Jon Forbes embodies the notion that you can take the man out of the city but you can’t take the city out of the man. During a recent lifestyle-driven transfer from New York City to the Mile High City, the investment banker’s house hunt led him to Denver’s LoDo district. “I told my Realtor that although I wanted to get back into skiing, I still needed some city life. LoDo was an excellent solution.”
Forbes viewed a dozen lofts in the neighborhood, and his quest ended when he laid eyes on a penthouse in the historic SteelBridge Lofts. Commissioned in 1919 by industrialist Charles Boettcher, the brick warehouse is positioned near Union Station, slightly removed from the district’s bar scene. “I love that it is a little off the beaten path but still close to restaurants and the shuttle, which I use to get to work,” Forbes adds.
He enlisted Andrea Schumacher, president of O Interior Design, to transform the living portion of the 1,776-square-foot loft. An avid skier before an accident paralyzed him, Forbes’ determination to return to the slopes spilled into his directive to Schumacher: Create a modernist home with a rugged Western twist. The homeowner also requested plenty of “lounge” areas for casual entertaining. “I told her I did not want a place where you are afraid to sit on the furniture.”
The unit posed design quandaries Schumacher deems common among lofts, which include defining space and maximizing light. In Forbes’ home, the solutions evolved in the form of custom built-in cabinets, warm-hued walls and vibrant lighting—all with a nod to the homeowner’s affinity for the West.
The narrow unit was bestowed with a generous amount of natural light due to a skylight and a nearly floor-to-ceiling window on one end. Even so, “we are always looking for ways to add more light,” Schumacher explains. The designer added a track illumination system above the dining room table as well as ambient lamps throughout.
Schumacher softened the urban palette of the cement ceiling and brick walls by painting the plastered walls sage green and punctuating one wall near the entry with a deep, slate blue. The continuity of the green provides cohesiveness, while accent colors help define zones within the open floor plan.
Ordinarily, floor coverings help delineate “rooms,” but with wheelchair accessibility in mind, carpets were limited to a few sisal rugs. Another way to signal room divisions without impeding light was custom cabinetry. While the built-ins provide storage, they were designed at a lower height to preserve openness. Form and function merge in the lounge’s cherry cabinet, which houses a wine refrigerator. The dining area is distinguished by another built-in, cleverly disguising a hutch the owner was reluctant to part with. An Asian-inspired screen helps to further define the dining “room,” adding an unexpected twist to the space. Schumacher explains that Asian furnishings harmonize with modern interiors due to their clean lines. Vivacious red benches in the entry and bonsai trees on the dining table lend an additional Far East aesthetic.
However, Western America prevails via a contemporary landscape painting centered beneath the skylight. This focal point helps define the sitting area. Schumacher notes that all of the upholstered pieces are custom-made. “This allowed us to create spare, armless furniture that works well from a wheelchair perspective.”
In addition to the landscape painting and the blue antler chandelier, Schumacher imparted several Colorado accouterments. “We wanted every mountain element to remain modern,” she notes. Witness a large-scale, monochromatic buffalo painting, a horse sculpture and a silver fox throw casually draped on a chair. A custom bench is topped with a surprising stretch of cowhide.
In the end, Forbes says his New York-meets-Colorado dictum was well executed. He appreciates the scale of the home as well as the sense of space intrinsic to loft living. With work only a shuttle ride away and another ski season beckoning, he is enjoying an easier lifestyle while retaining some semblance of city life.
O Interior Design
O Interior Design