Interiorssneak peeks

Wallpaper Creates a One-of-a-Kind Family Home in Colorado

by Sofia Tuovinen

In Colorado, Wallpaper Creates a One-of-a-Kind Family Home | Design*Sponge

I would be lying if I said I never daydream about moving someplace new, and starting over with a clean slate. It’s not for everyone, but I think there’s something so thrilling about new prospects, new surroundings, new acquaintances and a new place to call home. Today I get to share a wonderful home, full of pattern, whose owners moved across the country in search of something completely different from what they were used to — and found it!

When Batya Stepelman and her husband Matt Berman had lived in small apartments in Brooklyn for almost eight years, things started to feel a bit cramped. Sharing a 600 square foot home with a toddler, an infant and the elderly Rottweiler, Omar, was an achievement of sorts, but it soon became clear that the growing family’s living situation needed to change. Batya, a fifth generation New Yorker, and Matt didn’t just dream of a bigger space though. They longed for something entirely different for themselves and their young boys Otis and Theodore —  a home with a garden, surrounded by mountains. Batya and Matt fell in love with Denver, CO, and despite having to leave all their family and friends, they decided to pack their belongings and embark on a new adventure out West.

After arriving in Denver, Batya spent a lot of time walking around the city in order to find the right area for her family to settle down.  Something about Congress Park, with its tree-lined streets, historic homes, and a politically active and engaged community, felt spot on. Batya and Matt also wanted to find a home with plenty of charm, a bit of green space and enough room to accommodate visiting family members. A Denver Square style home that was on the market ticked all the boxes, and the family knew it was the right house for them.

Batya and Matt’s late 19th century home is a real Colorado gem. Unlike many old houses that have been stripped from their original details, this home oozes old charm. Even though it was once divided up into five separate units and then later converted back into a single family home, many historic details that have been lovingly preserved.

When Batya and Matt bought the house nearly four years ago, it took a while to turn it into their dream home. Having lived in small spaces for the better part of a decade, the family didn’t own much and the decorating process began with bare bones. “When we moved into our current home it looked like we had been robbed! There was no dining table, coffee table, dressers, rugs, etc,” Batya recalls. To reflect the family’s quirky style, one of the first things that Batya did in the new home was install wallpaper in the entryway. “It immediately warmed up the space and made the blank walls look homey. That’s when I got hooked!” During the past four years, six more rooms have been updated with gorgeous wallpapers, creating personal and colorful statements in each space. It’s safe to say that wallpaper has developed into one of Batya’s biggest passions. Eight months ago, she took a leap of faith and opened up a wallpaper boutique and design consultancy, WallTawk, which she now operates from the family’s historic home. “I felt extremely motivated to bring independent artists and designers to Denver…and wallpaper is my obsession, so it was the design category that made the most sense!” Batya says.

The family loves living in their patterned home, which has a strong design perspective without feeling formal or stuffy. Batya is a strong believer in unique homes that feel layered and tell a story — no two homes should look the same. Sentimental pieces, keepsakes and objects from independent artists can be found throughout the house, and make this home charismatic and one-of-a-kind. The family feels lucky to have a home that makes them happy, and where they can build memories and finally put down some roots. “As human beings I think we all crave happiness, beauty, and joy — and there isn’t anything frivolous about those things,” Batya reflects. I couldn’t agree more! Sofia

Interior photography by S. Brenner Photography, family portrait by Teasley Ruback for Glasswater Photography

Image above: Happy wallpaper and a nod to history greets visitors in the entryway. “I always think about the people who walked up and down those stairs: what they were like, how their lives were different or similar to ours, what they wore, what it felt like to live in the untamed West,” Batya shares.

Wallpaper Creates a One-of-a-Kind Family Home In Colorado | Design*Sponge
1/17

Batya’s late father’s typewriter is a sentimental piece that is beautifully displayed on the desk in the entryway. The Otomi wallpaper is by Hygge & West, designed by Emily Isabella.

Wallpaper Creates a One-of-a-Kind Family Home In Colorado | Design*Sponge
2/17

The living room is a labor of love, and the perfect spot to read and hang out. Hello Yarrow! wallpaper by Abigail Borg creates a stunning backdrop that sets the tone for the space.

