2021 Home of the Year: Great Expectations

This 5,000-square-foot home proves that a master work of art doesn’t have to be massive—just unique and inviting at every turn
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Photography by Emily Minton Redfield

When the owners of a Tudor home in Hilltop met with Architectural Designer John Mattingly about a renovation, he insisted on having the meeting outside. “The site was amazing, but the home was so broken I didn’t want to be in it,” recalls the architect.

Now, after two years of painstaking work, this astonishing 5,000-square-foot remodel is our pick for Home of the Year.

The homeowners knew exactly what they wanted: a European cottage feel that worked with the original structure, “but with a hip factor,” says Regan Mattingly, John’s wife and Chalet’s lead interior designer. “She wanted it to look like something out of ‘Great Expectations,’ but with modern amenities.”

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Exterior The Hilltop Tudor was designed in 1936 by architect G.N. Smedegaard, a prominent Denver architect at that time. The stately and dramatic style of the home was the impetus for the homeowner’s vision—to create a European-style cottage with modern amenities.

First, Mattingly lovingly peeled back the interior finishes to reveal the original bones of the leggy brick home—designed by architect G.N. Smedegaard in 1936. He took everything down to the lathe, tore down the garage that smothered an interior wall (windows now provide a view onto the backyard), expanded the basement, and built a third floor out of the attic.

The only things he didn’t touch were the original metal windows. “Everything about the project was predicated on not wanting to replace those metal windows. That would have been a deal-killer. They’re thin and delicate inside a thick masonry wall—and that fragility inside strength is what makes the house,” says Mattingly.

He also worked on the sight lines—they’re kind of his thing—and connected all the parts of the house with light-filled corridors.

That relationship between rooms encourages the homeowners to use every space in the house and lends an overall sense of freshness, like the feeling of a spring breeze wafting in from an open window three rooms away. “Good sight lines create interest, invitation, mystery, and depth,” Mattingly says.

With the architectural changes mostly executed, it came time for the interior design. Regan worked closely with the wife on every detail. “We focused on every single room, and every decision we made together,” she says. “I don’t know if I’ve ever worked so closely with a homeowner. We became great friends—it was wonderful.”

The homeowner’s starting points were that every finished wall in the house either be exposed original brick or plaster for their warm, organic texture. And she wanted every floor on the main level to be tile to create an Old World feel.

Then Regan started weaving in natural lines and textiles from Susan Connor for window treatments and upholstery, and brought in pops of emerald green to help tie all the rooms together. “She loves that color, and hints of that—along with all the couples’ art—became a big theme on the main floor,” says Mattingly.

“Everything about the house was predicated on not wanting to replace those metal windows. That would have been a deal-killer.”
– Architectural Designer John Mattingly

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The original metal windows are the making of this romantic Hilltop Tudor remodel. The clean-lined settee by Cisco Home offers a modern yet cozy touch, while the polished brass table by Homebody Denver adds a splash of drama.

When it came to furnishings and fixtures, the wife’s eclectic taste—she is Taiwanese, grew up in Brazil, speaks five languages, and is an artist—made each choice a veritable treasure hunt. That, Regan says, is when things got really interesting. “

We weren’t going to Kohler to buy a bathtub,” she says, laughing. “Instead, we ordered one from England that we’d never installed before. And then we’d find faucets on Etsy that we loved but that didn’t always come with all the parts. And when the doors came, they had no installation instructions. It snowed in their house for a couple weeks while we tried to figure it out.”

They designed each room to have its own personality, and yet they somehow all get along, thanks to their meticulous attention to each detail: Every shelf, couch, and lamp feel integral to the home, as if they grew right where they stand.

One of the kids’ rooms, for example—the couple has three younger children together and two grown from a previous marriage—is storybook-quaint, with two painted-wood twin beds on either side of leaded glass windows. The master, on the other hand, is refined and dramatic, with black mirrored built-in vanities and an antique writing desk tucked into the window. One bathroom is painted black and punctuated with a white marble sink; another is bright white, with a modern glass shower. And the attic is a playful space, with hanging chairs and window nooks perfect for curling up with a good book.

In every room, antiques, modern art, Old World architecture, and clean lines all play nice together. But the real show-stopper is the kitchen.

John replaced the original support beams with Douglas fir, treated “with some secret sauce,” he says, laughing. In keeping with the European cottage character, there isn’t a single appliance visible and the cabinets are all under-counter level.

John custom-designed the hood over the La Cornue range (the husband loves to cook), and Regan selected unlaquered brass and black as a refrain in the island and fixtures. “Over time, it will patina into a greenish color,” she says.

All in all, the project took two years from start to finish. “This house is definitely the most difficult project we’ve ever done,” Regan says. “But the final result is tremendous. And we got there by doing things we’ve never done before.”

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The homeowners and the team at Chalet Colorado opted to keep the original wrought-iron stair railing and the metal windows because they anchor the home in its original time period and offer a delicate balance to heavy masonry throughout. The intricate flooring from Clé Tile extends throughout the entire first floor to lend an Old World feel.

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The parlor is a cozy nook off the living room, perfect for more intimate conversation or curling up with a book. The matching chairs from Design Wright Studios add a pop of the homeowner’s favorite color—emerald green—and the leather light pendants and chandelier from Casamidi in Mexico echo the leather detail on the coffee table. “I found the fixtures on Instagram,” says Regan Mattingly, lead interior designer from Chalet Colorado. “They were perfect.”

