A Dream House of Her Own Design

Photography by Virtuance

This contemporary new build in Lower Highland was so pretty, the interior designer decided to buy it herself.


MODERN LIVING Engle is a mix-and-match designer: The multihued rug came from overstock.com, the leather chair was a wedding present from her mother-in- law and the couple picked up the black sheepskin on a trip to Iceland.

As the senior designer at Caliber Construction, Caylin Engle sees a lot of drop-dead-gorgeous homes. Normally, she can flirt with the houses without getting “seriously involved.”

But when Engle began doing the interior design work on this modern, three-story duplex built by Caliber in the Lower Highland neighborhood, “I just started falling in love with it,” she says. “My husband and I loved the location—the fact that we could walk to a ton of great restaurants and also walk to the middle of downtown in just 15 minutes. And the backyard, which backs up to a church, is awesome and very quiet.”


WINDOW ON THE WORLD Designer Caylin Engle used a cowhide rug in her dining room, a souvenir from a trip to Jackson Hole. “I love having fun reminders of our trips throughout our home,” she says. The tulip table and acrylic chairs add a mod touch.

Engle and her husband, Collin Scott, were actually living not too far away in a Berkeley bungalow and making plans to scrape their house and put up a new one when she started working on this home. “I tell my clients all the time that I design each home as if I would live there. I would never pick something that I wouldn’t put in my own home. But for some reason, with this house, it went beyond that: I could picture exactly where my Christmas tree would go, where I’d put family portraits, and how our two Yorkies would play in the backyard. Everything just fit what we were looking for, and I couldn’t stop picturing myself in this house for years to come.” So the couple made that dream a reality and bought the place last November.

The four-bedroom, four-bath home gets much of its appeal from the fact that it is tailor-made for entertaining. “I love having people over,” says Engle, whose parents live (exactly) four minutes and 15 seconds away. “Collin and I will celebrate anything you can celebrate. If there’s a theme, I’m all in—you know, Cinco de Mayo or Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day or Friendsgiving. If there were a National Doughnut Day and it fell on a Saturday, we’d have a party for it.”


INDOOR-OUTDOOR LIVING The homeowners love to entertain, and the extra-large deck off the back of the home makes that super easy.

The home’s two decks—one off the living/dining rooms and one on the top story—make hosting easy. “The deck off the living room is for interactive entertaining,” Engle says, “with Collin grilling and people coming and going through those big sliders. The upstairs deck is more relaxed and lounge-y, with the fire pit and the big sectional and the wet bar. It’s a place to curl up with a glass of wine after dinner and have a good conversation. I also like to go up there on Saturday or Sunday morning, make myself a cup of coffee— there’s a coffeemaker up there—and read. It feels like I’m miles away from the city.”


ENTERTAINMENT CENTRAL “Keeping the kitchen in a neutral gray-and-white color scheme allows me to play around with holiday and party decorations, which I change out almost monthly,” says Engle.

Engle took a small, adjacent space on the third floor that was originally intended for storage and turned it into a nook-like office. “For me, it’s perfect. Working with guys at a construction company, sometimes I need a little ‘me time.’ The office space allows me to be up on the third level, away from everybody, so I don’t have all my design stuff spread out on the kitchen island. It’s not too overwhelming a space, it gets great natural light from the skylight and in the winter when it’s snowing, it’s so cozy.”


COME STAY AWHILE The guest bedroom, which includes an upholstered bed and side tables fashioned out of re-used lumber, “has awesome city views!” Engle says.

One advantage of being your own designer is that you can make every last detail just exactly as you want it. For example, Engle turned the second-floor laundry into a walk-in room and added fun custom stick-on wallpaper depicting common laundry icons. In the second-floor guest bath, she noticed a vertical space between a pair of two-by-fours and transformed it into a neat little built-in shelf to hold guest towels and other bath accessories. And behind the free-standing tub in the master bath is a reclaimed-wood wall built out of the same material that wraps the fireplace; it all came from the property’s original wooden fence.

And because she has such a great design eye, Engle was able to mix in less-expensive items throughout the luxurious house: a trio of framed feathers from Target, side tables that Scott hand-fashioned out of leftover lumber in the upstairs guest room, a $400 four-poster master bed, a multicolored living room rug from overstock.com, a Gauguin-like painting from a college friend in the powder room. “I’m very bargain-focused,” she says. “There’s certain things you spend a lot of money on and things you can finesse. If you know how to put things together, not every piece needs to be a highly expensive statement piece.”


SANCTUARY TIME Engle combined metal shelves from Room & Board (“great for lots of candles”) with a reclaimed-wood wall, adding in an elk head (a gift) that Scott spraypainted gold, wrapping the base of the antlers in twine for a one-of-a-kind piece.

Having been in their new place for a year, Engle the homeowner is in perfect lockstep with Engle the designer. “Every area functions exactly how we want it to. I have space to get away, a master bedroom that is absolutely relaxing, and with the entertaining spaces, even if it’s Tuesday night and we’re cooking for ourselves, the patio doors will be open and there’s cool lighting and it feels like an event.

“The biggest thing I struggle with is every time I design a new space, I go home and I’m like, ‘I’m going to change everything. I want a whole new living room, or all-new …’ But I haven’t wanted to change anything since we moved in. We picked pieces really well, and I feel like I live in a showhouse all the time.”


ALL COMES OUT IN THE WASH The striking laundry room decals, which represent standard washing symbols, came from Midnight Visuals.


SEPARATE BUT EQUAL “My favorite thing about our bed is the separate twin duvets,” says Engle. “That was a trick we discovered on a trip to Iceland. It solves the age-old problem of blanket hogs.”

Architect: Chad Mitchell of Meridian 105 Architecture/ 303.550.2231
Builder: Caliber Construction / 303.434.1878