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Congratulations! Your new home is under contract, and you can’t wait to dig in and start planning how you will decorate. Will your old couch fit into your new living room? Does your design style reflect the former single you, not the new coupled you? Feeling a tad bit overwhelmed with thoughts of shiplap and baseboard heights?

Well, we have you covered. The editors at Painted Prairie’s blog team spoke with local interior design experts, Alex Whitman and Jocelyn Verano of Ellis Design Studio. The studio has been creating and designing spaces in and around Colorado for more than 25 years.

Here’s what Alex and Jocelyn say you should do to plan and prep for your big day with your builder’s Design Center team.

1. Go on Tour

Chances are if you bought a house in the Painted Prairie neighborhood, you visited the model homes and made your decision based off your visits. You are one step ahead of the game in terms of space planning, design inspiration and figuring out what hard surfaces you want in your new home.

Sometimes, though, that may not be enough to spark your creativity. Alex and Jocelyn say, it’s time to get out and go on a tour. Visit other model homes in your area. All designers and builders showcase different materials and suppliers, which give you new ideas for materials and finishes that you may or may not have previously considered.

Another great place to draw design inspiration is in the homes of your friends, family and others. If you simply love the style of their home, then snap some photos of their countertops and cabinet faces. Ask them about the manufacturers and brands that they have purchased over the years. Pay attention to how their hard surfaces flow into their furniture and lighting choices. It’s a great way to narrow down the aesthetic for your new home.

2. Build a Vision Board

According to Alex Whitman of Ellis Design Studio, your home can be as eclectic and funky, or as simple and traditional as you want to make it, but if you’re not telling a consistent story through your design center selections, then your home will feel choppy and unfinished. 

Home design is a creative and collaborative process. You may draw inspiration from a model home, a Pinterest board, an issue of Better Homes & Garden, or a website like Houzz. All of these places give you ideas for your design style and help you envision what you want your home to look like when you move in.

PRO TIP #1: Take pictures, cut out images from catalogs, print out your Pinterest picks, and create your own vision and mood boards for different rooms in your home.

PRO TIP #2: Order or pick up samples from your local big box store, boutique design gallery, or internet sites such as Wayfair. Use these samples to build a collection of textures, tiles, fabrics, and color selections.

Believe or not, this will help your new Design Center BFF or designer, hone in on your hard surfaces, countertops, and even the bathroom towel racks that suit your individual style.

Don’t worry if your design tastes tend to be a mix of conflicting styles. As you work through the process, you will discover your tastes and preferences are more similar than you think. If you find your selections wavering in style, work to streamline your choices. Rank them, prioritize them, then create your top three collections from all your choices.

3. Live With Your Vision

Once you’ve curated samples and have created your vision boards, now take a step back and live with what you’ve selected. Put your samples and boards in a place where you will see them everyday. Move them around to different rooms to see how your choices affect your mood. Natural and artificial light play a big part in how your style changes throughout the day, so make sure that you take time to make note of how the colors, finishes and designs make you feel.

Soon, you will begin to fine tune your own unique design style. These foundational items will be the basis from which you layer in textures, seasonal decor, throw pillows, draperies, and lighting. From here, you have a plan to guide you through the any future design choices. Once you hone in on your vision, the rest will easily follow.

“Curate it, sit with it, and then live with it.”

— Alex Whitman, Ellis Design Studio

4. Share Your Vision

You found your inspiration, collected samples, created boards, narrowed down your style choices, and now it is time for your Design Center appointment. Before you head out the door, grab your vision boards and samples and take them with you! The design professionals at your appointment are highly-trained to take your vision, and help you select the finishes, surfaces, and options to turn your signature style into a reality.

Click below to explore Painted Prairie’s builders:

Berkeley Homes

David Weekley Homes

Epic Homes

KB Home

McStain Neighborhoods

Parkwood Homes

Remington Homes

5. Partner With a Designer

Remember, you don’t have to do everything on your own. If you need assistance or feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of options and choices, you can partner with a designer to help you curate your vision, go with you to your Design Center appointment, and be a guide in all aspects of your interior design. 

“Most of our job entails being a resource for our clients. When you partner with a design professional, we can help you hone in on the things you value the most by just listening to you and your style.”

— Jocelyn Verano, Ellis Design Studio

What makes a great neighborhood even greater? Open space, parks and trails of course! As we move into Phase II of Painted Prairie, we are excited to share a sneak peek into the future amenitized parks that are planned for all phases of our community. Soon, you will stroll through street-adjacent linear and pocket parks with unexpected green spaces to relax, gather and enjoy nature.

