Denver Post Article: Cool is all about the details

By ELANA ASHANTI JEFFERSON  Republished from the Denver Post.  Original article here:

You might expect Peter Blank, a modern-style devotee, to live in stark minimalism.

But instead, Blank, co-founder of the real estate company Mile Hi Modern, has a house that’s a study in smart space, distinctive finishes, organic materials and understated elegance.

This Realtor’s roughly 1,500- square-foot, 1954 California contemporary also mirrors the mind-set of a growing number of homebuyers. It follows that he worked in marketing and interior design before going into real estate.

Blame it on “Mad Men,” a consumer public reared on a steady childhood diet of ’50s reruns, the “green revolution,” or simple nostalgia for a bygone era. But mod is hot and getting hotter, as Blank will attest.

Consider that Target now sells plywood stacking chairs a la the designs made famous by Charles and Ray Eames; Urban Outfitters’ furniture is characterized by skinny hairpin legs; and The Home Depot stocks bold, graphic-print wallpaper.

“Modern is what people want right now,” says Blank, who is responsible in part for raising the profile of the Denver area’s midcentury-modern housing stock — and the regional architects and artisans who subscribe to that aesthetic. Along with business partner Craig Mayer, Blank launched his real estate company at a time when everyday folks and not just niche collectors were beginning to look for “Back to the Future” style.

The Mile Hi Modern brand is now part of the larger Kentwood City Properties.

“Gone are the days of seven bedrooms plus a family room and a full dining room,” says Blank. He grew up in São Paolo and credits that city’s forward- thinking architecture with shaping his own taste. “People want open floor plans now, and it doesn’t matter what the (house) style is.”

Blank bought his house three years ago after a client strong- armed him into selling her the last house he lived in.

The landscape around the home reflects his love of Palm Springs modernism, in which midcentury architects such as John Lautner and Albert Frey used floor-to-ceiling glass, exotic wood finishes and low, linear building styles to create residences that fit right into their desert setting.

Blank believes that indoor- outdoor look is as much at home in Colorado as in California.

“Maybe it was timing,” he says, “but what I find interesting are the couples who lived in Cherry Hills or Hilltop and had these big houses. All of a sudden they want to downsize. Not only do they want to downsize, they want to have something unique and cool.”

Cool happens here with the help of custom finishes, from aluminum gates that look like stacked bubbles to dimensional wood paneling.

“Wood is one material that I think really strengthens the house,” says Blank. “But I gravitate toward stone and rock and all the natural organic elements.”

Light pours into Blank’s house via expansive windows that look out on to three sides of the property.

“I wanted to see the street,” Blank says of all that glass facing the Krisana Park neighborhood he’s grown to adore. “The neighbors are awesome — lots of artists, architects and fun sorts. (It’s) a really cool place to call home.”

Architect Brian Ojala of the Entasis Group frequently collaborates with Blank, including on an Evergreen residence that in 2009 was named the Custom Home of the Year by the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver.

“His vision is incredible,” the architect says of Blank. “He always creates stories with each property. . . . He’s just so passionate and visionary.”

Ojala appreciates the open spaces and abundant light at Blank’s house. “It’s not compartmentalized, and that works,” he says.

Martin Shea installed Blank’s extensive wood paneling and his low-set kitchen cabinets. The longtime Denver carpenter says he appreciates the Realtor’s creativity.

“Peter just brings his whole soul to a project,” Shea says. “He does stuff that other people totally miss because they don’t realize which details are important.”