Wallpaper Creates a One-of-a-Kind Family Home In Colorado | Design*Sponge
3/17

“The wallpaper reminds me of the dream I also had to start a garden, which we did!” Batya shares. The mantel holds a collection of pretty ceramics.

Wallpaper Creates a One-of-a-Kind Family Home In Colorado | Design*Sponge
4/17

Batya, Theodore, Matt and Otis in their colorful living room.

Wallpaper Creates a One-of-a-Kind Family Home In Colorado | Design*Sponge
5/17

The dining room has views to almost all rooms on the first floor, and includes a fireplace with original tilework. “This is where we have neighborhood potlucks and meetings to raise money for public school! This room gives me a sense of community,” Batya explains.

Wallpaper Creates a One-of-a-Kind Family Home In Colorado | Design*Sponge
6/17

The family room is where Batya, Matt, Otis and Theodore watch movies and play board games. Being close to the mountains is what first drew them to Colorado, and the family room wallcovering is the perfect reminder.

Wallpaper Creates a One-of-a-Kind Family Home In Colorado | Design*Sponge
7/17

The wall panel by Pierre Frey is called Yunnan, named after the mountainous province in China. “I just tell people it’s the Rocky Mountains!” Batya says. Building a frame for the panel is an upcoming project.

Wallpaper Creates a One-of-a-Kind Family Home In Colorado | Design*Sponge
8/17

The kitchen island is where the boys eat breakfast every morning. “It’s a space for laughter and story-telling.”

Wallpaper Creates a One-of-a-Kind Family Home In Colorado | Design*Sponge
9/17

Pots and pans hang from rods on the kitchen wall. “I also ran out of paint in the middle of the project, which you can see in the photo. It’s on my to-do list. We have a growing collection of cookbooks, which now tops 100!” Batya shares.

Wallpaper Creates a One-of-a-Kind Family Home In Colorado | Design*Sponge
10/17

The kitchen wallpaper, Figs by Miss Print, gives a nod to food — “I love figs, so this paper made a lot of sense,” Batya says.

Wallpaper Creates a One-of-a-Kind Family Home In Colorado | Design*Sponge
11/17

The small bathroom down the hall from the kitchen received a bright and happy makeover with some Foret wallpaper by Julia Rothman for Hygge & West. “When this paper was installed, Otis and Theodore both thought it was the best thing they’d ever seen. It’s a very small space and this patten adds a bit of oomph!”

Wallpaper Creates a One-of-a-Kind Family Home In Colorado | Design*Sponge
12/17

The master bedroom is one of Batya’s favorite spaces in the house. The wallpaper is called New Orleans Toile: Backstreets, and reminds Batya and Matt of “the Crescent City”, where they first met 15 years ago (thanks to their mothers, who passed along phone numbers!). “That city is where I fell in love with music, color, pattern, and living life to the fullest!” Batya shares.

Wallpaper Creates a One-of-a-Kind Family Home In Colorado | Design*Sponge
13/17

The New Orleans Toile: Backstreets wallpaper, illustrated by Alexa Pulitzer for Flavor Paper, peeks into New Orleans life in all its decadence, beauty and decay. A portion of the wallpaper’s proceeds are being donated to the Preservation Hall Foundation to “Preserve, Perpetuate, and Protect traditional New Orleans Jazz.”

Wallpaper Creates a One-of-a-Kind Family Home In Colorado | Design*Sponge
14/17

“This bookcase makes me happy because it was the first time I used wallpaper scraps in a personal DIY-project” Batya explains. The Otomi pattern is the same as in the entryway.

Wallpaper Creates a One-of-a-Kind Family Home In Colorado | Design*Sponge
15/17

The wallpaper used in the upstairs guest bathroom features poppies and bats (Bat & Poppy by M.P. Verneuil, reproduced by Trustworth Studios). It was designed in 1897, just two years after the family’s historic home was built. “Outside this window our neighbor built bat boxes. We’ll see if any show up this year!”

