From Ugly Duckling to Mod Showstopper in Denver’s University Park

For a Miami couple, this fixer-upper acted as a pandemic project
Bonner Ext Copy

The outside of the house was repainted in Sherwin Williams 9166 Drift of Mist. The original front door was Victorian, so interior designer Rick Bonner replaced it with a Modern Mission-style entry door from Door Store & More with a California vibe. | Photography by Jess Blackwell

It was early 2020, and a 60s-something couple had recently moved to Miami, hoping to dine, shop and experience all the vibrant city had to offer. But when the pandemic shut everything down, a secluded life in a high-rise building overlooking a closed-off beach wasn’t that much fun after all. They decided to look elsewhere to settle, finally choosing Colorado for its abundance of outdoor recreation and the proximity to their home in Breckenridge.

Bonner Living Copy

The Cabrillo Pendant from Restoration Hardware hangs over a Pressed Metal Table by Bernhardt Interiors. The fireplace surround is the Baroque Sequin Blanco picket tile by Soho Studio.

The market was crazy, however, and things were moving fast, remembers the homeowner, so they quickly put in an offer on a 5,500-square-foot home with plenty of natural light in Denver’s University Park. “I loved the neighborhood,” says the homeowner. “The house was on a sunny corner lot, and the Mediterranean style reminded me of where we raised our kids in California. But for the price-point we wanted, we knew we were getting a fixer-upper.”

Bonner Entry Copy

A knotty alder door from Door Store & More frames the entryway, with the Camino Two Tier Chandelier from Restoration Hardware placed overhead.

They figured it would be a project easy enough to tackle on their own—a bit of paint, some surface touch-ups—but after living there for a month or so, the couple decided to bring in Fort Lauderdale-based interior designer Rick Anthony Bonner for some guidance. “The floor plan was so quirky, with a really unusual progression through the house. Stylistically, it appeared to be a California Desert wannabe with an identity crisis. It didn’t have a point a of view—it was jumbled,” says Bonner. Because he had worked with the couple on previous homes, there was a level of trust. “But I still had to convince them. Everything needed to be touched, and the more I showed them what could be, the more excited they got.”

Bonner Dine Copy

The Sethos Small Chandelier by Currey & Company hangs elegantly over the homeowners’ existing walnut table. The dining room chairs are Bina in dark blue canvas and walnut from Zin Home. Custom window treatments throughout the house are from Smith & Noble.

After the installation of stunning new hardwood floors, “a light bulb went off for them,” says Bonner, and they made the decision to remodel the whole house. With Bonner’s drawings and direction, they gutted the primary bedroom, renovated all of the bathrooms, redesigned the landscaping, replaced the front door, installed new lighting and railings, and removed two fireplaces and the dated blonde oak trim throughout. Bonner’s vision of Modern Mission provided the neutral backdrop needed to let the couple’s art and furniture shine.

Bonner Hall Copy

Lisaon Statement Sconces by Visual Comfort are placed below a custom iron railing by Colorado Custom Iron Works. The Camino Chandelier is from Restoration Hardware, and the French Cuff Sconces are from Visual Comfort.

Says the homeowner, “I had underestimated the project, but with Rick’s vision, he made me slow down to find the right things to do.” Her biggest surprise was the amount of sunlight that streams into the basement, where she had a painting studio installed. “It’s almost too much light!” she says in astonishment. “It blows my mind.” Another boon was their neighbors’ reaction. “People always stop by to tell us they can’t believe the transformation. They’re so happy we didn’t tear it down.”

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A cozy space in the rear of the house features seating from Summer Classics. “I love sitting in that area with a cup of coffee in the morning, enjoying the awesome Colorado sunrise while I gather my thoughts for the day ahead,” says the homeowner.

Renovating a house during the pandemic wasn’t easy, says Bonner. Lead times were long, items became unavailable, plumbing accessories arrived broken and the supply of bath accessories was constrained. What should have taken four months took one year, he adds. Still, they were able to transform the residence from an unwelcoming, awkward series of spaces into a warm, inviting home.

Bonner Bath Copy

A freestanding Voce Grand tub from Tony Capra’s Bath House anchors the main bath, with Zura Champagne Bronze plumbing fixtures. The Statuario quartz countertop is by Granite Imports, and the jet-black basalt limestone floors are from Floor & Decor. The capiz-shell chandelier is from Athropologie.

“The house is just a happy place,” says the homeowner. “We took a home built in 1976 with multiple renovations and additions, and we turned it into a cohesive space. Some people would have scraped. But doing it this way made it feel like it was ours, not some builder’s. It felt nice to repurpose it.”

BUILDER McQueen Design & Build
PHOTOGRAPHY Jess Blackwell

Categories: Interiors