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Livability Elevated, Literally

Creative and Technical Prowess in a Boulder ADU Project by Melton Design Build

Article by Lisa Van Horne

Photography by Mark Quentin – Studio Q Photograph

Originally published in Boulder Lifestyle

Imagine that you’ve found your ideal slice of Boulder to call home. It’s in your dream neighborhood, is perfectly perched with access to all of your desired amenities and is a structure that speaks to your personality. But whether you have a growing family, a multigenerational household or simply need more space to accommodate your daily needs, that home isn’t quite suiting your reality.

Enter the Accessory Dwelling Unit (or ADU), a design solution that the team at Melton Design Build—Boulder’s award-winning full-service architecture, interior design and construction company—says has grown in popularity in recent years.

“ADUs represent a creative way to gain additional square footage in the more dense city limits,” says Ryan Gruver, architect with Melton Design Build. “They are an exciting option to explore to allow for greater city density that can serve a variety of uses to the homeowner. They also allow for greater flexibility and are a solution that I think more families will turn to.”

Defined by Boulder County as “an additional dwelling unit that has a separate kitchen, sleeping and bathroom facilities, attached or detached from the principal dwelling on a single-family lot,” ADUs have gained traction as local regulations regarding their creation have recently relaxed. However, obtaining the approvals necessary to add an ADU to a property can still be a complex system to navigate. It’s a process that the Melton Design Build team is well-versed in and recently led a project through in a highly technical, highly creative Boulder ADU build.

The team set out to accomplish the homeowners’ goal of expanding their usable living area with a flexible space that could be adapted as a family room, a home office, a place for guests to stay and even a primary suite over time. The team designed and created a detached ADU that is unique in its design and technical prowess, as the property’s location posed an added layer of complexity.

“This ADU is essentially built on stilts,” says Adrian Wisniewski, project development manager with Melton Design Build. “Not only is the property in the 100-year floodplain, but it is also in a conveyance zone and the wetlands. We underwent extensive hydraulic modeling to prove to the city that the structure would meet local FEMA requirements. This project had to get through four separate permit reviews, but we persisted through them all.”

Ryan notes that lifting the ADU off of the ground presented its own set of challenges, such as effectively delivering plumbing and electrical services to the space. He credits the team’s unique expertise in navigating these local factors and the homeowners’ unwavering positive mindset for the successful completion of the project.

The ADU’s interior design is just as unique as the structure itself, with its cantilevering on all sides and butterfly roof. Complementing this distinct exterior, the interior is a snapshot of the homeowners’ personal aesthetic.

“The client was drawn to a mix of Scandinavian and mid-century modern style,” says Jessica Walsh, senior interior designer with Melton Design Build. “They love the use of minimalistic designs, but also wanted to add pops of color and funky patterns to reflect their personalities.”

The ADU’s interior is simultaneously bright, eclectic and sleek, and it brims with unique design features. The bathroom in particular represents this blend of modern minimalism and vibrant flair with clean white walls, light cabinetry and black matte plumbing and fixtures serving as the foundational canvass. Emerald green cement hexagon tiles, a circular window above the free-standing tub and a bright red-orange pocket door add unexpected visual intrigue and color, making it a space imbued with friendly glamour.

Through all of its challenges, this project serves as a sterling example of what’s possible through the combined brainpower, perseverance and positivity of the Melton Design Build team and their clients.

“It’s the project that everyone said couldn’t be completed,” Adrian says. “With all of the roadblocks, it would have been easy to give up. We just kept putting one foot in front of the other, and the clients are madly in love with this space.”