The Nature of Nuance
IT CAN BE CHALLENGING for observant eyes to thrive in an imperfect world. The abundance of wavy road lines and mismatched socks don’t go unnoticed. Many designers and creators have mentioned that the only way to ease their hyperawareness is to walk into a simple and balanced home. That’s how they recharge in order to do their best work.
Scott and Heidi Mellin certainly know the meaning of hard work. Aside from the important job of parenting their two children, they have full-course occupations. Scott is the CEO of Factory Design Labs, one of Denver’s top global ad agencies, and fills the rest of his time cycling, skiing and as a Trustee for the Museum of Contemporary Art. Heidi also volunteers for the museum and is an avid cyclist, and chef, but she also plays a vital role in the aesthetic she and Scott curate in their daily lives.
"It’s harder to design with minimalism than with flourish," Heidi says from the Southwest Littleton home they bought eight years ago. The space sings of simplicity, but it’s a freshness that didn’t come easily. Heidi is passionate about art and design, spending years researching products and thumbing through foreign magazines. So when the time came to update their mid-century modern home, she was prepared."We did not want to make this a vintage revival," Heidi explains, and she also didn’t want it to be contemporary, but truly modern. "We wanted to respect the architecture, but we had to make it functional for our family." The Mellins purchased their house at the apex of suburban scrape-and-build fever. However, they felt fortunate to buy from the original owners, and sent them a letter stating their intentions to give the home new life, not completely wipe it away. But it needed some serious renovations, and when the Mellins set out to find the right people to bring their vision of a modern home to life, they hit their first wall.
"We went through a lot of architects and we couldn’t find the right builder," Scott says as he prepares to step out the door and onto his bike. The busy CEO definitely had a hand in conceptualizing a home that refreshed him, but Heidi was in charge of the heavy lifting. After multiple interviews with architects who weren’t quite listening to their distinct intentions, she finally landed on Scott Parker of Nest Architectural Design to plan the project over the course of a year: "Scott is very humble and put aside his own design aspirations, and actually designed what we wanted."
Heidi and her husband didn’t have a typical approach to creating a home. One standout feature was their desire for strict symmetry. "We wanted that sense of calm that symmetry offers," Heidi explains. This meant contractors used lasers to make sure each electrical outlet was level. The hallways flanking the kitchen are exactly opposite, as are the guest room and master bedroom, mirroring each other from across a vast, covered back patio with skylights. The Mellins also wanted attention to minute detail on every surface, and that’s when Parker rose to the occasion.
"The surface of the master bath floor and wall run continuously through the shower. The materials change, but the glass enclosure appears to be sitting on the floor," Parker points out. "The baseboard trim is set into the face of the interior walls so that they align. It makes for a very clean transition from floor to wall," he adds. "All of these decisions needed to be understood early in the construction process to look simple in the end." As important as it was for Heidi to have an understanding architect, the same went for the builder. The Mellins chose Cress Carter of Old Greenwich Builders to carry out the construction.
"Flush and recessed were big themes in this house," Carter points out. "There’s no protrusion." Carter’s company is known for its advanced craftsmanship and professionalism, but Carter points out that a successful project is a two-way street. "Heidi was there every day and had a perfectly pleasant way of articulating what she expected," he says. Heidi also made a point to uphold another important maxim: the best work is done on a full stomach. "She would show up with the most amazing food," Carter recalls—an aspect that let him to create a trophy, naming her client of the year.