Decent tea, temperate weather, universal health care – everything an English transplant might be homesick for while living in the US. But for a client of Salvesen Graham in London, the thing they were most after was window treatments. “That was the first thing she said when we spoke to her. “I just want curtains on my window,” recalls Mary Graham, who founded the interior design firm with Nicole Salvesen.
The clients, a British woman and American man, contacted the decorating duo — known for their thoughtfully layered and quintessentially English interiors — a year after the pandemic after deciding to move from California to Boulder, Colorado. “They wanted to live somewhere a little more relaxed,” says Salvesen. “And Boulder definitely is! There would be days when a contractor would say, ‘Oh, I’m going snowboarding today. I can not help. The snow is just too good,’” she laughs.
Boulder also offered plenty of nature to explore (key for the clients’ active children) and a charming historic neighborhood, where the family decided to settle. “When you’re up [there] “When you look down on the town, you just see trees, and then this little enclave of historic houses,” explains Graham. The family’s Arts and Crafts style home is preserved as a historic building and features intricate millwork and original flooring. “It’s always funny to look at different perspectives of what’s old and what’s not old,” says Graham, nodding to the house’s relatively short history compared to some of their Georgian and Victorian projects in the UK. “But because it’s a listed house, there wasn’t a huge amount we could do structurally.”
The original floor plan presented a number of quirks for the designers to make sense of, including a continuous formal dining room. “It could never be anything other than a walk-through, so we turned it into a library, somewhere you can sit and open a book,” says Salvesen. “In the UK we often have a hallway with a round table that can double for intimate dinners or a place for stacks of books and a large flower arrangement.” The solution works well for the clients, who are “incredibly academic,” says Salvesen. “They are the kind of people who sit down and open a book – something interesting and probably a little scary for most of us.”
One of the first floor’s two lounges presented a similar challenge. “Before we configured the flow of the rooms, they didn’t really use that living room because it felt quite dark,” says Graham. “So we really embraced it and made it so cozy, cozy, where you can just curl up with a book.” While most of the rooms are semi-open plan, this is the one room where the homeowners can close the doors and retreat, enveloped in a rich mix of textiles. In contrast, the more formal living room is light and airy, with a wall of windows. Art, acquired by Salvesen Graham and Anna Kirrage, along the walls. And an antique writing desk doubles as a liquor cabinet, making it an ideal place for entertaining.