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Post Flood: A Boulder Home Renovation

A few months after the flood, I received a call from a Boulder resident who had experienced extensive water damage to the lower level of her home. Once the debris had been removed and the water pumped away, the homeowner looked upon the damaged space to decide what to do.

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The dated-look of the pre-flood playroom

Kristen realized that she did not want to replace it as it had been before. She wanted to re-envision it wholeheartedly and she wanted “something different.” As we talked, her ideas became clear. We started to plan how she would truly live in the new space, and what “something different” might look and feel like.

The original owner had built the house in 2006 on spec. It had been something of a “labor of love.” He lavished detail on this lower level, some of which now felt dated and fussy – such as multi-level drywall reveals, a peninsula at the kitchenette with wet bar, arches going into a “cigar room,” and a very small bathroom adjacent to two small bedrooms. The bones of a very good house were there as well.


Go For It!

Sometimes what is needed is to strip the structure back to the studs and overlay a new concept. This approach helps to clarify the potentials and limitations inherent in a structure.

As you will see, these rooms are yet to be decorated, making the bold transformation all the more evident.

The design concept is clarified

In the new floor plan, I expanded the bathroom to include a spacious steam shower, a larger vanity, and linen storage.

The two bedrooms became a Guest Suite with a hallway and an adjacent sitting area – giving it a spacious, open feeling. Daylight pours in through two large window wells.

These rooms open to the Media Room through double glass pocket doors, which when open add even more living area to the suite.




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The Fitness Room

Kristen has a dedicated, personal fitness program. The key to her desire to “fully live” in this new space featured a really cool workout space. I placed a ½” rubber gym floor in the 12’x16’ area which will contain multiple spinning machines, free weights, and a Universal System. Floor-to-ceiling mirrors create a sense of openness and purpose. The interlocking squares from My Gym Floor are resilient underfoot, absorbing the impact of floor exercise.


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The Kitchenette

Removing the wet bar, I designed a tight, contemporary, linear kitchenette with state-of-the-art appliances: a compact, below-counter Bosch dishwasher, two-drawer Marvel refrigerator, and a drawer-style Sharp microwave, complemented by a two-burner Wolf induction cook top. Guests will be able to cook a meal, or make tea or popcorn, independently of the upstairs household.


Subtle Lighting sets the Mood

The lighting design illuminates the entire space with 3-3/4” low voltage recessed fixtures from Lightolier.

To create spaciousness in subterranean areas, wall-washing gimbaled spots brighten large sections of vertical surface for art to be hung. This creates the sense of looking “through” the walls into alternate worlds of color, landscape, and texture.

The low voltage downlights have specular trim, which, unlike conventional recessed lighting, diffuses the light evenly. Low voltage lighting requires up to 50% less energy to operate than an equal wattage incandescent bulb.



Luxurious Bath

In the bath, I designed a spacious steam shower with duel bench seats to accommodate 2-4 persons.

The tiles and seats are honed Durango limestone. It has a warm, slightly peachy hue and the overall effect is nurturing, calming.

The hardware has a bronze finish including the 10” round, ceiling-mounted showerhead with a handheld body spray for rinsing and cooling.

After a workout, a refreshing, cleansing steam bath is just what the doctor ordered!

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Wall Texture

American Clay wall finishes add an earthy textural finish that creates a durable, vibrant backdrop throughout the entire space. These natural clays have the color entrained within the product that lets the mineral faceting shine subtly through. It is also known that these natural clays generate negative ions, helping to neutralize some of the overload of positive ions produced by the electronics and cellular transmissions of modern life.

For subtle effect, we rounded the drywall corners at every possible opportunity and added curved niches in the bath and sitting area. This adds softness and depth to display found objects and small sculptures.


Moulding and Hardware

The millwork was custom-made to my specs by Schacht Millwork in Lafayette. It was cut from clear poplar, sanded, and shop-primed to make the project and the trim carpenter’s task flow smoothly. Because of various ceiling drops required to cover mechanical systems, some very creative crown layouts were established.

The door styling and moulding profile for the crown, casing, base, and hardware were selected for strength and simplicity. The hardware is from Emtek, one of my favorite manufacturers.

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State of the Art Electronics

All rooms are wired for sound by placing a remote-controlled system under the stairwell. The Media Room has a large state-of-the-art monitor and surround sound system. There is a docking port in the guest suite to play en-suite music only, or to charge a laptop or surf the web on the Wifi Internet connection. Cool. Why not?

 Recovery from the flood


The flood had washed the exterior landscape away.

The prelude to this renovation success story was the need for extensive water remediation.

Early on, I met with Tom Sunderland of Native Edge Landscaping to assess the exterior drainage conditions that caused the damage to this structure in the first place.

Tom created solutions by constructing a new side yard landscape with more than adequate drainage for site and roof water. I added a fail-proof battery back-up sump, set in the crawlspace and slab. If the rains come and the power goes off, this home will be protected.


Now the foundation drainage issues have thoroughly addressed and the gardens are in bloom again.

A note about my design philosophy…

Getting the design of a project “right” is not about overlaying generic architectural details. It is about seeing the energy and lifestyle of the individuals living within the space. It is about gathering the essence that surrounds, supports, and reinforces their emotional and physical natures. When we get that right, the signature vibration of the architecture soars!

Photos by Nicholas Borrell and Jesse R. Borrell of