Living Inside Out: A Denver Home Embraces Outdoor Living

Natural materials and a courtyard give this urban townhome an outdoor feel.

| May/June 1999

As spring approaches, Karen Forey begins her yearly ritual. The 13-foot umbrella is brought out of storage and set up in the middle of the courtyard in her urban Denver townhome. The wicker furniture is dusted off and arranged under the umbrella. Flowerbeds are cleaned out and replanted, vines are tied to trellises, the fountain is filled. Slowly, and with great deliberation, the most important room in her house is called back into active duty.

It is here that she and husband Dan sip coffee on balmy summer mornings. It is here that Karen, an interior designer, holds weekly staff meetings as the sun spins into orbit high in the sky. And it is here that the active couple entertains friends on starry nights.

For Karen and her husband, moving from their home in the Rocky Mountains to one in the city three years ago brought several changes in lifestyle that the courtyard has helped bridge. “We love the outdoors,” says Karen, “but we’re right in the heart of the city. We wanted to recreate some of that outdoor ambience we’d grown used to.”

World travelers, she and Dan have been heavily influenced by the European villa-style architecture with central courtyard that, in turn, serves as another room of the house. “We didn’t want a patio or a porch,” says Karen. “We wanted an outdoor living area.”

Guests who enter the house are embraced by design that, indeed, replicates a European villa. Textured walls in warm ­colors, rich leather furniture, a hand-crafted stone fireplace, ornate chandeliers, and arched entryways create the feeling of an Old World country house where the inhabitants can relax and enjoy the good life. The courtyard reinforces this scene.

To create design continuity between the interior and exterior, Karen turned to natural materials. She opted for rugged Colo­rado flagstone for the terrace floor, a perfect extension of the multicolored Indian slate used inside. The textured interior walls melt into creamy exterior stucco walls. The iron and metalwork that distinguish the dining room and kitchen chandeliers are echoed by wrought-iron trellises, balcony railings, and the burnished lanterns that provide ­outdoor lighting. The arbor that leads to the courtyard recalls the interior eyebrow arches.

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