Where Country Meets the City in Denver’s Belcaro Park Neighborhood
Larsen Development infuses warmth and natural light into its design for a modern one-story farmhouse
The owners of this new build in Denver’s Belcaro Park neighborhood already knew their area well—and knew they loved one-story ranches—so the design of this “stretched-out” farmhouse was a natural.
“We actually lived next door in a house that we’d renovated,” says the wife, “but my husband had always wanted to build his own house, so when the opportunity arose to buy this lot, we jumped on it. We actually got to watch the new house go up, brick by brick.”
Knowing that the HOA strictly limited the area to one-story homes, the couple turned to luxury design-build firm Larsen Development to create a home that fits cozily into the neighborhood—but also stood out for its unique design.
“One of the design challenges was making sure we created something that didn’t look like a 1960s ranch but had volume and street presence,” says Jeff Englund, president of Larsen.
Though the house—with 3,300 square feet on the main floor and 2,200 in the basement— is one story, the Larsen team was able to create a feeling of height and space throughout the home, including the vaulted main living area that encompasses the great room, island nook, and kitchen. “It was critical to design grand spaces while pulling the scale back to create inviting and intimate spaces,” says Englund. “You enter through the steel-and-glass entry door into the foyer set at 9-foot-6, which opens to the stairway and dining room, then leads you to the vaulted great room that rises to 17 feet. The rear wall of the great room showcases the 32-foot-wide bi-folding accordion doors that mesh the expansive covered patio and pool with the interior living space.”
That openness appeals to the homeowners. “We wanted a house that was really welcoming and offered the ability to entertain,” says the wife. “The indoor-outdoor feel was really important to us, so we like being able to open up that back wall so we can entertain year-round.”
The main living space is vaulted, with cleverly placed upper windows that let in more western light. “In traditional two-story homes, you have a tall great room space, but it can feel disproportionate to the width, feeling like a hotel lobby,” says Jim Gunther, Larsen’s lead architectural designer on the home. “So we approached our clients with the concept of a story and a half combined family living area. We added clerestory windows to the front elevation, making the house appear taller, with the added benefit of bringing in western light.”
To provide more curb appeal, the Larsen team designed three prominent gables: one over the garage and two over the bedroom wing which bookends the central living area.
For interior décor, the homeowners brought in Beth Armijo of Armijo Design Group. “My clients are super-sophisticated and fun and also love to travel,” Armijo says. “We wanted the home to be comfortable and realistic for children (there are two) but also have a little edge to it.”
The home also has a number of other custom elements that the homeowners asked for, including a second powder room for guests using the backyard pool, a canine-eating-and- bathing area (for the family’s English bulldog) and a wildly functional basement that includes two more bedrooms and baths, a playroom, rec room, exercise room, gear room and climbing wall, and is accessible from the garage. The pièce de résistance: a winch in the garage to raise the family’s large raft into the vaulted space above their cars.
“We are over the moon,” says the wife. “The house is so open and modern and welcoming and warm, but it still has timeless touches. People ask us what we would change, and it’s hard to come up with anything. Everyone put their heart into
this house and it turned out great.”