Just north of downtown Boise, Idaho is the “North End”—a historic, walkable neighborhood with hiking trails, breweries, and a mix of turn-of-the-century architectural styles. For one family, staying in the neighborhood was non-negotiable. They originally planned to renovate, but when this house came on the market and checked nearly every box, they put in an offer right away. 

They tapped Maren Baker Design to renovate before moving in. Originally, the thought was to transform it into a very modern, neutral home, but as the design plan unfolded, they shifted to create a space that was colorful, traditional, and maintained original details like large pocket doors on the main level and entry staircase. The result is now an amazing mix of color, neutrals, wallpaper, and historical details. Maren tells us more. 

Tell us about this home. Where is it located? How did the neighborhood influence the design?
This house is located in the North End historical district of Boise.  It was built in 1900 and had not been updated in a very long time.  Previous remodels had created some awkward layouts, but the square footage was there, as were some of the original elements, which were great. 

Due to the home’s location in a historical area, accuracy was required with the window style (returning it to what we believe was original, style-wise), the porch design and any other elements visible from the street (which included the front & south side due to a large side yard). The neighborhood also has a lot of small bungalows and understated homes, so we tried to be cognizant of that and they didn’t want to expand the square footage from what it already was. 

We did tear down the existing garage, which was ill-placed, and built a new one with an ADU (accessory dwelling unit) above the parking for when guests and in-laws come for extended stays.  

In a few words, how do you describe the style? 
I would describe this style as playful traditional. We wanted a lot of traditional elements but without any sense of stuffiness. So, we so brought in interesting colors and a unique perspective for each room while creating a fluidity throughout the house.  

What was your scope of work?
We were involved from the beginning, working with the architect on the layout and historical elements that needed addressing. There were site visits galore during the process as we collaborated with the contractors and sub-contractors on design direction & selections during the construction, and then finally a very close relationship with the homeowners on every last design selection from furniture, rugs, wallpaper, and lighting, down to throw blankets and new dining room plates.  

Did this project have any challenges?
Early on, we struggled with some layout questions… do we give the primary suite the best layout and largest room with privacy? Or do we put it on the side of the house with the best windows but that would create a smaller closet, bedroom, and bathroom (giving the kids the larger room)? Once we confirmed the layout, we could move forward, but then Covid handed us other challenges. This project was started in July 2019, so we had a lot of delays with materials, work force, and the costs of items that steadily increased with the life of the project. Boise was also one of the fastest growing areas, which added another challenge in getting materials and specialists for the project.   

How long did the project take, and what did the client say when they saw the finished space?
The client moved in February 2022. They absolutely love the house! The husband loves all the details and even the living room sofa – which was something we (the wife and I) were keeping a surprise. They are really happy there and use the fireplaces all the time, host friends and look forward to their first summer when they really feel settled in the house.