Nothing can make you appreciate the sanctity of home more than seeing yours narrowly survive a natural disaster.
Such was the case for a young family in Boulder, whose home was one of only a handful in their neighborhood of 50 to be bypassed by the disastrous Marshall Fire in 2021. During the two years they’d lived in their home prior to the fire, the family had contemplated making a few minor changes. But after, the impetus to go all-in on their home grew alongside the realization of their near loss.
“They saw that they’d truly been spared, and decided that it was time to do a major renovation,” says interior designer Sara Shalls, founder and principal of Shalls Design Studio in North Boulder, who they hired to conceptualize and complete the job. As first-time renovators, the homeowners looked to Shalls—an experienced residential and hospitality industry designer—to implement their top-of-the-list priorities: establishing greater functionality and introducing high-quality finishes and furnishings to their dwelling.
“They put it in our hands to create something that was fresh and modern but that didn’t depart too much from the existing architecture of the home,” she says. Shalls and her team partnered with Faurot Construction in Boulder for the interior overhaul of the Mediterranean-style home, including a kitchen renovation, updates throughout the main and upper levels, and a full gut of the basement. “We completely reimagined the interior to create a really livable space,” Shalls says.
First up was assigning function and flow. Shalls renovated the kitchen and installed custom-crafted cabinetry throughout the house, and in the basement—which had previously been home to a bar and guest bedroom—Shalls designed a gym, sauna, and steam room, as well as a media theater with stepped seating. “The former basement wasn’t practical for them,” says Shalls. “They’re very into wellness and fitness, so we wanted the basement to address those interests.” Shalls also transformed what was once under-stair storage into a cozy nook where the kids can play, read, and relax.
Knowing that the family was interested in furniture that could gracefully accommodate their love of beauty as well as their active lifestyle, Shalls brought the homeowners to Studio Como, where they worked with design director Laura Folgoni and consultant Will Funk to pick stand-out pieces. “They wanted their furnishings to be unique, not things you would see in a big box store,” she explains. “Quality was also very important to them. They fell in love with everything they saw at Studio Como.”
Play is mentioned by Shalls as one of the biggest design drivers, and she points to the abundance of patterns, prints, and colorful wall coverings and furniture that are used throughout the interior as examples of the home’s joie de vivre. “We went bold in a few choice areas to make the home feel lively and fun,” she says. A B&B Italia Camaleonda sofa in the upstairs kids’ area is upholstered in a patchwork of colors. “The homeowners were really up for the unconventional,” Shalls shares.
A taste for the extraordinary extended to lighting. “We put the Triad 15 chandelier from Apparatus in the vaulted two-story entryway—a space that we knew could handle something big and architectural,” says Shalls. In the dining area, the design team selected the Neverending Glory pendant from LASVIT in the Metropolitan Opera silhouette to hang above B&B Italia’s Allure O’ dining table and Cassina Capitol Complex chairs. Shalls mentions that the pendant was chosen with the view beyond it in mind; the property backs up to Louisville open space, offering expansive long views that the design team tried hard not to interrupt.
For as much as the family loves to play, they also invest in rest. One of the home’s two primary suites is outfitted with pieces from the London-based De La Espada. The sumptuous Dubois bed with built-in bedside tables adds dimension to the room’s fabric-covered walls, and is complemented by a Elysia lounge chair. Aside from the kids’ play areas, Shalls says this room is a favorite of the redesign. That space, she says, is like a refuge. “The whole house feels like a breath of fresh air.”