My brother and sister-in-law embarked on the process of building a new house about a year and a half ago in Parker, Colorado. As it is for most folks, the concept of picking out the finishes for their home seemed like a daunting task, so they reached out for help. Being a protective big sister, I was afraid they would get a “Home Depot House” if left solely in the hands of a home builder design center employee. What do I mean by a “Home Depot House?” Let’s just say the designers at the home builder design centers that I’ve worked with in the past have been real, real best buds with plain, travertine tile. They don’t have the opportunity to get to know the client, don’t have any insight whatsoever into the clients’ style other than the clients’ clothing on selections day, and so they tend to steer people toward “safe” choices that are pretty homogenous and inoffensive. The result is usually completely fine, but it’s not often reflective of any kind of really personal taste. I wanted to make sure Todd and Christa got a home that was totally “them,” so I flew out to Denver and helped them make their design choices, offering solutions along the way to bring some umph into the space without breaking their budget. NOTE: An employee of a home builder design center is incentivized to pile on your upgrade fees, so this is another reason why it’s great to have a designer with you is your advocate, not your builder’s.

It’s been over a year since they moved into their gorgeous house, and I finally got a chance to see it in person while I was in the area this week working on a house north of Boulder. It was a pretty proud moment to see how the finishes all came together to reflect Todd and Christa’s personal style.

My brother is a retired Navy chief and avid outdoorsman. His favorite place to haunt is Bass Pro Shop and the highlight of his month is the opening of a new Cabella’s near their neighborhood. So picture starched shirts and ironed jeans, the biggest white pickup truck you’ll ever climb into, and many, many pieces of hunting equipment. I would describe his personal style as rustic. Christa, on the other hand, has more modern flair. She’s regularly sporting a different hairstyle, and her furniture taste runs toward casual elegance. But she also loves to go fishing with Todd and their son, Miles. She’s not afraid to get in there and get her hands dirty. I knew that blending their styles would require natural materials and clean lines. Nothing too fussy, and nothing “fake.”

Pardon the non-pro snapshots, but here’s how it all worked out:

Natural slate in a contemporary arrangement and light quartz countertops pair nicely with a cherry wood finish on their kitchen cabinets. Their kitchen feels very calm and natural.

The fireplace in their adjoining family room incorporates slate as well, but in a different size and pattern.

The contrast between the wood flooring and carpet selections is soft enough that everything feels like one great space instead of a house that is chopped into smaller areas.

Here is a basic solution for adding a little bit of zing to a budget-friendly kid’s bathroom: one row of glass liner tile in the color of your choice. Here, we used charcoal gray.

Totally forgot to take a pic of the master bathroom. Bummer!