Inside a Head Designer's Parisian-Inspired Townhouse
Dark carpets, an unrenovated kitchen, and outdated textured walls may deter more than a few people from buying a house, but for Shelby Girard, head of design for Havenly, and her architect husband, Christopher, it was an opportunity to start anew. The couple—who are far from the type to buy a turnkey property—were excited to put their individual stamp on their first house together. So when they stumbled upon a historic three-bedroom townhouse in the Five Points neighbourhood of Denver, it didn't bother them that the place had seen much better days.
"Overall, we loved the bones of the house (which was built in 1889) but knew we wanted to modernize it with new finishes and make it more functional by updating the layout in places. We also wanted to maintain the historic charm of the home," Girard tells us. After ripping up the larger portion of the interior finishes and replacing them with new ones, they were able to create the monochromatic Parisian abode they had always wanted.
A historic house meant a complete gut job for the young couple who didn't hesitate to rip up more than a few surfaces. "We touched every surface in the home," explains Girard. "We ripped up the carpeting and tile and resurfaced all of the floors. We skim-coated the walls to get rid of their texture and painted everything. We gutted the kitchen and bathrooms, moved a few walls, and rerouted the plumbing."
When it came time to choose the décor theme for the house, the designer had no trouble narrowing it down. "Throughout my tenure at Havenly, I've really had the great privilege of exploring various sides of my own personal interior design style, which made deciding on one design direction for my home quite the challenge! In the end, I chose to take a modern Parisian direction for the style of my home—a chic contrast of minimal, ornate, and edgy. I also committed to a fully neutral home with tons of black, white, and gold balanced throughout the entire space so that there is a clear connection between each room." In the entryway, the couple set a streamlined and neutral scene with a high-impact checkered runner.
"We were lucky in that we got to choose every finish, fixture, piece of furniture, and décor we used in our home since we renovated everything," says Girard. "Throughout the sourcing and design process, the goal was always to create a home that inspired us and was a comfortable haven, which meant filling it with beautiful and meaningful things and allowing it to function for our lifestyle. We loved the open feel of the home and the high ceilings, so we were conscious of maintaining that openness throughout the design decisions. This led to our black-and-white colour palette, layout, and the furniture choices we made."
"My idea for the two living spaces was to have one area where we could watch TV (without it feeling like a TV room) and another that could be a true sitting room," explains the designer. "The main living room is the first thing you see as you walk in, so making this space beautiful, refreshing, and pulled together was key. The sofa happens to be super deep and soft, but the spindle legs and rolled arms make it feel like it belongs in a formal living room. We brought my favourite pair of Brno-style armchairs from our previous apartment."
"For the sitting room, I used a dark sofa to contrast the lighter one in the adjacent room and a faux-hide rug to break up the straight lines of the chandelier and boxy sofa," says Girard. "The modern, sculptural chandelier is my favourite feature in the house. Artwork and lighting are my favourite design elements in a home, so I'm super pleased with all the art and chandeliers we were able to incorporate throughout the home."
"We started from scratch in the kitchen, which meant reconfiguring the layout, moving a wall, choosing finishes (from cabinets to counters and flooring), and purchasing all new appliances," explains Girard. "I ultimately decided on streamlined shaker-style cabinets, a white quartzite countertop (which we carried through to the backsplash), and all-white appliances to blend in with the cabinetry seamlessly. We also opted for two open shelves with vintage brackets to hold serving pieces and décor above the sink so that area (where we stand most often) felt more open. It also gave us the opportunity to add a bit more personality to the room. A vintage-inspired runner and statement chandelier completed the look."
"The back room was a small room where we added a coat closet. We use it as both a breakfast nook and secondary entry," explains the designer. "Since it was a smaller space, we thought it'd be fun to do a bold, patterned wallpaper. It's the smallest room in our house, but it's one of my favourites! It's a crazy pattern but limited to such a small space that we don't ever tire of it."
"In the guest room, I wanted to create a comfortable and clean yet inspiring space using crisp white bedding, a romantic chandelier, and a modern canopy bed," says Girard. "I always tend to gravitate toward neutrals in a space, so the classic, clean black-and-white colour scheme that I carried from room to room in my home really is a look that I love and know I won't get sick of. For the space, I wanted to keep to this colour palette (with hints of gold accents peppered throughout), so that I could seamlessly incorporate a mix of new and old furnishings and décor pieces. For me, I find more interest in mixing textures, finishes, and contrasting lights and darks rather than incorporating a lot of colour."
"The powder room is another small but mighty one," says Girard. "We went bold here, incorporating a two-toned wall paint treatment of black and white, as well as geometric black-and-white modern tile on the floor. We also converted a desk into a vanity by topping it with leftover quartzite from our kitchen counters, drilling a hole for plumbing, and using a vessel sink and wall-mounted faucet."
"For the master bedroom, we were able to reuse most of the furniture from our old apartment while adding some drama with black accents in artwork, curtains, and a new dresser," explains the designer. "In my master bedroom, I didn't want to have to purchase all new furniture when I already had so many great pieces. That said, the bed, curtains, rug, nightstands, and lamps were all existing pieces that we jazzed up a bit by adding fresh linens and a crystal chandelier."