Whether designing a beach house in Barcelona, a chateau in southern France, or a penthouse in New York, interior designer Petra Richards has the same underlying goal: "I always try to make a home out of a house, a place that is comfortable," she says. "It has to be homey, not a showcase." Richards accomplishes her goal in this Aspen retreat with conversation-friendly furniture arrangements, highly textural materials, personalized accessories and "warm colors above everything else."
An international designer now based in Denver, Richards had an established relationship with the homeowners before she took on the job of designing their family vacation townhouse located in Aspen's Ritz Carlton Club. She had previously designed interiors for the couple's London and Los Angeles homes and had a firm grasp on their tastes, which are remarkably similar to her own. "I know what they like and they trust me," Richards says. After presenting the color scheme and a selection of fabrics and furnishings, the designer filled in the details on her own. "The house just evolved," she says. "It was nice and easy and so much fun, I felt like I was doing my own space."
Richards strongly believes in adapting her designs to the surroundings, and in this case, her goal was to create an inviting mountain home with eclectic European influences. "I started with the fabrics, choosing earthy tones and keeping everything warm," she says. The sophisticated color scheme includes shades of olive green, chocolate brown and gold spiked with rich aubergine for contrast and excitement.
Color flows smoothly throughout the home, with subtle variations and a change of emphasis from room to room. While aubergine pillows, throws and chairs highlight the living and dining area, the master bedroom is aglow in glorious shades of gold. Richards introduces primary colors in the kids' bunkroom, but ties it to the overall color scheme with wide bands of red and olive green that carry through from the mustard-gold walls to the dark brown draperies.
TABLE: John Brooks, DDD, (303) 698-9977.
CHAIRS: Kravet Fabrics, DDD, (303) 733-1891.
GLASS CONTAINERS: Acquisitions, DDD, (720) 570-0888.
CREDENZA: CAI Designs, DDD, (303) 282-8100.
RUG: Foreign Accents, (970) 927-6556.
To welcome the homeowners on their holiday visits, comfort is a top priority. Sofas and chairs are overstuffed and inviting. The furniture is at once elegant and comfortable. Textures are warm and tactile, from wool, velvet and cotton fabrics to the soft mohair throws found on every sofa and bed. Richly colored and patterned rugs top gleaming cherry wood floors. "It is important to use warm materials as well as colors," Richards says.
The designer also relies on such subtleties as shape to create a welcoming atmosphere, as evident in the large, round dining room table. "Communication is so much better at a round table. It was one of my main starting points," Richards says. She repeated the shape in the curvy chair backs, lamps, ginger jars, and even the moss balls featured in the table centerpiece. "I always choose round shapes over square. The pleasing curves add softness," she says.
Draperies play an important role in the interior design, unusual for mountain residences where many homeowners leave the windows bare to take in every inch of the views. "I'm a big fan of draperies," says Richards. "They make a room cozy after a cold day on the ski slopes. They also frame the windows and add another decorative element."
In the living and dining rooms, bold chocolate brown stripes on cream-colored panels draw the eye directly to the large windows. An unexpected moose appliqué reflects the designer's playful side. In the guest bedrooms, whimsical forest-print draperies, carried out in two different color schemes, bring in elements of nature.
With Richards' international background-she was born and raised in Germany and has lived in Spain, Italy, New York and London-she draws on a fascinating array of furnishings and knows how to pull off a sophisticated, worldly flavor. In the living room, she breaks up an expanse of stone on the large fireplace with dramatic African antelope sculptures, a surprising jolt of blue in the Chinese jars, and textural antique baskets. Nearby, a Spanish-style armoire and a classic black-and-gold-leaf table blend in beautifully. "I like to introduce a European influence in my designs," Richards says. "My style is eclectic, yet clean-lined, with lots of elegance and warmth."
Fine attention to detail is evident throughout, from the sofa's custom silk tassels that pull together every color in the room, to the vintage books and fresh flower arrangements stacked on bedside tables. "I love adding accessories, but I'm careful not to overdo it," says the designer. "A little something here, a little something there." She spends a lot of time hunting for just the right thing and often brings in loads of accessories to try out. "It is much more exciting to bring things together from different periods and places," Richards declares.
Sharing their interior designer's vision of an inviting mountain home filled with worldly detail, the homeowners feel that same excitement whenever they open the door to their beckoning Aspen retreat-a true home away from home.
Petra Richards, Petra Richards Interiors - Denver - (720) 201-1999