ongtime Denver residents Jason and Adria McCool appreciate the Los Angeles brand of midcentury modern style so much that they travel there frequently. “We have always loved that city’s design vibe,” explains Jason. They even considered moving there, but when they discovered a sprawling 1960s home in the Mile High City that fit their Modernist viewpoint, they decided there’s no place like home.
When the McCools hired designer Kim Layne to help update the vintage residence, they had no idea of the home’s history or its Hollywood connections. It was built by Marvin Davis, an oil mogul who once owned 20th Century Fox, Pebble Beach Resorts and the Beverly Hills Hotel, among other investments. Before moving to Los Angeles, Davis lived in the Denver house with his family.
For the design, Layne honored the home’s legacy while implementing the style her clients love. “We gave it a new life with a nod to the grand Hollywood Regency style Marvin established during his time here,” Layne says. “The home is still glamorous, but now with the clean, modern bent it was intended to have.” Jason agrees, adding, “We tried to walk a fine line between classy and comfortable.”
Inside, little was untouched, although the front closet with its 1970s wallpaper and green velvet-covered hanging rod remains just as it was in the Davis days. The parquet floor in the family room was also preserved and inspired the new, more clean-lined herringbone-wood floors elsewhere in the house. “Before, there was a lot of cream-and-beige marble everywhere,” says Layne. “We wanted to update things with new modern materials that make a similar impact.” These elements translate into a dramatic foyer with white Carrara marble and black Nero Marquina marble pieces cut into trapezoid shapes and laid to create a geometric, statement-making floor. Enhancing the impact is a round sofa with an animal print, black-lacquered chests and a contemporary crystal chandelier.
The marble floors–which begin with the black-and-white pattern in the foyer, then morph into oversize white squares in the rest of the home–proved tricky for general contractor Austin Schmidt. “We were trying to install almost 4,000 feet of marble tile and there were no level horizontal planes in the house,” he recalls. “We had to pour self-leveling concrete on two-thirds of the floor space, and then lay the stone.” Schmidt acknowledges other challenges as well, noting, “The way homes were built 50 years ago is so different from the way we build now.” He cites the master bathroom as a prime example. When constructed, this area was a warren of small, awkward spaces, including his-and-her bathing areas, three closets and a sauna. Layne reconfigured the space into one large room with a freestanding glass shower, but Schmidt says the complexity of the original layout required his team
to “reframe that area a couple of times.”
The home’s color palette was inspired by a pair of stained-glass sidelights that once flanked the front door. The glass elements were composed of vibrant shades of teal, gold and blue, and although they had to be removed to make way for a new steel-and-glass entry door, their colors live on throughout the house. “We used those shades as an inspiration to ground the palette in what the home had been,” Layne says. “Especially the teal element, which we wove through most of the rooms.” This hue appears in the elegant living room curtains, the library millwork and bookshelves, the velvet-covered dining room chairs and the family room’s barstools. The blue-green shades are frequently accented with notes of polished brass (as in the legs of the barstools).
Truer blue tones appear in the family room, where the designer selected an oversize semicircular sofa in a bright cobalt hue that seems to embrace the fireplace. The fireplace wall now has a new lease on life, thanks to the designer’s fresh take on classic midcentury materials. Granite replaces ledgestone tile on the horizontal fireplace surround, and the tall, vertical volume is reclad in limestone. Layne covered the wall above the mantel with contemporary wooden squares outlined in raw steel–a twist on classic wood paneling. Across the room, a 1960s-style console wears an of-the-moment gilded honeycomb print and is flanked by chairs
with a bold foo-dog pattern.
In the formal living room, Layne opted to reference the Hollywood Regency genre in a more direct way. The room’s paneled walls and niches are highlighted with shades of pale gray, cream and bright white, while the ceiling was painted a sky-blue hue. Low-backed sofas are upholstered in soft cream and teal shades, and the coffee table is crafted in a kidney shape. A California-cool note is struck with fine art photography showing The Beverly Hills Hotel, a pool in front of a midcentury house and a desert dotted with tall cacti.
Today, the McCools couldn’t be happier with their new home–so much so they are making the trek to Los Angeles less frequently. “We come here for the weekend, close the gate and never have to leave,” says Jason. “It’s a peaceful, modern retreat.”
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