A Cool Renovated Carriage House in Boulder


Alex and Grant Besser bought their stunning turn-of-the-20th-century Boulder home in 2011. Water damage from the 2013 flood necessitated some upgrades to the garage. “We had a choice,” says Alex. “We could fix it or really invest in it.”

The Bessers, who have three boys (ages 16, 14, and 11) decided to go all in. Architect Lisa Egger left the original shell, adding only a new dormer and three skylights. Inside, a portion of the upper floor was removed to connect the two levels.

The result is a captivating 800-square-foot mini house that serves multiple functions: The teenagers use it as a spreading-out space, the family occupies it on the occasional weekend just for the fun (and closeness) of it, guests enjoy a private suite, and, thanks to favorable zoning, the property brings in some income as a limited Airbnb rental.

Clean, modern, industrial, relaxed. Those are the adjectives the Bessers use to describe their home-next-door-to-home. And rightly so. Inspired by East Coast cottages that Alex saw on Pinterest, she and Grant had the poplar boards painted white to give the loft a spacious yet cozy feel. The décor throughout is a combo of family pieces (vintage Hans Wegner rope chair, kilim rug), antiques (the leather trunk is from 8th & Pearl Antiques in Boulder), and new purchases (West Elm bedding, Pottery Barn pillows). The centerpiece artwork is a 1998 drawing by artist Aristides Ruiz.

The Bessers are quick to credit the ingenuity of designer/builder Joel Smiley, who used wood boards (and then removed them) to give the concrete walls added texture and who created and constructed all the built-ins. Smiley is also responsible for the mobile, versatile dining table (it serves as a buffet or bar for outdoor parties), which is  made of reclaimed wood salvaged from the Gold Hill mine shaft.

The kitchen cabinetry is by Palmer Woodwork and the Tolix-inspired dining stools are from Overstock.com.


ARCHITECT Lisa Egger, AIA   BUILDER Joel Smiley, Smiley Inc.  CABINETRY Tim Plaster, Palmer Woodwork 

Categories: Interiors