Home on the Front Range
A young couple leaves the Big Apple for Boulder, finding space and a horizon in the foothills
Photography by Heather Burns Knierim
Interior designer Emily Tucker had worked for some of the greats—Steven Gambrel, Kelly Wearstler and Ruthie Sommers—decorating expansive homes in New York, the Hamptons and Los Angeles. But when it came to buying her first-time home in Boulder, she had her own agenda. Tucker and her husband, Matt Bernstein, were 30-something new business owners, and the market was pricey. They chose a 2,000-square-foot, 1946 midcentury ranch house in Old North Boulder for one specific reason: “It was cheap,” says Tucker, with a loud laugh.
The experienced designer saw the potential in what the house could become. She appreciated the natural light, vaulted ceilings, skylights and big yard. “I loved the ranch-house layout, because I hate stairs,” says Tucker, who moved from Brooklyn with her husband in 2015. “New York living was so vertical, and I was sick of it.” Plus, she adds, “our mortgage here was less than our rent for our 700-square-foot apartment.”
They moved into their new home and immediately painted every piece of wood, closed up five exterior doors, renovated the kitchen, built custom bookcases in the living area, and gave the bathroom and laundry room much-needed face-lifts. It was just in time: Their son Jack was born in 2016, and Brady in 2017. With two toddlers, plus a golden retriever, the cozy house has a lived-in feel, says Tucker. “I love our living/kitchen/dining zone. It’s open and bright. It’s easy for everyone to be in together, and I can shout to my kids from my kitchen to the couch.”
The only caveats: There’s no powder room for guests to use; there’s zero basement; and they don’t have a mudroom for jackets, boots or sports equipment (which will be a problem when her boys grow older, Tucker concedes). That said, their house is perfectly comfortable and fun for all.
Although she started her own design firm (Emily Tucker Design) in May 2017, Tucker bought most of her own furniture at retail outlets, such as West Elm, Anthropologie and Restoration Hardware. “Designing isn’t as much fun as when you’re using other people’s money,” she explains, referring to buying items for her wealthy clients. “I’ve seen so many beautiful things that I want for myself, but the challenge is that they add up so quickly. So, I buy what I can afford now and what is suitable for our life. When my kids stop wiping their hands on the sofa, I’ll get my custom couch.”
For now, Tucker will continue gardening in her back yard; cooking all summer long for her new friends, clients and husband’s staff (he owns a gym, Boulder Movement Collective); and living the sweet Colorado life with her young family in their comfy nest. “Our house isn’t even that special,” she says. “But I love it.”
A leather chair from Anthropologie rests next to a Stockholm credenza from Ikea. The sofa is from West Elm, with a lucite side table from Melrose Trading Post. The Globe chandelier is from Restoration Hardware, and the rug is by Bashian. The door is painted in Benjamin Moore Gentleman’s Gray, with trim in Chelsea Gray.
OPEN LIVING SPACE
A Crate & Barrel bar cart mingles with a vintage center table, three-legged chairs from the Rose Bowl Flea Market and a large CPA floor covering with a vintage rug on top. The bookcases were custom-built by Holtz Custom Wood & Metal, and designed by Emily Tucker Design.
A long stretch adjacent to the open kitchen allows for ample seating and table space, with views into the back yard. The rug is vintage, and the stool is by Article.
Hoffmann Side Chairs by Design Within Reach surround a Stockholm table by Ikea. The chandelier is from West Elm. A photograph by Laura Wilson hangs over cabinets painted in Benjamin Moore’s Dry Sage and Gray Mirage.
A Safavieh bed is draped in Sferra sheets, a West Elm duvet cover, a blanket by Lulu DK for Matouk and custom bed pillows with Kravet fabric. The nightstand is from West Elm, and the lamp is from Schoolhouse.
Linus bikes hang on a CB2 bike rack. The rug and basket are both from Ikea.
INTERIOR DESIGNER Emily Tucker, Emily Tucker Design