Art and Craft
It’s not easy to weave together the old and the new. But the owner of this 1914 Boulder home wanted to create a dialogue between modern living and historic roots, so he hired architects E.J. Meade and Claire Jordan of Arch 11 and builder Rich Sands of Hammerwell, Inc. to make it happen. Walls came down, ceilings were raised and windows greatly expanded to create a contemporary interior. “Our client wanted the living space to unfold from indoors to outdoors, with some memory of the Craftsman bungalow,” Meade says. Warm Douglas fir and an original brick fireplace speak to the vintage aesthetic; modern spaces, furnishings and a striking collection of regional, contemporary art place the home squarely in the present.
Where the main level was once broken up into smaller spaces, it now flows from living room to kitchen in a clean, unbroken sweep. “The direction of the wood floor helps elongate the space,” Jordan notes. Furniture-like kitchen cabinetry is raised on legs to keep the look feeling light. A bay window in the dining space was reinterpreted into a floor-to-ceiling expanse of glass, while walls of windows and glass doors in the kitchen extend the connection to the outdoors. Clean-lined, neutral furnishings from Room & Board, HW Home and Design Within Reach recede, allowing the art to pop, and also add warmth to the space.
Bobbi Walker of Walker Fine Art in Denver pulled together a diverse mix of abstract and non-representational art for the home. “We didn’t want to compete with nature, but accentuate the vision of bringing the outdoors in,” she says. Color-field pieces by Sabin Aell and Miani Carnevale add vibrancy to the kitchen, while the signature piece that hangs between the living and dining rooms—made by Roland Bernier of carved wood letters covered with photographic images—provides color, texture, and drama.
HINTS OF THE PAST
“The house is a blend of clean lines and comfortable materials,” says builder Rich Sands. That blend is especially evident in the living room, where the original brick fireplace was refurbished and topped with a sleek wood mantel. A Ben Strawn abstract oil painting pulls together all the colors in the room. “The windows are a nod to the original two-by-two-foot windows,” Meade says. “The small section on top is a little memory of what was once there.” A wood sculpture by Anne Shutan brings out the rich tone of the Douglas fir floor and adds drama to the fireplace.
The second floor addition, which replaced a smaller attic, is perched like a treehouse to capture panoramic views of Boulder and the Flatirons. Clerestory windows above the bed maintain privacy while allowing light to stream into the master bedroom. Neutral bedding and upholstery set a quiet tone and let nature become the focus of the room. Sabin Aell’s experimental photography of floral images is framed in 100-year-old fence wood that speaks to the homeowner’s interest in recycling. “I always recommend very still or meditative art to bring a sense of peace to a bedroom,” gallery owner Bobbi Walker says.
The upstairs office is wrapped in windows on three sides, offering views from the mountains to the eastern plains. A built-in desk and bookshelves help keep order, while artwork offers a relaxing counterpoint. “By placing sculpture [by Anne Shutan] on the desk, the room becomes more livable and not just a functional space,” Walker says. “Above the sofa, we chose a whimsical mixed-media piece by Don Quade with neutral colors, shapes and forms to add serenity.”
Set at the base of Flagstaff Mountain, the house is on a spacious double lot. The rectangular form of the addition is a clear departure from the original clipped gable roof; a new stucco finish contrasts with the old brick. “We are firm believers in a real distinction between old and new, where the passage of time is understood,” Meade says. “We are unapologetic in the contrast of geometries.” The rear facade brings together the original brick-and-stone walls with large expanses of glass. “The old bones are still there and what was added serves the space like an exclamation point,” Sands explains.
Landscape architect Luke Sanzone planted a green roof of grasses and wild iris atop the dining room and added new landscape elements to the venerable fruit trees in the yard. A bronze floral sculpture by James Dixon “looks like it grew under the tree as part of the landscape,” Walker says. “The scale is perfect.” Further back, a steel sculpture by Mark Castator anchors the garden with height, weight and a bit of urban punch.
Architects: E.J. Meade and Claire Jordan, Arch 11, Boulder, arch11.com
Builder: Rich Sands, Hammerwell, Inc., hammerwell.com
Art Gallery: Bobbi Walker, Walker Fine Art, walkerfineart.com