College Sweethearts Create a Light, Bright, “Less Is More” Denver Home

College Sweethearts Create a Light, Bright, “Less Is More” Denver Home

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Name: Elizabeth Bear and her husband
Location: Denver, Colorado
Size: Approx 4300 square feet
Years Lived In: 8 years, owned

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My college sweetheart and I got married in July 2009, both second marriages; previously we had agreed to sell the homes we were each living in and purchase one together. We actually fell in love with our house while we were long-distance dating and not ready to buy, but were shocked and thrilled when, a year later—married and ready to buy—it was still on the market.

When we moved into this house it had the bones and shape we wanted, it just needed to be modernized, updated and opened up. It is a house at the end of a cul-de-sac with a wooded property across the street…it’s a little country, but near the city. There are lots of large windows without mullions, which adds to the more modern look (and because of their size we get so much natural light). We decided to keep the windows without window treatments, which works out well since nobody can see in except for an occasional car turning around at the end of the street or a delivery truck.

We couldn’t wait to start the reno process when we moved in. The wallpaper came off, we opened up the whole first floor by taking down the dining room wall, which allowed us to see into the family room and kitchen. Opening up the first floor made a huge impact since we like to entertain…no matter which of the three rooms you’re in, you feel like you’re together.

We also gutted and renovated the entire kitchen, and removed the wall-to-wall carpeting in the family room, living room and my husband’s office, replacing it with hardwood to match the rest of the house. All the walls were painted one gray monochromatic color. The stairs to the second floor were carpeted as well, but we ripped that up and and replaced it with hardwood and rebuilt thicker treads, new balusters, newels and railings. We created my loft office space at the top of the stairs by closing it in with a full wall, with three square cutouts to mimic the three windows in the living room below, and a half wall with a column.

To continue the modern, uniform feel we decided to remove the built-ins flanking the fireplace along with the ones in my husband’s office and replaced them with white ones that match the kitchen’s white shaker style. Lastly, we had a kitchen company we worked with build a freestanding hutch in our dining room, which is now filled to the brim with our MacKenzie-Childs pottery collection. They also built a butler’s pantry where an old sink and cabinet previously existed between the dining room and kitchen.

Finally, we renovated the deck by building two long wooden stairs, extending past the width of the new French doors, over the tiny cement step that takes you from the kitchen out onto the patio.

I had renovated a townhouse from top to bottom in Massachusetts when I lived there, and of course I’m now working on our Colorado home. Friends noticed…and asked for my help! I started my Instagram account @elizabethbeardesigns initially to show clients my style and it’s taken off organically a little over a year later. After graduating from college I went into the corporate world (my favorite thing to do was anything creative)…and jump forward years later and I am completely in the creative world; I just fell into it!

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I grew up in a traditional home with beautiful antiques. I can remember when I was in high school my mom said I could redo my bedroom and pick the pieces out, they were all simple lines and modern.

Somewhere in the midst of adulthood this style got lost. When I moved into my Massachusetts townhouse I sold everything but my most favorite pieces. Claiming my new home resurfaced my love of modern, orderly, clean lines, light, bright, white, welcoming, peaceful, less is more, which I have brought into my Colorado home.

I am drawn to high ceilings, large windows without mullions or treatments and lots of glass. Love clean simple lines. It’s so important to have natural light in our home. I love the canvas of my home to be neutral tones…using whites and grays. Textures, natural elements and greenery are also important pieces in completing my style. Color is incorporated through artwork and accessories using variations of my favorite blue. Decorating with art has always been done through pieces that I/we have had a personal connection to…family or friends who are artists, places we have visited and discovered galleries. It’s part of my design and style values to collect original art. We also wanted light, natural-colored hardwood floors and painted the walls the same light color throughout to give a continuous modern look, which works very well with an open floor plan. This cohesive bright style makes me feel at peace, happy and settled.

Inspiration: Love all the shelter magazines and decor books I can get my hands on. I also love the design inspo from the talented designers on Instagram.

Favorite Element: It’s hard to say what my favorite is; there are lots of elements I love…but our oversized kitchen island is among the top! We went as large as we could with a seamless stone top. We love to entertain and have family and friends visit, so it serves us well! The kitchen will always be a place with lots of room to share a meal, have conversations and play games.

