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With thoughtfully allocated spaces, scaling down can be an ideal chance to improve your lifestyle

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Downsizing your home doesn't mean you need to scale back your lifestyle. A smaller home with well-arranged spaces can provide you with enhanced living and entertainment options.

When interior designer Mary Wilson, from Nielsen-Wilson Design, bought this long and narrow home the interior was poorly organized. However, as it was always destined for remodeling, what was appealing was that the only load-bearing walls were those of the exterior. This gave a large amount of freedom when it came to reallocating the interior spaces.

"The house was bought with the knowledge that the interior was going to be transformed. With a long footprint, and because it is a center unit, natural light only penetrates from the front and back," she says.

At its widest, the home measures 22 feet, which tapers back to 15 feet at its narrowest point.

"Because of the size and shape, there were plenty of challenges. We looked at the space by the inch, rather than by the foot. We intended to take advantage of the latest home automation technology, so we were always going to have to break into the walls to install the necessary wiring."

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In total, five miles of low voltage wiring was installed in the walls. A Lutron/Crestron automation system allows the occupants to program and remotely control almost any electronic functions: from lighting and heating to audiovisual equipment, and even turning on the oven.

Upstairs, a vaulted ceiling includes a skylight to introduce natural light. Elsewhere, the mix of natural and artificial light can be exactly controlled with a system of automated blinds and lighting.

The house comprises three levels: an office, full bath, laundry and guest bedroom are downstairs; living and dining rooms, the kitchen, and an outdoor courtyard are on the ground floor; and the master suite, study, and storage spaces are located upstairs.

"The entrance and living areas are quite open, while the dining room is defined by four columns. We wanted to give this space more of a library feel. Furniture groupings are arranged so they can be easily expanded or modified. There are divisions between spaces, but you don't necessarily need walls to define the space."

Instead of walls, the furniture groupings indicate the different areas, many of which perform more than one function. The dining room, surrounded by shelving with built-in display lighting, is not just for formal dining, but also a place for sitting and reading. Trimless detail application is aided by the use of engineered lumber in the walls, which provides clean levels and plumb lines.

For visual interest in the kitchen, Wilson specified a countertop of Kodiak granite, imported from Brazil. This material also forms the fireplace surround in the adjacent sitting room. The long, galley-style kitchen features extensive storage. Manufactured by Bulthaup, the cabinetry is German cherry, which has a finish that is more brown than the typical red of cherry.

Throughout the home, a color scheme with natural hues and textures links the living spaces together.

"The palette is influenced by the mature trees and well-maintained gardens of the surrounding streets. The interior color variations are all inspired by nature."

Furnishings in the home reflect this philosophy, with neutral walls forming a backdrop to an abundance of brown, green, and tan tones.

"All the furniture and colors flow together so nothing surprises, but there are subtle differences. For instance, the powder room floor features golden onyx with sandblasted gold leaf glass tile inserts. It's how we use materials to do things we haven't done before that is interesting, and how we use color and texture to create sophistication."

An outdoor patio flows on from the ground level living areas. To enable use all year round, Wilson installed heating under the tiled surface. Overhead heaters provide additional warmth, as does the fire pit. An in-ground spa, a waterfall feature and built-in speaker system contribute to an enjoyable outdoor experience.

First published date: 15 November 2006

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Credit List

Interior architecture and design Mary Wilson, Nielsen-Wilson Design (Denver, CO)
Builder Darren Vesel, Single Source
Construction Mike Floyd, Kane Creek Construction
Custom millwork Reinhardt Studios
Kitchen cabinets Bulthaup
Lighting coordination 186 Lighting Design Group
Special carpentry Gregg Fournier, Fournier Remodeling
Floor refinishing Synergy Floor covering
Automation system Lutron; Crestron
Automation, audiovisual installation Solstice Multimedia
Entrance furniture Barbara Barry table and chair from Baker Knapps & Tubbs
Living room furniture Vintage furniture reupholstered by Daubiz & Sons, fabric by Sina Person from TJ Horan; mirror by Holly Hunt; Barbara Barry X Back chairs from Baker Knapps & Tubbs, Rogers & Goffignon fabric from George Cameron Nash; side chairs from John Saladino Furniture; coffee table from Mulholland Bros; Torchere light from Phoenix Day; wall sconces by Paul Ferrante from John Brooks
Family room furniture Edelman hide rug from Boyd & Dreith; chaise longues from Cameron Collection; Ted Boerner side chair from Boyd & Dreith; chiseled wood side table by Dan Crosier; panel paintings by Rolinda Stotts
Dining room furniture Table and side chairs by Barbra Barry from Baker Knapps & Tubbs, fabric by J Robert Scott from Boyd & Dreith; antique day bed re-upholstered by Daubiz & Sons; pendant light fixture from Phoenix Day
Window covering Conrad shade with Albert Haus hardware, from Kneedler-Fauchere
Kitchen pendant lights Boyd Lighting
Countertops Brazilian Kodiak granite
Refrigerator, ice maker and wine storage Sub-Zero
Faucets Dornbracht