At Home in Denver

To Ben and Kristy Elkon, Denver is home.  While they also spent time in Seattle and Salt Lake City, Kristy says that Denver is the only place they wanted to come back to again and again.  So when it came time for them to settle down Ben, a pediatrician, and Kristy, a registered nurse, knew that they wanted their life to play out in The Mile-High City.  Of course knowing what one wants and making it happen are two different things, especially in the extremely competitive Denver real estate market, but they persisted in their search and eventually landed a four bedroom home in a great neighborhood for their growing family.  Somehow they even ended up with a garage and a large back yard!

The area is experiencing a surge of development with most owners demolishing old homes to make way for new construction, but The Elkons decided that they wanted to save their circa 1903 home and embarked on a bold multi-year renovation project.  What began with new flooring, windows, and a cooling system has now become a complete renovation of nearly the entire house including a stunning kitchen remodel.

Ben and Kristy have two very distinct styles.  Ben is a lover of mid-century modern design, and Kristy enjoys the casual feel of a farmhouse.  While both of them realized that a farmhouse in the middle of Denver would look out of place, they were able to find ways to incorporate subtle farmhouse characteristics into their renovation without having a home that screamed “farmhouse”.  They did this through things like the installation of a claw foot tub in the upstairs bathroom, selecting white as the color for the cabinetry in the kitchen while still maintaining a modern door style, and utilizing barn door hardware which holds two of the home’s original doors in the dining room.  Ben’s mid-century modern style was then brought in with furniture pieces throughout the house as well as with fixtures like hand-blown glass lights featured in the kitchen and dining room and a vanity featured in the upstairs bath.

I don’t like to use the word eclectic to describe the style of the home because to me the design feels so intentional that it transcends what often passes for eclecticism these days.  Ben and Kristy seamlessly combined their two styles and the juxtaposition of not only mid-century modern and farmhouse style but also the addition of historic elements really makes their home a feast for the eyes and the mind.  Every turn of the head solicits recognition that there are two distinct styles on display and then the realization not only that the pieces in question work together, but that they appear as if they belong together.  One of my favorite examples of this phenomenon in the house is the dining room table that belonged to Ben’s grandmother, flanked with beautiful mid-century modern Eame’s style dining chairs.

Let’s take a tour! When you see what this home looked like before Ben and Kristy began, you’ll appreciate it even more, so I’m going to include some “before” images throughout this article as well. How about the exterior for starters?

And how about that entry?  Originally the entry felt cramped with a door separating it from the living room.  Ben and Kristy opened up that wall so that the space now flows nicely.  They chose rich wood flooring, an airy blue wall color, a craftsman style front door, and a modern chandelier to welcome guests.

A beautiful mid-century modern console table contrasts nicely with the the home’s original staircase.  The entry now serves as a great preview for the rest of the house thanks to sound structural decisions and impeccable interior design choices.

A turn to the left takes you into the living room, where The Elkons have once again managed to effectively combine old and new with impressive results.  I need only take one look at the original space to respect the project even more.

The room is now anchored by one of the most beautiful Persian rugs, and a modern marble and metal coffee table sets atop.  Admittedly, the rug is also one of Ben and Kristy’s favorite pieces in the home.  Other antique pieces in the space include the side chairs which are family heirlooms that the couple had reupholstered.  Also notable in this room and throughout the home are the black and white photographs and large canvas prints.  Aside from his day job as a pediatrician, Ben is also an extremely talented landscape and travel photographer.  His work serves as a beautiful reminder of the family’s many adventures.

The Elkons have also inconspicuously created a play area for their daughter in the living room.  Toys are neatly tucked away in side table drawers and in containers on the floating shelves, and the miniature table and chairs makes the perfect place for tea parties and art projects.

The home has two floors above ground as well as a basement.  Its two bathrooms are located on the first and second floors.  My favorite of the two is the second floor bathroom with it’s quirky ceiling pitches and crisp black and white color palette.  A claw foot tub lends the space an historic feel while a simple vanity with clean lines gives the space a modern edge.

This is one of the warmest black and white spaces I’ve ever seen, and I think the wooden drawer fronts on the vanity and the matte gold hardware play a major role in creating this effect.

Perhaps the biggest transformation to date though is the space that is now the kitchen and dining room.  When Ben and Kristy purchased the home, they were handed two awkward spaces– a small room between the entry and the kitchen, that if my memory serves correct was a great place for storing fine liquor and stemless wine glasses (said sarcastically), and an array of dated cabinets and wood paneling that made up the small kitchen and dining area.  Of course the historian in me wonders what the tiny parlor-like room was used for, but the realist in me wonders why no one ever thought to expand the kitchen and dining room in the past hundred years.  1903– you get a pass.  2003– hmmm?

The Elkons knocked out the wall that separated the two spaces and let their kitchen dreams run wild.  Kristy designed the kitchen herself, and each cabinet was purposefully chosen.  The tall cabinets are perfect for storing pantry items and the cabinets flanking the stove and dishwasher house cooking and serving pieces, and the commercial style appliances made by Kitchen Aid, with their red accented handles, add a nice pop of color to the white kitchen.

A bar separates the dining room from the kitchen, and provides additional seating.  One of my favorite design features in the space is the countertop on the bar that extends over the end and down to the floor.  Not only does it give a visual separation between the work area and the bar area, but it also adds a modern element to the overall design.

The dining room is bright and airy thanks to a triple door at one end.  The dining table, a family heirloom, is flanked by Eame’s style chairs, while a mid-century modern lighting fixture matching the style of the bar fixture helps pull the dining room and kitchen design together.

I cannot say enough about this remarkable transformation and the two people that took it on.  Ben and Kristy have an incredible sense of style that is evident throughout their entire Denver property.  While there are still projects to be done, the most recent renovations have made the house feel like home, so here’s wishing this amazing couple the opportunity to finally slow down and enjoy all that they’ve accomplished.  Way to go Elkons!