The design-oriented, characterful Life Home Decrease Highlands Resort in Denver – COOL HUNTING®
Life House first came on stage in 2017 and generated excitement as an ambitious, tech-driven hotel brand supported by Silicon Valley. But as the portfolio of stylish boutique properties grew, Life House’s reputation was soon defined by one of its core philosophies: celebrating the neighborhood’s heritage and identity through design. With its newest outpost in the Denver Lower Highlands, Life House welcomes its first outpost off the east coast (Miami and Nantucket are the other locations) with a prairie of excitement.
The ambitious creative vision, from interior design to branding to digital content creation, is managed by Life House’s renowned in-house studio. “This helps us streamline the process instead of shipping it to other offices and allows us to tell a more thoughtful story,” said Jenny Bukovec, Vice President of Design. Bukovec and his team take a three-part approach when tasked with developing a new piece of land: Create a locally rooted architectural narrative (they call it “the house”) through the lens of a local character (“the protagonist”) spirited, off the beaten track cultural references (“the personality”) can be told.
Life House Lower Highlands is modeled after a pioneering 19th-century home that blends Victorian-era opulence with elements of contemporary industrialism – a juxtaposition seen throughout historic LoHi. The eclectic exterior of the five-story building is contrasted by the homely feel of the interior, which is characterized by a muted palette of dusty grays, mustards, rusty reds, and saturated bluebell hues. Other themes that are reminiscent of the homestead theme include honey-colored leather and cowhide, parquet patterns, textured amber glass, and allusions to Colorado wildflowers.
A collection of quirky vintage objects is on display throughout the hotel. Perhaps most impressive is the Victorian three-piece leather shade from the late 1890s, hand-painted with motifs reminiscent of the border of the American Wild West. “We really tried to bring a lot of soul into the room instead of taking everything off the shelf,” adds Bukovec, “and some of the mill and furniture pieces, like banquets and bed frames, are made in Colombia.” The walls are covered in illustrative textiles, including wallpaper and murals hand-drawn by Lei Xing, an artistic member of the Life House team. A salvaged Victorian walnut cabinet sits in a cozy corner in the lobby area and features a collection of merchandise and clothing from Colorado merchants, as well as candles made with the hotel’s signature scent.
The tailor-made fragrance – a calming mixture of bergamot, fig, vetiver and cedar – wafts from the lobby and bar area to the hallways and to the guest rooms. The 17-key hotel encompasses a range of room configurations, many of which have been thoughtfully designed with an emphasis on group stays. There are luxurious full-size bunk rooms, several king-size suites and rooms that combine both concepts to accommodate up to eight guests.
Instead of booking multiple rooms or sharing beds, group travelers can claim their own space in a single room. Bukovec explains that the floor layout developed by Life House, with curtains and stairs instead of ladders, was designed for adult guests. “It feels like a built-in room and we innovate the concept with every new life house,” she says.
The Wildflower, the hotel’s restaurant and cocktail bar, is located on the ground floor. The seasonal vegetable menu features Italian and Mexican flavors in its tapas dishes and pays homage to the LoHi district’s past as an enclave for immigrants from these countries. Dessert is presented with a lot of fanfare. Pastries and confectionery along with homemade lavender limoncello, amaro and Colorado Meads, which are also on the cocktail list, are distributed to guests on Victorian trolleys.
While indoor dining is currently restricted in Denver, Wildflower offers delivery and takeaway and room service for guests. In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a number of other safety protocols have been implemented, including taking temperature measurements of guests and staff, requiring masks in public areas, and maintaining socially detached seating. Despite today’s obstacles, Life House promises to elevate the burgeoning Lower Highlands hospitality scene to the heights of the Rocky Mountains.
Images courtesy of Life House