Wallpaper Creates a One-of-a-Kind Family Home In Colorado | Design*Sponge
16/17

Otis and Theodore both love dinosaurs, so the Dino wallpaper by Sian Zeng felt like the perfect choice for the boys’ bedroom. “My husband and I read books with [the boys] every night and it’s something I hope they remember. I love that they share the space together!” Batya shares.

Wallpaper Creates a One-of-a-Kind Family Home In Colorado | Design*Sponge
17/17

“What I love most about our home is its history, the people who live here, the memories we’re making…and all the wallpaper!” — Batya

Source List

Entryway
Wallpaper: Otomi by Hygge & West, designed by Emily Isabella.
Mirror: Egg Collective for Design Within Reach.
Small Blue Ceramic: Wild Flowers, Denver.

Living Room
Wallpaper: Hello Yarrow! by Abigail Borg.
Couch and Chairs: Room & Board.
Throw Blanket: Slowdown Studio.
Graphic Pillows: Coral & Tusk.
Velvet Pillows: Edie Ure, Boulder.
Western Artwork: Theodore Waddell, Visions West Contemporary Art, Denver.
Prints: Snedker Studio, Denmark.
Coffee Table: Blu Dot, from Mod Livin’ Denver.
Ceramics: Young in the Mountains, Carnavale Clay, Matthew Jorgensen, Souda Brooklyn.
Chandelier: Bertjan Pot, Moooi. Studio Como, Denver
Cloned Penguin with Pepbottle by William Sweetlove, Visions West Contemporary Art, Denver

Dining Room
Table: West Elm
Chairs: Blu Dot
Lighting: Lambert & Fils
Artwork: Red Deer Stag by Amy Hamilton, Society6

Family Room
Wallcovering: Yunnan by Pierre Frey
Couch: Neo Sofa by Bensen, Mod Livin’ Denver
Cushions: Edie Ure and Ditto House

Kitchen
Wallpaper: Figs by Miss Print
Artwork: Lillian Farag
Placemats: Amelie Mancini
Pendants: Home Depot

Powder Room
Wallpaper: Foret by Julia Rothman for Hygge & West.
Mirror: Wayfair.

Bedroom
Wallpaper: New Orleans Toile: Backstreets by Flavor Paper, illustrated by Alexa Pulitzer.
Pillows: Edie Ure, Boulder.
Throw: Dana Haim
Artwork above the bed: Kepler (Colorado), Mod Mood Vintage
Artwork above the chair: Alex Jerre Cuter, Ironwood, Denver
Large Swivel Chair: Room & Board
Bookcase wallpaper: Otomi from Hygge & West, designed by Emily Isabella

Guest Bath
Wallpaper: Bat & Poppy by M.P. Verneuil, reproduced by Trustworth Studios.

Kids’ Room
Wallpaper: Dino by Sian Zeng
Artwork: “A Brief History of the Cold War: Moose & Squirrel” by McCarley. Visions West Contemporary Art, Denver.

Suggested For You

Comments

  • This is my favorite home yet! I’d love to hear from the owners about their lighting in the living and dining rooms; those two fixtures are stunning, and I’d like to know how bright they are and whether they provide adequate light for the space! (I’m on the hunt!) Thanks for this; I have just placed an order with MakeLike Wallpaper for our living room and bathroom, and am a huge fan of all the patterns the owners chose!

    • Thank you so much for the kind words, Erin! Great question. Both lighting fixtures give off a lot of light. That was one of the requirements we had – design forward AND functional. I’ll start with the one in the living room. It’s the Moooi Heracleaum II Small Pendant, designed by Bertjan Pot. It’s pricy (I sold a ton of items I no longer wanted on Next Door to fund the purchase), but after staring at it for several years found nothing else I wanted in its place and was ready to take the plunge! The pendant is named for the genus of about 60 species of biennial and perennial herbs in the carrot family, Apiaceae. It tied in nicely with the Hello Yarrow wallpaper, as we grow both yarrow and carrots in our garden. Anyway, it has 45 10 W LEDs. Surprisingly the soft light is so subtle in the day time (not that I use it much during sunlight hours), yet it produces substantial light at night and we don’t need any other lighting on in order to read magazines.
      The second pendant- the one in the dining room- is from Lambert & Fils. It is on a dimmer and glows when on low, but generates great light when fully on. There are 5 bulbs (you can’t see them all in the photo): 4 x 1.75 and 1 x 3.125 in . I believe it’s 25 W LED max in each. Have a great day.

