A Santa Barbara-Inspired Home in Washington Park
A couple creates the perfect place to indulge their passions for painting and music because to them, home is where the art is
While for some couples retirement means downsizing and simplifying how they live, for Carol and Jeff Browning it meant reinvention.
They traded the suburbs for the city to be closer to friends and activities in Denver. They built a home where they could pursue their passions for music and art, entertain friends and family, and age gracefully in place.
Realtor Christy Owen helped the couple find a lot a few blocks north of Washington Park on an estate that had been subdivided. Next, they enlisted the services of friend and architect Kathy Jones of ArchStyle to design the residence.
“They wanted a Santa Barbara-inspired home, but very clean and not overly detailed,” Jones says. The main staircase and railing embody that aesthetic. “It’s beautiful and simple,” she notes. High ceilings, arched openings, warm wood floors and sets of glass doors that open to patio and dining areas lend flow and grace to the home.
“When we open the doors in the dining room, we can have people in both spaces,” Carol Browning says. “It’s ideal for summertime entertaining.” The patio and courtyard are just inside the front gate of the home to take advantage of the site’s eastern exposure, which is cooler on summer Colorado afternoons than a western-facing one. A fountain and fireplace are additional amenities that invite you to linger.
Though the home is on a city lot and has residences on either side of it, “we worked to maintain privacy while also bringing in light from multiple directions,” the architect says.
The couple was very involved in the design process and material selections, Jones says, noting that Carol’s first career was as a commercial interior designer. “A lot of it was projecting how they were going to take care of each other. They had cared for aging parents,” Jones says. Also a factor is that Carol “is an incredible artist,” Jones says. “That brought a whole new perspective to how she wanted to use her spaces.”
“This is the house to stay in as we get older,” Carol says. “We even designed the bathroom so that the shower is level with the floor.”
A baby grand piano for performances by Jeff, a retired banker, is just inside the entry in a room that also offers comfy seating and a game table. There’s an art studio for Carol, even though she currently paints out of a space in Denver’s RiNo district. The couple’s bedroom suite is on the main floor, with guest rooms and an office located up the sweeping staircase.
Carol says when she saw how much fun Jeff was having in retirement, she decided to go back to school and study art history at the University of Colorado Denver. That led to painting classes where she discovered both her passion for, and talent as, an abstract artist. She is represented in Denver by Walker Fine Art.
A fourth-generation Colorado native, Carol collects the works of fellow Coloradans such as Duke Beardsley and Angela Beloian and likes rotating paintings from room to room. “Our art changes all the time. It makes the home fresh,” she says.
The couple kept some pieces from their previous residence, but most of the furnishings are new. “Our other home had heavier, darker furniture,” Carol says. “We didn’t want to go too modern, but we wanted it to feel airy, comfortable and timeless.”
Designer Ashley Larson Eitemiller of C+A Interiors in Denver made sure that everything from the light fixtures to pieces such as the entry console table have clean lines. “It’s light and bright,” Eitemiller says. “I love designing spaces with tone-on-tone in color and texture.”
“Whether you sit at the bar in the kitchen, with all that light coming in from the windows above the cabinets, or at the round table in the dining room,” Eitemiller says, “there are great places for conversation.”
ARCHITECTURE ArchStyle, Kathy Jones INTERIOR DESIGN C + A Interiors, Ashley Larson Elitemiller
GREAT ROOM MOKUM FABRIC from John Brooms on Bernhardt lounge chairs AREA RUG by Aztec Carpet SOFA PILLOWS by Galbraith and Paul Fabric from John Brooks KITCHEN LANTERNS by Vaughan BARSTOOLS by Hoffmiller MUSIC ROOM DRAPERIES by Casamance fabric from John Brooks GAME TABLE bt Bespoke CARPET bt Aztec DINING ROOM CHANDELIER by Formations ENTRY CONSOLE by Las Palmas from Egg & Dart