Indie design blogger Jeanne Connolly loves to see how creative people put their houses together. In this series, she shares some of her favorite homes, taking us inside the unique private spaces of metro Denver and beyond.
Denver artist Meagen Svendsen and her husband, architect Robert Treta, have combined their super-creative powers on one show-stopping North Sloan's Lake house. This home was designed by Robert and admittedly inspired by Denver's historical finest, made to seamlessly tuck into their cozy SloHi neighborhood (the name trending for the area where Sloan's Lake meets Highland). Interested in learning more about this cool 'hood? This home is on the market: Have a tour of this drool-worthy couple's collaboration before it sells!
Keep reading for an interview with Svendsen and a look at both her home and art.
Westword: Where can we find your artwork?
What’s in your artist toolbox?
Cast plaster molds, found objects from nature, found sound collections, a love of music and birds. These days, I am really into collaboration, thanks to my involvement with our Pangloss Gravitron artist collective.
What’s your neighborhood?
SloHi. It just got its name. I’m not sure who came up with it, but SloHi Coffee and Bikes brought it to my attention. They are on a sweet little strip on 29th and Tennyson, next to Hogshead Brewery and a brand-new bagel shop. It describes the Sloan’s Lake/Highland neighborhood. Unless someone got really creative, I doubt it has any formal boundaries, yet.
Favorite thing about that neighborhood:
Sloan’s Lake and the Canada geese, our neighbors Sally and Dave Buchanan and Amy and Keith Miller, and our local I.B. elementary school, Brown International.
Is there a hidden gem in your neighborhood?
I love the Novo coffee at SloHi Coffee Co. The Tennyson Center is a wonderful asset to the community.
Best local creative resource:
Sloan’s Lake. I get my best creative ideas when running or paddle-boarding around the lake.
Do you rent or own your home?
Own (my husband, Robert Treta, designed and built it).
What’s the square footage?
Four thousand square feet — way too big for our family. Robert originally planned it as a spec home, but it was his first design project and we couldn’t let it go.
Do you create your art at home?
Yes. I have a converted two-car garage studio. We adored our neighbors on our previous block, and despite the fact that my husband created a beautiful design, I didn’t want to move. So, to entice me, he built me a wonderful studio in the garage. Every time I complained about moving, he added another set of windows or French doors.
Define your home’s style.
Denver Square on the outside, traditional and modern on the inside.
What are your favorite artistic touches?
I love the concrete and copper bar Robert built in our basement and our vintage brick fireplace. Decoratively, I am inspired by all the wonderful art we have collected by local artists, as well as by artisans we met while living in Japan and Mexico and on our travels throughout Europe and Asia.
What inspires you about your home?
What is your favorite piece?
That is a very difficult question. Almost every piece in our house has a special story. Beautiful artwork created by friends, furniture from our travels or refinished pieces my mother gave us. But I think my most treasured piece is my vintage 1967 Epiphone Electric Guitar. My husband bought it for me for our fifteenth wedding anniversary (we’ve been together 27 years) from our friend Al Scholl, one of Denver’s finest luthiers.
What are your guest’s reactions?
Most people walk in, look at our living room with the vintage fireplace and say, “Wait, is this house new or old?” Next, they like the entertaining kitchen, and when it is warm enough, the screened-in back porch. Once they finish with the house, they love all the artwork.
Have you repurposed any materials in your home?
Robert recently built a beautiful table for our back porch. He was inspired by an antique door he found in the alley. We used old hardware that we saved from early-on in our house restoration career and I put the finishing paint touches on it. It was a fun collaboration.
I did a series of found-art work during the two years we designed and built a vacation home in Sayulita, Mexico. A couple of those pieces hang on our walls.
The Mexican carved-wood dining room chairs I grew up with were a gift from my mother. They had wonderfully worn, rust-colored corduroy fabric, which I refinished by cutting up our living room rug. Our living room chairs (also from my childhood) were professionally reupholstered and the metal was refinished by local metalsmith Dennis West.
What’s your favorite DIY project?
That’s a tough question, as we’ve done so much of it ourselves, from Robert’s design and build of the house to all the sinks and tile work I did for our bathrooms. These days, the thing we are most passionate about is making music together in our art/music studio. I write songs, sing and play guitar, and Robert plays the drums. Music is, by far, our most fulfilling collaborative DIY effort to date.
Did you indulge in any of your rooms?
My favorite room is our screened-in back porch. I spend every waking moment out there when weather permits. When it is cold, we cozy up in front of the fireplace in our living room. The man cave is definitely Robert’s biggest indulgence. He’s got it all down there. He and our boys (thirteen and nine) love hanging out down there. I prefer to remain above ground whenever possible.
Best design advice?
Design for who YOU are and the way you live.
What’s your favorite time of day to create?
Early morning when the birds are chirping.
Do you have any creative organization tips?
As an artist with a home studio, I find it most challenging to just get out there and work. I am great at using housework as a procrastination technique. In order to get to work, I have to completely ignore everything that needs to be done in my house. My motto is, “Not one fork (in the dishwasher).” But the moment I get out to my studio, everything else falls away. My best method is to always have something in the works that will dry up if I don’t get to it.
Any challenges designing your studio?
My son would certainly say so. He hates sharing space for his bicycle with my kiln. Ideally, I would have a separate room for the dirty work of mixing plaster for my molds. Clay is messy enough.
What is your favorite studio feature?
I love being able to open all my windows and French doors to the sounds of the outdoors. I have wonderful natural light, too. Mostly, I love the mixed-use music and ceramics element of it. It’s wonderful to be able to hop from one medium to the other as my muse commands.
When Jeanne isn't doing House Tours, she is blogging on how to create bohemian style with both vintage and recycled materials.
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