Second Act

Traditional, contemporary, safari and urban styles are all part of the mix in this bold remodel of an empty nest in Denver’s historic Morgan Addition neighborhood

The empty-nest remodel has become a rite of passage. Rumpus rooms get renovated, bedrooms become home offices, and finishes and furnishings take on a polish that never would have withstood soccer cleats and finger paints. When Robbie Baxter and Gib Watson’s daughter, Sammie, headed off to college, they decided to give their home an entirely new personality, imbuing every room with sophistication and drama.

The home had good bones and the couple had plenty of high-quality furniture to work with, but “Robbie wanted a ‘wow’—and she wanted that ‘wow’ to come with animal prints,” says interior designer Sandra Reichborn-Kjennerud. “When she asked for a palette featuring black and white and red, I knew just where to start.”

Reichborn-Kjennerud—who was recruited to rethink paint colors and flooring, upholstery and lighting, and everything in between—swathed the dining room in Scalamandré’s vibrant zebra wallpaper in “Masai Red,” setting the stage for the home’s richly saturated new design scheme. And as if leaping zebras weren’t dramatic enough, the designer applied black lacquer to the walls of the adjoining living room. “Some people on this project thought I was crazy,” she says. “It was a lot of black, and it required a lot of prep work.”

The renovation team, led by Denver-based BOA Construction, mudded and sanded the living room walls many times over to make them smooth enough for the high-gloss finish. They also painstakingly prepped the walls in the dining room before hanging the zebra paper, and that exacting attention to detail shows. “The preparation up front was probably one of the most important steps in achieving this level of refinement,” Reichborn-Kjennerud says.

With the backdrop in place, Reichborn-Kjennerud added the set pieces: the furniture, upholstery and art that would define the home’s character. She brought in touches of traditional and contemporary, safari and urban, and also added a hint of playfulness.

In the living room, Reichborn-Kjennerud paired a stately black sofa with a custom daybed clad in zebra print, then added two slipper chairs upholstered in a traditional but lively floral. The play of pattern on pattern is grounded by the cohesive color palette and by the subtle repetition throughout the room. For example, the same fabric from which the mock Roman shades were made also makes an appearance in the drapes across the room, and again in throw pillows that pop against the sofa’s deep, black cushions. Reichborn-Kjennerud chose leggy furniture to add lightness to the room and to marry contemporary pieces with more traditional forms.

In the dining room, the homeowners’ existing dining set was given new life with vibrant, textured velvet upholstery on the host and hostess chairs. To counteract the active print on the walls, Reichborn-Kjennerud chose a subtler area rug, which was the home’s luxurious finishing touch. “That rug was the first thing ordered and the last thing installed because it took seven or eight months to arrive,” the designer says. “Beautiful things don’t happen automatically. Sometimes you have to wait, but it’s worth it.”

Design Details
Interior Designer
Sandra Reichborn-Kjennerud, Sandra Reichborn-Kjennerud Inc., (303) 837-1407

BOA Construction,

Categories: Interiors