When the local design- and fashion-savvy entrepreneurial couple Tran and Josh Wills visit other cities, they don't look first for the typical tourist attractions and destinations. "We try to hit the Plastic Chapels, the Mona Lucero Design Boutiques in other places," Tran says.
Tran and Josh are part of a small army of Colorado artists and designers who've been enlisted by inn manager Baily Rose to recreate one room or suite in the Queen Anne Bed & Breakfast on the edge of downtown Denver in the Clements Addition Historic District. The fashion-forward couple met that challenge with gusto: For visitors coming to Denver from other cities, they wanted to design a room that would also serve as a map of Denver's culturally offbeat side.
"This is sort of a dream come true for us," Tran explains, as we look around their suite-in-progress, which now includes a dramatic black-walled bedroom and a living area featuring Josh's free-form pop-culture murals and edgy artwork by up-and-coming Denver artists. Tran is preparing to hang a disco ball in a window on the vaulted attic ceiling, while she and Josh, who is seated at a desk area set off by a large, graphic Stendig wall calendar, plot their next steps. They look right at home amid the drying paint and step ladders.
Tran's also furnishing the room with an iron wallet, looking for bargains wherever she can. The modern furniture emporium Mod Livin' provided some of the furniture ("It's kind of like an extended showroom for Mod Livin'," notes Tran) and the bed linens are from Target. She and Josh plan to paint, rather than replace, perfectly good but ugly tile in the bathroom and of course they are doing all the work themselves. Tran's thinking cork for the floors (carpet or some other kind of floor covering is required to muffle sound), but hasn't yet made up her mind.
In the nearly three years since green businessman and gourmet locavorian chef Milan Doshi took over the Queen Anne, the B&B ensconced in two side-by-side Victorians has gone through a series of fresh changes. Along with the vegetarian food using local and even homegrown ingredients, the low-VOC paint and ecologically correct carpets used throughout, the backyard garden and the general care taken in providing a vintage/modern home-away-from-home, Rose curates the artist works on view in different rooms with a personal flourish. "I get to see all my favorite artists all the time," she says with a smile, as she leads me on a tour.
Colorful landscapes by Rachel Znerold brighten the lobby, sitting room and hall areas, and some guest rooms sport girly paintings with a Victorian cast by Sandy Calistro. Artist Markham Maes and fashion designer Natasha Lillipore collaborated on a room decorated with baroque patterns set off by a large mural by Maes painted over the fireplace. Other rooms are more conservative, and one, which overlooks Benedict Fountain Park, features a mural depicting the same view as it would have appeared around the turn of the century, when the inner-city locale was considered a "suburb" of the city.
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The Queen Anne is at 2147-51 Tremont Place; for information and reservations go to the website or call 303-296-6666.