All in the Family
Nearly ten years ago, when Ramey Caulkins and her husband, Max, were newly married, a realtor friend who knew she liked to decorate showed her a home that was in the middle of a renovation. “They had run out of money, and we thought we would finish the remodel and flip it,” Caulkins says. But some zoning issues complicated that plan; at the same time, the house next door went up for sale. They decided to buy that house, scrape both and build a new home in which to raise a family.
Insistent that the home shouldn’t “stick out as the new house on the block,” Caulkins and architects Scott Parker and Dean Lindsey of Denver-based Nest Architectural Design used the Colonial Revival style as a starting point. “We used many of the traditional architectural conventions and elements of the style,” says Parker, “then we played with the scale and proportion to bring it up to date.”
The result is a grand home, but with a footprint that doesn’t fill the entire double lot (“a sure sign of many new homes,” Parker says), that keeps passersby guessing its age. “When others think our home is old,” says Caulkins, “I think, ‘Mission accomplished.’”
Traditional architectural flourishes and painted wood in the entryway speak to Caulkins’s east-coast upbringing. “I really love architectural elements; the mouldings and elegant details throughout the house were really important to me,” she says. So important, in fact, that instead of using plastic store-bought child-safety gates, Caulkin had gates built into the walls in the same style as the rest of the woodwork. “They’re so beautiful that we still have them although the kids are older.”
Carpeting by Stark adds texture and softness to the stairs; a round, zebra-print rug from Gilt Groupe adds whimsy. During the holidays, the skirted table (which faces the formal living room) is replaced with the family Christmas tree.
The Caulkins’s formal living room may not be the hub of the home, but its easygoing elegance keeps it from being too prim and proper. “I didn’t want a room the kids couldn’t sit in,” says interior decorator and homeowner Ramey Caulkins, who believes that a home should be filled with treasures collected over time.
Accents such as the green obelisks and white étagère came from her childhood home, the
floral-upholstered chairs from a friend, and vintage lucite and rattan coffee tables were found on 1stdibs.com. After spending years in storage, a rug purchased during a trip to Santa Monica also found its place in the room. “My home is a wonderful combination of my childhood, my new life in Denver and my love of beautiful things.”
Formerly the manager of hospitality sales for Ann Sacks, Caulkins knows a thing or two about tile. That expertise is apparent in the large, bright kitchen. “I knew I wanted a white kitchen, and after working in the tile and stone industry, I also knew I wanted a stone floor with radiant heat. The juxtaposition of the hard surface with the warm temperature is heaven.”
Caulkins scored 5,000 square feet of the French limestone flooring tile after the shipment was rejected by Ann Sacks. Convincing the wholesaler that selling it to her at a deep discount was cheaper than sending it back, Caulkins had the whole lot shipped to Denver, where she stored it for more than two years. The installation was, in fact, worth the wait. “It looks amazing! I’ve never seen another stone this color.”
Not surprisingly, the glass backsplash tiles and limestone slab countertops are also from Ann Sacks. “Limestone gets a bad rap,” Caulkins says, “but I think it’s the single greatest material for countertops. It can be repaired, buffed, cleaned and sealed. It’s very forgiving.” To add warmth, the decorator opted for wood to top the island. Inspired by the floor of a New York City restaurant, it is a slab of end-grain walnut.
The formal dining room (opposite) is also a cornucopia of collected and custom pieces. “It started with the rug and evolved from there.” Rich, red grasscloth wallpaper from Schumacher covers the walls; the custom table, built by Martin Shea Millwork, can seat as many as 12. The custom chairs were painted green and upholstered with a playful Brunschwig & Fils leopard fabric.
“I love this room,” says Caulkins of the spot where parents and children gather at the end of the day, located just off the kitchen.
The espresso-colored walls were inspired by one of Caulkins’s favorite designers, Sister Parish, who often used very dark or black paint. A wall of French doors lets in the southern light and keeps the space feeling fresh.
Again, collected furnishings and accessories give this room charm and history. The raspberry-upholstered chairs were Caulkins’ grandmother’s; the lamp a serendipitous find in New York City. Prized possessions fill the bookshelves while kids’ toys and games are stored neatly in the cabinets beneath. Soft and colorful Moroccan poufs, Caulkins’s signature accessory, replace a coffee table.
Splurges include a Stark rug and the striped sofa fabric. “Young families don’t have unlimited budgets, but rugs and sofas are where you should spend some money,” Caulkins attests. “The kids are always in here and we’ve had lots of parties; you can’t see a thing.”
Pretty spaces continue in the family’s bedrooms. Four-year-old Eliza has a bedroom fit for a princess, with soft pastel walls and a charming mix of furnishings and accessories. “When you collect things over time, each piece has a story to tell,” Caulkins explains. The headboards, for example, were found on the side of the road by her mother, who then painted them. The chair is from her sister’s childhood bedroom, the lacquered mirror was her grandmother’s. And the vintage Baker dresser? “I found it in West Palm Beach and it remains exactly as I bought it.”
The master suite includes a sitting room (opposite), perfect for bedtime stories and quiet moments. “I wish I used this room more,” Caulkins says. “There’s tons of light; it’s such a pretty room.” The terrarium, one of a pair picked up at an HW Home warehouse sale, provides the perfect space for orchids.
A tribute to Caulkins’s love of tile, the clean, classic master bath focuses on texture rather than color. “To me, it has a classic European feel to it; it’s not traditional, but it’s timeless.” Ann Sacks tile graces the floor, tub surround and shower walls; Scalini Grigio tile adds interest to the shower floor.