Denver designer Jess Knauf makes coastal style feel right at home in Wash Park.
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Thanks to this fresh take on traditional decor by Denver designer Jess Knauf, coastal style feels right at home in Wash Park. Read on for tips about how to get the all-American, summer-at-the-Cape look in your Colorado home, too.
Sure, this Wash Park home’s crisp, preppy look is a bit of a departure from Denver’s ever-popular modern farmhouse style, but that’s because its roots are on the East Coast. Homeowners Andy and Erin Miller—a Denver native who attended Dartmouth in New Hampshire and a Chicagoan who earned her degree at Bowdoin College on Maine’s coast, respectively—met in Boston. They spent weekends exploring the historic harbor towns and lighthouses along the Northeast’s picturesque coastline, and those idyllic years would eventually inform the couple’s elegant, borrowed-from-tradition design sense. Jobs, relatives, and lifestyle pulled the pair to Denver in 2014, and when this redbrick, five-bedroom, five-bath house hit the market in 2019, they jumped at the chance to create a family home with East Coast vibes.
For help with the decor, the Millers hired interior designer Jess Knauf, principal of Jess Knauf Design, whose old-meets-new aesthetic aligned with their vision. The renovation was about finding the right palette, furnishings, and fabrics to convey the tailored look the Millers love so much—but in a relaxed way that would accommodate their young kids (3 and 6 years old) and lifestyle. Luckily, the home’s previous owners had good taste, so most of the existing hard surfaces, light fixtures, and even some of the window coverings stayed intact. “I would describe this home as classic, without being too serious,” Knauf says. “I think ‘traditional’ gets a bad rap. I prefer ‘timeless.’”
As reliable as a white T-shirt and jeans, the mainstay color scheme of classic East Coast decor is blue and white. But Knauf, a California native, says there’s a way to do blue-and-white that doesn’t feel too repetitive or predictable: “This home has a definite Americana palette; we offset the blue and white with pops of red, pink, and soft yellow. While the blue continues in almost every room, it doesn’t feel tired because of the varying shades and other uses of color,” she explains. For example: In the dining room, an indigo Schumacher grasscloth enlivens the walls above the tall wainscoting; in the living room, turquoise and citron throw pillows emphasize an easy-going vibe; and, in the son’s bedroom and kids’ playroom, Thibaut fabric upholstery in Peony and Cranberry colorways add energy. “Fun and breezy fabrics make everything more cheerful, airy, and light,” Knauf says.
There’s no denying that the house feels, as the designer says, breezy—a definite departure from typical traditional design. “While everything is beautiful and polished, it is also accessible and comfortable. It’s not a place where you’re afraid to live and hang out,” Knauf says. Sophisticated heirloom-quality pieces—including a Design Wright Studios spindle chair and Holland MacRae historic-reproduction dining room table and chairs—mingle with lighthearted touches like the breakfast nook’s seashell-trimmed Ro Sham Beaux chandelier and a nautical rope mirror in the son’s bathroom. Plus, everything is upholstered in high-end performance fabrics. “We used gorgeous furniture throughout the house, but made decisions to ensure it stays beautiful for a long time,” Knauf says. “Summer means lots of entertaining, kids running around, and fun—not worrying about your furniture.” And those are priorities we can all agree on, no matter which coast you come from.
Interior Design: Jess Knauf, Jess Knauf Design
This article was originally published in 5280 Home August/September 2022.
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