From Dated 1950s Home to Dream City Dwelling
Before and After: A Midcentury Redesign
"After" photography by Kimberly Gavin
Set in Denver’s quaint Bonnie Brae neighborhood, this two-story International Style home hadn’t been touched since it was built in 1950. Amanda Precourt, owner of AJP Realty & Design, was drawn to the home’s retro details—blonde exterior brick, a boxy facade, flat rooflines, glass-block windows in the entryway—and generous lot size. But small and scant windows, compartmentalized rooms and passé hard finishes (read: pink and turquoise tile) made the interiors dark and dated. Precourt, who also owns a mountain home in Edwards, embraced the challenge to transform the charming, albeit antiquated, space into a primary city residence for herself and her two dogs, Trout and Bear. “Since no one had done anything to the original home, I wasn’t going to be remodeling anyone else’s remodel,” she says. “It was an open canvas.”
Precourt called on architect Pavan Krueger, her go-to gal for home projects, to spearhead the redesign. Despite challenges of asbestos, water damage and faulty electrical wiring, the duo created a bright, open space with a funky midcentury flair within a year. To stay true to the home’s history, the team retained the exterior facade and low ceilings but transformed the cramped indoor spaces into one cohesive main level by removing all of the interior walls. The home’s square footage was doubled with the addition of a new, 2,000-square-foot wing and a basement that includes a junior master suite and media room. Windows and a sliding glass wall were added to invite more natural light inside, while a palette of neutral hues, bright white paint and whitewashed larch floors provide a blank backdrop for Precourt’s collection of contemporary art and sleek furnishings.
"Amanda always likes to stay true to the existing architecture and play off the style it was built in," says architect Pavan Krueger. The design team added new windows and doors, a second-floor balcony railing and an updated roof with deep overhangs while keeping the overall look and materials of the original structure intact. A low concrete wall lines the lot for added privacy.
Whitewashed wide-plank flooring from Arrigoni Woods and white walls offset pops of color and texture in the furnishings. A white leather couch from Design Within Reach (DWR), turquoise rug from Shaver-Ramsey and mirrored Moroccan door from Bloom by Anuschka fill the living room. A Gary Komarin painting (shown through the slats) inspired the vibrant hues throughout.
Part of the home’s new addition, the den is one of Precourt’s favorite spaces to unwind. Finds from DWR—an orange two-seater couch and a curved Isamu Noguchi table—and a black leather Knoll chair sit in front of the fireplace. A Gonzalo Lebrija photo and built-in shelves for books and accessories—an element commonly found in homes that Precourt designs—add interest to the walls.
“I designed the house around that piece,” says Precourt of the Gary Komarin painting from Robischon Gallery in Denver. The painting’s palette inspired pops of orange, pink, turquoise, green and yellow throughout the home. Kelly Wearstler’s playful Dichotomy sculpture sits atop a woven stainless steel end table from the Denver Design District. Twin geometric pendant lamps from Associates III hang above a six-seat dining table.
The kitchen before
The kitchen after
The original cramped kitchen was converted into a powder room, pantry and coat closet. Part of the home's added wing, the new kitchen is anchored by a White Macaubas quartzite-topped island with a raised bar. Precourt mixed open Bentwood cabinetry from Avon-based Elegant Cabinetry and modern Knoll barstools with an antique Chinese console, an African giraffe made from bottle caps, and black-and-white photos of Bruce Springsteen and Devo. “I love mixing materials and textures and breaking the rules," Precourt says.
Precourt loves to host intimate parties in the dining area, which is furnished with a stainless steel table from Desiron and cowhide chairs from HW Home. A vintage photo of Blondie hangs on the wall that divides the existing structure and the new wing. Bear, Precourt's 9-year-old chocolate lab, lies in front of a sliding door that connects the kitchen to a spacious patio with a fire pit. Precourt says glulam support beams and tongue-and-groove floors give the home a ’50s poolhouse feel.
The staircase before
The staircase after
An enclosed mahogany staircase was opened up and replaced with cantilevered larch steps that match the main-level flooring. To the right of the staircase, a small dining room was converted into an entryway sitting area.
A leather Minotti chair from Studio Como sits in front of built-in shelves displaying an antique Chinese picnic basket, Kelly Wearstler granite lips, an amethyst geode and other keepsakes. The photograph is by Elena Dorfman through Robischon Gallery.
The lower level’s fire chute extends to the upstairs master bedroom. A woven leather Studio Como chair sits atop a DWR cowhide rug painted with a zebra-stripe pattern. Nightstands from Bloom by Anuschka and Tillman lamps from Arteriors flank the black ash Desiron bed. Orange throw pillows and a canary yellow Mel Dewees painting mimic the vibrant hues found throughout the main floor.
INTERIOR DESIGN Amanda Precourt, AJP Realty & Design ARCHITECTURE Pavan Krueger, Krueger Architecture & Design CONSTRUCTION Chris King, Character Builders Colorado LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE Designs by Sundown