a few years later, the small family of three doubled in size with the arrival of triplets. Needless to say, updating the house was put on the back burner: "We were so overwhelmed with raising kids for several years," says Susan, "but when we finally decided to remodel, we knew exactly what we wanted." The wish list included a distinctly separate space for the four boys and a more functional kitchen.
Susan met interior designer Kristi Dinner of kd design consultants through the Denver Design District's Design Connection Program and asked her to remodel the home in a contemporary, colorful and environmentally friendly style. Dinner suggested including architect Scott Parker of Nest Architectural Design, with whom she had collaborated several times. "Our most successful projects happen when we are all on the same page from the beginning," says Dinner. "We can do our jobs more creatively and efficiently and focus on providing the best design for the client." It also helps to involve the contractors during the design process to take advantage of their expertise.
After debating the merits of "popping the top" of the ranch house, the homeowners and design team decided instead to dig out additional basement space. Parker explains, "In this case, digging out preserved the ranch style, had minimal impact on the existing home, was more energy-efficient and less costly than popping the top." Susan, who loved the idea of containing her boys' clutter, admits that digging out was scary at first: "I kept imagining walls falling, but everything flowed beautifully. The contractors installed supports, dug out the space, and laid the new foundation. It made me wonder, 'Why don't more people do this?'"
The 1,500-square-foot basement addition is comprised of four bedrooms, a locker-room style bathroom, and a laundry room, while the small original basement is a playroom. With 10-foot-high ceilings and large windows, the new lower level feels light and spacious. "It has a very expansive feeling, not at all like a typical basement," Parker notes. Dinner used tough, durable materials and a color palette that reflects the energy of four lively kids. "The boys respond well to bright colors," says their mother. "We gave them choices and they all wanted something different in their bedrooms—pumpkin, red-orange, blue and green. Kristi chose bright yellow floors for the bedrooms and orange in the hallway, bath and laundry areas."
While Susan enjoys the bold color downstairs, she wanted a more relaxed, quiet ambience upstairs, where the designers reworked the floor plan with subtle yet dramatic changes. A 60-square-foot addition to the kitchen not only improved circulation, says Parker, "It made the space far more useable with outside views of fields and trees." An S-shaped wall of windows adds softness and elegance, enhanced by the materials Dinner chose. "The materials had to have great aesthetics, be practical and speak to the clients' environmental concerns," Dinner says. She used a combination of cherry and lace wood for the custom cabinets topped by a concrete countertop and a mini-brick, glass backsplash. The curves of the wall are repeated in the monorail lighting and large island.
The team also improved the flow and design of the public spaces, updating features and reworking rooms. The intimate family area is open to the kitchen, but with a natural barrier of cabinets that define the separate spaces. Dinner and Parker combined the contemporary look of steel with the warmth of wood in a sculptural staircase railing. A two-way fireplace between the family and dining rooms was updated with standing-seam metal roofing material and a limestone surround. "We tried to find interesting elements and use them in different ways," Dinner notes.
The remodel resulted in a beautifully updated design and a 40 percent increase in living space, enough to serve this family well into the future. "The house was a 1970s-era basic ranch with good bones. It had crown molding, beautiful wood floors, all the right elements to go contemporary," Susan explains. "But most of all, the remodel had to be comfortable for us."