  • Beautiful! Love the bats/poppies wallpaper. Flavor Paper also has a terrific bats wallpaper (Elysian Fields).

    • Yes, they do! I vacillated between those 2 patterns but decided to go with the 1897 paper because the vanity in the bathroom is original 1895 (or so we were told). I put Flavor Paper in the master :)

  • Beautiful home you have made. Lovely colors and textures without being too busy. I’d love to see pictures of your home over the years… isn’t that the great thing about wallpaper? You can get a new layer when you want to change things up!

    I did a little head-scratching about your quote imagining the first inhabitants of the house, and their lives in the “wild west”. According to Wiki, “The city’s economy was gaining a more stable base rooted in railroads, wholesale trade, manufacturing, food processing, and servicing the growing agricultural and ranching hinterland. Between 1870 and 1890, manufacturing output soared from $600,000 to $40 million, and population grew by a factor of 20 times to 107,000.” So – this was clearly an urban center, where a home like this would fit right in. I grew up in NE Oregon, known for it’s big round-up rodeo every year, and from the very beginning – 1911 – the “wild west” was a marketing ploy. They had schools, libraries, and even the tiny town of Weston (pop. 200 or so) nearby had an Opera House.

    Yes, it was different – I mean this was not a setting for “The Age of Innocence”. People in general, and most likely women in specific, had a bit more freedom in their lives. But the age of the wild west would be seen through a nostalgic lense.

    • Thanks so much for the kind words and thoughtful comments, Ruth! I’ll start by saying that I’m *NOT* a Colorado historian, though I strive to learn something new every day and you make a very interesting point. There is no question that Denver was already an urban center with revenue streams, expanding commerce and a swelling population (though I believe the surrounding area was far less inhabited than comparable suburban/rural areas of the eastern seaboard, and I’m not forgetting about the Arapahoe and Ute nations who lived here in CO). Congress Park, which is where our home is located, is 3 historic neighborhoods east of the Colorado State Capitol building on Colfax (which itself opened in 1894) and it was very-much an area on the rise! It’s my understanding that the people purchasing homes in the area were educated and well-to-do and very much a part of the city’s growth; no doubt it was bustling at that time. But Denver was a city that saw boomtown success and experienced incredible hardship too. The Denver Depression of 1893, which lasted quite a few years, is probably why I have the “wild West” thing stuck in my head. The population figure you mention in 1890 (107,00) dropped to 90,000 by 1895, the year our home was built. The Sherman Silver Passage Act made bad things worse (harsh winters adversely impacted the large agriculture sector) and lead to a precipitous decline in the value of silver- something that impacted and concerned all Denverites. Unemployed miners flooded the streets (Denver struggled to feed them and records show it was a mess) and the city saw an increase in crime, mob bosses/gangsters (see, Soapy Smith/state militias who operated a bit earlier), corruption, and gambling, etc. Also – presumably- the people who originally purchased/built our home were old enough to remember Colorado before it became a territory when, “there were no functioning court system and justice was carried out by the public. Once a territory, a justice system was set up for the county but it wasn’t until 1874 that Denver created a position for chief of police. These early lawmen had to deal with the Vigilance Committee, often called the Law and Order League, which took matters of law into its own hands.” But maybe that was all the norm at the time…
      The point I was trying to make in the caption is that I like thinking about people’s lives – there were probably many joys, but many struggles, too. I often wonder what it must have been like to travel, at least initially, by stage couch to get here (the railroads came in around the 1870s, I believe). Colorado had few roads – with the exception of the main arteries connecting it North (Wyoming) and East so it must have been interesting to plan a hike up in the mountains? Did people picnic at Rocky Mountain National Park? I’m a mother, so I think about what it must have been like to raise a family and juggle life’s other exceptions, too. I simply love thinking about it and our home has sparked curiosity and intrigue!
      Anyway, I really appreciate your comment. Because of it I’m doing a tour of the Capitol Building this weekend. I’ll also be going to the Molly Brown House, which I’m told highlights the lives of women at the time (there was a Suffragette Movement here) and I’ll be sure to head over to the History of Colorado Museum. Be well and thanks for the brain exercise!

