Blessed with an innate talent for interior design, Caitlin Marsh is able to confidently walk into any room and begin placing furniture and complementary decor. She didn’t go to art school—it was never on the agenda. Remembering trips to Home Depot with her brothers and helping her parents remodel their family homes, she says, “It’s kind of always been in my blood. It just turns out that I enjoy it. And I’m good at it. So really, I stumbled into it.”
In 2011, Marsh began working at her mom’s store, Lulu’s Furniture & Decor, and with continued hard work became co-owner. “The ladies here ask what I do when I’m setting stuff and it’s like a feeling. It’s either right or it’s not. I can’t describe it.” Her mom Christy Vranesic Brant affectionately calls Marsh the “Rain Man” of design, referring to the savant movie character, and notes that most customers with interior design projects come into the store because of Marsh’s work.
Her style? “I’m very minimalist. I lean more towards contemporary, but with classical pieces,” Marsh says. “I don’t like a lot of color.” At age 30, she is married and a first-time mom living in a 1950s ranch-style home in Denver’s Wellshire neighborhood with her husband Ryan and son Cullen and Whistlepig, the family’s Blue Heeler. “My house is black and white, and I have a big Chesterfield sofa. It looks nice and it’s timeless, it’s comfortable and it’s the main thing in the room. I have a very contemporary kitchen.” She adds, “It’s a work in progress,” as she and her husband remodel.
For Cullen, celebrating his first birthday in March, Marsh utilized her clean style designing his room, but with fun and thoughtful child-centric additions. She hung an art piece over his crib called “Camp Letter” (by Sugarboo Designs), a mom’s moving words to her child. The black-and-white room is accented by a colorful baby blanket and a fiery-red rug. There’s an armchair near the crib sporting a contemporary print full of dogs. “Cullen’s room is the best representation of me and my style,” says Marsh.
Her ideal client? “‘Here’s my budget. Please make it look good.’” But realistically for residential projects, Marsh talks to her clients about their goals, then visits their home to better get a sense of their style.
“Most of the time when I’m helping people on jobs I know what they want and what would look good, so it’s not necessarily my style,” says Marsh. But she was given free rein to design two guest rooms for funky Hostel Fish, near Coors Field, with creativity unleashed. For the Vintage Biker room, she used motorcycle handlebars to mimic antlers on wall mounts, and there’s a huge American flag hanging near bunk beds. In Black and White, a private king room, she incorporated a wall-spanning “Free” sign from Little Caesar’s Pizza.
Marsh and Brant are heavily vested in their beloved store, and talk sincerely about the constant work to make it both a personal statement and a pleasure for their customers. Brant says: “We’re more than a furniture store. My husband says we’re a women’s hardware store, because you can find a scarf, jewelry, even popcorn. We support local artists and smaller vendors and fellow stores. If we don’t have something we’ll definitely send you to another locally owned store.”
Brant opened Lulu’s in 2007 in University Hills. When Marsh came on board they moved the store to a spot in LoHi. But in 2018, Marsh and Brant returned Lulu’s to their home-base neighborhood with a clientele that better spans age ranges. “Millennials, I think, don’t necessarily change their house for the seasons,” says Marsh. “But once you get to a certain age, you know you can bring out those orange pillows in the fall that can change the look without costing a fortune.”
When the two hosted the store’s grand opening at its new Kent Place location, proceeds were donated toward colon cancer research. “My brother Nick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer when he was 25,” says Marsh. “The two of us went to every treatment, every surgery. It just changed our lives. We wanted to give back.” More than two years after his diagnosis, Nick is alive and well, and diligently trying to get into medical school.
At the store, Marsh and Brant finish each other’s sentences, and banter back and forth like a veteran comedy team. Marsh’s design style might not have come from her mother, but what has Brant taught her daughter about life? “To be kind,” Marsh says immediately. “She has this good attitude and laughs, and it helps me to be around her.” She looks over at her mom. “I would be awful if I wasn’t around you so often.”
Brant answers: “You help me too!”
Together they say, “We’re a good team.”
Lisa Perry has been writing about and photographing people and places in the region for more than 20 years. She readily admits to displaying orange pillows at her own house every fall.
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