It was on one of those walks seven years ago that she noticed the brick bungalow, the one with the inviting courtyard. She wasn't looking to move. But Virginia, an architect, studied that home and imagined the possibilities.
"I hadn't even been inside the house," says Virginia. "And by the end of my race-walk, I'd designed the addition in my head, created the indoor/outdoor courtyard space."
The building began as a barbershop with an attached residence. Over the years, a candy seller and tailor had set up shop in the commercial space. Once she bought the home in 1997 for $190,000, Virginia wanted to revive the work-at-home arrangement, and now her architecture studio nicely fills the old storefront.
That changed in 1999 after six months of design and another six months of construction. The 1,250-square-foot, single-story house grew by 800 square feet: 350 on the original level and 450 in a second-floor addition. The $170,000 project, also included renovation of a 300-square-foot portion of the existing home.
"I wanted the addition to feel like it was part of the house, and I also wanted to stay small," says Virginia, who believes in the environmental benefits of "living smaller." Though she added a second story to the home, she didn't want a pop-top behemoth that would bully the neighborhood.
Unconventional details distinguish the courtyard, most notably a boardwalk and pergola with rough-hewn wood columns painted white and copper tubes overhead. Adding to the whimsy are the bases of the wood columns, which are set inside custom-drilled boulders that rest on boxes of small stones.
Natural light flows freely. Those six doors connecting the courtyard and living room are capped by a row of transom windows that wraps around to the adjoining wall, where four more windows frame the gas fireplace. The hearth is done in black glazed porcelain tile.
Light bounces from the vaulted ceiling of corrugated, galvanized metal, contrasted by scissor-like trusses in clear vertical-grain fir. The blond grain also shows up in the window trim, shelves and cabinets.
The golden hue complements Virginia's interior wall palette of muted green, purple and orange, contrasted by crisp white window trim.
Equally inviting is the upstairs master bedroom addition, reached by climbing from a Western maple staircase that begins in the cozy kitchen. Capped by a vaulted ceiling, the bedroom features several windows for cross-ventilation, a walk-in closet and a deck just big enough for a pair of chairs.
"I loved renovating it," DuBrucq says of her home. "Your house is your outer skin, so you really need to claim it."
(Jay Dedrick of the Rocky Mountain News, www.rockymountainnews.com)