Biggest Challenge: That we only finished part of the reno before moving in. Now eight years later we really want to finish, but the idea of workmen walking throughout the finished first floor is holding us back.

Proudest DIY: Hmmm…well, I would say that our stairs and upper loft area would probably be that. We took the stairs from a very traditional style to modern and closed up the upper area to make it an open loft workspace for me.

Biggest Indulgence: Definitely our kitchen, the oversized island, Wolf range, custom kitchen cabinets, and banquette window bench with cabinets on either side for more storage.

Best Advice: I am not a trend follower unless I love the item so much that when the trend is over I am glad I own it or have it in my house. Many things circle back around so if I am constantly chasing the latest “it” thing my home never feels at peace. My advice is to follow your heart not the trends!


Benjamin Moore’s gray Balboa Mist is on all of our walls. The trim is also Benjamin Moore’s and is Decorator’s White.

Harmon Collection pendants — Restoration Hardware
White buffet — West Elm
Radius Planter — West Elm (which we spray painted white to go with the white buffet)

Comfort Roll chairs and couch — Pottery Barn
Glass lamps — discontinued Simon Pearce
Lulu Blue round rug — discontinued Angela Adams
Large round gray rug — custom made Fabers Rug
Ultra faux gray fur pillow in fog — Restoration Hardware
Colorful ceramic mugs — Mackenzie Childs
Large metal B — Dwell Antiques
Sky Beads Blue dot pillows and chair fabric — Hable Construction
John Kelly wooden chair J1 series — John Kelly Furniture
Watercolor art — Memory Layne
White cotton pillows — IKEA

Cherry wood Basic Extension Dining Table/Vermont Furniture — Circle Funiture
Artwork — family and friends
Glass Pendants — discontinued Simon Pearce
Custom white hutch — Aspen Leaf Kitchens
MacKenzie-Childs pottery — Mackenzie Childs
Breadboard accessory — West Elm
White ceramics — Montes Doggett

Black hedgehog from the Menagerie collection — discontinued Jonathan Adler
Cowhide rug — The Cowhide Store
Gray chair, and couch — discontinued West Elm
Two metal bins with cloth liners — Old Glory Style
Stainless Steel Jamaica Pepes — Cortes stool
White ceramics — Montes Doggett
Ultra faux gray fur pillows and blanket in fog — Restoration Hardware
Watercolor artwork — Memory Layne
White candlesticks and white dog — Tina Frey Designs
White cotton pillows — IKEA
White bear ceramic pieces — discontinued Jonathan Adler
White Martini tables — West Elm
White round table with painted legs — West Elm, discontinued
Sky Beads Blue dot pillows and chair fabric — Hable Construction
Umbra fireplace tools — discontinued Umbra

Pillows and window bench cushion I made using white Belgian linen tablecloth from — West Elm
Harmon Collection pendants — Restoration Hardware
Renovated complete kitchen — Aspen Leaf Kitchens
Aubrey Pulls — Restoration Hardware
Caesarstone countertop — discontinued pattern Caesarstone
White Panton chairs — Design Within Reach
Triangle dinner bell — Crate and Barrel
Large white wall clock was orange and we painted it white — discontinued cb2
Wolf Range — Wolf
Jenn-aire refrigerator and dishwasher — Speciality Appliance
Zephyr range hood — Speciality Appliance
Generation Classic 4-slice Dualit toaster — Williams Sonoma
Glass utensil holder — discontinued Simon Pearce
Kitchen utensils — Crate and Barrel, Sur LA Table, Williams Sonoma

Aeron Polished Black Classic desk chair — Design Within Reach
Art watercolor — Memory Layne
Coffee table and side table discontinued — Crate and Barrel
Flor tiles —discontinued FLOR
Glass Pendants discontinued — Simon Pearce
White bull ceramic pieces from the Menagerie collection — Jonathan Adler
Restoration Hardware Floor lamp polished nickel — Restoration Hardware discontinued, but similar to the Rowan Pharmacy Task Floor Lamp
Square upholstered loveseat and chair — Pottery Barn
White cotton pillows — IKEA

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