Girl Meets House
Interior designer Barbara Bork turned a cozy Boulder Victorian into the home of her dreams
“It was serendipity,” says interior designer Barbara Bork, owner of Lola Gray Home & Design, when she describes finding this picture-book-perfect Boulder Victorian. Five years ago, Bork and her husband were separating, and she came upon this 3,000-square-foot, four-bedroom Victorian on a quiet side street in Mapleton Hill. “I lived in Boulder for years and didn’t even know the street was here,” she recalls. “It’s a little street with big, overgrown trees, and it’s an easy walk to downtown. That was probably the biggest draw.” Then she laughs. “Well, that and the Victorian architecture, the porch, the turret, the big windows. I thought the house was just darling. It felt like home.”
The house was roughly half the size of her previous home, but Bork didn’t find downsizing a drawback. “It felt really good. This house was a perfect fit for the three of us [Bork, her son Zach and daughter Tessa]. For me, it was a chance to reinvent myself.” She didn’t move things in from her old house, because her husband was still there, so she saw it as an opportunity to start fresh. “I love doing that,” she says. “This is my I’m-going-to-do-what-I-want-to-do house. It was a labor of love. I know people say that a lot, but there’s nothing in this house that wasn’t selected carefully or thoughtfully. I look around at pictures of the kids, at old family photos of grandparents and parents. I feel so lucky that I came across this house and that we get to live here and make it our own.”
“The only rule I have for my clients is, ‘If you love it, it has to be somewhere in your house!’” Bork says. A case study: the beautiful antique cabinet along the left wall of the living room. “I found it online and absolutely loved it. I had it shipped all the way from Baton Rouge. When I got it, it would not fit through the front door. But there was no way I was not going to have it in my house, so my wonderful carpenters took off the crown, the base, the doors—they took off everything they could and managed to squeak it through the door. Totally worth it. It’s probably my favorite piece in the house.”
“The dining room was a fairly small room. After living here for three years, I decided to open up the spaces, and when we started to take down the walls we realized that behind the old plaster was this perfect, rosy brick wall," Bork says. “It was a very happy surprise.” An old English farm table keeps glad company with brand-new parsons-style chairs and a modern chandelier.
“This is probably where we hang out the most,” says Bork of this cheery nook across from the kitchen. The painting over the fireplace is by Colorado artist Jennifer Yoswa. “I absolutely love her work, and when I saw this painting, I thought that’s exactly how I want this house to feel: whimsical and colorful, light-hearted and happy. I’m proud to have her work in our house.”
Kitchens often hog renovation budgets and time, so Bork was happy there “wasn’t a lot to do. I put in those upper cabinets when I moved in, and there wasn’t a backsplash, so I added the subway tile. And I did build the island,” she says. The bright burst of wallpaper framing the window over the sink is Osborne & Little Maharani.
“It took me a long time to find the right wall covering. I knew I didn’t want a wallpaper with too much color, because that can be overwhelming. I wanted something whimsical and different, and I finally came across this Graham & Brown British design—I love the bowler hats and birds.”
“The master bedroom is one of the things that sold me on the house: a spacious room, en suite bath, great light and great closets. This room was one where I didn’t have to do an awful lot to it. Paint, furnishings, but what you see is pretty much how it was when I moved in.” The room features Bork’s characteristic mix of old and new. “The small French armchair is 300 years old; I bought it from a dealer and re-covered it in Nancy Corzine silk. And the comforter cover and sham are Restoration Hardware’s Belgian linen—great colors and really soft.”
Bork is fond of using wallpaper to give a room depth, texture or interest. “This wallpaper was actually here when I moved in. I really liked it, so I just repainted the walls with Benjamin Moore Early Morning Mist. I don’t typically use custom colors; I gravitate to Benjamin Moore because I always find colors that I love.”
Barbara Bork and her daughter Tessa chat on the inviting porch. The inside of the house has been transformed, but the facade of the house remains the same. “When I drive past these beautiful antique homes, they seem like they haven’t changed much from a century ago," Bork says.