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French Country Gets Fresh

David Patterson

After living in a traditional mountain home with dark wood and rustic furnishings, homeowners Michael Burgamy and Char Sloan-Burgamy were ready to lighten up. The couple turned to architect Sears Barrett to help them create a new custom home on a parcel of land near Parker. “We wanted a home that was unique and elegant, yet comfortable and welcoming,” Char says, “and we spent a lot of time talking with Sears about how we would live in the space.”

The architect adds, “Through our discussions we began to envision a home with a French country aesthetic that followed the European tradition of elegant detailing,” Barrett says. The couple also wanted their home to be a comfortable place where their grandchildren could stay and play.

Barrett’s design for the 7,200-square-foot, five-bedroom house fosters an open flow between the living and dining rooms and the generous kitchen. “We placed the master suite on the main level, so Michael and Char have everything they need on one floor when it’s just the two of them at home,” he says. Guest rooms—including a cozy bunkroom for the grandkids—are located on the upper level, and the lower floor serves as the entertainment area with a family room, built-in bar, wine cellar and access to the back patio.

Designer Greg Comstock chose a fresh color palette for the home’s interiors. The overall effect is polished and understated with a variety of textures, unique materials and punches of contrasting color. “Char isn’t afraid to be bold, and we even matched a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes for the red accents and backs of the bookcases in the library,” he says.

The open living area on the main floor blends traditional and contemporary styling. “The living room has a restrained, European influence with an urban edge,” Comstock says. “We wanted to strike a balance between patterns and solids, varying heights and widths, and contrasting but harmonious textiles, woods and metals.” Against a backdrop of pale butter yellow walls, he gracefully mixed classically-styled furnishings, a custom Davis and Davis rug, and an elegant curved stone fireplace surround with a modern Candella metal chandelier. He had a Paul Ferrante iron cocktail table fitted with a glass top to keep the space open and airy. 

Comstock retained some of the homeowners’ existing furniture, and then chose new furnishings and accessories with care. “We wanted each piece to be unique and able to stand on its own,” he says. “Although we brought in many new pieces, we wanted to create a collected look that seemed like it had naturally evolved over time.” To help visually balance the dominant fireplace in the living room, he commissioned a custom chest and stand through MacRae Designs that looks like a vintage antique. He found authentic French café barstools for the kitchen, which were shipped from Paris. In the kitchen nook, he had new cushions sewn for a set of dining chairs the Burgamys already owned and placed them around a new table from Hickory Chair.

The color scheme for the master suite is a soothing array of quiet greens and creams. “Char wanted the bedroom to be restful, soft and romantic, so we intentionally limited the color palette and added interest with different fabric textures, from the quilted Matelassé headboard to the tufted ottoman with fringed trim,” Comstock says. Patterned drapes help draw the eye to the windows, and mirrored chandeliers and nickel-plated wall sconces add sparkling accents of silver.

The designer also collaborated closely with Barrett to execute the home’s elaborate arches, moldings, millwork, cabinetry and trim. To give the rooms character, the architect created vaulted ceilings in a variety of shapes and added trim treatments, including a graceful curved barrel vault in the master bedroom. Adds Comstock, “We purposely thickened, framed and paneled the doorways to give them a solid feeling.”

The true test of a home’s design, though, is its day-to-day livability. “Michael and I utilize every bit of this space,” Char says. “Each of the individual areas has a specific mood and function, and yet the whole house works in unison.”

Model Scale

In an architect’s vocabulary, “volume” refers to the above-ground area within a building’s shell, and getting the proportions just right can make all the difference as to whether the space feels intimate or cavernous. Architect Sears Barrett offers tips for creating the right balance:

Roof Restraint: In lieu of soaring interior elevations, Barrett specified “in between” heights of 14 to 15 feet for the rooms with vaulted ceilings. “I’ve learned over the years that two-story rooms can diminish a sense of comfort,” he explains.
Dormer View: To temper the scale of the house, the bedrooms are nested in hipped dormers within the roof. “The lower roofline makes the building feel more compact,” Barrett says.
Flexible Floorplan: “We created a variety of different spaces and ceiling styles within the home,” Barrett says. “Some rooms are more cozy and intimate, and others are larger and more formal. That way, the homeowners can migrate to the areas that suit their activities.”
Living Level: Barrett’s design places all of the couple’s primary living spaces on the main floor. “Everything is nearby and connected by a central hallway,” he says. “The house is very comfortable for two, but when guests visit they can expand up or down.”

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