British Style, Boulder Views
These expats have brought their panache across the pond and into the peaks
As a girl growing up in the Yorkshire Dales of northern England, Nicci Howson was accustomed to throwing open her bedroom window and seeing the verdant rolling hills of the local countryside. “I’ve always been all about the views,” says Nicci, a former advertising director who, along with her telecom husband, David, moved from London to Boulder in 2001. Their search for a home where they could raise their two boys ended at a 2-acre property on the eastern edge of the city. The 1970s ranch house was a throwaway, but the spectacular mountain vista was a keeper.
“We did a quick fix-up of the ranch and lived there for five years planning our perfect house, one that would fit our lifestyle that includes lots of entertaining and that of two active boys,” says Nicci. Self-proclaimed European modernists, they envisioned minimalist interiors defined by lots of open space but with cozy private areas as well.
A predominantly taupe and slate-gray backdrop and an intentional lack of millwork set the tone on the main level, where the great room, defined by 24-foot ceilings, accommodates two seating areas in the 6,300-square-foot residence. To support Nicci’s culinary prowess, the couple selected all the finishes and designed the kitchen with multiple food prep and serving stations—perfect for large gatherings. Throughout the house, the clean architectural lines and carefully edited furnishings echo the couple’s own meticulously appointed personal style.
Nicci, in her post-workout togs, looks like she has stepped from the pages of Healthy Living and thinks nothing of whipping up a gourmet lunch for a crowd. Clearly, her attention to detail carries into all aspects of her daily routine. And the house, no matter the time of day, looks showroom perfect.
While high style was important, durability was also essential for a family who stores 24 bicycles in the garage and counts hiking and skiing as routine activities. “There was never any question we would have concrete floors,” says David, noting that the upper level, where the master suite resides, features warmer walnut. About the hardy stone surface, Nicci adds, “I literally hosed them down one time after a Halloween party.”
Outside, the Howsons would have preferred something more in line with their modern aesthetic, but with architect Kyle Callahan’s help, they included gables and rooflines in keeping with the neighborhood. Both concur that the incomparable views of the Front Range more than compensate for that concession. “We bought the property because every day we get to see the changing face of the mountains,” says David. “And that never gets old.”
With its 24-foot ceiling, the aptly named great room is divided into two seating areas delineated by rugs from HW Home. The pair of leather Chesterfield sofas, also from HW Home, are meant for lounging, and Splashlight Studio provided the trio of lighting fixtures, each suspended at a different height.
“In England there’s almost always a fireplace in the dining room,” says Nicci, who re-covered existing Laura Ashley chairs in charcoal boiled-wool felt by Andrew Martin. The buffet/cabinet is from HW Home, and thanks to a tempered-glass top, a 17th-century farmhouse table accommodates groups of 10.
Situated next to the kitchen, an image by Paris-based fashion photographer Hervé Dunoyer makes a statement. The cream-colored leather chair resting on concrete floors is from the homeowner’s collection.
Some people call it a family room, but the Howsons affectionately refer to the cozy space with its modern Romo wallpaper as “the snug.” The whole family can pile on the Design Within Reach sectional, the ottomans are Minotti and the B&B Italia armchair swivels to face the views.
“We wanted an elegant, cozy hideaway,” says Nicci of the master bedroom accented with gold-and-black Romo wallpaper. The custom bed—similar to one she saw at The Conran Shop in London, is upholstered in imported velvet by Andrew Martin, the bench is B&B Italia and the low-slung chair is Cassina.
Located off the master bedroom, the sitting area windows frame views of the mountains and a nearby lake. The private retreat features a navy HW Home sectional, a Saarinen side table from Design Within Reach and lavender B&B Italia ottomans. Lighting is from Splashlight Studio, and the artwork is by Natasha Law.
As the family’s springer spaniel, Blue, can attest, the outdoor living room is the place to be for viewing the mountains at sunset. Custom seating surrounds a Crate & Barrel coffee table, and side tables from Design Within Reach and patterned throw pillows inject shots of color.