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John Mattingly, principal architectural designer at Chalet Colorado, added Douglas fir structural beams and took the walls back to the original exposed brick. The fragility of the original windows contrasted by the heavy brick arches adds a romance that “you just can’t replicate with anything new,” Mattingly says. The iron work on the limestone fireplace is by Vajra Forge blacksmiths.

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The stunning antique chandelier, which the owners found at Bonnie Brae Lighting, matches the windows and helps ground the airy space, while turquoise bar cabinets from Design Wright Studios draw the eye to the tall, arched doors fabricated by Durango Doors in Austin, Texas. A blue rug from Artisan Rug Gallery defines the sitting area, and the painting by Boulder artist Sara Sanderson on the far wall, curated by Ann Benson Reidy, ties in the emerald green from the parlor.

“The owners wanted it to look like something out of “Great Expectations,” but with modern amenities.”
– Interior Designer Regan Mattingly

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This small bathroom packs a lot of drama into a small space. The scallop-shell tile is from Pratt & Larson, floor tile is by Martello, and the mirror and plumbing are by Waterworks. The delicate freestanding vanity, an antique with a marble top fabricated by Instone, acts as a refrain to the scallop tile.

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Architectural Designer John Mattingly designed all of the cabinets to be below counter height, in keeping with the cottage feel, and brought the walls back down to exposed brick. “Preserving old brick is our favorite thing,” Regan Mattingly says. Plumbing and fixtures are from Waterworks, the stools are by Made Goods at Design Wright Studios, the pendants are from Hudson Valley Lighting, and the range (not pictured) is from La Cornue.

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French tile from Clé Tile in Denver extends into the dining room, encouraging the flow from the kitchen to the table. The chandelier from Coleen and Company picks up the turquoise in the antique wooden console, and the brass accents further help tie the space to the kitchen. The dining chairs and leather chaise are from Baxter Leather at Rifugio Modern.

“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of scale, size, volume, and genre of art.”
– Art Consultant Ann Benson Reidy

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Minimalist art by Quang Ho, curated by Ann Benson Reidy, leans casually against the exposed brick wall in the owners’ suite. A rope light by Homebody Denver and antique dresser by Emerson Bailey Collection completes the rustic-chic feel.

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Custom built-in armoires (painted Benjamin Moore Black 2132-10) with mirrors make the owners’ retreat feel bigger than it is and create a cozy window nook for a writing desk. The room’s neutral color palette has a calming effect, perfect for destressing after a long day. Bed, settee, and chairs by Cisco Home, draperies by Colefax and Fowler, art and antique trunk by Emerson Bailey Collection.

“Good sight lines create interest, invitation, mystery, and depth.” – Architectural Designer John Mattingly

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A deep freestanding tub by Catchpole & Rye in London beckons, while an abstract chandelier by Cisco Home adds a fresh, modern vibe. The plumbing is by Waterworks, and the mirrors are by Made Goods at Design Wright Studios.

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Regan Mattingly painted the back hallway Benjamin Moore High-Gloss Black 2132-10 and punctuated it with brass and white lights from Visual Comfort. An antique mirror and table from Emerson Bailey Collection add the perfect focal point.

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Regan Mattingly worked with this small but enchanting space to create a room fit for fairytales. The original arched windows set the stage, and two twin beds by Belle Escape fit the French farmhouse part. Dresser by Gabby Home, rug by Artisan Rug Gallery, antique trunks by Djuna.

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John Mattingly built a functional living space in the attic, and Regan Mattingly designed it to have a whimsical feel. (It’s also the only room in the home that has a TV.) The swings, sofa, and pillows are from Homebody Denver, and the vintage parlor-style light fixture is by BeauVamp.

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The home’s landscape architecture, done by Lifescape Colorado, was designed to pay homage to the stately style of the home while offering casual hang-out spaces for the homeowners. This stunning outdoor kitchen has everything they need for cooking outside—a refrigerator, beer taps, grill, table, and lighting—while the nearby gas firepit provides warmth on chilly evenings.


“Love It. Love It. Afford It.”Those were the first three things (along with a laugh) that came to mind when we asked art consultant Ann Benson Reidy to share some advice with our readers on purchasing art. Here, a few more:

1. “I can’t emphasize enough the importance of scale, size, volume, and genre of art. If any one of these is not ‘on point,’ then the room becomes unbalanced.”

2. “Look for emerging artists who are taking the risk in producing content that is thought provoking, as it’s okay to be fearless when collecting. Seeking diversity in art is equally important, including painting, photography, sculpture, work on paper….”

3. “Don’t buy art when traveling, especially when having a bottle of wine in some distant Italian hillside town. You usually get the piece home and ask, ‘What were we thinking?’”

ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN John Mattingly, Chalet Colorado INTERIOR DESIGN Regan Mattingly, Chalet Colorado BUILDER Chalet Colorado LANDSCAPE DESIGN Lifescape Colorado ART CONSULTANT Ann Benson Reidy KITCHEN CABINETRY Designed by John Mattingly, Custom Fabricated by Distinctive Designs

2020 Home of the Year: Elevated Magic
2019 Home of the Year: Aspen Revival
2018 Home of the Year: Elevated Simplicity
2017 Home of the Year: Tazi Ranch on 135 Acres
2016 Home of the Year: A Multi-Level Modern Masterpiece
2015 Home of the Year: A Cowboy Meets an Artist

Categories: Interiors