Our network of parks will continue to expand as we connect residents to the Town Center. Currently under development, this upscale leisure oasis will host neighbors, visitors, and people from the surrounding area as they gather to listen to live music, shop the stalls of the seasonal Farmer’s Market, enjoy outdoor festivals, and connect with the community at exciting events.

Elsewhere in the community, at the final head gate of historic Highline Canal, the future Prairie Retreat Park, currently in the planning stages, will provide a place to discover our agrarian roots with spaces to gather, exercise and explore the diversity of the prairie landscape. Built in the 1800s, the Highline Canal spans 71 miles, with a mere 140 feet of fall, and includes 162 headgates — the last one located and preserved at Painted Prairie.

The canal brought the promise of water and the opportunity of settlement, habitation, urbanization, and farming to the prairie’s early pioneers. No longer in use, Painted Prairie is preserving and rehabilitating the last mile of the canal route and is paying homage to its final head gate with the future installation of Prairie Retreat Park to mark and honor the canal’s history, significance and cement its preservation for future generations.

We invite you to stop by and visit Painted Prairie, our parks, our homes, and our community. Next time you are here, take some pictures and tag our Instagram page. We want to know what you like most about our little slice of the prairie.

Painted Prairie’s parks project leader, Diane Lipovksy describes her vision for the park system at Painted Prairie in this essay on the inspiration, design, and details of High Prairie Park.

Life on the Prairie. The beautiful, subtle, serene, and enigmatic prairie. It is so different from where I grew up, in the green urban woodlands of the East Coast, and perhaps it is the contrast that I saw when I came here that made it seem that much more beautiful to me: the open vistas, the clear blue skies, and electric sunsets, the texture of the grasses, the smattering of trees that signal a precious water source. The promise of those wild Rocky Mountains that have drawn people across the prairie for hundreds of years.

When we began work on the park system for Painted Prairie, we wanted to create truly special open spaces for the future residents here, spaces that celebrate this historic prairie setting while providing the communal amenities that really draw and anchor people today We see the parks as the living rooms for the people of Painted Prairie — the central social spaces at the heart of the community that people want to visit again and again. We wanted to create beloved outdoor park spaces where neighbors can meet and gather, to set up green connections that foster healthy movement, and to carve out unique spots where children from 0 to 100 can play outside, in nature, and just relish in the pure joy of childhood.

Our inspirations for the big neighborhood park were many, including that gorgeous setting, its position at the natural high point of the landscape, and the panoramic views to the mountains. But one inspiration that really struck a chord for everyone throughout the process was Harvey Dunn’s stunning painting “The Prairie is My Garden.” The image of this homesteading woman, standing proud, strong and mighty with her children on the prairie backdrop reminds us of the fortitude required to live here before the great industrial revolution tamed the land and its waters. The colors and textures of the plants, the breeze, the electric sky are all elements we have tried to capture and enhance for people to discover in the neighborhood park. The other great source of inspiration is that very industrial of inventions, the irrigation pivot. At a full quarter-mile radius, this workhorse of modern engineering was what made these lands arable for people to live here and sustain its people. We have tried to capture that precision and that entrepreneurial spirit here at the park.

This is Painted Prarie, so we really tried to evolve the design of the park like a painting. Our first big move was to really celebrate the high point and those views, so we developed the promenade walk along that natural ridge facing Long’s Peak. In fact, the entire community was designed around keeping this natural ridge intact and making it part of the public space. We saw the promenade as a real concentration of outdoor rooms where most people will be gathering for their neighborhood barbecues, playing lawn games and sipping coffee when they run into a new friend. And the client as so committed to making this park one of the best and coolest in the Front Range, so we really tricked out the promenade rooms. The part I am most excited to see full of people is the naturalized arroyo play area. Descending 12 feet below the promenade and packed full of native Gambel oaks, little leaf mountain mahogany, native sandstone slopes, and featuring two custom concrete slides, we really see this place as an unbelievable chance for kids to go wild outside.

Then we wanted to highlight the scale and the feat of irrigating the prairie. Our land as we know here in Colorado is not the deep, fertile lands of the Midwest, and so providing nourishment through local agriculture requires incredible engineering and proper resource management. Early in the process, we looked at so many satellite images of the prairie, and we fell in love with the perfectly round, green panels that dotted the brown plains and signaled irrigated farmland. So at Painted Prairie, we marked the center of an irrigation pivot near the park entry along 60th with a sculptural art piece, and we designed a path along the quarter-mile radius it would extend to cover and water the land. From the promenade, you can really see it, and our builders took great care to make it sing with a single strong, beautiful curve. We then wanted to play with that motif of the round green panels, so we have developed a series of pivot circle gardens that emanate from the quarter-mile path for people to explore. We filled these with everything we would want to have a good time — xeric gardens for meandering, corn hole for playing, lounge chairs for relaxing, tables and chairs for picnics, and a custom concrete coffee table with chairs and a fantastical shade sail “The Osprey” for cover on a warm afternoon.