    • Thank you for the comment, Steffi. I’m trying to keep each space unique but I do need to unify everything and my solution is paint! I plan to use gray– I just have to match up the shade to the Otomi paper.

  • I am envious. I love wallpaper but my husband refuses to do because of the removal process when it gets old. You have picked (wallpaper) works of art.

    • Thanks for the comment, Christine. Good news: Today’s pastes are NOTHING like the ones of the past! In fact I removed wallpaper in the living room myself and it only took an hour or so. Initially the Hello Yarrow wallpaper had continued underneath the window sill, covering half of that eastern wall. But I thought it looked lopsided and un-balanced so I removed it myself. Water and a simple tool did the trick. FYI :)

  • Batya, your home is absolutely stunning! What a beautiful job you have done in creating a very special home for your family!!
    I dont think I would leave the family room! And the wonderful papers in each space… magical!! xx

    • Thank you, Julie! Coming from an artist like you that means SOOO much! You always have a place to stay should you find yourself in Colorado! xx

  • You have certainly chosen some really beautiful papers and designs that I here in Australia have not seen before.

    • Thank you so much, Margot! There’s fantastic design coming out of Australia too! I suggest taking a look at Quercus & Co. (Adam Jones) and These Walls (Sara Hingle), if you’re not familiar with those brands. I’m open to any suggestions you might have too! The Land Down Under has amazing interiors. Happy weekend.

  • I also moved to Denver about three years ago from New York, and love meeting and reading about people who did the same. I have often thought Denver lacked the design style that I was used to back east (or in other cities with more of a quirky personality), but seeing homes like this just proves me wrong. Love their eclectic style and the charming old bones of this house.

    • Kelly, welcome and thank you so much! The Denver-design scene is exploding…but you’re right, the absence of more design-forward patterns (in my case, the wall covering category) was exactly why I started the business. I figured that at least a handful of the 300,000 people who moved here in the past 3 years shared my aesthetics. I’ve been finding more and more local makers who are producing everything from ceramic, art, and furnishings! I’m excited to see what the future brings! Denver is one hell of a town. Now we just need to work on affordable housing and public transportation :)

  • Wow, beautiful choices! Some of them I never would have thought to choose. I love the idea of brightening up the small bathroom with some fun wallpaper. Wonderful!

    • Thank you for the comment, Blume. I’m a big fan of turning small powder rooms into little jewel boxes! I think you can be more adventurous and bold in those spaces because you don’t stare at the patterns all the time. I appreciate the comment!

  • Absolutely beautiful selections in wallpaper! I am a wallpaper fan myself and just starting to put a bit in my home …but sometimes I feel “scared” to…so thank you for the wonderful inspiration! My mother says the same thing that it is so hard to remove, but all of the people in the industry who work with it also assure me it is not difficult to remove anymore! Thanks so much for sharing your lovely home!

    • Thank you, Trina! Don’t be scared, be inspired! You are right- it’s no longer difficult to remove. You won’t regret it…and you might even get addicted to papering. I’m up to my 9th space :) Enjoy!

  • This house is lovely, but it also makes me sad. We are 5th generation Colorado natives who are trying our best to buy a home. We currently live in Congress Park, too, but cannot afford to buy here. When people from the coasts sweep in and pay a lot of money for these Colorado gems, it makes it hard for locals to compete. It feels like Denver is becoming a city of people from elsewhere and everyone with true roots is just out in the cold.

    For the record, this isn’t anti-immigrant, anti-liberal, or anti-stranger. I’m a loving liberal who would also like to be able to afford to stay in her home town!

