• About a Space: Staying Cozy with Karlie Kahl

    Winter is coming, but art director Karlie Kahl's 125-year-old Denver home is anything but chilly. We cozied up to Karlie to discuss her favorite blankets and how she spruces up her place for cold weather.
    Photos by Samantha Keller

    Hi Karlie! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do for a living?
    I was born and raised in Montana and moved to Denver in 2013 - wanting a big city for a change of pace but still looking to stay close to mountains and home. I moved for a job as a designer at an ad agency in town and spent the first few years here doing that - I actually just left that position to focus on more hands-on art and projects and see what else I can do. I'm currently juggling about 9 different ideas - opening a school centered on women teaching women, selling and expanding my woodworking, starting a home concert series in my attic, renovating and styling older homes, continuing with freelance design, etc. I'm in a very privileged position at the moment, where I'm able to be artistic and experiment with things I'm passionate about and try to share them with others.

    Where do you live? What do you like the most about living there?
    I love that Denver is a big city but it doesn't feel that way. The mountains are very close and the weather here is amazing - I don't know how I'm going to live anywhere else without this much sunshine! We get a lot of amazing musicians and shows, there are a ton of different neighborhoods around town to explore and Denver has a good variety of antique shops that keep me busy!

    Above: Mammoth Saddle Blanket

    Can you tell us a bit about your home? (How old it is, when you bought it, etc.) 
    I bought my first house when I moved here, late 2013 - which turned out to be a huge 3-story Victorian that I'm in the process of renovating and trying to push character back into. It's incredible and terrifying and humbling every single day. It was built in 1890 and I bought it as a foreclosure so I knew I had a lot of work cut out for me. I try to fix or make many things for my house myself - my father taught me basic carpentry and a do-it-yourself attitude and I just figure out the rest from there. I've been working on the house for three years but still feel like I'm only halfway done! 

    What's been one of the biggest projects you've worked on within your home? 
    I've re-done all the landscaping in both front and back yards with the help of very patient family members and finally created nice and inviting areas that I actually want to spend time around! I used to have a big ol' mountain of dirt in my back yard that had a hilarious buried stash of kitchen tile in it, but I've managed to turn it around because I'm a very avid gardener as well. Landscaping is one of the first things you should tackle when you buy a new place, it makes a huge difference. 

    I've also ripped out the carpet on two floors and replaced those with plywood flooring - it really changes the whole space in a unique way. My third floor used to be a beige disaster from floor to ceiling but I've white-washed everything, including the plywood floors and turned it into a bedroom that has completely changed the feeling of the entire space. 

    Above: Pendleton Glacier Park Throw Blanket

    Do you have any tips for someone who's looking to renovate an older home? 
    Obviously, buy a house with good bones and that feels right to you. Be ready to spend a lot of time Googling things, upset or nervous because things are never going to go as smoothly as possible, and be ready to be cold in the winter if you still have original windows! Really, it's not all bad! I love the silly, mysterious things about my house - I have a small room on the third floor with a chessboard inlaid in the hardwood, that I actually just built a swing for. Get creative with the spaces - I try to respect the history of the home but I'm also willing to tear down a wall if it makes more sense. 

    My best advice would be to get excited about learning new things and go for it - I've taught myself to install flooring, fix plumbing & my furnace, build a deck, build and install windows, etc. You can't be afraid of working hard. But also to be smart about it and know when to call a professional, and then learn as much as you can while your electrician is there! 

    What's one home décor item you've been constantly on the lookout for but have been unable to find? 
    Lighting!! I rarely find ceiling mounted, chandeliers, or any overhead lighting that seems to fit with my style or work with the room at the right time. I've got a few tricks for finding rugs and mirrors, but for the most part, every room still has pretty boring run-of-the-mill flushmounts. Or a Malm or Preway fireplace - if I find them, there's always a catch that has me leaving empty-handed and heartbroken. 

    Above: Fireside Faux Mohair Throw Blanket

    How would you describe your decorating tastes? 
    At the moment, it's a mix of Scandinavian minimalist and an eclectic/mid-century modern vibe. They're often competing in every room of the house, because it changes weekly! I love white walls, clean lines and minimalist furniture, but I also like to fill a room with plants and rugs and silly photos or trinkets. I go antiquing or to mid-century showrooms and flea markets as often as I can, often times just for inspiration. I also like to have a few personal or odd things in the house - I have a big gold ostentatious framed portrait of Thomas Jefferson in my dining room that belonged to my grandparents. My style is constantly evolving and I like to empty a room and re-decorate it to see how my style has changed. 

    How do you like to keep your house feeling cozy in the winter? 
    My obsession with rugs really comes in handy here, as well as tons of blankets and throws! My house gets very cold in the winter and having blankets and pillows all over the place really helps. Lighting candles makes it very cozy and I usually string up loads of white lights for Christmas and keep them up for months after, to keep things feeling festive when it's dark and cold out. 

    Any decorating tips for someone working with/trying to furnish a large space? 
    Figure out what you want the purpose of each room to be and keep those in mind as you're out and about or when you see something you like on blogs or instagram. I have an extra bedroom that's a dumping ground for things that don't have a place in the house - because I haven't yet figured out what I want to do with the space or those things! Once I do, I'll usually start with a big piece, a desk, sofa or table and work around that. With such a large house, it's very hard to fill it all at once, and especially all with pieces you love. Don't push or rush it, I keep a "house notebook" with me at all times that's full of lists and drawings that I can always come back to or for jotting down notes on the fly. 

    Most of my rooms have completely evolved from when I first moved in, don't be afraid to change things around, I'm constantly lugging furniture and different pieces up and down my stairs and between rooms! And I know everyone say's it, but they're saying it for a reason - plants! They immediately make a home feel warmer and more lived in. 

    What's been your favorite memory you've created in your home so far? 
    The sense of home that I've managed to put in rooms that previously felt stiff, formal or just like you didn't want to spend time in them - when people come over for the first or fifth time, and feel comfortable in my home, that means something to me every single time.

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