20 Smart Ideas from a Stunning Mid-Century Remodel

The best of the past meets the future of design in our ranch house makeover in Denver

Joanna Linberg
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Mid-century now

When we chose a 1950s ranch house in Denver to remodel for our 2015 Sunset Idea House, the response was passionate and mixed. Some people said we should leave a good thing alone. Others pointed out that the house, which wasn’t exactly iconic, could use the update. We understand both perspectives. That’s why we tapped Jonas DiCaprio of design/build firm Design Platform to devise a remodel that left intact the best of the existing details (like the fireplace) while adding more space and some of the midcentury features (like custom built-ins) the original home lacked. Then interior designer Megan Hudacky of CKY Design layered on contemporary details to bring that vintage style into today. No matter your home’s era, you’ll be inspired by the result.

Architecture: Design Platform, designplatformllc.com. Interior design: CKY Design, ckydesigns.com.

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Put light into motion

Sunshine from the two-story atrium floods the sitting room. Custom metal mesh panels usher the light through the stairwell to the basement, living room, and second floor. The room used to be a galley kitchen; Hudacky deployed velvet sofas and a vintage bar cart to turn it into a place for cocktails or reading. Bar cart: Vintage. Bocci lighting: studiocomo.com. Hutton sofas in Vick Haze fabric, Parks end tables & Sheepskin rug in Steel Grey: roomandboard.com.

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Turn up the heat

“Most people equate ‘modern’ with ‘cold,’ ” Hudacky says. “I like to show how warm it can be.” She did that in the living room with comfortable furnishings (overstuffed but in streamlined shapes) and wall-to-wall drapery for softness. The custom rug gives the room a style hit. Custom rug; Casbah Carbon fabric for drapes; Canvas Flax, Casbah Carbon & Desert II Carbon fabric for upholstery: sunbrella.com. Possini Trumpet floor lamp: lampsplus.com. Soren lounge chairs & Dunn cocktail table: roomandboard.com.

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Use furniture as walls

Built-in furniture was often used to divide rooms in mid-cen­tury homes, DiCaprio says. He brought that element into this house with a massive custom unit that functions as an armoire for coats on the entry side, a wine bar on the kitchen side, and a media cabinet in the living room (pictured). Slats in the center allow light to pass between the different rooms.

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Build in a place to party

The wine bar is a hub for entertaining, with equal access from the kitchen and the dining room. A wall-mounted wine rack leaves counter space free for setting out appetizers or desserts. Graphic wallpaper plays on a familiar modern shape and gives the niche an identity. Frekvenssi Abstract wallpaper: wayfair.com.

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Wield color wisely

Hudacky painted most of the house Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter, knowing the natural light would make it look slightly different in each room. Accents of orange-red, aqua, and Dijon yellow animate the gray. In the dining room (pictured), the metal chairs bring the pop of color the room needed. Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter HC-172: benjaminmoore.com. Bevanna chandelier: lampsplus.com. Turtle table & Clothed Roadrunner chairs: doublebutter.com.

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Make it seamless

Both the floors and the kitchen cabinetry are hickory. Design Platform’s workshop took care to match the cabinet faces so the wood grain moves seamlessly across the unit. ActiveSmart refrigerator, double self-clean built-in wall oven, flush gas steel cooktop, & ventilation hood: fisherpaykel.com. Doors & windows: westernwindowsystems.com. Natural Hues tile in Aegean, Jade & Real Teal: daltile.com. Possini Ponder LED pendants: lampsplus.com.

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Shine with metal

“Metal doesn’t have to be blingy,” Hudacky says. “When it’s brushed, it’s really sophisticated.” She wrapped the vent hood and adjacent cabinets in brushed bronze to dress up the kitchen. Open glass shelves along the rest of the wall get the most impact out of the tile.

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Splash on the color

Hudacky wanted more color in the kitchen than a typical backsplash would give, so she extended the tiles to the ceiling and onto the floor. The stunning result delineates the kitchen from the rest of the open space. “I chose blue because it’s a soothing color most people feel comfortable with,” she says.