Next, we knew we needed to have large open spaces for kids to play soccer and adults to pound volleyballs and everyone to fly kites. Sensitive to conserving our precious water resources, we tried to concentrate the lawns at Painted Prairie to places we really needed it for active play and picnicking. Tucked at the base of the promenade and adjacent the pivot circle gardens, The Great Lawn is actually comprised of two lawn terraces that help step down from the high point of the community to the lower drainage areas, which provide stormwater management for the whole neighborhood.

Finally, to create a sense of mystery and discovery and really encourage people to walk through the whole park, the last big stroke of the brush was the Prairie Waves. These are a series of beautifully sculpted berms that negotiate the rest of the terrain down and to the west. Seeded with beautiful mixes of prairie grasses like blue gramma and little bluestem, moving through these landforms reveals a number of whimsical play areas we have tucked within them. And not only grasses; for an urban park, we have taken care to provide a wealth of beautiful trees that really do well within our landscape. Hackberries, catalpa, coffee trees, and honeylocust provide vital shade from our sun, structure in the winter and cover from the winds. But we also have several stunning Ponderosa pines that we sourced locally from the Black Forest here in Colorado. We have really tried to work with the ethos of this naturally arid land to carefully place plants and trees that work well with it, so we can provide a park experience that with the stewardship of its community will sustain generations to come.

There are so many great spaces we created along the promenade. We’ve got these amazing community gardens and a small orchard at the entry to the park because we really wanted to highlight the sense of community they create, the site’s agricultural heritage and our commitment to thinking locally here. I know when I lived in Los Angeles, I met many great people through my love of gardening and foraging for fruits, so I would love if Painted Prairie made it onto the Falling Fruits map. I’m really excited to see what folks will grow here and how they will make this space their own, and I can’t wait to come back to see people harvesting the fruits as they ripen.

Near the community gardens, we wanted to create a yin of discovery to the community garden’s yang of hard work. Here, we have a really nicely scaled butterfly garden. In the map view, we designed the gardens to mimic the shape of a Prairie Skipper Butterfly wing, so kids could run like a butterfly. We worked with folks at the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster, to select plants to help attract butterflies — species like Gaillardia, Butterfly Bush, Yarrow, Echinacea, and Prairie Zinnia. This is a nice alternative to the highly formal entry gardens, a place where kids and adults will be greeted with a more rustic cottage garden, one that really speaks to the Front Range plant palette.

We incorporated so many great little rooms into the design, to make a really rich and inviting experience for people of all stripes. We have two beautiful large picnic pavilions with fantastic views of the mountains and to a series of mini picnic pavilions, we’ve dotted throughout the rolling native hills below. We really wanted to amplify the opportunity for nature play, about two-thirds of the way down the promenade to the north, we sculpted a deep fissure in the landscape to represent a Colorado arroyo. Packed with tons of native shrubs and grasses, the arroyo allows kids to wend or slide their way down to the amazing spaces below and beyond. To span the arroyo along the promenade, we have this lovely, simple pedestrian bridge that really gives you the opportunity to stand and appreciate the incredible views both in and beyond the park. We put an overlook wall opposite the bridge, closer to the street, to draw you towards this great moment, and put some beautiful stone signage there to help tell the story of the arroyo landscape. At the end of the promenade, we wanted to terminate your view and experience with an opportunity to sit and relax — and then take off! We located our sand beach and chaise lounge chairs here, adjacent to three bright orange vintage ski chairlift swings that are angled toward the major ski resorts. I can’t wait to see people softly swaying in those chairs, really taking in the majesty of the mountain peaks and enjoying a calm, quiet moment amidst the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives.

Life on the prairie wouldn’t be complete without the magic of playtime. We wanted to give kids a special glimpse into the look and feel of the pioneer, so we really wanted to create a series of play experiences centered around the treehouse. We were inspired by the Swiss Family Robinson ethos, and so we worked with Beanstalk Builders out of North Carolina to craft some really beautiful experiential play features that really amp up the views of the grasslands, the mountains, and the different areas around the park. We loved Beanstalk’s whimsical approach to play and their unusual, natural style. These pieces are so unique here, but they really work with the prairie aesthetic we have developed here. We worked closely with Isaac Hoff and his team to create a suite of play features that would encourage kids and families to move throughout the whole park, from the cluster of treehouses nestled in Ponderosa Pines.

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