A Fresh Take on a Classic
Built in the 1930s, this five-bedroom, eight-bathroom home in Denver has great bones and the casual elegance of a European cottage. But before the current homeowners got their hands on it, it was beginning to show its age. Anachronistic design touches had crept into its classic interiors over the years: eyeball can lights peeked out of the living room’s beamed ceiling, a circa-1980s kitchen crowded the first floor and the dated layout didn’t suit the homeowners’ contemporary lifestyle. The home was due for a makeover.
The homeowners wanted to celebrate the home’s classic design without miring it in period details. They wanted it to be “traditional, but with a feel for how we live today,” says interior designer Ingrid Fretheim of Denver-based Ingrid Fretheim Interiors. Adds architect Kristin Park, who worked with Fretheim on the project: “We just wanted to bring it up to modern standards yet still represent the old character of the home.”
Working with contractor Bob Knepper of Parker-based Knepper Construction, Park gutted all but three rooms, reconfiguring the layout and installing new quarter-sawn oak floors with in-floor heating. In the back of the house, the team modified the family room, added a mudroom, installed new French doors and moved the basement staircase to add more room to the kitchen. Upstairs, they altered the five bedrooms to create “larger closets, better bathrooms—the kind of stuff that people want today,” Park says.
The 14-month project was more than a remodel; it was a restoration, Park adds. She and Knepper replaced finishes that had been added in recent decades with designs that are more appropriate for the home’s time period. In the living room, for example, they swapped the existing box beams and fireplace surround for more historically accurate millwork.
“The goal was to have a classic look that works in the modern day for a family with kids and a big dog with a big tail,” Park says. “It’s important that you make a house that can be lived in,” Fretheim adds. “People shouldn’t be afraid to get chips and cracks [in their finishes and furnishings], because they add character.”
To that end, Fretheim created a classic, comfortable interior design scheme that will wear well. It incorporates the homeowners’ art and antique collections with traditional furniture pieces crafted by artisans. Stained furniture is mixed with painted pieces. Antique chandeliers hang under the same roof as modern light fixtures. Solid fabrics commingle with patterned upholstery. The result is a traditional, refined design scheme with a touch of eclecticism that adds youth and freshness.
To modernize the traditionally styled furnishings, Fretheim played with their scale. She integrated custom-made classic chairs, for example, in more ample sizes with slightly bolder upholstery patterns. To add a fresh take on a classic color palette, Fretheim painted the walls in soothing neutrals and added stronger colors in accent pieces such as pillows, rugs and chairs.
To create her color scheme, Fretheim began with fabric. In the living room, the upholstery on the chairs flanking the fireplace was the starting point for the room’s corals, soft greens and buttery neutrals. She used the same tactic in the sunroom, where a cheery fabric on the wicker chair’s cushions inspired the room’s punches of raspberry, green and yellow. But rather than matching the colors exactly, Fretheim played with slightly different shades throughout the rooms. “The shades have to work together, but they shouldn’t be exactly the same,” she says. A bit of variation “makes for a more lived-in look.”
This classic home manages to look traditional, elegant and historically accurate, yet it doesn’t look like it’s been frozen in time. The trick is in the mix of subtle color variations, furnishings and finishes, Fretheim says—and the result is timeless.