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Open up

Accordion folding doors from Western Window Systems lead to the outdoor kitchen and patio (pictured), shaded by an adjustable Sunbrella scalloped awning. Ceramic porcelain outdoor tiles and linear pavers mimic the mixed flooring inside.

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Promote privacy

The home office is right off the kitchen and dining room, so it’s close to the action, but private enough to get work done. Hudacky used a metallic grasscloth on the walls and cowhide on the floor to warm up the midcentury modern-inspired furniture.

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The master bedroom’s picture windows let in a lot of light but made placing the bed a challenge. To solve it, Hudacky hung wall-to-wall drapes to anchor the bed and offer privacy. A luxurious teal velvet quilt from Wayfair echoes the sofas downstairs. “The windows make this room feel large, so I didn’t want to overdec­orate and lose that,” says Hudacky. A desk with a metal base offers a spot to work—and breaks up the neutral color palette with a dose of yellow. The tapered, angled leg style is inspired by vintage mid-century pieces. Dwell Studio Mercer Slate quilt: wayfair.com. Nomadic Carbon fabric for drapes: sunbrella.com. Turtle work table & Roadrunner chair: doublebutter.com.

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Store more

Custom drawers, cabinets, and rods hung at multi­ple heights make efficient use of a 10- by 10-foot walk-in closet. DiCaprio left space in the center for an otto­man or island. Clothing: Courtesy of jjill.com. Custom closet: closetfactory.com.

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Divide and conquer

The idea of screens sepa­rating rooms is repeated in the sitting area, where a sheer drape divides this reading spot from the rest of the bedroom. A curvy repro­duction lounge chair breaks up the boxy ottoman and shelving. Jonathan Adler Brigitte side chair & Casablanca Market Moroccan pouf: wayfair.com.

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Tile creatively

The bathroom’s ample light allowed for deeply toned tiles from Heath Ceramics. “I knew the room wouldn’t feel dark, but really rich instead,” Hudacky says. She added interest to the herringbone pattern by placing light tiles randomly and more densely around the edges of the room. Classic Field tile in Steam, White & Cast Iron Gray: heathceramics.com.

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Create a haven

Hudacky turned a bedroom on the second floor into a tech-free place to unplug. Slim bookshelves and a credenza mimic built-ins. Low lounge chairs in luxurious leather make this a place you’ll want to stay a while.

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Build in a place to party

This former rec room doesn’t stray far from its roots: As a playroom for young chil­dren, it gets style points from mismatched area rugs laid over the carpet and a custom wall covering of midcentury illustrator Charley Harper’s ladybirds. The ottomans can be tossed around for seating (or fort building). Custom wall covering: designtex.com. Jonathan Adler Sputnik ceiling light: lampsplus.com. Linen Beads Hassock & Handcut Shapes Cube poufs; Anatolia Brown, Nomad Pussywillow, & Rhapsody Purple/Red Geometric rugs: wayfair.com.

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Randomize color

Colorful tiles break up the gray ones in a playful approach to the guest bath­room. The hex shape is inspired by a mid-century design. Natural Hues tile in Mist, Aspen & Dijon: daltile.com.

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Play up the light

A new window well lets so much light into the guest bedroom, it’s hard to tell the room is in the basement. To capitalize on the brightness, Hudacky chose mostly white bedding from Wayfair, letting drama come from the pillows and stark photography. Dwell Studio Chinoiserie bedding: wayfair.com.

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Get outside

A rooftop deck over the garage gives the second floor an outdoor space. The composite wood decking was laid on top of the sealed roof, providing the flat surface with extra protection from sun and moisture—a bonus, given Denver’s wide-ranging seasons. Overstuffed furniture is upholstered in Sunbrella indoor-outdoor fabric to prevent fading. Canvas fabric in Orange & Coal for upholstery: sunbrella.com. Earth Wood Evolutions in Tigerwood decking: timbertech.com. Maya chairs & Laguna sofa: roomandboard.com.

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Reference the past

DiCaprio wanted to distin­guish between the original home and the addition, so he kept the existing brick on the first level and clad the addition in horizontal cedar siding, right. Land­scape designer Jessica Lummus of Environmental Designs (environmentaldesigns.net) complemented the clean lines with a bank of terraced planters along the path to the front door.