An Artistic Eye
A serendipitous change of plans lands this Denver couple in a Lower Downtown condo that beautifully displays collected art and family heirlooms
Emily Minton Redfield
Sonia and Barry Danielsen thought they knew what they wanted when they decided to downsize from their Cherry Hills home a few years ago.
“We’d bought a lot in [Denver’s] Cherry Creek [neighborhood] and were going to build a home that appealed to our modern sensibilities,” Sonia says. Everything was on track until their home sold quickly and they had eight days to vacate with only an empty lot as aforwarding address.
So they rented a condo in LoDo, “and by the end of the first night there, we decided to sell our lot in Cherry Creek,” says Danielsen. The couple quickly embraced Denver’s downtown vibe in their “temporary” neighborhood.
For the next several months, the Danielsens familiarized themselves with the surrounding real estate, looking for a place to buy and make their own. Barry frequently encouraged Sonia to take a look at the condo that was for sale across the street. For whatever reason, she resisted until the day she saw an open house going on in that unit. “I loved it the minute I walked in,” she says. “It was a great layout and had a modernist vibe with floor-to-ceiling windows and two master suites.” The Danielsens bought it, but both agreed that the 3,500-square-foot unit needed some work.
Both Danielsens were raised in Denver in mid-century modern homes, and both had pieces of modernist art, furniture and sculptures that they’d inherited. Cecilia Tanoni, of Cecilia Tanoni Interiors, was charged with creating a comfortable home that incorporated those special pieces into their new space.
The living room reveals a comfortable yet elegant conversation area. Sitting prominently in the corner is an Angelo di Benedetto brass sculpture that homeowner Sonia Danielsen’s parents commissioned from the artist, who was a friend of her grandmother’s. A sleek fireplace floats in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows. Two beloved poodles inspired the purchase of the pet-friendly Naugahyde sofa and chairs. An Oriental rug was brought out of storage, while a new metal console table from Crate & Barrel adds height to an otherwise low-slung room.
The entry’s eggplant-painted niche provides the perfect backdrop to the Danielsens’ eclectic art. A cart from an old Denver brick company holds curvy Dante Marioni glass vessels from Sonia’s mother; above it is a metal wall sculpture by Elizabeth Yanish Schwayder that hung outside the Danielsens’ house for 30 years. The niche is flanked to the left by a Roberto Matta painting and to the right by Vance Kirkland’s Explosions of Mystery near Scorpio.
The kitchen was a complete renovation by interior designer Cecilia Tanoni in conjunction with Kitchens at the Denver. “The primary goal was to make this space more functional,” says Tanoni, “so we created a new work triangle, eliminated a second sink, and built a new island, which is now flanked by Cherner stools.” The cabinets are Zonavita. Eames chairs surround the new table and dramatic artwork, To Be One, by Alexander Liberman, actually hangs a few inches from the wall, adding depth to the area.
Poodles Boris and Rue guard the art in the hallway. A Herbert Bayer wood sculpture recalls his yellow Articulated Wall sculpture outside the Denver Design District. Directly opposite is Kenneth Noland’s Mysterious East Light, once owned by Sonia’s mother. On the back wall is Equinox by George Vander Sluis. The runner, like all rugs in the condo, is from FLOR.
The Danielsens had a niche installed for a new platform bed and to highlight Paul Jacobsen’s Puzzle above it. Two black Bowron sheepskin rugs add warmth to either side of the bed.
The master bathroom was reworked to make the space more efficient. The big challenge? “Because this is a condo, we couldn’t just move plumbing at will,” explains Tanoni, “so we had to work with that constraint.” New Zonavita cabinets and terrazzo-like floors surround the one remaining piece from the former master bath: the shower door.
Overlooking Cherry Creek, the patio offers great views of LoDo. Because the outdoor furniture, from Sonia’s family, had become rusted from years of exposure, she had it powder coated to bring it back to life. “It’s really so much more economical to clean up what you have than buy new,” the self-proclaimed “adaptive rehabber” says.
Cecilia Tanoni, Cecilia Tanoni Interiors, ceciliatanoni.com