Interior Design: Ingrid Fretheim Interiors, (303) 399-8417
Architecture: Kristin A. Park Residential Design, (720) 232-5436
Construction: Bob Knepper, Knepper Construction Co., (303) 840-9118
FLOWERS Bloom by Anuschka, Denver, (303) 570-2375, bloomdenver.com WINDOW TREATMENTS Summit Drapery Design, Denver, (303) 480-7877 LIVING ROOM RUG Authentic Rugs, Denver, (303) 321-8786, aporugs.com SOFAS, FLORAL CHAIRS (INC. TRIM) Lee Jofa, Denver, (303) 733-1891, leejofa.com BENCH & FABRIC Lee Jofa, Denver, (303) 733-1891, leejofa.com LAMPS Brunschwig & Fils, Denver, (303) 733-6485, brunschwig.com GAME TABLE, END TABLE & FRENCH CHAIRS Minton Spidell, Egg & Dart, Denver, (303) 744-1676, egg-and-dart.com CLOCK Eron Johnson Antiques, Ltd., Denver, (303) 777-8700, eronjohnsonantiques.com KITCHEN COUNTER CHAIRS Objets, Ltd., Denver, (303) 777-6830, objetsltd.com LEATHER Edelman Leather, Denver, (303) 825-1277, edelmanleather.com WINDOW TREATMENT FABRIC Chelsea Editions, John Brooks Inc, Denver, (303) 698-9977, johnbrooksinc.com BREAKFAST ROOM TABLE Lee Jofa, Denver, (303) 733-1891, leejofa.com CHANDELIER Eron Johnson Antiques, Ltd., Denver, (303) 777-8700, eronjohnsonantiques.com DINING CHAIRS Country Swedish, Carter Didlake, Denver, (303) 794-4722, carterdidlake.com; upholstered in fabric by Kravet, Denver, (303) 733-1891, kravet.com WINDOW TREATMENT FABRIC Brunschwig & Fils, Denver, (303) 733-6485, brunschwig.com DINING ROOM SIDE TABLE Antique from Atlanta, GA, English Classics, (404) 351-2252, english-classics.net WALLPAPER Brunschwig & Fils, Denver, (303) 733-6485, brunschwig.com CHAIRS & TABLE Julia Gray, Moda Antica, Denver, 303-733-9003 CHAIR FABRIC Travers, Town, Denver, (303) 282-8696, townstudio.com CHAIR BACK FABRIC Lee Jofa, Denver, (303) 733-1891, leejofa.com WALL SCONSES JJ & S Lighting, Denver, (303) 777-1007, jjslighting.com MIRROR OVER SIDEBOARD Charles Pollock Reproductions, Egg & Dart, (303) 744-1676, egg-and-dart.com CHANDELIER Eron Johnson Antiques, Ltd., Denver, (303) 777-8700, eronjohnsonantiques.com MASTER BEDROOM BED Julia Gray, Moda Antica, Denver, (303) 733-9003 NIGHTSTANDS Chelsea Textiles Furniture, Moda Antica, Denver, (303) 733-9003 BEDDING The Brass Bed, Denver, (303) 322-1712, brassbedofdenver.com WINDOW TREATMENT FABRIC Brunschwig & Fils, Denver, (303) 733-6485, brunschwig.com CHANDELIER & STANDING LAMP Table M Lamp Restoration, Denver, (303) 936-1425, tablem.com CHAIR & CHAIR W/ OTTOMAN Kravet Furniture, Denver, (303) 733-1891, kravet.com GUEST BEDROOM BED Homeowner’s cherry wood piece refinished in off white faux paint by Sarah Ashford Studio, (303) 807-8678 BEDDING & PILLOWS The Brass Bed, Denver, (303) 322-1712, brassbedofdenver.com NIGHTSTANDS & BENCH Grange, Denver, (303) 777-1866, grangeny.com BENCH FABRIC & DRAPERIES Kravet Fabric, Denver, (303) 733-1891, kravet.com SUNROOM OUTDOOR FURNITURE Brown Jordan and Summer Classic, Columbine Showroom, Denver, (303) 722-4400, columbineshowroom.com TABLE Scandinavian Antiques, Denver, (303) 722-2541, scandinavianantiques.com SOFA W/ FABRIC Kravet Furniture, Denver, (303) 733-1891, kravet.com RECLINERS & FABRIC Lee Jofa, Denver, (303) 733-1891, leejofa.com WICKER CHAIRS The Wicker Works, Kneedler-Fauchere, (303) 744-7474 WICKER CHAIR FABRIC Lee Jofa, Denver, (303) 733-1891, leejofa.com RUG Outdoor/indoor sisal area rug, Floorcoverings by CPA, Denver, (303) 722-4700, cpacarpets.com LAMPSHADES Lili Marlene Lampshades, Denver, (303) 623-3336, lilimarlenelampshades.com ALL RUGS (EXC. SUNROOM) Authentic Rugs, Denver, (303) 321-8786, aporugs.com