Waking Up the Senses
Lisa Henson knows all about the creative process. As the daughter of famed puppeteer Jim Henson, she practically grew up in a Muppet workshop. A talented TV and movie producer, Henson now runs the Jim Henson Company in Hollywood with her brother Brian. However, she was happy to hand over one recent creative challenge—that of remodeling her Telluride vacation home.
Henson and her fiancé, Dave Pressler, first thought it would be easier to sell the dated home than take on the necessary major renovations. The 1970s-era structure had what Henson describes as “a low-budget, Western lodge feel.” The roof, siding and windows all needed replacing, and the interior was drab and lifeless. “I bought the house furnished in 1999 and filled in some missing pieces, but we never really made it our own,” she says. Soon after placing it on the market, the couple had second thoughts—after all, the house was in a great location and the perfect size for their family.
As brightly colored as a fresh box of crayons, the cheerful kitchen sparkles with light. Modern surfaces such as tile and composite quartzite countertops gleam. Antique barstools from India, made of inlaid wood and bone with red leather seats, offer contrast and texture.
New windows open up the dining room, where an eclectic group of furnishings includes an early-20th-century Asian rattan bench, 19th-century Chinese bamboo chairs and an electric chandelier that mimics candlelight. A new iron staircase and glass-topped table add modern touches.
Interior designer Nancy Stoddart, a friend of Henson’s, was hired to take on the remodeling project. “Nancy wanted to be really creative with the interiors,” says Henson. “She has a wilder sense of color than I do, but we trusted her, with just a few general parameters.”
The color inspiration comes from Henson’s own travels. “I have a lot of Tibetan art and wanted to introduce a Himalayan color palette—deep red, saffron gold and blue,” she says. Stoddart took it from there and layered saturated color throughout the home. “I tweaked it with a lot more color than Lisa was expecting, but she knows I have always had a good color sense,” Stoddart says. Vivid red walls and blue ceilings highlight the living areas and children’s bedrooms. “Color wakes up the senses,” says Henson. “The vibrant Himalayan palette works here. Though it is from a different culture, it comes from a similar high mountain region.”
“We have an incredible location in a natural mountain setting,” says homeowner Lisa Henson. “The bright colors inside work well juxtaposed against the quieter views outside.” A contemporary Italian upholstery fabric in a floral print pulls together the colors of the living room, while a whimsical Chinese lantern chandelier commands attention. The custom-woven rug features a lotus blossom pattern.
Everything about the master bedroom is calm and soothing, from restful green walls to a comfortable padded headboard. The painted wood panel features tigers, a recurring Tibetan folkloric motif in Henson’s art collection.
Henson was initially drawn to Telluride by its annual film festival. Now she and her family visit throughout the year, skiing in winter and enjoying outdoor activities in the summer. Henson’s siblings often join them, bringing their own families and friends. The spacious four-level home easily accommodates a crowd. The kitchen renovation doubled the size of the room, making it a perfect gathering place. It is also the most color-filled room, done in bright primary color blocks with yellow shelves and red cabinets, sparkling red countertops and blue tile floors. “It is more fun to have color in the kitchen. This room reminds me of Southwestern Fiesta dinnerware, all warm and vibrant,” Henson says. The children’s rooms are also bright with color and whimsy, but Stoddart toned down the master suites in restful shades of blue and green. The completely remodeled bathrooms have a spa-like Asian ambience, with pampering luxuries like steam showers and whirlpool baths.
The entire house is filled with an interesting mix of art, furniture and accessories. Stoddart added Chinese influences such as the paper-lantern chandelier in the living room and 19th-century bamboo dining room chairs. She ordered custom handwoven carpets from Nepal and discovered a treasure trove of one-of-a-kind furnishings at a Los Angeles antiques store. “If the interiors are not eclectic,” says Henson, “it looks like you are trying too hard.”
The second master suite is reserved for guests. A cut-velvet upholstered bed and white loveseat add touches of luxury to the serene setting.
The old master bathroom was completely ripped out and replaced with this Asian-inspired retreat. Soft blue walls and mosaic tiles add a sense of peace and contrast beautifully with dark wood cabinetry. A high ceiling adds to the spaciousness of the room.
Having rebuilt a home of her own in Telluride, Stoddart understood the challenges of finding contractors in a mountain town, especially during the current construction boom. Ever resourceful, she expanded her search to Grand Junction, hiring plumbing contractor Abby Power and convincing her to serve as general contractor.
Structural changes included removing walls to double the size of the kitchen and rebuilding the staircase. A complete new heating system, corrugated metal roof, exterior siding and updated windows make the home more comfortable; fine textural finishes such as bamboo floors, mosaic tiles, iron railings and upholstered walls make it more appealing. Color pulls it all together.
“There are so many beautiful and tasteful, but similar, Western lodge-style interiors in the mountains,” says Henson. “I hope this house inspires people to integrate more color.”
Additional Resources for Lisa Henson's Home in Telluride
Provided by Nancy Stoddart
All decorative fabrics in bedrooms:
Thomas Lavin Pacific Design Center
8687 Melrose Avenue (Los Angeles)
Rugs in the living/dining room custom designed and made in Nepal by:
849 S. Broadway, Suite 1109 (Los Angeles)
Many of the antiques and accessories and Asian furniture:
849 N. Palm Canyon Drive (Palm Springs)