    • Hello Deb,
      Thank you for your comment. Your sentiments are not lost on me. We were priced out of NYC- which is where generations of my family lived for well over a century. We grew increasingly fed up with having all of our earnings going to rent, we were competing with all cash-offers from people who were not native to the city, and I’ll be honest, we just didn’t love living there anymore. However the movement back into cities and the soaring real estate prices is not unique to NYC or Denver, it’s happening across the country and I agree it’s a problem. Without disclosing all of our financial information, we were able to purchase this home because we made the offer about 6 months before the prices in the neighborhood skyrocketed. We simply got lucky with time. There is also a carriage house behind our home, which is not part of our property (there’s a fence that separates the two parcels). It was deeded off in the 90s and it’s a story that’s too long to share here, but it’s how we picked up this home– the property is quirky and there water easements under our garden. According to our realtor, “the home sat on the market because most people didn’t want another person living in their backyard” but because we are from a large, congested urban center we thought there was more than enough space. We even joked that “there must be 5 acres back there.” (There isn’t, we don’t really know what an acre looks like.) I’ll also mention that this neighborhood- especially on our side near Colfax- fell into terrible disrepair and property delinquency (a good number of properties were vacant for years before they were demolished). I mention this because it’s how we were able to make the purchase happen. And I recognize that it would be impossible today.
      We hope we are honoring the home’s past by protecting its historic character. And we like to think that even though we came from somewhere else, we are new Coloradans who respect those who have always lived here. My business supports our local public school and I frequently attend the Mayor’s meetings on affordable housing, among other things. We bike or walk whenever we can, we support local businesses and artists, and we ALWAYS pick up our trash when we hike. We are thankful that we get to raise our family here.
      That said, I truly understand your point. It’s an issue that is always being discussed in local press and on CPR. I hear about it form friends who dreamed of buying in the neighborhoods they grew up in. And I can see it with my own eyes. Over 300,000 people moved to Denver in the past 4 year (I think it is). We need progressive and visionary leaders to make sure people aren’t priced out. I’m not sure what else I can say, other than I hear your words and I take your point to heart. Truly.

      • Hi Deb & Batya! As you allude to, Batya, it’s all perspective. We had the opposite experience, moving to Denver from the midwest in 1998. The first time we looked at a home flyer, (for a home we thought was reasonably nice, and might be a good place to start), we started laughing somewhat hysterically. I still remember my shock at how expensive it was–and we even expected Denver to be more expensive. But we managed to buy a first place, rode a bit of wave of equity and put a ton of work into the house, and then purchased our current home. In its 14 years, it is inching toward doubling in value. So, like most things, it’s a two-edged sword.

        Deb, somehow, you just have to get started. Probably with something and some area that is much less than your dream (I can assure you, we live well, but could never really afford the Congress Park area). You may be surprised how many lovely neighborhoods are within your price range.

        Batya, welcome to Denver! Thank you for making your home so beautiful!

  • Your house is beautiful and I especially love your dining room/kitchen area. You have created a very peaceful feeling and I love how you have blended some modern elements with the beautiful old structure. The moldings, the wood floor! Just fabulous.

    • Thank you so much, Debbie. I can’t take credit for the wood floor, it was already repaired when we bought the home. But I will take credit for the design! I’ve been inspired by some terrific interior designers (StudioDB, Arent & Pyke, Ashe + Leandro come to mind)- they seamlessly blend historic interiors/structures with modern fixtures and furnishings. Just add in some color and pattern and you’re golden!

  • This house looks lovely but I don’t really get why you’d say the mountains are the Rockies if it’s a print of the mountains in Yunnan? This is a genuine question btw I’m not trying to be passive aggressive but I know I’m probably coming off that way

    • Good morning, Elliot.
      I didn’t really include the full context in my comment.
      Many people who visit us have the misconception that Denver is actually in the mountains; it isn’t.
      It’s a valley/bowl at the end of the high-desert and the mountains flank the city to the West.
      We had a friend ask us where our mountains views were, to which we replied, “If you go to the top floor and stand on your tip-toes, during the late fall and early winter, you can see the peaks…or you can go downstairs to the family room :) That’s kind of the joke.

Leave a Reply

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.