A New Beginning

Marilyn D’Amore was thrilled to embark on a design project for a couple who had abandoned the Lone Star State after enduring multiple hardships—but the vast basement was a particular challenge.

That’s Entertainment: The exercise equipment is separated from the entertainment space by some large trees and motorcycle artwork suspended from the ceiling. Although, in the showroom, the homeowner was drawn to a pub table with a bicycle for a base, the final space features one from Yosemite Home Decor that has an acacia top and a heavy iron crank mechanism with a steampunk feel to it. The table can be raised and lowered as needed. Photo by Timothy Gormley.

There’s a reason Marilyn D’Amore of D’Amore Interiors calls this project one of the most rewarding of her career. Of course, when the homeowners, recently relocated from Texas, first came into the showroom, D’Amore let them browse; it wasn’t until about the third time she saw them that she thought they might be interested in some professional direction.

Over the course of the subsequent project, D’Amore learned that the woman had been undergoing cancer treatments, fighting for her life, when a devastating hurricane hit their Houston home. “Only a handful of small furnishings and accessories survived the storm,” D’Amore says. “They made the emotional decision to leave Texas for good and move to Colorado.”

Suite Dreams: The clients wanted a lower-level guest suite, but a wall would have made a dark space even darker, so D’Amore positioned a sheer curtain to demarcate the space. A pair of wooden trunks, a three-paneled screen, and a writing desk, now incorporated into the guest space, are some of the few pieces salvaged from the couple’s Houston home after the hurricane. Photo by Timothy Gormley.

After purchasing a large, older home in Highlands Ranch, they began the search for furnishings and decor to make it their own. “It’s really way too much house for two people,” says D’Amore, “but they love the view, so they ended up with this humongous house and didn’t know what to do with it.”

Although D’Amore was involved with the design of the entire home, she says the most challenging space was the large U-shaped basement. “It was cold, dark, and uninviting,” she says. The clients wanted a second guest suite as well as entertainment and workout spaces.

For the guestroom, says D’Amore, “I felt a wall was definitely not ideal in an already dark space. I decided to create a sheer drapery wall to section off an area that would serve as that suite. A large armoire would become our closet.”

Suite Dreams: The clients wanted a lower-level guest suite, but a wall would have made a dark space even darker, so D’Amore positioned a sheer curtain to demarcate the space. A pair of wooden trunks, a three-paneled screen, and a writing desk, now incorporated into the guest space, are some of the few pieces salvaged from the couple’s Houston home after the hurricane. Photo by Timothy Gormley.
Suite Dreams: The clients wanted a lower-level guest suite, but a wall would have made a dark space even darker, so D’Amore positioned a sheer curtain to demarcate the space. A pair of wooden trunks, a three-paneled screen, and a writing desk, now incorporated into the guest space, are some of the few pieces salvaged from the couple’s Houston home after the hurricane. Photo by Timothy Gormley.

The vibe for the rest of the 3,200-square-foot basement grew out of D’Amore observing the kinds of things within her showroom to which they were drawn. “They were standing in the front of my store, and I had this kind of industrial setting as you walk in the front entrance, and there’s a pub table that has a bicycle as a base, a real life-sized bicycle,” D’Amore says. “He was kind of attracted to it, so that started a conversation about perhaps doing kind of an industrial approach to their home with iron and really earthy colors.”

As Is: The homeowners purchased this sectional-table-rug setup right off the showroom floor at D’Amore interiors. They lived with it upstairs for nearly three months before the rest of their furniture selections could be delivered. D’Amore promised to find a perfect forever home for it once everything was in place, and it turned out to be a perfect fit for the media area of the basement. This grouping informed the color and style choices throughout the downstairs space. The live-edge side table in the foreground is another piece that was saved from the hurricane. Photo by Timothy Gormley.

The couple purchased a leather sectional, rug, and coffee table combo straight off the showroom floor. “Of course the sectional was a perfect fit for the bottom of the ‘U’ as a TV space,” D’Amore says. “It couldn’t have been a better fit for there.”

They had purchased several pieces of workout equipment that needed to be incorporated into the space. Again, D’Amore was reluctant to entirely enclose the space, so she used some greenery and hanging artwork and positioned the furniture in a way that it gives a sense of separation but maintains the cool entertainment space.

Kitchen Confidential: The existing kitchenette was maintained by D’Amore in the remodel, but she says, “It was just boring.” In addition to painting the walls, she added wall-mounted shelving and a weathered Stikwood. Photo by Timothy Gormley.

Throughout it all, says D’Amore, she credits the clients with being wonderful partners. “I mean, here’s a woman who’s had horrible things that have happened, with the cancer and then, in the middle of all that, to lose their home, and she is just a person who was almost reborn from all of that, who realizes that life is short,” she says. “And then we found each other. I know that I get exactly the clients that I’m supposed to get. We look back, and we know that the universe just sends the right people to us. And if you start every day really believing that, and we do, you start differently on every project. You just look at it like, ‘What can I do for these people to make their lives better?’ Which is really what interior design is all about.”