A Beloved Colorado Mountain Home, Reimagined
A-list designer Lonni Paul recreated this family home
There’s a storybook quality to this winter wonderland of a home, nestled in the mountains outside of Aspen. For the California-based owners, this spot represents everything—family, romance, Thanksgiving and Christmas, all rolled into one. The couple was married here. Over the years, their large extended family has lived, gathered and celebrated here. So when the couple purchased the original house and 27 rolling acres from their family and discovered that the much-loved old structure required a rebuild rather than a renovation, it was a shock. They needed a designer who could help them preserve the feeling of the cherished original in a new house. L.A.-based interior designer Lonni Paul got the call.
Recreating a family home with a capital “H” is a daunting job, but Paul is not easy to daunt. The globe-trotting, award-winning celebrity interior designer behind Lonni Paul Design has created dream homes for high-profile clients scattered from California to Colorado to Saudi Arabia. She’s also a single mom of teen twins. “Nothing scares me,” she laughs.
“I came onto this project at the very beginning,” Paul recalls. “I flew out to visit the original house to get a feel for it.” She interviewed the owners at length about their vision for the new home. “They wanted a little more space and a few updates, but they really loved the old building, and the most important thing for them was preserving the feeling and history of the original 1930s Colonial.”
Paul believes that one of the most important pieces of good design is listening. “I listen a lot. I ask questions; I learn how people live and how they want a place to feel. How do they want visitors to feel when they come into this room? Once we’ve gone over preferences and priorities and how space will be used, then I can draw up two or three options for each room for them to review.
When I started, I used to give clients, like, 100 options,” she laughs. “I learned pretty quickly that that is overwhelming. No one wants that. One of the reasons people hire me is to help them narrow down their choices. And they are their choices. People ask me all the time, ‘What’s your style?’ I’d say mine is classic with a modern twist, but that’s me—that’s not for everyone. Yes, there is something of me infused in every project I work on. But really what I want to do is make each place the best possible home for the people who are going to live there.”
Paul designed the striking wall moldings in the entryway. “I love symmetry, and I love the beautiful, symmetrical look of the paneling continuing all the way up the staircase.” The antiques and the molding combine to give the entryway a vintage feel, while the windows and bright-white paint add a lighter, modern touch. “Light is very important to me; I don’t think you can live life to its fullest in dark spaces.”
A portrait of the homeowner’s aunt hangs over the fireplace in this glamorous living room that combines classic form with function. “The back-to-back sofa creates a traditional seating area facing the fireplace and a second seating area designed for playing musical instruments,” Paul says.
“People say the kitchen is the heart of the home,” Paul says. “For this family, it’s the soul. The kitchen was my favorite spot to design. There are views of the gorgeous landscape through the windows, and it’s the place where everyone gathers to spend time together.”
“The owners have a wonderful collection of paintings. This painting was theirs. I started with that and then designed the spot using their books and objects. I love to use people’s keepsakes,” Paul says.
MASTER BEDROOM SITTING AREA
This hazy-blue wall color (Benjamin Moore Dreamy) was not Paul’s first paint choice for the master bedroom. “I proposed a grayer version, but the owner really wanted the blue walls. I definitely pushed for the pale gray, but we went with blue because the owners are the ones who wake up there every day. And look—it’s beautiful.”
MASTER BATH SITTING AREA
The owners requested this cozy seating area in the master bathroom. “They find that bath time is the perfect time for them to catch up,” Paul says. The Durer print “is an unexpected piece of whimsy in a bathroom, and that’s exactly why it works!” she adds.
“I love this room,” Paul says. “It’s light and spacious. We built a window seat in the corner, where you can read a book and look out at the incredible views.”
“The setting is just spectacular,” Paul says. “I was staying there, and one morning I woke up and looked out, and the hills surrounding the house were just covered with a herd of … I’m going to call them the wrong name. Can you tell I’m a city girl? I’m thinking elk. It was the most amazing moment, the hills and the herd grazing in the morning light. It was so beautiful. It’s not something you can imagine, living in a city.”