Mediterranean-Themed Home Built 'Green & Lean'
By Daina Darzin
A high-stakes design event, "Built Green" environmental guidelines, the need for efficient use of space and a high-visibility "client" were just some of the challenges Wonderland Custom Builders faced in the design of a stunning Mediterranean-themed home, which was chosen to be part of the Denver Homebuilders Association's annual "Parade of Homes."
Top designers from all over the area enter a lottery for the chance to be part of the Parade of Homes." When Wonderland Custom Builders decided to enter, the firm concluded that having a real person as the "mythical client" would give its home a real focus, rather than just having it display the high-end trends du jour. So the firm approached Denver news anchor and design maven Aimee Sporer to be that focus.
Wonderland espouses an overall commitment to building all of its homes by "Built Green" guidelines, but in this case, the goal was also to make the home as energy efficient as possible without sacrificing design elements. The company worked with renowned architect Gordon Tully from the Consortium for Advanced Residential Building (CARB) to achieve this.
Matt Worswick from Synergy Design provided working drawings, while Barbee James of Detail Design Studio contributed the interior design and furnishes. Designer and K&BDN columnist Mary Jo Peterson consulted on the design of the kitchen. The many rounds of design modifications and product research for the project were supervised by Cindi Symons and Steve Doane of Wonderland.
The primary aesthetic goals were to "create a house with an Old World feel that could lend itself to both elegant and informal areas," according to Symons. The layout was designed to accommodate both small and large group entertaining, and allow for both private spaces and areas to congregate.
The designers decided on a stucco exterior to emphasize the Mediterranean influence from the outset. Next, Sporer's entertaining style prompted an "outdoor room," which would enable the house to flow almost seamlessly from inside to outside, all tied together by natural slate flooring material. Wonderland added a fireplace and built-in barbecue to make the outdoor room useable nearly year-round.
Space was a factor in the design; Wonderland preferred to emphasize "the efficient use of limited footage," for a look that was lean as well as green. Natural light was used to further bring in the outdoors.
The stucco influence was brought into the kitchen via the arched alcove for the cooktop. The latter provides the focal point of the kitchen. Tumbled marble and slate accents make for an easily cleanable wall surface; a stainless steel hood, enclosed in the arch, and a G.E. Monogram professional grade gas cooktop with open shelving below make this an attractive and functional place to work.
An open floor plan allows for easy access from the kitchen to the family room, making it perfect for informal entertaining. The kitchen itself features two cooking areas: the main kitchen and a baking center. This set-up allows for at least two people in the preparation areas.
In the master bathroom, Sporer insisted on "his" and "hers" closets, as well as a separate tub and shower. The bath boasts an Old World style soaking tub, while the shower reflects a full array of modern amenities: steam unit, foot whirlpool, shower tower and teak bench, all equipped with Kohler Artist series plumbing fixtures and fittings (which also found their way into the kids' bath and bake center.)
Like the kitchen, the bath is equipped for two users: the shower, tub, vanities and toilet area all have their own individual spaces, including 36" vanities with many drawers to eliminate medicine cabinets, wherever possible. The owner's suite has a fleur-de-lis theme, from the fabrics in the bedroom and sitting areas to the subtle faux painting in the bath and coffered ceiling. The bath also features a private deck.
Cherry cabinets from Bridgeport were used in the kitchen, butler pantry, study and dining room to further give the house "a unified look," according to Symons. Glass fronts "open up and highlight the area under the granite slab at the end of the kitchen countertop and in the bake center."
Throughout, Symons made use of "natural materials such as slate, granite and tumbled marble" to provide "an organic, textural feel." Extra cabinets in the nook area offset the lack of overhead cabinetry. In accordance to the house's space-efficient design, two large built-in pantry cabinets were utilized instead of a walk-in pantry.
All the appliances in the kitchen are GE's Monogram series. A bottom-mount refrigerator with cabinet panels on the face provide a built-in look; double ovens in the bake center and an under-countertop microwave offer ease of access and maximize wall cabinet space. A pull-out appliance shelf locks in place just under countertop level for a mixer or food processor. Two appliance garages keep countertop appliances concealed.
Even the formal dining room reflects the design's outdoor theme, opening to the outdoor room through Andersen French doors. Rugged, hand-carved spiraled columns throughout add a rustic feel that's warm and inviting.
Overall, the space is designed to offer a variety to options for the occupants: Eating areas include the dining room, a nook with built-in seating, a breakfast bar, outdoor room, patio, and a smaller, more private outdoor area.
Since the TV anchor loves gold, rich gold tones predominate throughout, coordinating tile with fabrics, ceiling and wall colors. Warm, dark sages and deep russet colors in the family area and plum shades in the music/living room bring warmth to these more informal areas. The end result, according to the design team, is a real-life home that showcases "the best of elegant and informal living opulence with a natural, relaxed and comfortable feel."