2022 Home of the Year: Retro Elegance
A Denver fashion maven with an affection for Art Deco builds her dream house
In the popular movie classic “Top Hat,” Fred Astaire famously croons “Heaven, I’m in heaven” while dancing cheek-to-cheek with Ginger Rogers. The year was 1935, and everything from Rogers’ clinging satin gown to the white marble floor they effortlessly glided across exemplified the glitz and glamour of the Art Deco era. It was the allure of that time period that Terri Garbarini wanted to bring to the Hilltop home she shares with her partner, blues and rock guitarist Eddie Turner.
“I’ve been collecting Art Deco treasures for decades,” says the owner of the eponymous woman’s clothing store, who also cops to a fascination with old black-and-white movies. “Films were very much fantasy back then, and Art Deco was very sexy.”
From the outset there was never any question that Garbarini’s passion and vision were the project drivers, and architect Scott Parker and interior designer Tina Stoecklein, both of Nest Architectural Design, were delighted to be along for the ride.
“She wanted the house to be designed in the International Style, and everything to be black-and-white and simple,” says Parker, who followed the dictates of the genre on the exterior with bright stucco walls contrasted with dark aluminum-clad windows, and intersecting circular and rectangular forms totally void of ornamentation.
Inside, the requisite glamorous tone is established in the entry foyer, where a circular wall composed almost entirely of glass block encases a grand spiral staircase. As Parker shares, “It took several iterations to make sure the glass block actually worked in the radius we created, and the staircase itself needed to be craned in through the roof.” That challenging maneuver fell to builder Chris Withers of Old Greenwich Builders, who explains, “You have to drop the staircase in before you set your roof trusses. If you don’t have the sequence just right, you’ll end up having to pull things apart.”
The structure’s main central mass contains the living and dining rooms, both featuring soaring 22-foot ceilings. Bisecting the spaces is a mezzanine. “Instead of one large room you walk under the mezzanine to reach the other space, and this transition helps to give each room a more human scale,” says Parker.
Garbarini’s deft mixing of vintage pieces with contemporary items further softens the edges. “I have an affinity for things that have seen life and don’t think everything should be new,” she says. “I bought that vintage living room sofa 30 years ago, and it still looks great.”
In the dining room a deco-era palisander sideboard, also purchased decades earlier, houses antique dishes and glassware, and a blend of chair styles collected over the years surround the table.
The homeowner’s affinity for glamour continues in the primary bedroom, where the four-poster bed with a luxurious gray velvet frame is seductively lit by a gold Fortuny chandelier, and deco-inspired Venetian blinds make beautiful shadows. “The room has that sexy Hollywood feel,” she says.
Meanwhile Stoecklein worked behind the scenes “to curate the architectural details with the interior décor.” Playing off the black-and-white motif, in the kitchen double islands topped with polished granite countertops meet bright white cabinetry. “Like everywhere in the house, the colors are simple, and in the breakfast nook the metallic silver banquette adds a touch of sparkle,” says the designer. She followed suit in the primary bathroom, where the white tub sits in an absolute black granite tub surround. “Thanks to the glass block wall there’s beautiful indirect light, and the casual glam atmosphere is so Terri.”
Along with the dining room and kitchen, the primary suite has doors that open to the courtyard. There, an oversized fire pit makes dining al fresco a three-season affair, and terrace seating overlooks the swimming pool. Alissa Shanley and Christopher Silkwood of B. Gardening Landscape Design selected the greens and whites of Annabelle hydrangea, Chanticlear pear trees and sweet potato vine as perfect complements to the turquoise water.
According to Garbarini the end result is better than any Hollywood movie, and perhaps in homage to Fred and Ginger, she exclaims, “I’m in heaven.”
ARCHITECTURE Nest Architectural Design INTERIOR DESIGN Nest Architectural Design CONSTRUCTION Old Greenwich Builders LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT B. Gardening Landscape Design POOL Aquality Construction METAL WORK Sparks Metal Design CABINETRY Aspen Leaf Kitchens SLAB INSTALL YK Stone Center TILE INSTALL Versatile KITCHEN HOOD Weld Wright Fabrication LIGHTING DESIGN HLB Lighting Design LIGHTING Urban Lights
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